Pastry Passion

 

Scones morphed into tasty triangles with cream cheese and cranberry chutney

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Kitchen Gardener Cook

Whether it be a wee cookie exposing a pecan half inside, an ooey, gooey Turtle brownie or something as civilized as the scone-morphed into breakfast, hors d’oeuvres or dinner, we do love our pastries, now for the holidays and then after. These sweets are described as flaky (from the flour they include) and baked. It’s the flour that sets them apart from candy-usually pure sugar and fat.

Why try to give them up as even a little sniff and bite is the epitome of satisfying? The holidays are upon us, after all – it’s time to celebrate and enjoy!

Scones-a few ways


The scone mix that Bonnie Finlay at Homestead Gardens food department recommended is by a fine company, Stonewall Kitchens. This particular pastry-the scone (of Dutch roots) was absolutely light and delectable. When adding the butter to the mix always remember not to overwork it or the dough.

Turkey Cranberry Scone Petites-cranberry sauce + turkey


Praline Cookies

Makes about 60 cookies

A friend who loves to bake pastries showcased these gems during a holiday fundraiser. She graciously shared the recipe with me for all of the tasting I have done, I’ve never encountered the simple pecan treat before. These cookies will spread when they bake so make sure to space farPraline Cookies and Turtle Brownies apart.

 

  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour (do not sift)
  • 2 cups pecan halves (leave whole)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the egg and then the flour and mix well. Stir in the pecans by hand.

Place a small teaspoonful of batter (make sure there is a pecan half in each) on baking parchment leaving an inch between each cookie-about 12 will fit on the baking sheet.

Bake for 13-14 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and gently lift off parchment with a spatula. You make need to let the cookies firm for a minute before removing.

Turtle Brownies

As far as brownies go, these fudgey, crunchy decadent crowned squares are the ultimate in a fulfilling splurge. The recipe comes from Judith Sutton’s Sweet Gratitude. Two choices are given for the caramel topping: you can unwrap many tiny caramels or you can craft your own caramel. I can’t decide which is less tedious. 

Makes  1 (9×13) inch pan

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Caramel Topping:

  • 40 Kraft caramels (10 ounces) , unwrapped
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups  pecan halves, toasted

or

Homemade Caramel Topping:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla
  • 2 cups pecan halves, toasted

Ganache Topping:

  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 350 F and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 9 x 13 inch rectangular baking pan. 

Brownies: Melt the chopped chocolate and butter in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and set aside while you make the brownie batter. Meanwhile, in the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs and sugars until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract and then the melted chocolate mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and, on low speed, beat in the flour and salt.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or just until the brownies are barely firm to the touch. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack.

Caramel: Place the unwrapped caramels and cream in a saucepan and melt, over low heat (stirring frequently), until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the toasted pecans, making sure all the pecans are coated with caramel. Spread the caramel topping evenly over the still warm brownies and let cool to room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate brownies for about an hour or until the brownies are firm.

If making Homemade Caramel Topping: In a three quart heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Over medium heat, stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. Once it boils, stop stirring, and cook the mixture until it turns a golden caramel color, about 10 – 12 minutes. (Swirl the pan as needed so the caramel cooks evenly.) Remove from heat and carefully add the cream and vanilla (the mixture will sputter and steam so be careful). Stir in the pecans and immediately pour over the still warm brownie layer, spreading evenly. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate brownies for about an hour or until the brownies are firm.

Ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof  bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat (alternatively, heat the cream in the microwave). Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth.

Remove the brownies from the refrigerator and, using a fork, drizzle the Ganache over the brownies in a zigzag pattern. Cover and refrigerate until the chocolate is set. Using a sharp knife, cut the brownies into 48 bars.

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