Blueberry Cream Cheese Brownies

Pairing chocolate and cream cheese has long been a favorite of bakeries. Brownies come in a variety of forms and may be either fudgy or cakey, depending on their density.

Arguably, one of North America’s major contributions to the dessert world, the first printed mention of them appeared in the Sears Roebuck & Co. Catalog of 1897, advertising ‘fancy crackers, biscuits, cakes, brownies …. in 1 LB. papers’.

Brownies were widely baked in the 1920’s and by 1931, the first edition of The Joy of Cooking included a recipe for ‘fudge squares’.

There are literally hundreds of types of brownies as well as ways to eat them. Cut them up to make parfaits or add a dollop of whipped cream, berries or a sprinkle of dried fruit and nuts or maybe some ice cream.

My choice today are some blueberry cream cheese brownies that consist of four layers. With the use of the Lor Ann Company’s blueberry emulsion, that wonderful blueberry flavor is intensified. These are brownies at their best!

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Brownies
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BROWNIES
Ingredients
Oatmeal Layer
Chocolate Layer
Cheesecake Layer
Blueberry Topping
Servings
BROWNIES
Ingredients
Oatmeal Layer
Chocolate Layer
Cheesecake Layer
Blueberry Topping
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Instructions
Oatmeal Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine all oatmeal layer ingredients until crumbly. Pat into prepared pan & bake for about 8 minutes.
Cheesecake
  1. In a bowl, beat cream cheese & sugar until fluffy. Add egg; beat well then add milk & blueberry emulsion & combine well. Set aside in refrigerator until chocolate batter is prepared.
Chocolate Batter
  1. In a microwave safe dish, carefully melt chocolate then add butter. Stir until combined & slightly cool; add beaten egg & sugar. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder & salt. Add to chocolate mixture alternately with combined milk & vanilla. Fold in walnuts. Carefully spread batter over baked oatmeal crust.
  2. Pour cheesecake filling over chocolate layer & carefully smooth out. Bake 20-25 minutes or until chocolate & cheesecake batters test done. Remove from oven & cool on wire cooling rack.
Blueberry Topping
  1. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar & salt. Add water & blueberries; cook until clear & bubbling. Remove from heat; add lemon zest (if using) & blueberry emulsion. Stir & allow to cool.
  2. When brownies are cooled cut into serving size pieces. Spoon blueberry topping over brownie cheesecake & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • Don't hesitate to add a bit more Blueberry Emulsion for a stronger flavor if you wish.
  • Just for fun, I made some of the brownies as individuals to see what they would look like.

Oatmeal Mincemeat Cookies

I confess to being a bit ‘old school’ when it comes to mincemeat. When I was a kid, it was always closely related to Christmas baking. Generations past made it with beef suet, but the only kind I’ve ever known is the ‘all-fruit variety’.

I realize its simple to make but there are so many fantastic mincemeats you can purchase ready made that are just as good if not better than homemade.

My favorite, is one I have used for years, PC Suet-Free 5 Minced Fruits Mincemeat. It contains apples, raisins, currants, orange & lemon peel, rum, brandy and molasses as well as a number of different spices. I like to add a bit more apple, nuts and lemon juice to it for my own personal taste.

Mincemeat is very versatile so there’s no need to limit your repertoire to tarts or pie. Swap the traditional date filling with mincemeat in any date square or use it in Christmas cake. It makes the prep work far easier and has similar flavors and a finer, cakier texture. Of course there are always muffins, cookies or an apple-cranberry mincemeat crumble.

I know that mincemeat is not for everyone but the combination of oatmeal and mincemeat makes these ‘retro’ cookies pretty tasty.

