Last Christmas, my dear mother gifted me a set of mini tart tins with removable bottoms, an item on my baking wish-list!! I'm embarrased to say that it's taken me over six months to finally take them for a test drive... but better late than never! Their first use features a basic sweet-dough tart shell and one of my personal favourite fillings... pecan pie! These are somewhere in between personal sized pecan pies, or giant pecan tarts... call them what you will. But we can all call them DELICIOUS.
Recipe adapted from my experience at The Butchart Gardens
About 20-30 minutes before you want to use it, take the dough out of the fridge to thaw a little bit so that it's easier to roll. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Place a tart tin on the dough and use a paring knife to cut a circle of dough out that is just slightly larger than the tart tin. Place the circle of dough into the tart tin and press into the bottoms and up the sides, pressing well into the edges to form a neat wall that won't slump while baking. Dock the bottom of the tart with a fork. Repeat with remaining tins. Place the tins in the fridge or freezer and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375. Place a piece of parchment into the dough shells and fill with dried baking beans or pie weights to blind bake the tart shells. Bake for about 15 minutes until just starting to turn golden around the edges. Reduce the oven temperature to 350. Remove the beans and parchment. Return the shells to the oven and continue baking until lightly golden and baked through, don't worry too much as these tarts will be going back into the oven later. Let them cool before adding the pecans and filling...
Pecan Tart Filling:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place the pre-baked tart shells onto a rimmed baking sheet.
Fill the tart shells with toasted pecans, not too many, but just enough to cover the bottom of the shell and allow for a pecan piece in every bite. Pour the filling over the pecans to fill the tart shells. Bake for about 25 minutes until the filling has slightly souffléd and does not jiggle too much when you shake the pan. Let cool completely before enjoying :)
It is about time for some serious dark chocolate business around here.
***RANT WARNING***I have posted a shocking amount (okay, 2) of recipes including white chocolate already... shocking because for a long time I have turned my nose up to white chocolate. I think I have done so because white chocolate is a lie in that it is not technically even chocolate. I have (sometimes too passionately) argued this scientific fact with friends. It does not contain any cocoa solids, only the fat that is pressed out of cocoa nibs to make REAL chocolate. However I suppose you do need to use cocoa beans in order to procure white chocolate, and perhaps if we just consider white chocolate a thing on it's own and not compare it to the wonderful deep dark real-deal chocolate, it is okay, and okay to enjoy.
There, I had to get that off my chest, and I feel better.
But back to my roots and the soul of my very being, which I'm pretty sure is made of dark chocolate. I am a proud chocoholic, lover of all things bittersweet and a true believer that the darker the chocolate, the better.
Join me, if you will, on the dark side.
These cookies invited one of dark chocolate's best friends over for a play-date and they got up to NO GOOD. Luckily for us it's the delicious kind of no good. That's right, peanut butter. When peanut butter and chocolate get together to play, it's hard for it not to be a good day.
Cookies filled with cocoa AND dark chocolate chunks, peanuts AND swirled with peanut butter... HELLO!
These cookies will be as good as the ingredients you use to make them. For me that means using the good dark dark chocolate, salted peanuts, and all-natural peanut butter. Amen.
Prep your milk glasses for dunkin', folks.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Recipe from Mast Brothers Chocolate
At least once I day I get a craving for something like chewy chocolate chip cookies, or a nutty chocolate bar. I think everyone does though really. If they say they don't, they are obviously lying. Something chewy, chunky, sweet but a little bit salty, don't forget the chocolate please. Enter these crowd pleasers.
A cross between a cookie and a chewy caramel-y nut loaded chocolate bar, these are AMAZING! And addictive. I have to seriously practice my self control. HOLD ME BACK, BRO, HOLD ME BACK!
Caramel Nut Bars
Recipe adapted from Georgia Annis
For the Cookie Base:
Time to channel my inner Italian Grandmother.
(There is a part of me that wishes I could channel my inner Italian Sexy Woman, however the odds are far more likely that it is "Grandma Status" that I will successfully relate to. One can dream.)
However "Grandma Status" to me often means cookies, so really I see nothing wrong here.
I am lucky to say that I have had the opportunity to visit the beautiful delicious county that is Italy. It was more than fantastic. I could go on and on about the lemon trees, the old buildings, the gelato, the accents and beautiful people of any and all ages... but for now I just really want to talk about cookies. Is that okay?
If you have also been to Italy you would remember how these simple almond biscotti cookies are EVERYWHERE. Grocery stores, gift shops, corner stores, cafes, at restaurants, etc etc. They are everywhere! And yes I totally fell in love with them. I should have eaten more I really should have. Crisp, hard and crunchy, they are not what I normally strive for in the cookie game. However these are an exception. And exceptionally delicious to dip into your cappuccino while you sit outside, sheltered under the awning of a tiny cafe in the Cinque Terre waiting for the rain to pass. Wow can I go back?
These also remind me of a certain fancy pants dinner that I had in Italy with my friends. It was a four or five course meal, in a lovely restaurant overlooking the Tuscan country side juuuust outside of Florence. #treatyoself. There was a serious amount of wine (red and white, all at once) and a serious amount of laughter and flirting with the waiter coming from our table. (Sorry to that poor man.) The food was probably some of the best I've ever tasted. Pasta Putanesca that made my tastebuds sing in ways they never had before. I couldn't wait for dessert, typical me. When all they brought out was a basket of biscotti, I thought it was a cop out. What? This is it? But then I ate like 10 of them and took it all back. SO DANG GOOD. I knew I needed to recreate them at home.
These, my friends, are it! A biscotti any Nona would be proud of.
Recipe slightly adapted from Epicurious