Pecans Archives - Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Streusel Overkill is Good – Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Streusel Crumb Cake with or without Raspberries

February 4, 2013 at 11:59 am | Posted in Breakfast, Cakes, Dessert, Fruit, Giveaway, SRC | 78 Comments
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I love warm rainy days in the spring and summer.  I love the scent of lilacs.  I love the smell of Fall.  I love when someone brushes my hair.  Are you gagging yet?  Well you won’t be when I tell you what I love next.

Raspberry Brown Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Streusel Cake

I love streusel..lots and lots of streusel.  Who doesn’t?  I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t love streusel.  However, I know plenty of people who hate the scent of lilacs, abhor rainy days, despise Fall because it’s the official end of summer, and can’t stand someone else brushing, much less touching, their hair.

Continue Reading Streusel Overkill is Good – Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Streusel Crumb Cake with or without Raspberries…

Orange Chocolate Toasted Pecan Sticky Buns and Bad Boy First Love, Part One

January 21, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Posted in Breads, Breakfast, Dessert, Fruit, Yeastspotting | 52 Comments
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I made these sticky buns over a week ago, the photos processed, resized and ready to go, but I couldn’t write the post to go with it.  There’s been a lot going on in my life – so with all the drawn blanks, I let it sit until I could write something that wasn’t boring or viscous.  I finally decided to write about my first ‘true’ love.  We all have one of those, right?  It’s loaded with corn and cheese, but a great memory.  Don’t worry, I will get to these fabulous, gooey sticky ‘bad boy’ buns.

When I was in High School, I had a thing for bad boys.  Not necessarily boys who did bad things, but boys who probably weren’t going to become doctors or lawyers or even attend college, for that matter.  Not dumb, just tough, hard-working, strong boys with a dash of danger – the type that scared your parents just a little bit god forbid you marry one.  Bad boys like a young Matt Dillon, or Jared Leto as Jordan Catalano on My So-Called Life – you get the gist.

I lived in a pretty affluent town.  Most of the residents had loads of money, old and new, as did the residents of the other town that used our high school because they didn’t have a high school – probably because it was even more affluent than our town and didn’t want some old high school decreasing the palatial estate property values.

Most of the guys were clean-cut and super-duper spoiled.  Even the ones who looked like bad boys, were wealthier than the clean-cut guys, and the Phish/Deadhead stoners were even wealthier than the rich guys who looked like bad boys.  I’m not saying there weren’t some great guys in the bunch, because there were, but I just wasn’t feeling it on a crushy, puppy love level.

I guess there were just too many of them, and after a while any attraction I had poofed as I grew up.  It was the same old, same old – stepford boys who were gifted brand new porsches and corvettes the minute they got their learner’s permit – not driver’s license, learner’s permit!  Some celeb’s kids were dropped off in limos.  Really vulgar displays of wealth at times.

I was the opposite of a gold digger.  The tough, brooding, blue-collar cuties with natural grit and sexy, deep voices, made me weak in the knees.  The type of guy who would always defend your honor and not hide under a table when a fight broke out at a party (Yes, one of the rich boys I knew did just that).  Ladies, have we all not had at least one moment like THIS, in some form, sans the dyslexic talk?

 Turn this upside down……..

Well, I finally found my ultimate bad boy, or rather, he found me.  It was the summer of my 15th (almost 16th) year of life, at the Jersey Shore, before the show of the same name completely bastardized it and turned it into something that it was the polar opposite of when I was a teen.

Back then, it was all about the beach, the boardwalk, parties, and rock/pop music- not the tanning salons (they’ve got the beach as their front or backyard, for chrissake) and discos you see on TV. There were no Snookis in my Seaside.  In fact, the only time I saw guidos and guidettes was on Sundays when they would drive down in troves and swarm the beach and boardwalk like fruit flies to a rotting apple. A mass of muscles, suntan oil, and strong cologne. Lasers of sun reflected off their gold chains, blinding us as they sauntered down the boardwalk in their tight tank tops showing off their bulging biceps, making all kinds of lewd remarks and gestures to women. Eating an ice cream cone was grounds for;

“Oh man, I wish I wazzat ice cream cone…come mere, baby…tawk ta me!”

It was only one or two days a week, and everyone has a right to enjoy the shore, so no big deal.  Since the TV show started airing, Seaside Heights is now a sticky fly trap for them.

So, I finally met my ‘dream guy’.

 …….and you get this

It was an uncharacteristically chilly night for August, so I was wearing an over-sized jean jacket over a thin, lacy white mini skirt and top (I looked “like a doily”, to quote Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites), my arms crossed tight, wrapping the too long sleeves around myself like a straitjacket.  My best friend and I were on the Casino Pier watching, with shock and awe, some hunky guy climb to the top of a pirate ship ride to fix it (blue-collar boys didn’t have the luxury of free summer vacations like we did – they had to work to play).  She was scoping him out big time, hoping he would notice her once he was finished.  Suddenly, she nudged me hard in the ribs and said loudly so I could hear her over the music, right into the deepest part of my ear canal, which made me jump;

“That really hot guy that works on the bumper cars is trying to get your attention..OMG, Lisa..LOOK!”

I had seen this guy a few nights before and nearly melted into a puddle of goo, but there were too many girls standing around trying to get his attention, and frankly, I was way too young, insecure and shy to even consider joining the fray of adoration.

I turned my head to look, thinking she was probably messing with me.  There was no way a guy that hot would want my attention, no way.  Lo and behold, he was signing to me by rubbing his arms and mouthing “Are you cold?”.  I turned around to make sure this wasn’t directed at someone else because I still could not believe, on any realm, that this was meant for me.  When I saw no one, my stomach fluttered.  I turned back, shyly nodding ‘Yes’.  He gave me a huge smile, then shouted out..

“Come over here, it’s warmer!”