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Oatmeal Mincemeat Cookies
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Cookies
Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Cookies
Filling
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Instructions
Cookies
  1. In a bowl, cream butter & sugars; add egg & rum extract.
  2. In another bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda & cinnamon.
  3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture & combine well. Place cookie dough in refrigerator to chill, (about 30 minutes) while you prepare the filling.
Filling
  1. Peel & chop apples. Chop nuts. Spoon jar of mincemeat into a bowl & combine with apples, nuts & lemon juice.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll chilled cookie dough into generous 1-inch size balls. Place on cookie sheets making sure to give them some room to spread a bit. Press your thumb down in the center making a dent big enough to hold a generous teaspoon of filling. Divide filling between cookies.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to rest on cookie sheet for 5 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Mini Harvest Galettes

Its like a mix between carrot cake and apple pie. Vegetables and fruit in a pie …. this recipe never fails to be fantastic even if you don’t like zucchini.

The oral history of pie predates its written record. Many cooks stand by family secrets scrawled on stained index cards. It seems, pie is eaten for breakfast, with lunch and for dessert after dinner. In many ways, pie is more prized because it takes time and effort, a slice carries more importance than a cookie, but is less fussy than cake.

The perfect pie (or galette), is built on two things …. a well made crust with a flaky texture and golden color and a fresh, well set, flavorful filling.

The combination of carrots, apple and zucchini is something special. The carrots and zucchini are really interchangeable, so if you’d like to use more of one than the other, no problem.

When baked, zucchini has a similar texture to an apple; it gets soft but retains some texture. Add the same warm, fragrant spices as in an apple pie, lemon juice, a bit of extra sugar to compensate and you got it!

This recipe has been one of my fall favorites for many years and we still enjoy its wonderful flavor.

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Spicy Harvest Galette
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Instructions
  1. Prepare pastry & either use 6 mini flan pans or one 9"deep pie pan. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine apples, zucchini, carrots, nuts & flour; toss to coat.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together brown sugar & butter; add cinnamon, cardamom, salt, lemon juice, vanilla, orange zest & 2 eggs. Blend well. Add apple mixture & combine well.
  4. Roll out pastry larger than your pans. Line pans leaving the jagged edge to fold over filling. Make a few pastry designs for the tops if you wish. Spoon filling into a pastry lined, mini pans. Flip rough edges over filling. Top with pastry in a fall leaf pattern. In a small dish, blend egg wash & brush over crust.
  5. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until deep golden brown. If necessary, cover pies loosely with foil during last 15 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning.
  6. Serve warm with whipped cream. Store any 'leftovers' in refrigerator.
Recipe Notes
  • I laid the grated zucchini on paper towel  & placed the grated apple in a strainer while I prepared the rest of the ingredients. In both cases, I did NOT hand squeeze them as you still need some of that moisture to prevent having a dry filling when baked.

Apple ‘Aumoniere’ w/ Salted Caramel Sauce

Almost every country has its own version of crepes, but it was France’s Brittany region where the tools and techniques were first created and perfected.

The French tend to be a proud people and they hold dear the things that make them unique. In France, creperies are common everywhere and although the French are legendary for their disdain for le fast food, they have their own version of cuisine a la minute.

Crepes are the French answer to fast food. Nearly every street corner in the heart of Paris, has a stand de crepes. These crepes, eaten in the street, on the go, leaving you with a mouthful of sugar and sticky hands, are absolutely memorable. In less time than it takes to fry a burger, a competent crepier can cook a thin, eggy crepe, flip it, fill it, fold it and present it ready to eat.

In French, the word aumoniere is derived from the word aumone, which means, ‘giving money to someone in need’. An aumoniere represents a small purse (the pastry) with coins inside (the filling).

In July (2020), I posted a blog that featured Seafood Aumoniere. Today, I thought it would be nice to use that same technique in a dessert presentation. I find the contrast of the sweet & salty essence of caramel is delicious when combined with the tangy taste of apple.

As many trends in North America do, the salted caramel flavor started in high-end restaurants and gourmet shops. Then it appeared in top chain restaurants and premium supermarkets before finally ending up at superstores like Walmart.

