Preheat oven to 200°F. Stir peanut butter and salt together in a large, heatproof bowl. Place bowl in preheated oven to keep warm.
Combine vanilla and baking soda in a small bowl and keep handy next to the stove.
Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once sugar has dissolved, attach a candy thermometer and cook until the syrup reaches 285°F.
Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla – the mixture will foam.
Carefully take peanut butter out of oven and fold in foaming syrup – fold together until the mixture is somewhat combined but there are still streaks of peanut butter throughout. The mixture will become quite stiff.
Working quickly while the mixture is still warm, divide among your silicon molds. Any molds will work, but I like these to be about 3/4″ to 1″ thick, so I don’t fill my molds all the way to the top. Any extra can be molded on parchment paper. The cooled bars don’t cut well, but you can break them up into shards which are just as tasty.
Let the butterfingers cool and harden for a couple hours or overnight. Remove from molds and dip in chocolate. Crispity crunchity.
1 1/2 cups chopped dried fruit (apricots, figs, raisins, etc.)
1/2 cup candied cherries (morello, maraschino, etc.)
1 cup Brandy or Cognac
3/4 cup butter
8 oz. almond paste
2/3 cup sugar
1 TBSP brandy or cognac
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Chop the dried fruit into small pieces- about the same size as your raisins. Halve the candied cherries. Place in a bowl and cover with Cognac or Brandy. Let sit overnight.
Drain the fruit and reserve 1 TBSP cognac/brandy.
Toast pecans in 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Let cool and chop coarsely.
Cream butter, almond paste and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the tablespoon of brandy/cognac and mix. Scrape bowl and mix well.
Stir together flour, baking powder, cloves and salt. Add to the butter and mix until combined, scraping bowl if necessary. Add fruit and pecans and mix well.
Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a 15″ log and roll up in parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and preferably overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice the dough into 1/2″ slices using a sharp knife. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 2″ apart. Alternately, to get a more uniform cookie – you can do what Dorie Greenspan does and bake each round in the cup of a muffin tin.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until starting to brown around the edges.
Roughly chop half of the peanuts. Mix them in with the other peanuts and place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper in one layer. Make four channels in the peanuts the length of the baking sheet using your finger.
Fill a 2-cup liquid measuring cup with hot water and set aside.
In a 2-quart saucepan, place sugar, condensed milk, corn syrup, butter, salt and water. Stir over medium-high heat with a heatproof spatula until the butter melts.
Insert candy thermometer and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the syrup reaches 238°.
Turn off the heat. Pour out the hot water in the measuring cup. Carefully pour the hot syrup into the warm measuring cup. Then, quickly and steadily, pour the syrup into the prepared channels on the peanut-covered baking sheet. Continue to pour until the channels are all filled equally, scraping out the measuring cup with the heatproof spatula.
Let sit for 1 minute to cool slightly. Using a spoon or your fingers (carefully), cover the channel with peanuts thoroughly. Let sit for about 5 minutes, until the syrup has firmed up but is still warm. Using your hands, form the candy into a rope, pressing in peanuts as needed to cover all the bare spots. Keep working until the rope is uniform in size and thickness.
Let sit for at least 30 minutes, reforming if the ropes loose their shape.
Cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Line three 9″ cake pans with parchment.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and brown, stirring frequently.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Cream remaining 1 cup butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
At low speed add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk and vanilla extract. Blend well after each addition. Stir in 1 1/3 cups pecans.
Pour batter into pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes until just done in the center. Do not over-bake.
Icing: Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Continue to cook for 5-10 minutes, until there are brown specks at the bottom of the skillet and the butter smells nutty. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until solid.
Beat the solidified butter on high speed until creamy. Add cream cheese and beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat until smooth and light.