I don’t even remember how I got there.  I couldn’t feel my feet, much less my legs, but soon I was standing before him.  Ironically, ‘Walking on the Moon’ by the Police was the song that was playing on the classic rock station he had blasting for the ride.  I was most certainly walking on the moon, not to mention over it.  I’d never felt this in my entire, albeit brief, life.  Sure, I’d dated and had crushes, but no one had ever lifted my body and soul off the earth like this in less than a minute.  The colorful lights of the rides and attractions turned into a kaleidoscope of blur – but his beautiful face, shiny, thick, light brown hair, barely brushing his collar, and blue, blue eyes, were perfectly, and the only thing, in focus.  Third degree hot guy tunnel vision. Then he spoke, his voice deep, tough and sexy, exactly how I liked ’em;

“Feeling warmer?  What’s your name?” He asked with a small, sexy smile.  He had the nicest lips I’d ever seen on a guy.

I’m pretty sure I said “Lisa”. but my friend repeated it, so it probably wasn’t very audible.

After the usual “Where are you from? Where are you staying? How long are you here for?”, questions, he asked me how old I was.  I gained some sense of clarity (landed on earth) for a moment and asked him the same before I gave him my answer.

“18” He responded, almost too quickly.

When you’re a teenager. a 3-year, or well, 2 1/2 year age difference is akin to a 50-year-old man dating a 20-year-old woman, intellectually, at least.  A 15-year-old would be a ‘kid’ to him. I was jail bait.

“I’m..I’m…17” I responded, LYING.

I hated myself, but I never wanted someone so much in my life. He was my ultimate day (and night) dream fantasy boy, right down to his voice. He was the guy I would fantasize about when I was a 12-year old chubby girl with glasses, sitting at home reading on a Saturday night while all of my friends, who never had an awkward stage, were at middle school make-out parties.

He asked me if I wanted to do something when he got off work.  “YES YES YES!” I screamed inwardly, but kept it as cool as I could bear.  I was seventeen, after all.

“Sure.” I replied breezily, as if I was so accustomed to being asked out by super hot guys.

As luck would have it, the hunky guy my friend was checking out, the one who bravely climbed the what seemed to be thousand foot tall ride as fast as a monkey up a tree, was also 18, and his friend.  So, he would be there too.  It was all too perfect.

The problem was, since we were 15, we had a curfew, and that curfew was midnight, and not a minute after. However, a loophole! Since it was a weekday, my mother was the only disciplinarian at the beach house because my father only came down on weekends due to work.  She was easy to sneak out on – we’d been doing it since we’d arrived a few days before.

He asked us to meet them by the carousel around midnight.  We decided to go home early so my mother would fall asleep, content that we were home safe, giving us plenty of time to sneak out and be there at 12:00 am on the dot.   Everything went as planned, and soon we were scurrying up the ramp to the boardwalk to begin our trek to really hot, older guys who like us!

Orange Chocolate Toasted Pecan Sticky Buns

I was still floating from the initial meeting…walking on the moon, not feeling my feet as we hurried down the boardwalk, lest we were a minute late.  I’d never felt so alive in all of my 15 plus years of life.  The salty air was blowing my hair every which way, the sound of crashing waves in the dark night was hauntingly beautiful music, and the smell of popcorn and cotton candy was getting stronger with each step, each step closer to where the ‘perfect’ guy was waiting for me.  As the lights grew brighter and the music louder, I looked up.  There he was, his face breaking out in a huge smile, the best smile I’d ever seen on a guy. His smile was just like Jon Bon Jovi’s, I thought, in my 15-year old dreamy state.

“Hi, I’m so glad you showed.”,  he said in that tough, sexy Matt Dillonesque voice that somehow didn’t completely jibe with his amazing face (sorta like Matt Dillon), but that’s exactly how I imagined my fantasy  ‘bad boys’.  Like the moment I first laid eyes on him, too scared to stand among such pretty, older girls vying for his attention, I found myself melting into a puddle of goo.

Where are my legs?  I can’t feel them!  Oh, there they are – they just turned into rods of JELL-O.

We couldn’t stop looking at each other as my friend and hunky monkey man chatted away – shy, fleeting glances from my end, more direct, confident glances from his.

This is where I stop because speaking of ‘bad boys’, I’ve got some sticky buns that need some attention.  If you want to read the rest of this story, send me an email via my contact form or at and I’ll tell you where you can find it. Don’t worry, it’s free, I just wanted to take it down because it annoyed some when it came to printing out the recipes.

So what happens if you take a brioche recipe by Nancy Silverton, and sticky bun inspiration from Joanne Chang of the Flour Bakery and add orange and chocolate?  You get these sticky buns.

I call them my ‘If Nancy Silverton and Joanne Chang’s sticky buns had a baby with orange and chocolate, STICKY BUNS’.

I love Nancy Silverton’s brioche recipe..I love Joanne Chang’s sticky buns.  The goo is amazing in Joanne’s recipe – but a little too sweet for me, so I took the amount of sugar down a bit, added orange zest, orange supremes and substituted freshly squeezed orange juice for the water.  The filling is mine.  Why not add chocolate to a sticky bun filling?  This is what makes them bad boys, in relation to this ‘bad boy’ theme I’ve got going here.  One thing I did, via Nancy Silverton’s sticky bun recipe, was also add chopped , toasted pecans to the filling.

Orange Chocolate Toasted Pecan Sticky Buns

Big mistake.

Since I use 1 cup of chopped and whole pecans in each pan of the goo, the pecans in the filling were nutty overkill.  I omitted them from the filling in my second roll of sticky buns, and as you can see in the cross-section photo above, pure brown sugar, chocolatey, orange goodness.

The best part about these outside of the chocolate?  The orange supremes caramelize so perfectly, they’re like soft orange candy.

Orange Chocolate Toasted Pecan Sticky Buns
Makes two 9-inch round pans – 14 sticky buns, if using whole batch of brioche

The directions for rolling, filling, and cutting the buns are from Nancy Silverton’s recipe, with my additions and subtractions.

One batch Nancy Silverton’s Brioche Dough

Filling – this is the amount for one pan of 7 sticky buns using half the dough – make another batch for the other half of the brioche dough if making two pans.  If not, make something else with the other half of the brioche dough or freeze it for later use.
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup grated milk or dark chocolate

Gooey Topping
Adapted from Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery, with my revisions
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks), unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 to 2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Supremes from 4 navel oranges, divided – How to supreme an orange
2 cups toasted whole pecans, half of them chopped, divided (1 cup for each pan)

1. Divide dough in half; keep one half covered and chilled while working with the other. On a floured work surface, roll dough into a 11 inch wide, 13 inch long, and 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Dot surface evenly with half the softened butter and fold dough in thirds. Turn it so the closed fold is on the left and roll out again, without rolling over the edges. Fold dough in thirds again, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes. Repeat rolling, folding, and chilling with second piece of dough and remaining butter. (This is what I love about Nancy’s brioche for sticky buns, the additional butter with turns)

2. Rub orange zest into sugars until fragrant, then stir in cinnamon; set aside. Make another batch of the sugar, cinnamon and zest mixture  in a separate bowl and also set aside. Have two separate bowls, each containing 2/3 cup grated chocolate, ready.