The combination of sweet & salty foods makes for an appealing treat that creates a flavor which is both unique and appetizing. The trick to getting salted caramel right lies in the ratios. Too much salt and the balance is completely off, too much sweetness and it becomes sickeningly sweet. Its that sprinkle, that just barely there dash of salt in the sweet that awakens your taste buds and sends that pleasure to your brain.

It seems the earliest roots of salted caramel can be traced, once again, to Brittany, France where a chocolatier named Henri Le Roux pioneered the art form.

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Apple Aumoniere w/ Salted Caramel Sauce
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Ingredients
Crepe Batter
Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Crepe Batter
Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
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Instructions
Crepes
  1. In a bowl, combine flour & cornstarch; pour in milk slowly while stirring constantly. Add eggs, oil, salt & vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
  2. When batter is ready; heat oil or cooking spray in a crepe pan or skillet. Give the container of batter a quick tap on the counter. Place 1/4 cup of batter into the pan & swirl to even it out & form a circle. When edges start to pull away & the crepe looks cooked in the middle, give it a quick flip & cook for just 10-20 seconds on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter. Should yield 6-8 crepes.
Salted Caramel Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, heat sugar, stirring constantly. The sugar will form clumps & eventually melt into a thick brown, amber colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
  2. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes. If you notice the butter separating, remove from heat & vigorously whisk to combine it again.
  3. Very slowly, drizzle in the heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble when added. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils. Remove from heat & stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to slightly cool down before using. Caramel thickens as it cools.
Apples
  1. In a large, heavy skillet melt butter. Add prepared apples & sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning; add brown sugar & cinnamon. Cook, covered over medium-high heat, until apples begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat & drain off any liquid. This juice can be used for something else as it will make the caramel sauce too runny if not drained off.
Assembly
  1. Divide the apple filling between the 6 crepes, placing each portion in the center of the crepe. Drizzle a bit of the salted caramel sauce over top of the apples. Gather the sides up to enclose the filling, secure with a toothpick.
  2. On serving plates, either pour a small amount of salted caramel sauce in center of plate or create a design with it. Set the apple 'aumoniere' in the center of the plate & sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Bailey’s Strawberries & Cream Fudge Pudding Parfaits

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

One thing for sure, Valentine desserts most often center around chocolate and strawberries. To celebrate the occasion, Brion came home with a bottle of Bailey’s Strawberries & Cream liqueur. This is the companies second seasonal flavor following their Pumpkin Spice liqueur. To put it in their words, ‘ the drink combines Bailey’s Original Irish Cream with delightful ripe strawberry flavor and delicious vanilla’.

After we had enjoyed it as a drink it got me thinking about how I could incorporate it into a ‘special’ dessert as well. Do you recall those classic Hot Fudge Pudding Cakes from the 60’s? They were the ultimate comfort food, fancy enough for a parfait and homey enough to be a spur of the moment indulgence. I could see nothing wrong in swapping out the milk in the original recipe for some strawberries & cream liqueur!

Speaking of pudding cake, its really kind of a culinary miracle, how pouring hot water over a thick batter can create this warm, fudgy concoction that lies precisely at the intersection of cake and pudding.

OK, on with my dessert … I had some strawberries in the freezer so they became a nice strawberry sauce to compliment the liqueur in the pudding. Serving this dessert parfait style with some ice cream or whipped topping adds a bit of elegance and I’m sure you will love the taste.

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Bailey's Strawberries & Cream Fudge Pudding Parfaits
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In an 8 X 8-inch baking dish, combine first 5 ingredients. Add liqueur, margarine & walnuts, combine well. Batter will be very stiff (if you find it easier to mix the cake in a small bowl instead, do so). Spread batter evenly in the baking dish.
  2. In a small dish, combine brown sugar & 1/4 cup cocoa powder & sprinkle over batter. Pour boiling water over all & bake for about 40 minutes or until batter rises to the top & is baked through.
Strawberry Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar & salt. Mix well. Add water & sliced strawberries. Cook until sauce is clear & bubbly. Remove from heat & cool.
Assembly
  1. Place some strawberry sauce in the bottom of each parfait glass. Spoon fudge pudding over sauce & top with ice cream or whipped topping. Serve with a glass of liqueur!

