Friday, October 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie

This is a very unusual recipe that I got from my mother-in-law.  She always made it for my husband's birthday because he loves it so much.  This is not a pie for everyone.  As I said, it is a little odd and very, very sweet.


I of course started with my own pie dough.  I had a few extra portions of pie dough sitting around in my refrigerator from an order earlier in the week.  I thought I would surprise my husband with this pie when he came home from work.  I had not made one in years.  It is a super simple pie to make.  The base of the pie is simply water, baking soda, corn syrup, and molasses.  Then, you mix up peanut butter, brown sugar, and flour and drop chunks of it into the molasses mixture.  During the baking process, the bottom crust pretty much just dissolves into the pie, so structural integrity can be a bit of an issue for this pie.  Also, it leaks over the sides of the crust horribly, so if you don't have a pan under the pie dish, you will be doing some serious scrubbing in your oven.  This pie is just fabulous with a strong cup of coffee to help cut the sweetness, but I just love the sweet and somewhat salty gooeyness of it.

Molasses is the by-product of making sugar from sugar cane or beets.  The word molasses comes from the Portuguese word melaŅ«o, which comes from mel, which is Latin for honey.  Up until the 1880s, molasses was the sweetener of choice in the United States because it was much cheaper than refined sugar.  After World War I ended, the price of refined sugar dropped drastically which resulted in a drop in molasses sales.  In 1919, the U.S. per capita consumption of refined sugar nearly doubled that what it was in 1880.  In 1919, a huge vat of molasses at a distilling company in Boston exploded.  It became known as the "Great Molasses Flood" and resulted in 21 deaths and 2 million gallons of molasses in the streets.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nut Horns

I am continuing my posts on holiday cookies.  So, so much has been going on in my life, I haven't really had much of a chance to bake.  One of my mom and sister Leah's favorite cookies are these scrumptious cookies.  They are not the easiest cookies to make, but I do make them every year for Christmas.

Nut horns are a staple for a lot of people for their holiday cookie trays.  The dough for these cookies is a very mild, not very sweet dough that has to be kept very cold.  I like to let this dough sit in the refrigerator over night before I use it.  It's a very sticky, difficult dough to work with if it warms up at all.  I use walnuts to make the filling and grind them very finely.  I add some sugar and vanilla and just enough of a binding agent to make them stick together.  These cookies can be pretty messy to make.  I use sugar to roll the dough out instead of flour.  I usually end up with sugar all over my kitchen!  Also, the filling is very sticky.  I usually have a very sticky mess everywhere after I make these cookies, but since my family loves them so much, I make them every year.

Do you have a simple filled cookie recipe that you love?  You can really fill it with any kind of filling that you like.  You could substitute pecans in the above recipe if you prefer pecans.  I have filled these cookies with apricot on many occasions.  But you could use a poppy seed filling, raisins, or date filling.  Just use something that you like if you don't like what the recipe calls for.   

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pecan Tassies

With Christmas right around the corner, I decided to do a post about some holiday cookies that I never got around to last year.  Pecan tassies are classic holiday cookies that always please a crowd.

Pecan tassies are one of my favorite cookies.  I cannot resist fresh pecan tassies.  Tassie dough is a very simple dough with just a few ingredients.  A lot of recipes for this dough call for just two ingredients, flour and cream cheese!  I like to actually make some pecan and some walnut tassies when I make these cookies.  Everyone in my family loves walnuts, so they would all prefer the walnut ones.  I love them both, but I think I like the pecan ones better.  The filling is the same whether I use pecans or walnuts.  It is a mixture of brown sugar, eggs, and butter.  Put all these simple things together in one little cup and you have a delicious little bite of gooey brown sugar filling, crunch and nuttiness from the pecans, and tartness from the cream cheese in the dough.  They are perfect with a cup of hot coffee on a cold winter evening!

Did you know that pecans are not actually nuts?  They are technically drupes, which are fruits with a single stone or pit, contained in a husk.  Pecans are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats.  They are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, although contain about only half as much as walnuts.  Pecans can also help to reduce cholesterol by reducing the "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.  Clinical research suggests that eating a handful of pecans a day may help lower cholesterol levels similar to the effects of cholesterol lowering medications.