Tag Archives: Pecans

Maple Pecan Hamentashen

Hamentashen are the traditional treat baked for the Jewish holiday of Purim, which, this year,  falls on Thursday March 1. The Festival of Purim commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in ancient (4th century BCE) Persia were saved from extermination.

The celebration of Purim will be bitter-sweet for me this year. Sweet because, well…. Hamentashen! Bitter because this will be my first Purim without my Aunt Carol. She passed away, suddenly, a few weeks ago. She is actually my husband’s aunt, but from the very first time I met her, over 36 years ago, she always made me feel like a part of the family. I miss her very much.

It was from Aunt Carol that I learned that all hamentashen didn’t come from a bakery. (I also learned that it is rude to stack dishes at the table when clearing.) Until I met her, I’d never had a homemade hamentashen. My reaction was not that dissimilar to when I found out, from my big sister Faith, that babies don’t come from the stork.

Every year, Aunt Carol and her sister-in-law, Aunt Jen, went into factory mode and produced vast quantities of tiny little triangles of dough filled with a prune and raisin filling, dipped in honey and walnuts. They shipped these hamantashen off to all their children, nieces and nephews across the universe. Sadly, Aunt Jen died about 26 years ago, but Aunt Carol soldiered on alone, continuing the tradition of making hamentashen for everyone in the family. We all looked forward to our little parcels in the mail. It’s possible that my addiction to online shopping is her fault. She conditioned me to get happy when boxes arrived in the mail.

I spent some very happy afternoons in Aunt Carol’s kitchen learning how to master hamentashen. The dough for this recipe is hers. The filling recipe for these hamentashen is my creation. While I love the traditional flavours of poppyseed and prune, I like to play with different flavour combos.A few years ago year I made Cinnamon Bun Hamentashen. Last year I baked Salted Caramel Apple Hamentashen, Poppy Seed Hamentashen and Dried Cherry and Pecan Hamentashen. 

I love the combo of maple and pecans. I blitzed some toasted pecans, maple butter and some cream cheese together to make this delicious filling. If you can’t find maple butter, a combo of brown sugar and maple syrup would be a good substitute. In the recipe link below, I give proportions. 

Once cooled, the baked hamentashen get a dip in a maple glaze and some finely chopped pecans.

Click here to print recipe for Maple Pecan Hamentashen.

Click here to print recipe for Aunt Carol’s Hamentashen.


Malted Milk Cookies with Milk Chocolate and Pecans

Malted Milk Cookies on chocolateI have a big jar of Hoosier Hill Farm malted milk powder in my pantry. Pastry wizard Stella Parks, told me to buy it. She promised me I’d find all kinds of uses for it.Malted Milk Cookies stackedI adore the flavour of malted milk. I made malted milk drumstick ice cream cones a few years ago. For the uninitiated, a little primer on malted milk powder. All malt products come from barley. The grain is sprouted, then dried and ground. During this procedure, starches are converted to sugar and the end result is a sweet, dried grain powder. This is the base for much of the beer that is produced today.

The ground powder is  also combined with wheat flour, milk powder, salt and sometimes sugar to create malted milk powder. Some brands, like Ovaltine also add cocoa powder to the mix. Malted milk powder has caramel, toasty, roasted notes. The addition of milk powder to the blend adds a creamy rich dairy note. It enhances most baked goods, complementing both vanilla and chocolate flavoured goods.hoosier and ovaltineI decided to add some to cookies. I started with a recipe for Chewy Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies from Yvonne Ruperti over at Serious Eats.mise en placeI added some toasted pecans and switched out the honey for Barley Malt Syrup, to really boost the malt flavour. Honey or malt syrup help keep these cookies chewy. I also added a tiny sprinkle of flaked sea salt on top before baking. I’m considering mixing in some chopped Malteasers next time I bake these.

Instead of milk chocolate chips, I chopped up some Lindt milk chocolate bars. I really like the big chunks of milk chocolate studded throughout these cookies. A mix of milk and white chocolate would also be good. I think dark chocolate might be too overpowering. adding milk chocolateUsing a portion scoop ensures that you get uniform cookies that are all baked at the same rate. I used a 1.5 ounce (3 tablespoons) sized scoop.scoopingGently flatten the cookies with the palm of your hand. I added a tiny sprinkle of flaked sea salt to the top of each cookie. It balances all the sweetness perfectly.