Kiwi Walnut Mini Cakes w/ Strawberry Coulis

Not only does kiwi look and taste like no other fruit, its also available when some of the other fresh fruits aren’t. The month of February is a good time for this favorite duo. Ever since the 80’s, when the world first fell in love with the kiwi/strawberry flavor, the combo is in everything. I guess its because they are the perfect complement to each other’s flavor profile.

Since there are just the two of us at our house, I always like the idea of making individual desserts. Upside down cakes are so versatile, quick and uncomplicated. You can make them plain , fancy, sweet, savory, large, small …. your choice!

Today, my plan is to make some kiwi/walnut cakes with a strawberry coulis. A fruit coulis (pronounced koo-Lee) is a thick sauce made from pureed and strained fruit. They may also be made from fruit jams or preserves that are strained and diluted with water, liquor or simple syrup. Additional seasonings such as spices may be used as well as acids like lemon juice, but they are typically kept simple to avoid ‘muddying’ the flavor with too many ingredients. Coulis originally referred to the juices from cooked meats and may also be made with cooked vegetables.

Coulis can be used in many different ways such as plate decoration or just for a burst of complimentary flavor. My strawberry coulis certainly worked its magic on these little kiwi cakes.

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Kiwi Walnut Mini Cakes w/ Strawberry Coulis
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Course dessert
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Ingredients
Cake
Strawberry Coulis
Course dessert
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Ingredients
Cake
Strawberry Coulis
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Instructions
Topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. lightly butter 6 custard baking cups. From parchment paper, cut circles to lay on the bottom of each. Divide melted butter between the 6 cups. Sprinkle with the brown sugar & walnuts. top with kiwi fruit slices.
Cake
  1. In a small bowl, beat together eggs & sugar until thick; gradually beat in oil. In a small dish, combine flour, baking powder, spices & salt. Stir flour mixture into egg/sugar mixture, then add orange juice & vanilla. Stir ONLY until combined.
  2. Pour the batter over fruit in custard cups, dividing it evenly between them. Bake 15-20 minutes or until they test done with a toothpick. Allow cakes to cool for about 5 minutes, then invert onto a rack to finish cooling.
Strawberry Coulis
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine strawberries, sugar & lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat & cool for a few minutes. Transfer to blender; puree until smooth, strain & set aside until ready to serve.
Assembly
  1. Place some coulis on individual dessert plates & top with a kiwi cake. Store any leftover coulis in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Christmas Cookies

December has arrived and when I was growing up, it was officially ‘baking season’ for my mom. Many of the ingredients for the special things she would bake at this time of year were just too expensive to have on hand all the time. While we were at school, over the weeks prior to Christmas, she would bake many different kinds of cookies and squares. When we would arrive home in the late afternoon, there was no trace of what she had baked. Every cookie tin and various other containers were being filled with these glorious goodies. It all became part of the mystery and suspense of the season.

Like many traditions, the origin of the Christmas baking ‘bonanza‘ comes from medieval times. Winter solstice rituals were conducted long before Christmas became the huge commercial holiday it is today. Celebrations revolved around food. By the middle ages, the Christmas holiday had overtaken solstice rituals and the pastry world was experiencing some big changes. Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper as well as dried exotic fruits were becoming available. Expensive delicacies like sugar, lard and butter all became treasured ingredients that could only be afforded on this most important holiday.

Unlike pies and cakes, cookies could easily be shared and given to friends and neighbors. Our modern day Christmas cookies are baked for similar reasons. They’re given as hostess gifts in festive tins, used on giant dessert trays and of course they make for wonderful family baking traditions.

