Friday, February 29, 2008

Pecan Squares

1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup good honey
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.
For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jamaican Coconut Candy

2 fresh coconuts, whole coconut, not shredded
2 cups chopped fresh ginger root
4 cups raw brown sugar (recommended: Natural Sugar)
1 cup chopped pecans (or nut of choice) optional Melted chocolate, for dipping

Crack open 2 coconuts. (Putting the coconuts in a 250 degree F oven for several minutes will make them easier to crack open). Scoop out the coconut meat using a paring knife. Clean the coconut and cut up into bite-sized pieces.
Put the coconut pieces and chopped ginger root into a large pot (cast iron works best). Cover with water and boil for 3 to 4 hours to soften and bring out the flavors. Be sure to continue to add water as it boils down. Once the water has reduced, add brown sugar and boil for another 30 to 40 minutes or until there is no liquid left. It should be in a syrup state. Fold in chopped pecans. Drop pieces onto nonstick foil and let set for about 15 minutes. Dip in melted chocolate and sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pine Nut and Pumpkin Seed Brittle

3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) pine nuts
3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) hulled pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups sugar 1 cup water
6 tablespoons corn syrup
4 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.Place the pine nuts and pumpkin seeds on a sheet pan and place in the oven. Roast the nuts until golden, shaking the pan periodically to ensure even browning, about 10 minutes.Line a large sheet pan with a silpat cover, or, with aluminum foil. Smooth out any wrinkles that form on the sheet pan, grease with the vegetable oil and set aside. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, without stirring. Add the corn syrup and continue to boil the sugar, brushing down the sides of the saucepan with a brush that's been dipped in water to force down into the pan any crystallized sugar that forms on the walls of the pan.When the sugar reaches 250 degrees F, gradually add the butter, but do not stir. Continue to cook the sugar until it starts to turn a light caramel color. Remove from the heat and add the salt and baking soda, stirring to distribute. Pour the sugar over the silpat and cover evenly, making a thin sheet over the silpat. While the sugar is still warm, sprinkle the pine nuts and pumpkin seeds over the candy. Allow to cool completely before breaking and serving.

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Star-Anise Spiced Peanuts

Ingredients: (serves 8)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups whole raw unsalted peanuts
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs white sugar
1/2 inch-piece orange rind
2 small fresh red chillies, halved lengthways
1 tsp ground star anise

Heat oil in a wok over medium-low heat to 350 F (when oil is ready, a cube of bread turns golden brown in 15 seconds). Add half the peanuts and deep-fry for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Reheat oil and repeat with remaining peanuts.
Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, orange rind, chilli and star anise in a non-stick frying pan over low heat. Bring to the boil. Add nuts and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until coated. Transfer to a bowl and set aside for 1 hour to cool. Use tongs to remove orange rind and chilli.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cinnamon Sugar-Crusted Macadamias

2 eggwhites
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 cup demerara sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 cups macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a large roasting pan with baking paper.
Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhites and salt in a bowl until mixture is frothy with large air bubbles. Add caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly until well combined.
Stir demerara sugar and cinnamon into eggwhites. Add macadamia nuts and mix well to coat.
Spread mixture over base of prepared pan.
Bake for 30 minutes, stirring with a metal spoon to break up mixture every 10 minutes, or until cinnamon sugar crust feels dry.
Cool completely in pan. Break up and place in an airtight container.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Banana Cupcakes with Toffee Pecans

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup mashed ripe banana

Toffee pecans:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
7 oz pecan halves, toasted

Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly grease 10 x 3/4 cup capacity cupcake pans.
Beat oil, sugar, eggs, flour, bicarbonate of soda and banana with electric mixer for about 4 minutes or until pale in colour.
Pour evenly among prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Turn onto wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, combine sugar and water in medium pan, cook over low heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, simmer about 5 minutes or until a golden brown colour. Arrange pecans on cakes and drizzle with toffee. Leave to cool.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hazelnut Cakes with Frosted Cherries

Ingredients: (serves 6)
Melted butter, to grease
1 cup icing sugar mixture
1/2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cups ground hazelnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
6 egg whites
6 oz unsalted butter, melted, cooled
1/2 cup caster sugar
24 cherries, stems attached
3/4 cup mascarpone

Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a 12 inch cake pan with melted butter. Line base with non-stick baking paper.
Sift icing sugar and flour into a bowl. Add hazelnuts and cinnamon, and mix until well combined. Use a balloon whisk to whisk 5 egg whites in a bowl until frothy. Use a large metal spoon to fold egg whites into hazelnut mixture. Add melted butter and fold in until just combined. Spoon into prepared pan and smooth the surface.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside for 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, line a tray with non-stick baking paper. Use a fork to whisk remaining egg white in a bowl until frothy. Place caster sugar in a separate small bowl. Hold a cherry by the stem and brush with a little egg white to evenly coat. Dip into the sugar and turn to coat. Place, upright, on the lined tray. Repeat with remaining cherries. Set aside for 15 minutes or until dry.
To serve, use a round 1 1/4 inch cutter to cut 24 discs from hazelnut cake. Top each with a small dollop of mascarpone and then with a frosted cherry.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cinnamon & Walnut Baked Apples

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 large apples
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup almond meal
1 egg white, lightly whisked
1/2 oz butter, cubed
Custard, to serve

Preheat oven to 375 F. Using an apple corer, core the apples to make a 1-1 1/2 inch opening at the top. Place the apples in a small baking dish.
Combine walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and almonds in a bowl. Stir in egg white. Spoon mixture evenly among centre of the apples. Place butter over the top of the apples. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the apple is just tender.
Place the apples in serving bowls and serve with the custard.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Palm Sugar Peanut Brittle

You'll need an 7 x 11 inch (base measurement) non-stick slab pan for this recipe.

Ingredients: (serves 8)
Vegetable oil, to grease
1 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup palm sugar, finely shaved
2 1/2 tbs butter, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 F . Brush an 7 x 11 inch (base measurement) non-stick slab pan with oil to grease. Spread the peanuts in the pan and bake in preheated oven, stirring once during cooking, for 3 minutes or until warmed through.Combine the caster sugar and palm sugar in a medium non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook, uncovered, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves and becomes golden brown. Stir in peanuts and butter, and cook for a further 2 minutes or until butter melts and mixture is well combined. Pour into prepared pan and set aside for 30 minutes to set and cool completely. Break into large pieces to serve.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Brazil Nut & Almond Brittle

Ingredients (serves 8)
Vegetable oil, to grease
1 cup Brazil nuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
2 oz butter
Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush a 7 x 11 inch (base measurement) slice pan with oil to lightly grease. Spread the Brazil nuts and almonds over separate baking trays. Bake in oven for 5 minutes or until toasted. Set aside to cool slightly.
Cook the sugar in a medium non-stick frying pan over medium heat, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves and mixture is golden brown. Remove from heat. Add the Brazil nuts, almonds and butter and stir to coat. Pour into the prepared pan and set aside for 20 minutes to set. Break into large shards to serve.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Soy Nuts

Ingredients (serves 8)
1 tbs caster sugar
1 tbs soy sauce
2 star anise
1 cinnamon quill
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
4 cups mixed raw nuts
2 tbs peanut oil
1/4 tsp sesame oil

Place sugar, soy, star anise, cinnamon, pepper and 1 tsp salt in a pan with 2 cups water. Bring to the boil, add nuts and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Drain, then pat dry well on paper towel. Heat oils in a large pan over mediumhigh heat. When hot, add nuts and fry for 2-3 minutes until crisp. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve the nuts with beer.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Fruit & Nut Chocolate Drops

1/4 cup unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts, halved
1/3 cup rasin
1/3 cup slivered almonds
2 tbs chopped candied orange peel
5 oz good-quality milk or dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Mix the pistachio nuts, rasins, almonds and candied orange peel in a bowl. Set aside.
Get an adult to help melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water, making sure bowl does not touch water. Stir until smooth. Lay a sheet of baking paper on a flat tray and use a teaspoon to spread 1.5 inch -wide circles of chocolate on the paper. Quickly decorate with a mixture of the toppings, then allow to cool and harden. You can refrigerate the drops, if desired.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Watermelon with Pistachio Dukkah

