So because of everyone's craaaazy schedules, our group of dear friends decided to have a Christmas brunch together to celebrate, because we literally couldn't find one evening during December that we were all free. And because I have some kind of masochism issues, in addition to the biscotti I baked for everyone, I also thought it would be a really good idea to make a coffee cake.
Look, my nutritionist can fix my insides, but there's really not a lot she can do for my mental crazy, okay? Anyway.
I get that it seems a little masochistic to bake cookies when you yourself can't actually eat any, but what the hell. I actually really love baking - I love the preciseness of it. I've never met a rule I didn't have the urge to follow. So I got the urge to bake, and I wanted to make some cookies for friends for Christmas.
Enter biscotti, followed by coffee.
Literally half of what I do in my life, I do because I read about it in a book. Trying to run away as a kid? From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Visiting Santorini last year? Thank Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for that. This cake? Eat Cake, of course.
Last month B and I did a lot of farmer's market shopping. One week we got a particularly good pint of blueberries. They were juicy but firm, the perfect balance of sweet and tart (I like tart berries). They lasted maybe a day - we each kept grabbing a few every time we walked past the kitchen counter. The next week we went back to the same vendor to get another pint, but those were...meh.
They were mealy and a little too sweet. Neither of us really wanted to eat them, but we didn't want to waste them, either. So I did what I do best: figure out what to put them in.
I've been interested in making bread for a while now after reading "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School." Author Kathleen Flinn explains how easy it is to make fresh bread with only four ingredients - yeast, sugar, water, and flour - and how store-bought bread is often filled with God-knows-what. I mean, have you looked at a commercial bread label lately? So one Saturday afternoon, while B was off fighting the bushes in our front yard, I decided to do a little domestic goddessing.
After my cousin-in-law made this pie for Thanksgiving, I immediately knew I would be making it for my family's Christmas Eve dinner (Southern Living for the win again). There is absolutely nothing healthy about it, but it's delicious. It disappeared at Thanksgiving, and it disappeared again at Christmas. It's especially delicious heated with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
The only thing is, it comes out really goopy. When it did it at Thanksgiving, we thought perhaps it was problems with the oven. When it did it at Christmas, we realized maybe it's the recipe because I know my parents' oven works. So either eat a really gooey pie, or bake it longer than it calls for - your choice. It doesn't affect the taste whatsoever.
So forget your New Year's resolutions for a day (or maybe a weekend). Make this pie and cheer up your January. I promise, you'll love it.
Disappearing salted caramel chocolate pecan pie
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 up cacao unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked deep-dish piecrust shell
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 cups toasted pecan halves
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 350.
Stir together first six ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, stirring until well-blended.
Fold in chopped pecans.
Pour mixture into pie shell, and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Remove from oven to a wire rack to cool.
For the topping, bring 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to boil over high heat.
Boil (do NOT stir), swirling occasionally after sugar begins to change color, 8 minutes or until dark amber.
Keep a close eye on the pan, as the sugar will burn quickly once it starts to change color.
Remove from heat; add heavy cream and 4 tablespoons butter.
Stir constantly until bubbling stops and butter is well-mixed (about 1 minute). Stir in table salt.
Arrange pecan halves on top of the pie in concentric circles.
Top with warm caramel sauce.
Cool 15 minutes, then sprinkle with sea salt.
Nutrition: Are you kidding me right now?
I hadn't planned on making macarons for Thanksgiving, but my cousin-in-law begged for them, so I gave in. Who am I to let someone down like that? Besides, I wanted to try some new flavors. I have apple, rose, lavender, and orange blossom flavorings, but they weren't sufficiently Thanksgiving-y enough. Even caramel apple macarons didn't sound appetizing this time around.
But then I went to Starbucks the week before. And you know, for all the hype, I'm not really a pumpkin spice latte kind of girl. I mean, they're fine, yes, but not my favorite. My favorite Starbucks (or independent coffee shop) holiday drink is a peppermint mocha. And behold, it came to me: chocolate peppermint macarons.
It hasn't hit yet, and I'm surprised.
You know, homesickness for France. I'm still waiting on that, but so far so good. Right now I'm just grateful and happy to be settling back into a routine here in America (although let me just say, I did not miss B traveling for work all the time while we were over there - that absolutely blows).
But I am a little wistful for macarons.