3. Remove first piece of dough from refrigerator and roll into an 11 inch wide, 13 inch long, and 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Paint surface with beaten egg. Leaving top quarter of dough bare, sprinkle one bowl of the cinnamon, orange sugars over the dough, spreading it lightly with your fingers. Top with the 2/3 cup of grated chocolate; spread with fingers to distribute evenly. Use a rolling-pin to lightly press the filling into the dough. Starting from the short side, roll into a log and pinch the seam to seal.

4. Make the gooey topping.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine until uniform.  If it separates, that’s ok, keep stirring until it comes together somewhat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, orange juice, orange zest and salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool to room temperature.

5. Wrap log in plastic and freeze until firm. Repeat with second piece of dough. While logs are chilling, lightly butter two 9-inch cake pans and divide the gooey topping evenly between them. Top each pan of gooey topping with half the orange supremes, and 1 cup toasted whole and chopped pecans.

6. Remove a log from freezer and trim ends if ragged. Slice log into seven 1 1/2-inch slices with a serrated knife. Lay each slice flat, flatten slightly, and round the sides. Place rounded buns in a circle with the last one in the center; seams of buns should face outside of pan.

7. Repeat with second log. Let rest, uncovered, for 2 hours, until slices touch. Arrange oven racks so one rack is in the middle and the other just below, and preheat to 350°F. Put pans on middle rack and put a foil-lined jelly-roll pan underneath to catch drips. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Invert immediately on serving dish – one that’s big enough to catch any extra gooey topping that drips down the sides.

8. Use any extra goo on the bottom of pan or plate you turned buns over on, to drizzle over individual buns.

Finally, did you know that sticky buns originated in Germany and and are known as ‘Schnecken’?  They were brought to Pennsylvania via German Settlers in the 18th century.  Germany is one of many countries I’d love to visit in Europe, so I’m submitting these to Bread Baking Day #46, in which the theme is baking a bread from a place we’d love to visit, hosted by Noor of Ya Salam Cooking.

I’m also submitting these sticky buns to Yeastspotting, a weekly bread baking showcase hosted by the uber talented Susan of Wild Yeast.

Orange Chocolate Toasted Pecan Sticky Buns

Don’t forget to tune in to Part Two of Bad Boy First Love, on the 27th!

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Three Pies in One – Cheesecake Pumpkin Pecan Pie

November 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Posted in Dessert, Giveaway, Pies/Tarts, Puddings, Vegetables, Vegetarian | 227 Comments
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UPDATE: 11/26/14: Before printing the recipe and starting this pie, please read the TROUBLESHOOTING section below the recipe.   Also, I modified and updated the recipe and changed the baking method for the gooey pecan topping option because it works better, especially ‘layer wise’.

Whenever I think of Thanksgiving, I think of pie.  Bulging golden apple pie, deep orange, custardy pumpkin pie, gooey sweet, toasty pecan pie, luscious, rich…well, you get the picture.  Don’t get me wrong, visions of stuffing and candied sweet potatoes dance through my head too, but for some reason, since I started food blogging – PIE is the Footloose Kevin Bacon doing handsprings on the dance floor of my cerebral cortex.

Pumpkin pie has always been a favorite of mine, a pie I crave when the weather starts to cool and the leaves start turning color and falling.  The reason it became a favorite might have been because it was the bad boy pie, the elusive pie, the pie I wasn’t allowed to date or hang out with because my parents didn’t approve.

My family hated pumpkin pie.

Cheesecake Layer

As a child and young teen, OH how I craved a taste of those smooth, burnt orange, shiny surfaced pies, beckoning me with a whiff of pumpkinny goodness every time I saw one, whether it be at the supermarket, where I tried to sneak one into my Mother’s shopping cart, or the Fall bake sale at school.

I’ll never forget the day I got to finally sink my teeth into the creamy, spiced custard in a buttery, flaky crust that is pumpkin pie.  I was about 15, and the Fall bake sale at my HS was in full bloom, packed with kids and teachers vying for that last rice krispie treat, and almost stampeding past each other to grab a bunch of the ‘good’chocolate chip cookies that one Mom was known for (I always felt sorry for the other chocolate chip cookie Moms whose plates of cookies remained untouched).  I took baby steps toward one pumpkin pie, cut into slices, at the edge of the table.  I had spent the little money I had that day on a few bottles of nail polish being sold by an upperclassmen, forgetting about the bake sale.

Hmmm..I couldn’t just steal a slice – I needed to do this in a somewhat civilized manner, as in errr…

Pecan Crunch Topping

“I’m doing a report on pumpkin pie, and I’ve never tasted one.  I wish I could buy a slice, but I don’t have enough money.” I said to one sweet-faced PTA mom.  A report on pumpkin pie?  What was I thinking??

I immediately wished I could take it back, mentally punching myself in the mouth.

Then lo and behold – a miracle.  The PTA Mom winked at me and slyly slid a slice my way, ignoring the my ridiculous lie. I thanked her profusely..maybe a little too much, but no time for regrets, I needed to finally dig into years of wonder.

One bite and I was in heaven.  I knew we were meant to be.  From that day forward, even though pumpkin pie was still met with grimaces come Thanksgiving, my parents were nice enough to buy me one each and every last Thursday in November.  Of course, I had to endure the “Yuck, how can you eat that?” barbs and jokes, but it was well worth every bite.

To this day, my family still hates pumpkin pie or anything pumpkin in general.  To quote my father – from a very recent conversation we had about Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie this year;

“I just hate the smell of raw pumpkins.” He said with a look of disinterest.

“Have you ever tried it cooked?” I asked, in hope it would spark some new revelation in his pumpkin hating psyche..

