It is the season where organizations are having Christmas cheer in dinners, baking tables, craft sales etc. The calls are put out for donations in “what can you contribute” in all sorts of categories. Baking is one on top of the list for requests. It is my favourite and I have a system in place that is quick and also a bonus for my freezer. The main “ingredient” for me to make things easier is parchment paper. I line my baking dishes with it—I can’t live without it. A hint to make it easier to work with when trying to fit it into your pan is to crumble it into a ball, put it under your kitchen tap and wet it thoroughly- squeeze it a bit and while still wet, unroll the parchment paper and place it in your pan.
The following recipes are quick and yummy.
Chocolate Pecan Bars
I always think when you bake one recipe, you are already in the mess, so bake two. You can donate the one and put the other one put in your freezer for the Christmas season. Leave the parchment paper bigger than the pan so when the baking is done, you can grab the edges and lift your masterpiece out, place on a cutting board and cut into squares using a big chefs knife. I used semisweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter
4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted (I used 2oz semisweet and 2oz unsweetened)
1. Preheat the oven 350°F. Place parchment paper in an 8-inch square pan. If you are not using parchment paper grease the pan with butter.
2. In bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking powder. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until crumbly. If you don’t have a pastry blender use your fingers until the butter is the size of large green peas.
3. Use your fingers or a large spoon and press into the 8-inch square pan keeping the same thickness throughout the pan. Sprinkle the pecans on top.
4. In a bowl, whisk together corn syrup, sugar and melted butter until smooth; whisk in the eggs. Stir in flour, and vanilla. Pour over the base.
5. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
6. Melt the semisweet chocolate and add the butter; stirring until the butter is melted. Spread evenly over top. Let chocolate harden before cutting into bars.
Caramel Pecan Squares
If you like Turtles chocolates, you won’t be able to resist these. For the topping I mixed unsweetened chocolate with semisweet. I omitted the part where you add a pecan half to each scored square because I ran out of time.
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
10 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used 6 oz semisweet and 4 oz unsweetened)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup pecan halves
1. In bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy; blend in flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Pat into a lightly greased or parchment lined 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan. Bake in 350°F oven for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in pan on rack.
2. In saucepan, cook sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened and candy thermometer registers 230°F. Remove from heat; stir in pecans. Spread evenly over base. Let cool completely.
3. In top of double boiler over hot, not boiling, water, melt together chocolate, butter and cream, stirring occasionally. Spread evenly over filling. Let cool for 15 minutes. Score into 1 1/2–inch squares; press pecan half into each square. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set. Cut into squares.