These are a hefty, chewy, delicious cookie. Hints of caramel and a unique toasty roasted flavour keep them from being too cloyingly sweet. They are quite fantastic frozen, as my family can attest to. broken cookies

Click here to print recipe for Malted Milk Cookies with Milk Chocolate and Pecans.

milk and cookies


Pretzel Crusted Turtle Bars

Hot on the heels of posting about Challah Monkey Bread and Brown Sugar Valentines Heart Cookies, I had every intention of sharing with you the recipe for a delicious Baby Kale and Brussels Sprouts salad this week. But somehow, here we are with Pretzel Crusted Turtle Bars.with text 2F 625 sqTo be honest, it’s not entirely my fault. I have been noticing quite a few pretzel crusted treats floating around cyberspace recently. Naomi of Baker’s Royale made these to satisfy her pregnancy cravings.  Averie of Averiecooks did a top crust of pretzels on her treats.

I started thinking about what I would love to combine with pretzels and the answer came to me instantly…Turtle Bars. If you have never heard of Turtle Bars, let me enlighten you.  Imagine a chocolate base topped with a pecan caramel layer, reminiscent of Turtles Candies. Adding a crushed pretzel layer is a really inspired idea.
whole pretzelscrushing pretzelsadding melted butter to crustcrust ready for ovenThe thing is, you would imagine that Pretzel Crusted Turtle bars would be pretty damn good. But something kind of astonishing happens when you combine these three layers. Alone, each layer sounds yummy. But the synergy that occurs when these three layers combine is something akin to a culinary explosion. The whole somehow becomes so much more than the sum of its parts.stacked 1
Essentially what we have here is a crunch sandwich, with the bottom layer providing salty crunch from the pretzels, and the top layer providing sweet crunch, from the pecans and caramel. Sandwiched in between these two awesome layers of crunch is a chewy fudgy chocolate layer. it doesn’t get better than this.
cracking eggchocolate layer 1candy thermometer in caramelspreading on pecan caramel layerAfter photographing these, I realized that these bars needed to find a good home, other than mine. I took half to my Yoga class and I do believe I heard a few “oohs” and “aahs” mixed in with the “ommmmm” chanting! The other half disappeared quite quickly at my hairdresser’s.3 bars on tile

Click here to print recipe for Pretzel Crusted Turtle Bars.

on twig tray


Pecan Maple Fudge Cookies

Serendipity can be defined as a happy accident or pleasant surprise; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it. Some of the greatest foods we know today were discovered serendipitously.

Chocolate Chip Cookies are but one example of serendipity in the kitchen. Nannette Richford at Yahoo! Contributor Network explains how that happy accident came to be.

It all began when Kenneth and Ruth Wakefield purchased a Cape Cod-style TOLL HOUSE, located between Boston and New Bedford, in 1930. This house was originally a “toll house” where travelers stopped to pay a toll for using the highway. While their horses were being changed, they enjoyed a home cooked meal in the toll house. The Wakefields later turned the toll house into a lodge and called it The Toll House Inn.

Ruth, and her guests, had a passion for Butter Drop Do cookies which called for baker’s chocolate. One day, while Ruth was making these cookies, she ran out of bakers chocolate. As any resourceful woman would do, Ruth looked around for a substitution. She grabbed a semisweet chocolate bar that had reportedly been given to her as a gift from Andrew Nestle of the Nestle Chocolate Company. She chopped this chocolate bar it in small morsels and added them in place of the baker’s chocolate. Ruth expected the morsels to melt like bakers chocolate, but instead she discovered smooth gooey bits of chocolate throughout her cookies.

Serendipity recently struck food blogger Mandy Mortimer. I came across Mandy’s blog when I was checking out new entries on Food Gawker. Her Pecan Caramel Cookies stopped me dead in my tracks. I immediately clicked on them and went to her blog. Using Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookie recipe as a base, she took out the chocolate and added pecans and chunks of vanilla fudge instead. She expected the fudge bits to stay all chewy in the middle of the cookies, but they melted out and oozed all over the edge of the cookies, making a yummy crispy caramel accident.

I have to say that finding the fudge was the hardest part of making this recipe. Mandy is originally from South Africa but now lives in Ireland. She found fudge chunks made by Dr. Oetker, right in her local supermarket. No such luck here. No prepackaged fudge bits in my neck of the woods. I decided to just buy some fudge and chop it up. Fudge is one of those candies that everyone has heard of but no one sells anymore. Fudge making is at risk for becoming a lost culinary art.

After much searching, I found some at Kilbourne’s in Newboro Ontario, near my cottage. Mandy used vanilla fudge, Being the proud Canadian I am, I chose maple fudge! I think that the combination of pecan and maple is incredible. Something magical happens when you combine those two and somehow the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Be sure to toast the pecans before chopping them and adding them to the dough.