“NO, and I don’t want to, so don’t try to push pumpkin pie on me, my stance hasn’t and never will change.” He replied.  Conversation over.

So much for that.

Oh, wow..all these years, and no pumpkin gene has kicked in – no glorious moment of discovery in finding out that something he ate contained pumpkn, and it was good!

Does that mean I’m not bringing one to Thanksgiving dinner? A big HECK no.  For years, coconut custard pie was the ‘pumpkin pie’ at our Thanksgiving dessert table, and I do love me a nice slice of coconut custard pie, but once adulthood set in, no one could stop me from placing a gorgeous, homemade pumpkin pie right beside it. Someone always found a way to push it to the side, the dark corner of the gymnasium during the HS dance – a total dessert outcast – shunned, blackballed, a scarlet P on its shiny surface. I was the friend who stood by it, the one who would never leave it to stand alone. In other words, I slid it back into the rotation every time I passed the dessert table, IN FRONT of the coconut custard pie. Ha!

Once I learned to bake pies, I tried many variations of pumpkin pie, from pumpkin cheese pie, to pumpkin pie with pecan streusel, to a recipe an ex BF’s Mom gave me where the cream cheese layer was beneath the pumpkin filling.  I LOVED that idea, and the pie itself, so that was my go to for many Thanksgivings to come.

Present day – as in today..well, last night.  I decided I needed to get at least one Thanksgiving pie favorite of mine up on this blog.  At first it was going to be the old pumpkin ‘cheese layer’ pie, but then I had this hankering for pecan pie too, and couldn’t decide which direction I wanted to take.  Then it hit me…why not combine all three, as in turning the pecan streusel from one pumpkin pie recipe into a more pecan pie like topping?  Into the lab I went, three days of testing.

It worked – two ways, crunchy or gooey.  Three pies in one.  No choosing, no juggling a slice of cheesecake, pecan pie and pumpkin pie on one plate, trying not to look silly as you take bites of each at once.

I almost added caramel apples to the cheesecake layer to make it a Pumpkin Apple Cheesecake Pecan Pie, but decided that was overkill.  What do you think?

The cheesecake layer is your standard formula for swirling into brownies, filling cupcakes or muffins , marbling into cake batters and sweet breads etc, prior to baking.  It’s a formula that I’ve had memorized for years, and it always works. No specific place where it comes from – it’s all over the net.  1 bar of cream cheese cheesecake creator – do you exist?

– Some readers have used store-bought 9-inch deep dish pie crusts in the foil pans and have experienced an overflow of the pumpkin layer.  If you want to use one of them to make thing easier, or just use a 9-inch deep dish pie pan, cut the pumpkin layer ingredients by half and continue as directed, but start checking it at 50 minutes.

Cheesecake Pumpkin Pecan Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: One 9.5 to 10-inch deep dish pie - about 8 to 12 servings, depending on how you slice it.
Rest time for pie dough - 2 hours
Chill time for pie - at least 6 hours, but preferably 12 hours
Pie crust adapted from Tish Boyle
Flaky Pie Crust
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch chunks and frozen
  • ¼ cup lard or vegetable shortening, frozen
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice-cold water ( I remove 1 tablespoon ice water and replace that tablespoon with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar in all pie crust recipes – it tenderizes the crust)
Cheesecake Layer
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
Pumpkin Pie Layer
  • 1¼ cups unsweetened fresh or canned pumpkin puree (If using canned, strain in a cheesecloth or paper towel lined fine mesh sieve, covered, for several hours to overnight, in the fridge)
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream (you can use evaporated milk, if you prefer)
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Regular Gooey Pecan Pie Topping
  • 1½ cups mix of whole and coarsely chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup light or dark corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
Alternative Crunchy Pecan Pie Topping (If you use this topping, the baking method changes. Read in directions below)
  • 1½ cups mix of whole and coarsely chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
Make and Parbake Pie Shell:
  1. Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade and pulse on and off until combined. Scatter the butter pieces and the shortening, in large chunks, over the flour mixture. Pulse the machine on and off until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 6 tablespoons of the ice water and process until the mixture just starts to come together. If the dough seems dry, add the remaining 2 tablespoons water as necessary. Do not allow the dough to form a ball on the blade, or the resulting crust will be tough! You want a raggedy mess of crumbly dough, with lumps of butter showing.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it in half, and shape each half into a disk – gently pressing each raggedy mess together, (DO NOT press into each disk or try to squeeze it together so the dough is uniform – it will come together in the refrigerator). Wrap the disks separately in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. You will only need one disk for this recipe, so you can freeze the other disk for later use.
  3. Lightly flour a large work surface. Allow the dough to soften at room temperature just until it is pliable (about 10 minutes). Place 1 disk on the floured surface and sprinkle some flour over it. Roll the dough from the center out in every direction, flouring the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking. You want a round of dough that’s about ¼ to ⅛ inch and about 3 inches greater in diameter than the pie pan/plate you are using.
  4. Transfer the crust to a 9½ to 10-inch deep-dish pie pan (if you don’t use a deep-dish pan, there will be pumpkin filling left over, not to mention you run the risk of overflow) by rolling it loosely around the rolling pin and unrolling it carefully over the pan. Press the dough first into the bottom of the pan and then against the sides. Patch any holes or cracks with dough scraps. Trim the edges of the dough with scissors, leaving about ¾ inch of overhang. Fold overhang over and crimp as you please. Place shell in the freezer and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  5. When oven temperature is at 400 F, remove the pie shell from the freezer and line the pie crust with a large sheet of lightly buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down, covering the edge of the crust so that it doesn’t get too brown. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice. Bake the pie crust for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Prick the bottom of the crust well with a fork and bake the crust for another 7 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden, but the crust is not fully baked. Cool the pie crust on a wire rack while you make the fillings. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Make the Pie Using Pecan Pie Gooey Topping:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in ¼ cup sugar, then add vanilla and egg. Beat mixture until smooth.
  2. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the bottom of the par baked pie shell, spread evenly, then freeze for about 15 -20 minutes.
  3. In the mean time, in a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, heavy cream, the lightly beaten egg, vanilla extract, sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt. Mix thoroughly until uniform. In another bowl (or 2 to 4 cup measuring cup), combine the eggs, sugars, melted butter, corn syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl. Do NOT stir in pecans, keep them in a separate bowl for now and set both the pecan pie goo and pecans aside. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  4. Remove the pie shell with cream cheese from the freezer and pour the pumpkin mixture on top of it. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 F and bake 20 to 25 minutes more. You want the pumpkin layer semi-firm enough to hold the gooey pecan topping. When it looks that way, gently scatter the 1½ cups chopped and whole pecans evenly over the pumpkin layer. Now carefully spoon or pour the pecan pie goo over the pecans. It's okay if it doesn't cover fully as it will all melt together in the oven. Another way to add the pecan goo is too mix it up in a 4 cup glass measure so when it's time to add the pecan goo after scattering the pecans on the pumpkin layer, you pour the goo around the pie in circles from high up so it hits the pie in a thin stream, which will prevent sinkage.
  5. Bake for 30-45 minutes longer. Cover the edges of crust with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield if browning too quickly, but you will eventually have to cover it to prevent excess browning some time toward the end. Keep checking every 20 minutes.
  6. When the pie is done, it should be sturdy, but still jiggly in the middle. The pecan pie topping should be dark and bubbling.
Make Pie Using Alternative Pecan Crunch Topping
  1. After you freeze the cheesecake layer, pour on the pumpkin layer and place in the oven. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the pumpkin layer is firm enough to hold pecan crunch layer without too much 'sinkage'.
  2. After pie has been in oven for 50 to 60 minutes, remove from the oven and gently sprinkle or spoon pecan pie crunch topping evenly over the top. The pumpkin pie layer will sink a bit because the pecan crunch is heavy, but do not worry! Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until the pecan pie topping is bubbly.
  3. Cover the edges of crust with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield if the crust is browning too quickly, but you will eventually have to cover it to prevent excess browning some time toward the end. Keep checking every 20 minutes.
  4. In the end, no matter which pecan topping you used, when it looks to be done, remove from oven and let cool at room temperature, then place in the fridge and chill for several hours to overnight (overnight is recommended).
IMPORTANT – And I have to stress this again even though I mentioned it above. Whichever pecan pie topping you use, you MUST let the pie cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for several hours to overnight before slicing and serving (preferably overnight). Also, sometimes some of the cheesecake filling or pecan pie filling affects the color of the pumpkin filling. It may not look a beautiful orange, but rather a yellowish color. No worries, as it still tastes awesome!
-Some have mentioned that they didn't have enough pecan pie topping to cover. It truly depends on your pie dish, so if it looks like you might not have enough, or simply want more since it's a thin layer, double or add another half of either pecan pie topping and bake an extra 5 to 10 minutes.
-If you don't have or can't find a 10-inch deep pie dish and want to use a 9-inch deep dish, cut the pumpkin layer ingredients in half. The reason for this is that a 10-inch deep dish is wider and deeper, and that extra inch in width makes a big difference. Start checking the pie at 50 minutes rather than 60 minutes.
-Drizzle pie with melted chocolate or chocolate ganache for extra decadence!