1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 cup pistachio kernels
5 pounds piece seedless watermelon, peeled, chilled

Cook sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, pistachios, and salt and pepper in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes or until aromatic. Set aside to cool.
Place into a food processor. Process until a coarse powder forms. Transfer to a bowl.
Cut watermelon into cubes. Dip the topof each cube into dukkah. Arrange on a serving plate. Serve with remaining dukkah.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Caramelised Camembert with Macadamia Nuts

2 x 8 inch rounds camembert cheese
4 oz roasted, salted macadamia nuts
1 cup white sugar
crackers, grapes and dried fruit, to serve

Place cheese on a large heatproof platter. Roughly chop macadamia nuts.
Place sugar in a small non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook, gently tilting pan back and forth, for 15 to 20 minutes or until sugar has dissolved and turned a rich caramel colour. Add nuts. Tilt pan to coat in toffee. Pour toffee over cheese. Set aside to cool, uncovered, at room temperature. Serve with crackers and fruit.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pecan Banana Bread

1/2 cup extra light olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup maple-flavoured syrup
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1.5 cup fresh ricotta cheese, to serve

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line a 2 1/3 inch deep, 8 x 4 inch (base) loaf pan.
Place oil, eggs, half the maple syrup, buttermilk and sugar into a bowl. Whisk to combine. Add bananas. Mix well.
Sift flour and baking powder over banana mixture. Stir gently to combine. Fold through pecans.
Pour mixture into loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in pan.
To serve, preheat grill on medium. Slice bread. Toast under grill. Spread with ricotta. Drizzle with remaining syrup.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Quick Pecan, Olive & Buttermilk Bread

11.5 oz plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp mustard powder
2.5 oz freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup grated good-quality tasty cheese or gruyere
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped, plus extra pecans, sliced, for topping
3 oz pitted black olives, slivered
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves, plus extra sprigs for topping
2 1/2 tbs olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 extra yolk mixed with 2 tsp water
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a large loaf pan and line with greased baking paper.
Sift flour, baking powder, soda, mustard, and 1 tsp each of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add cheeses, nuts, olives and rosemary, and mix well with a wooden spoon.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, 2 eggs and buttermilk. Make a well in flour mixture, add oil mixture and stir to form a thick batter. Scrape into pan and smooth top. Brush top with egg-yolk mixture, then scatter with extra nuts, rosemary and sea salt. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean (cover loosely with foil if browning too quickly).
Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out and cool on a rack. (It's tempting to eat this bread straight away, but it tastes better after it has cooled.) Wrap leftovers tightly in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days - once refrigerated, it's best to warm it gently in a 325° F oven or toast it.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Apricot and Walnut Loaf

1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup orange juice
2 oz butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 340° F. Grease a 6cm deep, loaf pan. Line with baking paper, allowing a 3/4 inch overhang on both long ends.
Combine apricots and 1 cup cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until apricots are soft. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup liquid.
Sift flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Add sugar and walnuts. Stir to combine. Make a well in the centre. Combine egg, orange juice, butter or margarine and reserved liquid. Pour into well. Add apricots. Mix well.
Spread mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Serve.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Fruit, Nut and Seed Trail Mix

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped dried figs
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup almonds
3/4 cup roughly chopped pecans

Place pecans, almonds and peanuts in a bowl with pumpkin seeds, dried apricots and dried figs. Drizzle with maple syrup, toss to coat and spread onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake at 350° F for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool, then store in an airtight container for up to one week. Half a cup with some yoghurt makes this a nutritious snack.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chocolate Walnut Treats

2 oz icing sugar, plus extra to dust
4 oz walnuts, plus 15 walnut halves to decorate
1/2 eggwhite
7 oz good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Grease and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place icing sugar in a food processor and whiz to remove any lumps, add the walnuts and process to form a fine mixture. Add eggwhite and process until mixture forms a paste.
Dust your hands with icing sugar and roll mixture into small walnut-sized balls, then flatten slightly. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
Get an adult to help you melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water, making sure bowl does not touch water. Stir until smooth, then cool slightly. Use a wooden skewer to pierce each walnut round, dip into the chocolate to coat completely, then place on the prepared tray. Before the chocolate sets, place a walnut half on each chocolate. Cool in the fridge for 1/2 hour or until set.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chocolate, Nut and Caramel Shortbread Tart

