Pecan Buttermilk Pie Tartelettes (P. Allen Smith)

Happy Boxing Day, everyone! It’s insane to me that Christmas has come and gone.

Similar to my thoughts on blondies, I’d never met a pecan pie that wasn’t much too sweet. And yet pecan pie is so tasty, I could never resist having a piece when it’s available. When Thanksgiving rolled around, I went on the hunt for a less-sweet pecan pie recipe. I found P. Allen Smith’s recipe, courtesy of this funny blog post. Candied pecans? Buttermilk? I’m in.

The recipe is really very simple. The buttermilk pie filling is a one-bowl recipe with no mixer needed. And the candied pecans are easy to make as well. I cut the sugar in the pie filling by 1/4 cup and cut a little of the sugar from the pecan topping.

For Thanksgiving, I made these into mini tarts. They make a great hors d’oeurvre or dessert finger food. I made the full-size pie version for Christmas. The candied pecans are a good foil for the tang of the buttermilk pie filling. Rave reviews! I do prefer the tartelette version since they’re simpler to transport and eat. But of course there’s more labor involved.

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Candied pecans

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Buttermilk Pecan Tartelettes

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Apple/Peach Streusel Oat Squares

For some reason I’ve never had real success with jam squares. I’m not sure why that is – they don’t seem particularly challenging: Take a straightforward oat mixture, spread and flatten in a pan, add a layer of jam or preserves and a 2nd layer of oat base mixture.  Maybe add a crumble topping. I love my crumble toppings. And yet I have never been able to strike the right balance between the crumbly oat mixture (not sweet enough) and the sweet center filling (often too sweet).

Until now. In perusing my new favorite blog, which I initially arrived at in searching for green juice/smoothie recipes (which Angela affectionately calls “Green Monsters”), I came across this recipe. I had most of the ingredients, including some apples that had passed their prime and a huge bag of oats in the pantry, so it was perfect timing.

I made a few omissions and revisions out of necessity and sometimes whim. Because I was using some sweeter fruits (a Fuji apple which was on the verge, a Granny Smith  that was getting close to the verge, and a peach), I cut a little sugar in the apple/peach mixture (original recipe calls for 3 Granny Smiths). I didn’t have ground ginger so I omitted that. I didn’t have vanilla so I used a natural vanilla sweetener—just a couple drops because it was extremely potent. Nor did I have maple syrup, so I used the rest of my agave. I love oat crumble so I added a healthy dose of oats to the crumble and loved the texture it gave it.

This was a first for me—baking with an egg replacement. Gel eggs can be created using flax or chia seeds (or a combo of both) and some recipes call for you to grind the seeds and let the mixture thicken in the fridge. I did neither and my chia egg turned out fine (need to make note of this the next time I want to bake and don’t have eggs). This recipe would be dairy-free if I’d used the Earth Balance like the recipe called, but I couldn’t resist using real butter.

The result: Perfectly crumbly, chewy bars with a moist filling. Perfect for fall (or late summer). I may or may not have eaten 3 pieces straight out of the oven.

I just love 1st time recipes that turn out well and use up stuff in the fridge!

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The finished product. Serve while still warm a la mode…

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…or on their own, bite-sized.

Buttery Apple/Peach Streusel Oat Squares (adapted from OhSheGlows.com)

For Oat Base:
1.5 cups regular oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup Sucanat sugar (or brown sugar)
1 chia egg (1 tbsp chia seeds+ 4 tbsp warm water, mixed well and set aside for 5 mins)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp Earth Balance, melted
1/4 cup agave syrup (originally called for pure maple syrup)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (replaced with a  couple drops of natural vanilla sweetener)
2 tbsp almond milk

For Fruit Mixture:
2 apples, 1 peach (or any combo of apples, peaches, nectarines)
2 Tbsp Earth Balance or butter
1 Tbsp maple syrup or brown rice syrup
1 Tbsp Sucanat (or brown sugar)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch of vanilla sea salt (from Chelsea Filling Station in NYC.  Did I mention that I love that place?)

For Apple Streusel Topping:
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp oats
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a square pan (I used a 9×9) with parchment paper and oil the sides of the pan and base. In a medium sized pot, add the fruit mixture ingredients (chopped apples, butter, agave/maple syrup, spices). Heat over low, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until the fruit softens and mixture thickens up.
  2. In a small dish/bowl, mix the chia or flax egg and set aside (or in the fridge). In a large bowl, mix the oat base dry ingredients: oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, mix the melted earth balance, maple syrup (or agave), almond milk, vanilla, and chia egg. Stir well.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well.
  5. Set aside 1/2 cup of the oat base mixture.
  6. Pour the oat mixture onto the square pan and press down with fingers. Use a pastry roller to smooth out if desired. Pour on cooked apple mixture and smooth out.
  7. Make the streusel topping by mixing all ingredients together with a fork or fingers. Now sprinkle on the reserved 1/2 cup oat mixture and apple streusel topping and sprinkle over top.
  8. Bake at 350F for approximately 30 minutes. Allow to fully cool for at least 30-40 minutes before gently removing from pan. You can firm them up in the fridge before slicing into squares or bars (but they’re so good warm!) Apparently, the bars also freeze very well, if they last that long.

pudding chocolate chip cookies

After having a late lunch of Ricky’s Fish Tacos (our first time! And it did not disappoint), I got a hankering for something sweet. It is Easter after all, and since I don’t have chocolate bunnies, Cadbury eggs, jelly beans, or fluorescent Peeps around me to partake in, I could always use a cookie.

So I decided to try pudding cookies. 

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These were way tastier than the sub-par picture. I keep baking at night. Sorry!

The recipe is basically a spin on a traditional chocolate chip cookie, but it’s more fool-proof. The pudding makes the cookies nice and soft and gives you some insurance in (over)-baking. They’re also hardy little things. I sort of dropped one while transferring them to the cooling rack and it barely even dented. 

Adapted from Nikki’s recipe from Chef in Training. I cut the sugar, as I do for most baking recipes, and sprinkled in some espresso salt in the flour mixture. 

PUDDING COOKIES

1 1/2 sticks (or 3/4 cup) butter
3/4 cup brown sugar minus 1-2 Tsb
2 tsp white sugar
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding OR 2 small packages (1.85 oz)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2-1/4 cups flour
1-2 cups chocolate chips (or whatever add in you would like)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Stir together flour and baking soda and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together.
  4. Add in pudding package and beat until well blended.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla.
  6. Add flour mixture slowly until well incorporated.
  7. Add chocolate chips or whatever add-in you chose.
  8. Roll into 1″ balls and place on greased baking sheet. Flatten the cookies since if you want a thinner cookie (my personal preference).
  9. Bake at 350 F for 8-12 minutes (about 11 minutes in my oven), and I rotated the pans halfway through when I remembered.

Extremely simple and straightforward recipe. I don’t even want to tell you how many cookies I ate before I finished baking the last batch. Good thing I went to spin class this morning. 

Happy Easter, everyone! Hope you had some of that disgusting Easter candy that I was craving all day!

blondies

For my sister’s birthday, I wanted to make something for her to take home. I also wanted to try something new since so many of my baking standbys are chocolate-centric (cookies ‘n cream cookies, chocolate chip cookies, brownies).

Enter the blondie. I’ve always thought it must be possible to make a good blondie that’s not saccharine sweet. For my recipe, I went to the authority on all things culinary, Cook’s Illustrated.

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