1. “There’s too much pumpkin filling, it overflowed when I poured it on top of the cheesecake, and I still had pumpkin filling left over!”

I have been using a 10-inch deep dish pie dish, like THIS one, for this pie for years, and everything fits perfectly.  But, if you use a 9-inch deep pie dish or your pie dish isn’t holding all the filling once you’ve already mixed all the pumpkin filling and started to pour it on; stop pouring when the pumpkin filling reaches about 1/2 to 1-inch below the crimped edge.  Make mini pumpkin pies with any leftover pumpkin filling.  Line a standard cupcake/muffin pan with cupcake liners and place a gingersnap or vanilla wafer at the bottom of each lined cup (or spray cupcake wells with oil, then line wells with pie dough circles).  Pour pumpkin filling over the cookies and bake at 375 F for 25 – 30 minutes.  You probably won’t fill all 12 pan wells, so pour water into any empty, unlined wells so the cheesecakes bake evenly.

UPDATE: I modified the pumpkin filling for a 9-inch to 10-inch deep dish pie plate to make sure there is no overflow.  However, if you want to use a 10-inch springform pan, the pumpkin layer ingredient amounts should be changed to;

1 1/3 cups unsweetened fresh or canned pumpkin puree (If using canned, strain in a cheesecloth or paper towel lined fine mesh sieve, covered, for several hours to overnight, in the fridge)
1 cup heavy cream (you can use evaporated milk, if you prefer)
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 eggs, lightly beaten

I also recommend increasing the cheesecake and pecan pie layers by half, and using a graham cracker or your favorite cookie crust in lieu of the pastry crust!

2. “My pie has been in the oven for over 75 minutes and it still doesn’t seem done! What should I do?”

The pie will not look done when it’s ready to come out.  It will be jiggly in the middle, almost like it’s raw, but the sides will be somewhat set, just like a cheesecake. Some ovens run hotter or cooler than others, so an oven thermometer is an ideal tool to have to make sure your oven is at the right temperature. Regardless, do not keep the pie in the oven more than 90 minutes.  Once you take it out, let it come to room temperature, then into the fridge to chill for at least 6 hours.  I promise you it will set up perfectly!

3. “The pecan topping seems sparse!”, or “…it isn’t fully covering the top of the pie!”

The pecan pie layer is supposed to be thin (since it’s so sweet), but, if you want more gooey pecan pie topping, make another half of the recipe and add another 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.  If you decided to use the crunchy pecan topping, it  may seem like it won’t cover the top of the pie, but however you spoon it on, it will all melt together and cover the top of the pie in the end.  But, you can also double or make another half of the crunchy pecan pie topping, if you’d like.

4.  “Do I really have to strain the canned pumpkin?”

No, you don’t.  It’s just something I’ve been doing for years with any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.  Removing the extra water intensifies the pumpkin flavor and removes any ‘tinny’ can taste. It also helps reduce the chance of overflow. Sometimes I even strain and cook down the canned pumpkin!

In conclusion, everyone ate and loved this pie – even my father, although he scraped off the pumpkin layer.  Oh, well, it’s something, right?  Regardless, it’s now in demand for every Thanksgiving forward.