14 oz shortbread biscuits, halved
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 oz dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pouring cream
3 1/2 oz butter, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz slivered pistachios
3 oz slivered almonds
3 oz chopped walnuts, lightly roasted
7 oz dark chocolate (60 percent cocoa solids), finely chopped
Dutch-process cocoa, for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 F. Process biscuits in a food processor until fine crimbs form. With mortor running, add egg and process until mixture is evenly damp. Using your hands and the base of a glass, press crumb mixture evenly and firmly over base and sides of a greased 10 inch round loose-based fluted tart tin. Bake in oven for 12-14 minutes or until tart case is dry. Set aside to cool.
Place sugar, 1/2 cup of cream, butter and banilla ina saucepan. Stir over medium heat until combined, then simmer for 8 minutes. Stir in nuts, then spoon into tart case. Set aside to cool.
Place remaining cream in a small saucepan and bring almost to the boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, add chocolate, and stir until chocolate melts and mixture us smooth abd cimbined. Spoon over caramel layer in tart case, level with a spatula, then refrigerate for 2 hours until set. Dust tart with cocoa and cut into then slices to serve. This tart will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

No-Bake Golden Nut Bars

1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups Rice Bubbles
3.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped

Line a 12 x 8 inches slab pan with non-stick baking paper.
Stir sugar and golden syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add peanut butter and stir until smooth.
Place Rice Bubbles into a large bowl. Stir in syrup mixture. Press into the lined pan.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted. Transfer the melted chocolate into a sealable plastic bag. Snip the corner and pipe over the slice. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour or until set. Cut into bars to serve.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Walnut Pillows

1 1/2 cups plain flour
4 oz unsalted butter, cubed
6 egg yolks
Vegetable oil, to grease
Plain flour, extra, to dust
Icing sugar mixture, to dust

Walnut filling
3/4 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 oz unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice

Sift flour into a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub butter into the flour until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg yolks and stir until a soft, sticky dough forms. Divide dough into 16 equal portions and roll into balls. Place on a baking tray and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
To make the walnut filling, place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Place in a bowl. Add the sugar, milk, butter and mixed spice, and stir to combine.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush a baking tray with oil to lightly grease.
Roll out a dough portion on a lightly floured surface to an 3 x 4 inch rectangle. Repeat with remaining dough portions. Place a heaped teaspoonful of walnut mixture in the centre of each rectangle. Fold over edges to enclose filling. Press edges together to seal. Place pillows, seam-side down, on the prepared tray.
Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar and serve with hot chocolate.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Fruit and Nut Logs

9 oz shortbread biscuits
1/2 cup NESTLE White CHOC BITS
1 cup fruit medley
3/4 cup shelled pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
14 oz can NESTLE Sweetened Condensed Milk
6.5 oz NESTLE White Melts, roughly chopped
2 oz butter

Crush biscuits to fine crumbs in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl. Add choc bits, fruit, 1/4 cup of pistachios and 1/4 cup of walnuts. Stir to combine.
Combine condensed milk, melts and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool. Stir into biscuit mixture. Form biscuit mixture into 4* 10 inch-long logs
Finely chop remaining nuts. Spread over a sheet of baking paper. Roll logs in nuts. Cover and refrigerate until set. Wrap in cellophane and tie with ribbons.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Pecan Cakes

3/4 cup pure icing sugar
1/2 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
2 oz butter, melted
4 egg whites
1/2 cup pecan nuts
pure icing sugar, to serve

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease six 1/3 cup capacity muffin pan holes.
Combine icing sugar, almond meal, flour and butter in a bowl.
Using a fork, lightly whisk egg whites. Fold eggwhites, in 2 batches, into almond mixture.
Three-quarter fill each muffin hole with mixture. Top each cake with 2 to 3 pecans. Bake for 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand cakes in pan for 5 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with extra icing sugar and serve.