Most homemade holiday cookies were simple rounds or squares until import laws changed in the 19th century introducing inexpensive cookie cutters made of tin and emphasized shapes.

I realize ‘mincemeat’ doesn’t appeal to everyone’s pallet. These days the ‘all-fruit’ varieties have made it much more appealing. In a previous blog, I had used a lemon curd filling in these tender little cheesecake cookies. Since Brion and I both enjoy the all-fruit mincemeat, I thought I’d do a Christmas version. Pairing the flavors of anise, mincemeat and lemon was real nice.

The Irish Cream cookies are an easy no-bake version. If you like this liqueur, I’m pretty sure these boozy little bites will work for you.

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Mincemeat Cheesecake Cookies / Irish Cream Cookies
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cookies
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Instructions
Mincemeat Filling
  1. Combine mincemeat filling ingredients & refrigerate until needed.
Cheesecake Cookies
  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese & butter until fluffy & smooth; 1-2 minutes. Add sugar; beat another 1-2 minutes then add eggs & anise extract & continue beating 1 more minute.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, anise seed & salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to the butter mixture & stir just until incorporated. Do NOT over mix. Divide dough in half.
  3. Between 2 sheets of parchment paper, roll each half of the dough to a 1/8"-1/4" thickness. Remove top sheet & using a 2 1/2" (6 cm) round cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Using top sheet of parchment, lay rounds about 2" apart. Slide a plastic cutting board under parchment paper & transfer to freezer for about 30 minutes. (I found this made it much easier to continue the procedure).
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove cookies from freezer. Spoon about a teaspoon of COLD mincemeat filling onto center of each circle. Wet edges a bit with water or beaten egg. Fold cookies in half & using a fork, press edges to seal. (If your mincemeat filling is well chilled, I found it didn't run out of the cookies while being baked).
  5. Bake cookies for 10-11 minutes. Cookies should be light in color, not browned & just starting to brown on bottom. * Length of baking time may vary from oven to oven. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Lemon Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients & beat to a drizzle consistency. When cookies are cooled, drizzle with glaze.
Irish Cream Cookies
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine Irish cream, corn syrup, butter, white chocolate & salt. Heat while stirring until butter & chocolate have melted. Gently boil for about 2 minutes.
  2. Turn off heat & stir in puffed rice & oatmeal. Let stand for 2 minutes. If the mixture is a little runny, you may need to add a little more oatmeal ... about 1/4 - 1/3 cup).
  3. Using a spoon, you can either drop by spoonfuls on buttered parchment or press mixture into a buttered 1/4 cup measuring cup to form more precise cookie rounds. Let stand for at least an hour or until cookies are set. They will be soft but chewy. If you wish, decorate with holiday motifs.

Medjool Date & Apple Flans

There are so many culinary uses for Medjool dates, in both sweet and savory dishes, whether served hot or cold. Often called the king of dates, not only because they are quite expensive but are highly treasured for their size and rich, intensely sweet flesh.

These special fruits are pricey because their cultivation is incredibly labor-intensive. In order to ensure quality and yield, Medjool date palms need to be hand pollinated, pruned, protected and hand picked. While growing, the date bunches are wrapped in bags to prevent the birds from snacking on them and to keep them from falling on the ground.

Dates are usually left to dry on the tree before being harvested, which accounts for their wrinkly appearance. This places them in a peculiar category of being both dried and fresh. Different types of dates have different textures that fall into three categories: soft (like Medjool); semi-soft, which are chewy and are pitted before packaging to dry a little more; and dry, which are often sun-dried after harvest and sold chopped.

Dates can be paired with lamb or chicken and spiced with Middle Eastern flavors or added to dried apricots, cranberries and toasted walnuts in rice or couscous accompaniments. Their caramel-like flavor adds a hint of the exotic to whatever you choose to use them in.

