This is the perfect time of the year to be recipe hunting. I will have 2 family gatherings and I will have to bring a dish to each event. I have my favorite finds bookmarked in a special folder. This month’s Love Bloghop is focusing on Nuts. A perfect choice for a holiday treat.
I came across these Deluxe Nut Bars and I knew I had a winner. Bars are a great recipe to prepare for a holiday gatherings because you can make them ahead of time, freeze them if you have too, and they are so much easier to carry then a cake!
I made one single change to this recipe. I added a layer of chocolate between the base and the nuts, really good move if I do say so myself. And I am giving you the full recipe for a big pan but I made half the recipe and baked the bars in a small loaf pan. Keep that in mind as you look at the picture.
So I have a confession to make. I honestly cannot remember the last time I made dessert bars. I use to make them all the time as a teen when I started baking. But I had no desire to make bars for the last years. It was not exotic enough I guess. Well after making these I remembered another reason why I stopped making them. They are to good, so deliciously sweet and filled with calories! Is there a food or recipe you have not prepared in a long time, and why?
Deluxe Nut Bars
Recipe Type: Desserts
Author: Linda J. Amendt
Serves: 52 bars
2 cups all-purpose flour (500 mL)
1⁄3 cup granulated sugar (75 mL)
1⁄4 tsp salt (1 mL)
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces (250 mL)
3.5 oz (100 gr) 70% cocoa fine chocolate bar
2⁄3 cup light (golden) corn syrup (150 mL)
1⁄2 cup packed light brown sugar (125 mL)
1⁄3 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces (75 mL)
3 tbsp whipping (35 percent) cream (45 mL)
4 cups mixed nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with foil and grease with butter.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar and salt until well combined. Using a pastry blender, a fork or your fingers, cut in butter until evenly combined. Mixture will resemble coarse crumbs and start to come together. Using the back of a spoon or your fingers, press crust evenly into bottom of prepared pan.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden.
Break the chocolate bars into squares and cover the crust. When the squares have melted push down on them a bit to spread the chocolate. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, heat corn syrup and brown sugar, stirring constantly until brown sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes without stirring. Add butter and cream. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in the nuts. Spread nut filling evenly over cooled crust.
Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely in baking pan on a wire rack.
Using foil, lift cooled bars from pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into small bars.
December is #nutlove month!
Please join in on the #nutlove fun by linking up any nut recipe from the month of December 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #nutlove event! The twitter hashtag is #nutlove :). Here are my fellow co-hosts…
Looking for a practically guilty free pie when the sweet tooth attacks? Well I have a recipe for you. This recipe was given to me by Stef. The crust of the pie is made of crushed nuts, and egg white and a bit of sugar. That is it. You could fill it any way you like but here is our somewhat low cal version. Note the ingredients are to make one pie, we just happen t make two when he showed me.
Chocolate Apple Pie with Nut Crust
1 1/2 cups crushed nuts of your choice (we did 1/2 almonds and 1/2 hazelnut)
1 egg, beaten
1-2 tbsp sugar is desired
you can add cinnamon, nutmeg or what you like for extra flavor
1/3 cup dark chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp butter
2 tbsp sugar
cinnamon to taste
2 oz dark chocolate, melted
Crush your nuts if whole, use about 1 cup of whole nuts to get 3/4 cups crushed.
Mix nuts with egg and sugar plus spices is desired.
Spread in a pie shell evenly and cook at 350F till the crust is golden.
Melt chocolate and mix in cream until homogenized. Spread in the bottom of crust.
Sprinkle a layer of sliced almonds.
Peel and core apples and then cut in thin slices.
In a pan melt the butter and add apples with sugar and cinnamon. Cook until just tender.
Poor apples into the pie crust and spread evenly.
Sprinkle a few sliced almonds again and swirl decoratively the remaining dark chocolate.
Of course I did this recipe before going away and have misplaced some pics! I had a tbsp left of my walnut butter that I just took a shot of. And of course I forgot my camera on my friend’s kitchen table in Washington DC so it’s poor quality from the cell phone….grrr.