On another note, I submitted this Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake Pie to the Food Network’s Virtual Thanksgiving – A Communal Table.  The hashtag on Twitter is #pullupachair.  Below is the virtual Thanksgiving menu created by all of us.  What a feast, huh?  Click on the links and be prepared to drool.

The Food Network Communal Table Thanksgiving Feast

Cocktails, Appetizers, Soups and Salads:

Eat Be Mary: She’s Mulling It Over Wine
Cookistry: Bread With Ancient Grains
Celebrity Chefs and Their Gardens: The American Hotel Peconic Clam Chowder
Picky Eater Blog: Butternut Squash Soup With Thyme and Parmesan
Good Food Good Friends: Mushroom Soup

Mains: Grilled Quail with a Warm Beet, Frisée, and Pistachio Salad
She Wears Many Hats:
Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey

Living Mostly Meatless: Vegan-Friendly Corn Casserole
Healthy Green Kitchen: Red Kuri Squash Pie
The Naptime Chef: Crispy Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes
Gluten-Free Blondie: Apple and Cranberry Studded Stuffing
Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat: Blue Cheese and Rosemary Celebration Potatoes
Burnt Lumpia: Turkey, Sweet Potato and Cranberry Empanadas
Panfusine: Pan Fried Polenta Seasoned With Cumin, Ginger & Black Pepper
Homemade Cravings: Warm Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Slaw
Bakeaholic Mama: Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Crispy Prosciutto
Show Food Chef: Beer-Braised Brussels Sprouts
T’s Tasty Bits: Sweet Empanadas with Pumpkin and Lupini Beans Filling
The Amused Bouche Blog: Braised Kale
The Little Kitchen: How to Make the Perfect Mashed Potatoes

The Macaron Queen: Macaron Tower
Poet In The Pantry: Amaretto Apple Crisp
Farm Girl Gourmet: Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cotta
That’s Forking Good: Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Blondies
Out of the Box Food: Out of the Box Food Maple Pumpkin Pie
Cake Baker 35: Orange Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Lisa Michele: Pumpkin, Pecan, Cheesecake Pie
Food For My Family: Buttermilk Custard Pear Pie
Simple Bites: Black-Bottom Maple Pumpkin Pie
A Cooks Nook: Swedish Apple Pie
Yakima Herald: Pretzel Jell-O Salad
How Does She: Three of Our Favorite Desserts
Dollhouse Bake Shoppe: Thanksgiving Candy Bar Name Plates
Sweet Fry: Pumpkin Latte
Tasty Trials: Spiced Apple Panna Cotta With Caramelized Apples and Caramel Sauce
An Uneducated Palate: Puff Pastry Apple Tart
Frugal Front Porch: Mini Cheaty Cheesecakes

Even more:
Kitchen Courses: Thanksgiving for Six People Under $60
A Curious Palate: The Communal Table

Time for the winner of the Cuisinart DLC-2 Mini Prep Plus Food Processor. After I generated the number via, and counted over and over, skipping over a few of my own replies, I wasn’t shocked to see where it landed.  There were several entries from people who battled and survived breast cancer, people who’s loved ones battled and survived breast cancer, and sadly, some who lost loved ones to it.  Well… chose one of those people, or maybe something/someone else did.

Congratulations, Stephanie!  I hope your Mom chops, grinds and purees her heart out :)  Sending you an email to get your mailing info, right now.

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When Life Gives You Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake, Make Chocolate Meringue Cinnamon Rolls

March 27, 2011 at 12:05 am | Posted in Breads, Cakes, Daring Bakers, Dessert, Yeastspotting | 58 Comments
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Many years ago, in the Pillsbury Bake-Off contest, a marshmallow wrapped in crescent dough and baked, won the Grand Prize. Who woulda thunk it?

I’ve never been a huge fan of yeasted coffee cakes.  You know the cakey part of a NY style crumb cake?  I never eat it.  I pull off all the lumpy, sweet crumbs, I even search for lumps in the cake itself, ones that separated and slid into the doughy batter in hopes of camouflage. The carnage is torn remnants of golden cake, scattered around my plate in lots of odd patterns, left to wither and dry until slipped into the garbage mercifully.

I probably love every single yeasted bread, sweet and savory, that’s known to man, so why does yeasted bread suddenly become something ‘feh’ for me  when it’s called a coffee cake?  Drakes.  Yes, those little plastic-wrapped, miniature coffee cakes in a box, so moist, delicious and deceptively cute – but really evil, evil enough to make me want to eat a whole box in one sitting, evil enough that I hold all coffee cake ‘cake’ in comparison to them.  I’m humbled to admit it, but yes, it’s true….ack.

Hmmm…it probably didn’t help that my father loved a good deal on one or two day old pastry from the local supermarket bakery, when I was growing up.

There are some exceptions to this ‘cake’ rule, like babka, with lots of filling, whether it be chocolate or cinnamon, and of course, huge, gooey cinnamon rolls, sticky buns etc..just give me lots of filling or goo with the yeasty base, and it’s alll goood as a yeasted coffee cake.

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Italian (not French) meringue holds in the goo..a little seeping into the dough, lots of gooey goo.  I think this is it for me.  I don’t need as much filling to enjoy a yeasted coffee cake when meringue is baked onto the dough, stretching out the filling and making it well, just gooey-er  The dough our host’s provided to us is rich, silky, sexy perfection – easy to work with, and extremely easy to eat.  You cannot fail with this dough, no matter what you do with it, sweet or savory. 

Ok..I admit, I sort of snuck into cinnamon rolls because I was worried it would be yet another plate of scrappy cake remnants, dry and withering, while we ate filling and parts of the cake with filling on it.  With rolls, if it wasn’t moist or gooey enough, I could always drown it in cream cheese frosting on an individual basis.

Here’s some slight changes I made to come up with these chocolate meringue, gooey, cinnamon rolls. 

  • I used all the dough in the recipe (which makes two coffee cakes) to make one dozen chocolate meringue rolls.
  • I made an Italian meringue in lieu of the french meringue in the recipe, then added dark cocoa, for a deep chocolate meringue.
  • Combined the cinnamon with dark brown sugar instead of granulated.
  • Increased the cinnamon and chocolate chunks (I used Jamie’s version)
  • Topped the finished rolls with swirls and swirls of luscious cream cheese (aka – I could lick it off a dirty tire) frosting.  However, these didn’t need any kind of frosting!