We had some extra apples I needed to do something with. The thought of pairing them with some Medjool dates and walnuts …. Yum!

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Medjool Date & Apple Flans
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt. Cut in white & yellow Crisco shortening. In a dish, whisk together water, egg & apple cider vinegar. Make a well in flour mixture & pour all wet ingredients in it. Combine just until pastry pulls away from the bowl.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry; cut out eight 6-inch pastry circles. They should fit nicely into the mini flan pans that measure about 4 1/2-inches in diameter & are 3/4-inch in height. Once you have the pastry you need for the shells, form the remaining pastry in a 'tube' shape. Set the pastry shells in the fridge while you prepare the filling. FREEZE THE TUBE OF PASTRY. This you will use to GRATE on top of the flans for the top crust.
Filling
  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add prepared apples & saute until they start to soften, about 10 minutes. Add spices & honey, combine & cook 1 minute. Take off heat & allow to cool to lukewarm.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove mini flan shells from refrigerator & place on a baking sheet. Spoon some apple mixture in the bottom of each shell. Top each with a portion of the dates & walnuts, then evenly divide the remaining apple mixture between them. Remove the frozen 'tube' of pastry from freezer & grate (on a cheese grater). Sprinkle over mini flans.
  2. Bake until nice & golden, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly. Whip cream with sugar, cinnamon & vanilla until stiff & serve on warm flans.

Halloween Treats

Well here we are, the end of October already, and Halloween has arrived. A number of years ago, Brion and I decided to take a different approach to this occasion. Rather than spending the evening running to the door to hand out treats, I would make some special goodies for our immediate neighbor’s ‘kids’. We have been lucky to have had the same neighbors for many years. Since food is my passion, its always fun to ‘create’ something that I think our four ‘young’ people will enjoy.

My choice of treats this year are brownie ghosts, krispie candy corn and some bite size pizzas. Most kids love chocolate so I think brownies will cover that and I swapped out the ‘waxy’ candy for rice krispies in the candy corn treats. Pizza bites aren’t exactly following the Halloween theme but the kids are getting older and I’m sure they will love them anyway.

Just an interesting little side note on the actual candy corn ‘candy’ since they seem to be synonymous with Halloween. Originally they were never tied to any time of year. Many candies of the day were molded into what was recognizable to regular folks. At the time, that was vegetables, fruits and other simple, earthy things.

When the Goelitz Confectionery Company first produced candy corn, it was called ‘chicken feed’. The boxes were illustrated with a colorful rooster logo and a tag line that read: ‘Something Worth Crowing For’. The multi-colored design was ground-breaking in the candy industry at the time it was invented. One of candy corn’s least favored qualities is that waxy texture. Strangely enough, even after more than 120 years, it still has a huge following as well as many other candy corn related and/or flavored recipes on the market.

ENJOY YOUR HALLOWEEN IN WHATEVER WAY WORKS FOR YOU!

