Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars.

the first day of school requires a new dessert. when in doubt, i go with rick bayless, who posted this recipe here on his excellent website.

these turned out really well. a couple notes – i used 1 cup of corn syrup and 1/2 cup molasses, as i didn’t have dark corn syrup in our cupboard. also, i will say that was nervous in step 2, because the filling was rather thin and watery – but it turned out just fine in the end, which made me glad. finally, there is no alcohol in these, but for me pecan pie is pretty closely linked with booze. in the future, i feel like i might try to add bourbon or dark rum or something. but all in all – a complete success. yum!

Makes 32  2-inch bars

Recipe from Season 6 of Mexico – One Plate at a Time

9 ounces (about 2 cups) pecan halves
One 9-ounce bag pretzel rods
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter (divided use), plus extra for buttering the pan
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces not larger than 1/4-inch
3/4 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) finely chopped Mexican chocolate (like the widely available Ibarra brand)
3 tablespoons flour
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups corn syrup, preferably dark (or use a mixture of corn syrup and molasses, sorghum, Steens cane syrup or most any of the other rich-flavored syrups that are on the market)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, preferably Mexican vanilla
Powdered sugar, for garnish

Directions

1.  Toast the pecans and prepare the crumb crust.  In a 325 degree oven, toast the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet until noticeably darker and toasty smelling, about 10 minutes. Let the pecans cool to lukewarm (but keep the oven heated), then coarsely chop them by hand—1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces makes luxurious-looking bars. Scrape into a large bowl.

Use a food processor to chop the pretzels into fairly fine crumbs. (You should have 2 cups of crumbs.)  In a small saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave at 50% power, melt 2 sticks of the butter. Scrape into the processor, along with the 1/2 cup sugar. Pulse until everything is combined.  Butter the bottom and sides of two 8 x 8-inch baking pans. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of each pan, then press them firmly in place. Butter the parchment paper.  Divide the crumb mixture between the two pans and pat into an even layer covering the bottom completely.

2.  Make the filling.  To the pecans, add the 2 chocolates and the flour. Stir to combine, then divide evenly between the 2 pans. In your small saucepan or microwave, melt the remaining 2 sticks of the butter. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla, and beat at medium-low speed (if your mixer has a choice, use the flat beater). Slowly add the melted butter, mixing until the batter looks smooth. Divide the batter between the two pans, pouring it slowly and evenly over the surface to ensure even distribution of the chocolate and pecans through the batter.

3.  Bake, cool and serve the bars.  Slide into the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the center has just set. Let cool to room temperature.Cover and refrigerate until firm for easy cutting. Cut into 2-inch squares. Keep them stored in the refrigerator until just before serving. Transfer to a serving platter, dust with powdered sugar, carry to your guests and await the ooo’s and aah’s.

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Kolacky.

My great-grandmother’s recipe; to try when back in Denver:

Combine in a bowl:
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt

Mix with fork or hands until mixture is crumbly.

In another bowl, beat the following:
3 egg yolks
3 tbsp cold water
3 tbsp vinegar
After beaten together, mix in 1 cup flour.

Combine the two mixtures in a bowl, and refrigerate overnight.

Roll out portions of dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut out shapes and fill centers; bake at 350-375 for 22 minutes.

Butter Almond Bars (August 12, 2011)

saw this recipe at the website for sunflower market, a local grocer. though they call it a cake, i will call it bars, since it is so thin and crisp that cake doesn’t properly describe it. and three sticks of butter can’t lead you astray, right?

Ingredients

Bars
1 large egg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, melted

Topping
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp almond extract

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the egg, sugar, flour, and butter with an electric mixer. Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

To make the topping: In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat and stir in the sugar. Add the almonds, flour, and milk, stirring constantly. Add the extract and continue to stir for 10 minutes or until thickened.

Pour the topping over the baked cake, then place the cake under the broiler until shiny brown and bubbly. (Watch carefully to prevent burning.) Let cool slightly on a wire rack. Cut into squares and serve warm.

overall, very nice and buttery and delicious. they are right to say watch carefully when placed under the broiler at the end – it browns up VERY fast. i liked these a lot, and would defs have them again.

Christmas Cookies (December 15, 2007)

Gingerbread – traditional recipe
Oatmeal toffee – again, I just used the recipe from the red and white Better Homes and Garden cookbook and added toffee bits
Peanut Butter Kisses – Better Homes and Gardens recipe plus Hershey Kisses…we even found them already unwrapped!

Cookies from Cake Mix
1 cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all together. Drop on to cookie sheets, by spoonful. They spread out a bit. I used chocolate cake mix and added some festive white chocolate chips.

Chocolate Candy Canes
1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet baking chocolate, melted
1 pkg. (6 oz.) Baker’s White baking chocolate (we got white chocolate chips, because I couldn’t find Baker’s)
12 hard peppermint candies, crushed (I used candy canes that I already had)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar, vanilla, in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add flour and baking soda; mix well. Blend in semi-sweet chocolate.

Shape tablespoons of dough into 52 balls. Roll each ball into 3-inch-long rope. Place 2-inches apart, on baking sheet, bending top of each slightly to resemble a candy cane.

Bake 10-12 minutes, or until slightly browned; cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely. Microwave white chocolate as directed (we melted the chips on the stove). Drizzle over cookies. Sprinkle with crushed candies. Let stand until white chocolate is firm. (I know that Sarah and I rolled out a few more than 52, may be close to 60. They puff up a bit, but do not really spread out. These were good and David commented that he liked the peppermint added to the cane.)

Chocolate-Dipped Snowballs
1/4 cup butter
1 pkg. jet-puffed marshmallows
5 c honey bunches of oats (I used rice crispies, mostly because I couldn’t find honey bunches of oats)
1 container (7 oz.) Baker’s Real Dark Semi-Sweet Dipping Chocolate (We used the rest of the Baker’s chocolate, plus part of a second package)

Melt butter in large saucepan on low heat. Add marshmallows; cook five minutes or until marshmallows are melted and mixture is well blended, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in cereal. Cool slightly

Shape into 24 balls with moistened hands (I used vegetable oil on my hands). Place on wax paper covered  baking sheet; cool completely.

Heat dipping chocolate as directed (We melted the baker’s chocolate in a small saucepan). Dip top of each ball in chocolate; return, dipped side up, to baking sheet. Refrigerate 15 minutes or until chocolate is firm.

Again, I think that this made many more than 24. I like “bite-sized” so the balls were maybe smaller than the recipie suggests.