I guess you could say I turned the meringue filling into a chocolate marshmallow meringue, after whipping it with the hot sugar syrup into oblivion.  However, this is a good thing when it came to rolling up the dough, — less leakage — and the chocolate, cinnamon sugar, and nuts sort of nestled in and stuck.  I froze the rolled tube of gooey love prior to slicing to also aid in holding the filling in.  I now wish I didn’t go to all those stops to hold the filling in, since seeing some of the crispy meringue bits on other Daring Baker’s cakes.  Looks too tempting.  I can’t wait to make this coffee cake again, as an actual coffee cake, with meringue seeping out of the cuts in the dough.

I love challenges that change my opinion, and this one most certainly reformed me as far as a yeasted coffee cakes go.  A silky, rich dough plus meringue is now my go to yeasted coffee cake.  Thank you Jamie and Ria for an eye-opening and delicious challenge!

Here’s a tip, a tip to anyone who loves to bake cinnamon rolls – ditch the butter that’s spread on the dough prior to cinnamon-sugar deposit, and use sweetened meringue instead.  Not only is it better for you, but it gives you a gooey-er cinnamon roll.   Now I know why a marshmallow wrapped in crescent dough and baked won the Grand prize in the Pillsbury Bake-Off many years ago.

For the recipe for this awesome meringue coffee cake, which you could make into my chocolate meringue cinnamon rolls, click HERE.  To see all the mouth-watering coffee cakes. fillings and other doughy, meringuey creations my fellow Daring Bakers came up with, click HERE.

Finally, I’m submitting these rolls to Susan over at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting bread baking showcase.  I rarely have time to bake breads as of late, so when I do, I always send them her way :<).

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Macarons for Passover, Cake for Easter Just Cake, Macarons, and a Cookbook Giveaway! Giveaway Closed

May 7, 2010 at 5:36 am | Posted in Cakes, Cookies, Giveaway | 79 Comments
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This is going to be a pretty long entry.  This all started as a mission to use up leftovers.  I had a ton of egg whites left over from making the infamous Momofuku Crack Pie (coming soon!) and a jar of orange marmalade from the Daring Bakers Orange Tian challenge.   I typed egg whites and orange marmalade into a search engine (I’m still not used to using Google as a verb) and lo and behold, came across a cake by a baker who’s amazing butterscotch pudding is one I’ve made and deemed the perfect butterscotch pudding – Melissa Murphy of Sweet Melissa Patisserie.

Apparently, there’s  a challenge online called Sweet Melissa Sundays where they have been baking from her book, The Sweet Melissa Baking Book , for quite some time now.  I’m not a member, but one benefit of these challenges is you can grab recipes from cookbooks you don’t happen to own a copy of (I know, that sounds kind of awful, huh?)  Well, in this case, no need to label me a pilferer because I went out and bought the book, (but not before Leslie of Lethally Delicious, who hosted this particular Sweet Melissa Sunday, went out of her way to correct a small part of the recipe left out, for me.  Thank you, Leslie!)  In fact, I bought two cookbooks, one of which I would like to give to one of my readers, but I’ll get to that later on.

The cake I’m speaking of is called Roasted Pecan Cake with Caramel Orange Marmalade and Burnt Orange Buttercream.  If you recall..I don’t flip over orange marmalade.  However, this wasn’t a cake for was an Easter/Birthday cake for a friend who happens to love anything orange. After seeing the theme for last month’s Mac Attack. which was holidays in April, I thought, why not accessorize the Easter cake with a macaron for Passover, using the same flavors in the cake?  However, this never materialized due to several heartbaking MACcidents that took place (I just love word play).

                            I ripped the dang ribbon trying to tie a perfect bow.

The first batch of Macs I made were perfection.  It was the first time I turned out a full batch of PERFECT macaron shells – no duds!  I was ecstatic!!  I thought the Mac gods had blackballed me and I was destined to turn out lumpy, uneven macs for eternity.  I was so thrilled with this sheet of perfect macaron shells, I could NOT stop looking at them.  Every time I walked by the baking sheet of superbness, I had to check and make sure they were still superbness.

Since I wasn’t filling them until the next day, this occurred quite a bit.  Soon, a little paranoia crept in..’What if someone accidentally eats them?’  ‘What if my cat runs across the counter and crushes them?’  ‘What if a 6.5 Richter scale earthquake strikes and they crash to the floor in pieces?’  (Let’s not get into minor details about my living on the Northeast Coast – we do have the Ramapo Fault, you know!).

Unwaxed, unflavored dental floss makes a great cake ‘torter’.  Just cut around the perimeter of the cake, not going through, then slide the dental floss into the cut and pull both ends through in a criss-cross manner.

Due to this paranoia, I decided to put them in my turned off oven, slightly ajar, for ‘safekeeping’.  I think you all know how this is going to turn out.  Now.,.I’m not naming names as I would never want to embarrass anyone I love because they made a little mistake.   SO, I’ll refer to this person as ‘someone‘.

Roasted Pecan Cake with Caramel Orange Marmalade and Burnt Orange Buttercream                    Crumb coat, final coat, wonky decor and the piece de resistance.

One hour before I was going to fill them, I get a phone call from someone on my cell while out.

Someone:  Hiya..did you leave some chocolate cookies in the oven?

Me: WHAAAAAATTTT???? (I knew instantly what had occured.  My macs were orange)

Someone:  Yeah, I turned on the oven to preheat, then smelled something.  They look great!

Me:  NO, they were orange macarons and you just burnt them to a crisp!!! (sob, sniffling…screaming)  They were perfect, I’ll never get another batch like them! (WAHH..sob, more screaming)!!!

Someone: never told me you left something in the oven! (He”s right, but I suppose my habit of always looking in the oven prior to preheating isn’t a habit possessed by all..or many for that matter)

After mourning the most perfect sheet of macarons ever..I knew it was time to move on.  Cracked eggs, separating the whites from the yolks to age, made another batch of  tant pour tant, then emailed Jamie of Life’s a  Feast, the Mac Tweets co-founder, to ask for an extension, along with a very detailed explanation of what went wrong.  THEN, my descent back into macaron hell began…

Batch #2 – I left the aging egg whites uncovered to rush the aging process.  Umm..egg whites exposed to air eventually dry up.  I know this..why did I forget this?  Used what egg white was still liquid and folded in as much tant pour tant as it would hold.  Added too much – thick paste..knew it was going to be a failure as I squeezed the batter in the piping bag, popping a few blood vessels along the way, onto the baking sheet.  Hoped for an oven miracle.  No dice.  Trashed.