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Brownie Ghosts - 'Krispie' Candy Corn - Pizza Pinwheels
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
BOTTOM Layer of Brownies
MIDDLE Layer of Brownies
Fudge Frosting
White Chocolate Ghosts
Chocolate Dipped Candy Corn Treats
Mini Pizza Pinwheels
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
BOTTOM Layer of Brownies
MIDDLE Layer of Brownies
Fudge Frosting
White Chocolate Ghosts
Chocolate Dipped Candy Corn Treats
Mini Pizza Pinwheels
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Instructions
Bottom Layer of Brownies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 X 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Combine all bottom layer ingredients until crumbly. Pat into pan & bake for 10 minutes.
Middle Layer of Brownies
  1. In the microwave, very carefully melt chocolate (do NOT overheat) & add butter. Stir until combined & slightly cool; add beaten egg & sugar. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder & salt. Add to chocolate mixture alternately with combined milk & vanilla. Fold in walnuts. Carefully spread batter over bottom layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes; do not OVER BAKE. Remove from oven & cool. Slice into 20 squares.
Fudge Frosting
  1. If you prefer to make your chocolate ghosts BEFORE the frosting, it will give them ample time to set before needed. TO MAKE FROSTING: Carefully melt chocolate & butter in microwave. Cool slightly; stir in powdered sugar & vanilla. Blend in hot water & beat until a smooth consistency. Spread icing evenly over brownies & decorate with a white chocolate ghosts.
White Chocolate Ghosts
  1. Carefully melt white chocolate wafers in microwave. Pour melted chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a small hole tip. Place a large piece of waxed paper on a flat surface with a printout of ghost shapes underneath. Trace outline, then fill in the center. Allow to set completely, then peel ghosts from waxed paper & press lightly on top of brownies.
Chocolate Dipped Candy Corn Treats
  1. Butter 2 round 5-inch baking pans. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add marshmallows & stir constantly until they are melted. Stir in a few drops of orange coloring & remove the pot from heat. Add rice krispies, being sure to stir until well coated. Press into prepared pans to set. Once treats have set, cut them into triangles & use your hand to gently round the corners for a more realistic look.
  2. Melt candy coatings in separate dishes. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper. Dip the base of each triangle into the yellow chocolate, shaking off excess, then dip the tips into the white chocolate. Place them onto the parchment paper. Once the chocolate has set, you can store the treats at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days. Yield 30 treats.
Mini Pizza Pinwheels
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. set aside.
  2. Grate cheeses & combine in a small dish. Remove dough from packaging but DO NOT unroll. Slice each roll into 12 disks & space out on parchment paper. Using a 1/4 cup dry measure, (make sure you lightly butter & flour the bottom of your measure or it will stick to the dough). Press down the little disks to form a cavity. Divide the pizza sauce & grated cheese between the 24 disks.
  3. Bake 10-12 minutes; remove from oven & cool on a wire rack.

Chicken & Pear Bundles

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Thanksgiving represents many things to me. I have wonderful memories of growing up on the farm and all the hustle and bustle of harvest time before winter came. Of watching the Autumn landscape transforming into a beautiful tapestry of reds, gold and yellows.

As the fall comes in, the days grow shorter and the mornings darker, we start to reflect on the year we have had with its inevitable highs and lows. The Autumn season gives us a little bit of extra time to make the most of what we have left in the year before the ‘grand finale’. It is so important to just take the time to be grateful and appreciate the blessings we are fortunate to have in our lives and make every day count.

Since turkey is usually our Christmas meal, I’m making some chicken breast with pears and Gorgonzola cheese ‘bundled’ in puff pastry for our Thanksgiving dinner today.

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Chicken & Pear Bundles
Instructions
Raspberry Coulis
  1. In a small bowl, combine coulis ingredients well & set aside.
Chicken & Filling
  1. Peel, core & chop pear. Chop walnuts & crumble cheese. Slice breasts in about 1/4-inch thickness; sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  2. On parchment paper, roll thawed puff pastry to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut 4 circles large enough to fit custard cups & have extra on top to gather & tie. Using the custard cup only as a form, place a circle of pastry in each. Line the pastry with thin sliced chicken breast, then sprinkle some walnuts & cheese in the bottom. Add some pear pieces, cheese, more walnuts. Top with another piece of chicken, cut to fit. Bring sides of pastry together in the center on top, pinch then tie with a chive green if you wish.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a cup, beat together egg wash. Lift bundles out of custard cups & place on baking sheet. Lightly brush egg wash over each bundle. Bake about 30-40 minutes or until pastry is puffed & golden & chicken is done (I sliced into one of the bundles just enough to see if the chicken was cooked).
  4. Slightly warm coulis in microwave & pour some on the serving platter. Carefully lay bundles on top & garnish with fresh herbs if you wish.