Pay Day Candy Bars

A little bit fussy
If using a candy thermometer is your idea of a good time, these are fun to make.

Equipment:

  • Medium heatproof bowl
  • Candy thermometer
  • Heatproof spatula
  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Parchment

Ingredients:

  • 32 oz. roasted, salted peanuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 6 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup water

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.

Cut into pieces and try not to eat too many.

Butter Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Icing

A little bit fussy, Cakes
This made a very merry birthday cake for yours truly.

Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

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.

Cherry-Raspberry Streusel Pie

A little bit fussy, Pie

This combination of cherries and raspberries is quite nice. And you can’t go wrong with a streusel topping.


Pie:

  • 1 single pie crust
  • 1 lb. sour cherries
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 TBSP cornstarch

Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats

Drain cherries, reserving liquid – you should have about 3/4 cup.

Prepare pastry for single-crust pie. Flute the edge but do not prick the bottom Refrigerate.

Prepare Streusel: Whisk together flour, cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir in oats. Cut in butter. Using your fingers, pinch mixture together until clumps form and there are no dry patches.

Make Filling: Combine sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Whisk in cherry liquid. Cook over medium heat until thick and clear. Stir in drained cherries and raspberries.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Pour filling into prepared pie crust. Sprinkle with streusel.

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes, then reduce oven to 350° and bake for 25-30 minutes more, until golden brown and bubbling.

Whoopie Pies – a.k.a – Devil Dogs

A little bit fussy, Cookies

Devil Dogs are a favorite of my mother-in-law who grew up in Massachusetts. This is an adaptation of her mother’s recipe. The original recipe states that it is critical you use Marshmallow Fluff, not Marshmallow Creme. Even if it means driving east until you see it in the grocery store.

Cakes:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk

Marshmallow Cream:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups marshmallow fluff
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Make Cakes: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, cocoa, soda, powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs and mix to combine. Stir in dry ingredients, alternating with milk. Mix well.

For Whoopie Pies: Scoop with a tablespoon or cookie scoop onto prepared cookie sheets, leaving 2″ between cookies. For Devil Dogs: Fit a piping bag with a large round tip and pipe 3″ lines onto prepared cookie sheets, at least 2″ apart. You can also pipe rounds for whoopie pies instead of scooping if you want more uniform cakes.

Bake at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until barely firm in the center.

Make Filling: Cream butter until light. Add powdered sugar and beat until very light and fluffy. Fold in marshmallow fluff and vanilla by hand with a rubber spatula until the color is uniform and there are no streaks.

Match up the cakes. Using either a spoon/cookie scoop, or a pastry bag fitted with a round tip, fill one half of the cookies with about 2 tablespoons of filling per cookie. Sandwich and press gently until the filling reaches the edges.

These are best eaten within a day or two at room temperature. Or refrigerate them and they will keep longer. It’s really hard to not eat 4 of these in one sitting.

Homebakers Collective July Challenge: Bake Your State

A little bit fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge, Pie

Iowa Cherry Pie

I have moved around too much to feel ownership of any state other than the state I was raised in. Iowa means a lot of things to me, but dessert-wise, it has to be pie, and cherry pie in particular. It was my birthday request every year as a kid. I remember when the cherries on the tree were ready, everyone would get together to pick them, then gather around the porch table armed with bobby pins to pit the cherries. Cherry juice would run down your forearms to your elbows until you were so sticky you had to hose off.

Pie Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter (115g), cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup lard (70g), cup into pieces
  • 1/3 cup ice water

Combine flour, salt and sugar in food processor. Add butter and lard and pulse until the butter pieces are no larger than peas. Add ice water and pulse until dough just comes together, about 5 times.

Divide dough into two pieces, shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Cherry Pie Filling:

  • 2 pounds sour pie cherries, thawed if frozen
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 almond extract

Drain cherries, reserving liquid – you should have a little more than 1 cup. Place cherries in a medium bowl.

Combine sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Gradually add reserved cherry liquid and lemon juice, whisking until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thick and clear. Remove from heat, stir in butter and almond extract. Pour over cherries and stir to combine. Sneak a taste here.

Assemble and Bake:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out each pie crust between two pieces of wax paper, peeling the paper and flipping the crust over to make rolling easier and uniform.

Line pie plate with bottom crust. Refrigerate until ready to use. Cut top crust into strips, if you’re doing the lattice. On a square of wax paper, prepare the lattice by weaving the strips together, starting with the longest pieces in the middle and working outwards. Sandwich the lattice crust with another piece of wax paper and refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm it up. Pour prepared cherry filling into bottom crust. Brush the edges with egg wash. Peel one piece of wax off the lattice and gently flip it over onto the pie, trying to get it centered. Crimp the pie and trim the excess pastry.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cherries are bubbling.