Batch #3 –  Couldn’t wait for the egg whites to age for 24 hours, so I cut it short.  This time I over folded..and I knew it.  Deflated the meringue, and again..knew they were going to be an epic failure as I watched the nonviscous goo dribble out of the pastry tip onto the baking sheet.  Hoped for an oven miracle.  No dice.  Trashed.  Emailed Jamie and bowed out of April’s Mac Tweets Attack.  OOOKKK..I would enter these macs in May’s Mac Attack instead, informing Jamie that I would find a way to wrap them around the new theme.  No more Easter and Passover.

Batch #4 –  Phew, not as perfect and gorgeous as that first sheet, but they turned out ok.  Ask someone to pull them out of the oven when the timer goes off since I need to run out for a few.  Come home…they’re squished and dented.  He used my giant Hamburger Helper ‘hand’ pot I never use because it’s too big and well, squishes most everything on a cookie sheet.  Trashed.

Batch #5 – These turn out ‘eh’, but at this point I’ll take anything.  Took some photos of them sandwiched together and planned to take photos of them with the cake later on.  Two other someone’s came over for dinner.  They move everything over on my table to make room, piling some stuff on top of cookie sheet of macarons.  Cracks, cracks, cracks.  Trashed..well, some eaten, but still falling into the  ‘Trashed’ category because I have to do them again..ARGH!

Batch #6 – Not even coloring the tant pour tant orange this time.  Instead, colored the burnt orange buttercream.  These turned out somewhat ok, so this was it for me.  Tucked in some of the cracked orange colored macs for photos, turning them so you can’t see the cracks, and left it at more mac making for at least 2 weeks!  Oh, did I mention I got sick after the final batch, further delaying this entry another two weeks?  Yep, one of those months.  I’m convinced it’s the Mercury retrograde.  Esoterically, the color orange is associated with Mercury hmmmm *tap tap tap*.

After all of this..I check the May theme at the Mac Attack site.  Pair your macarons with a book you  like, whether it be from your childhood or present.  OK..this all started as an Easter/Passover cake and macaron entry.  Now it’s a cake and macaron entry pertaining to a book my grandma used to read to me as a child called The Duchess Bakes a Cake by Virginia Kahl.

Basically, I’d be lying if I said this came to mind initially, but I remember the kitchen disaster where she added way too many things to the cake, including leavenings, so…the cake rose, and the Duchess with it — and how were they to get her down again?, (the cake I had no problem with other than decorator’s block, hence the polka dots, ribbon of dried oranges and wonky border – so it’s kind of far fetched).

Yeah..I know, sucky, half-assed book pairing/analogy.  There really IS a book I initially thought of, that I read as a kid, when I thought of my macarons.  In it, the lead character’s little brother stuffs his teddy bear with orange pits for its life force.  For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of it..even though I only read it like ohhh, a dozen times between the ages of 10-13. UPDATE 2014 – The book is called The Cat Ate my Gymsuit, by Paula Danziger.

As for the cake..yes I emphatically stated in the Orange Tian entry my intense dislike of orange marmalade and any dessert laden with orange pieces of any sort.  In this case, the marmalade is stirred into a caramel, so it tasted like orange candy, really good orange candy.  No bitterness, no aftertaste.  The roasted pecan cake is amazing..moist, light and tender.  My one caveat is the needs more  of the orange juice  reduction, OR, maybe a few grates of orange zest would suffice.  The orange flavor just didn’t come through.  However, it was still smooth, silky, rich and delicious, delicious enough that next time I may mix a little of it into the orange marmalade filling and suggest you do the same..not only for taste, but for prettier layers.

                    Photo shamelessly stolen from the Barnes and Noble wesbite.

FINALLY, my GIVEAWAY!   As mentioned 1000 miles ago (the start of this entry), I would like to give away a brand spanking new copy of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.  No need to subscribe to my blog, post it on your Facebook and Twitter, take out an ad in the NY Times singing the praises of my blog, or offer up your first born.  Just leave a comment and  I’ll announce the winner a week from today.

One last thing for fun, although it probably wasn’t fun at the time.  Has a kitchen disaster ever reduced you to tears?   Would love to hear your stories! An answer is NOT required to enter the giveaway. :)

Roasted Pecan Cake with Caramel Orange Marmalade and Burnt Orange Buttercream – The one change I made to this cake to make it butter pecan, is..melt 1/4 (4 tablespoons) cup butter and toss with pecans before roasting.

 Orange Pecan Matzo Meal Macarons
Recipe adapted from Tartelette, with my revisions

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup toasted, ground pecans
2 tablespoons matzo meal
2 large egg whites (aged overnight, at the least – I age them 48 hours)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tsp finely grated, dried orange zest, powdered  (dry zest in a 200F oven for about 30-40 minutes, then grind until powder like consistency, or dry strips of the peel minus the pith, grind to a powder, use one teaspoon and bottle the rest for all kinds of uses)
orange food coloring (optional)

Burnt Orange Marmalade Buttercream
1 half recipe burnt orange buttercream, linked above in entry
1 half recipe caramel orange marmalade, linked above in entry
orange food coloring (if not coloring the shells)

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.  You should have glossy peaks that bend at the tip.

2. Place the powdered sugar, almond meal, ground pecans, matzo meal and dried orange zest in a food processor and give them a good pulse until everything is finely ground.

3. Add them to the meringue along with some orange food coloring, if using. Fold all carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10.  The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small peak, give the batter a couple of turns.

4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 300F.

5. When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 tablespoon of burnt orange marmalade buttercream in the center of one shell and top with another one.

1. Combine the buttercream and caramel orange marmalade, then pipe or spoon onto every other macaron cookie.  Top with another macaron cookie.  If you don’t color the shells orange, add a few drops of orange food color to the buttercream for contrast, if desired.

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