Chocolate Pecan Pie

photo 3There are many reasons to love the holidays: time off from work/school, snowy weather, family gatherings, festive decorations, and food. I’m sure it’s no surprise that my favorite aspect of winter celebrations is the latter on this long list, but I’m prepared to be even more specific. I love, I mean am practically obsessed with, holiday desserts, and pie is on the top of the list.

I recently attended a book signing by Rose Levy Beranbaum where she detailed her latest book, The Baking Bible, practically a Godsend. Hearing her speak was both compelling and inspiring; I simply couldn’t wait to go home and bake. I absolutely recommend buying the book because there are countless tips and tricks for baking lovers, as well as hundreds of pages of detailed recipes and mouth-watering pictures. However, I did a little research and managed to find an online version of one of her most valuable baking formulas: Cream Cheese Crust. While I was used to using either butter or shortening for my pie crusts (and, honestly, have even used a store-bought crust from time), the cream cheese addition in this recipe made for a truly beautiful, flaky crust. I used the Cream Cheese Crust for all of my Turkey Day pies and they were a huge success – not a crumb lasted through the weekend.

photo 2This recipe was a variation of my typical holiday pecan pie; I’ll admit, I was just a tad nervous and anxious about straying from tradition. But my decision was soon vindicated. This scrumptious confection was a huge crowd pleaser among the friends and family at my own Thanksgiving feast. The slightly salty, savory pecans are complimented perfectly by rich and melty chocolate pieces, and the flaked coconut adds an awesome texture to the smooth caramel base of the pie. Serve it warm or cold and topped with a dollup of fresh whipped cream – the perfect way to top off a festive celebration.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

  • Pastry for Single Crust-Pie
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • Whipped cream (optional)

Prepare pastry for single-crust pie. Roll out the crust and gently transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold under extra pastry and crimp the edge. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, add eggs, corn syrup, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir to combine.

In pastry shell, layer semisweet chocolate pieces, 1 cup coconut and pecan pieces. Pour egg mixture over all, spreading evenly.

photo 1To prevent over browning, cover edge of pastry shell with foil.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil, then continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes more or until set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and store in refrigerator within 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Namas-tasty!

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Mini Baked Brie, Pear and Pecan Tarts

2013-12-26 12.32.53In my old age (HAH, good one right?!), I have really come to appreciate a good glass of wine. We all know that a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away, and I recently found an article from Health magazine that boasts even more health benefits of delicious vino. According to the article, regular consumption might help keep the pounds off, reduce forgetfulness, boost immunity, and prevent bone loss.

This being said, I fully support and regularly partake in wine & cheese nights (no surprise, I’m sure, since I have also previously mentioned my affinity for cheese). I wanted to add a little extra flavor to the most recent event I hosted (and, I’ll admit, I wanted to impress my guests by putting in a little more effort than simply setting out some cheese and crackers), so I whipped up some of these delicious savory/sweet mini tarts. The melted Brie and pear blend together inside of the puff pastry, and the nutty pecan and slightly sour balsamic drizzle on the outside make for a deliciously complex combination of flavors in every bite.

2013-12-26 12.30.31Mini Baked Brie, Pear and Pecan Tarts

adapted from Unsophisticook.com

  • 1 pkg. (9.5-oz.) Puff Pastry Cups (the only ones I was able to find at my grocery store were Pepperidge Farm® brand)
  • 8 oz. Brie cheese, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 lg. pear, diced
  • whole pecans, toasted
  • balsamic vinegar

Prepare the puff pastry cups according to the package directions.

Turn the oven to down 350 degrees. Remove the “tops” from the pastry puffs and fill the inside with a piece of Brie cheese and some diced pears. Return the tops to each of the pastries and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

2013-12-26 12.33.52Let the pastry cups cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Top with a whole toasted pecan and drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top.

Namas-tasty!