Chill the dough for a few hours before forming and baking cookies.I like to use an ice cream scoop so that all my cookies are exactly the same size. I used a 1 1/3 ounce sized scoop (about 1 3/4 inches across). A little sprinkle of fleur de sel on top of each takes these cookies to the next level and helps to tame the sweetness.

They will still look a bit underbaked when you remove them from the oven, but they will firm up upon cooling. Some of the fudge will ooze out, but don’t worry about it. Once it cools, that’s the baker’s treat!

I got Mickey Mouse ears in this batch.

I let them cool a bit and then had a warm one. Crispy around th edges and chewy in the center, nutty and almost butterscotchy. Completely addictive. Mandy warned me, and now I’m warning you. As soon as they cooled, I packaged them up and put them in the freezer so I would not snack on them any more. Well, 4 frozen cookies later, I can attest to the fact that they are even excellent straight from the freezer. I took the rest of them to my hairdresser today because I can not be left alone in the house with them!

Click here to print the recipe for Pecan Maple Fudge Cookies.

Maple Pecan Salmon

I think it was Albert Einstein who said, that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This could well apply to me. Every year, in mid-late March, we have a few days of warm weather and I put away all the boots, winter coats, hats and mittens. Then inevitably, without fail, it snows the next day. In the ensuing scramble the next morning, everyone curses me for putting it all away and I vow to wait a bit longer next year.

My blogger friend Bobbi, wrote so lyrically about this subject last week. As a matter of fact, she writes lyrically about everything. You should check out her blog. Even though we have never met, she seems like such a lovely person, someone I could be friends with. A few weeks ago, she was travelling and away from her husband. She wrote a beautiful blog titled, Absence and Coconut Chow Mein Butterscotch Cookies. Here is just a little bit of it:

 “I reach for you in the darkness like I always do, a twelve-year habit that I can’t bare the thought of breaking. My hands meet a cold, crisp sheet. Where are you? Where am I? The sleepy haze begins to clear, and I remember that you’re at home in our bed, so far away. I fumble for the light. I miss you less once my day has started; the light holds so many distractions. But in the dark, awake, all I feel is your absence.”

See what I mean? She is so poetic and lyrical. When I’m away from  my husband, I’m just grateful to have control of the T.V. clicker! I guess maybe I’ve been married a bit longer than Bobbi.

While we’re on the subject of virtual friends, in my mind, Kelly Rippa and I are the best of friends. It annoys my daughter to no end, when we are having a conversation and I say, “Well, Kelly told me …” She reminds me that Kelly and I are not friends, nor are we ever likely to be. But I believe, that if she met me, we would be great friends. We have so much in common. We both have 2 sons and a daughter, with our daughters being the middle child. We both love to stay at home and as I discovered this week, we both suffer from Misophonia.

Literally translated, it means, “hatred of sounds.”  It is a form of decreased sound tolerance. People who have misophonia are most commonly annoyed, or even enraged, by such ordinary sounds as other people eating, breathing, or coughing; certain consonants; or repetitive sounds. Both Kelly and I can not stand to hear other people chewing. If my husband is eating an apple or grapes in the other room, and I hear him chewing, it makes me crazy. I have to get up and close the door. I am also extremely irritated by the sound of coffee being poured from a silver coffee pot. I know this sounds totally bizarre, but it’s true.

Sorry, got a little sidetracked there. I apologize if now you know way too much about me. But perhaps, maybe now you think we could be friends? I would make an excellent virtual friend.

In the spirit of it almost, but not quite yet, being spring (don’t put away the winter boots just yet), I bring to you a lovely salmon dish, featuring maple syrup and salmon. This recipe was originally created by Rose Reisman. I have adapted it, using a new cooking method I learned from Michael Symon (and no, I do not imagine that we are friends, but wouldn’t he be so much fun to hang out with?) Michael suggests cooking the salmon in a very low oven (200°F) for about 15-20 minutes. At this low temperature, the salmon stays very moist and it quite flavourful.

At first, it seems like the sauce ingredients will never come together. But keep the faith, eventually they boil into one sweet and sticky sauce.

When you check on the fish after about 20 minutes, it will not seem like very much has happened since the colour will be almost exactly the same as when it went in. Use a fork to see if the fish will flake. If it does, it’s done. I ended up cooking mine for about 30 minutes, as no one here likes it rare in the center. It was so moist. The sweetness from the maple and honey balanced the richness of the salmon. The crunch from the pecans provided some wonderful texture. I served it with an apple and cabbage slaw.

Click here to print the recipe for Maple Pecan Salmon.