Nutrition research suggests that nuts are good for your health. Nut butters, or pureed nuts, make it easy to use nuts in cooking. Although peanut butter is a staple in North America, most popular as the star ingredient in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and beloved in peanut butter cookies and other sweets, it’s seldom used in preparing savory dishes. Nut butters — including not only peanut butter but almond, cashew, and walnut butters — are common ingredients in many Asian and African countries, used in a wide array of savory dishes. Nut butters add complex & interesting flavors to dishes, provide body & thickness to sauces, and can be used to replace the dairy fats or other oils in recipes.
Simple Suggestions for Using Nut Butters:
add sugar to the nut butter to get a sweeter taste
sauce for grilled meat or fish
topping for pancakes or French toast
dip with apples or celery
spread for toast or sandwiches
The process for making various types of nut butters is essentially the same. Pour nuts into bowl of food processor. Grind the nuts in the processor until they form a paste or butter. The nuts first turn into powdery or grainy bits, then start to clump and pull away from the side of the bowl, and finally form a paste or butter. The total time required depends on the fat and moisture content of the nuts; grinding time will vary from roughly 1 to 4 minutes (assuming a starting volume of 1 to 2 cups [240 to 480 ml] nuts). Processing times for a variety of nuts are described below.
You may add oil as desired during grinding to make the nut butter smoother and creamier or to facilitate grinding. Add oil in small increments, by the teaspoon for oily nuts like cashews or by the tablespoon for dryer/harder nuts like almonds. You may use the corresponding nut oil or a neutral vegetable oil like canola.
The yield of nut butter is about half the original volume of nuts. If you start with 1 cup (240 ml) nuts, you’ll get about ½ cup (120 ml) nut butter.
Roasting the nuts before making nut butters is optional according to your preference. To roast nuts in the oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4). Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until nuts are fragrant and a shade darker in color. Allow nuts to cool before grinding. Roasted nuts will make butter with darker color than raw nuts.
The consistency of nut butters varies from thin & soft (almost pourable) to very thick and hard depending on the fat content of the nut. (See links below for nutrition info on variety of nuts.) Homemade nut butters will probably not be as smooth as commercial products.
Homemade nut butters are more perishable than commercial products and should be stored in the refrigerator. The nut butters harden & thicken somewhat upon chilling.
Approximate Processing Times in Food Processor for Nut Butters:
Almonds: form a thick butter in about 2 to 3 minutes for slivered almonds, or 3 to 4 minutes for whole almonds; the skin of whole almonds will leave dark flecks in the butter
Cashews: form a smooth, spreadable butter after about 2 minutes of processing
Hazelnuts: form a firm, thick, and grainy butter in about 2 to 3 minutes; to remove the skin from whole hazelnuts, roast in a 400 degree F oven (200 degrees C/Gas Mark 6) for about 5 minutes or till skins loosen, then rub hazelnuts in a clean dishtowel to remove some of the skin; the remaining skin will leave dark flecks in the butter
Macadamias: form a soft and smooth butter in about 2 minutes
Peanuts: form a thick, grainy butter in about 2 or 3 minutes
Pecans: form a very soft, oily, pourable butter in 1 or 2 minutes; the skins give pecan butter a slightly tannic and bitter flavor
Walnuts: form a very soft, oily, pourable butter in 1 or 2 minutes; the skins give walnut butter a slightly tannic and bitter flavor
Pistachios: According to the Nut Butter Primer from Cooking Light, pistachio butter is dry and crumbly with a tendency to clump during processing; they recommend combining it with softened cream cheese for easy spreading and report a processing time of 3.5 to 4 minutes. Please note, we did not test pistachio butter.
Chicken with Pecan Cream & Mushrooms
adapted from Cooking Light, October 2002. Yield: 4 servings
3/4 cup (180 ml) coarsely chopped pecans*, toasted
1 cup (240 ml) water
¾ teaspoon (3 ml) salt, more as needed
½ pound (225 g) egg noodles or pasta
4 (6-ounce / 170 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil, more as needed
Salt & pepper to taste
Prepare pecan cream. Grind pecans in a food processor for about a minute or so until smooth, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Add water and 3/4 teaspoon (3 ml) salt; process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Set aside pecan cream. (*If starting with prepared pecan butter, blend ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons (90 ml) pecan butter with the water and salt until smooth.)
Cook noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Drain, rinse, and keep warm.
If desired, pound chicken to ¼ inch (6 mm) thickness to promote even cooking. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken; sauté 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Cook the chicken in 2 batches, adding more oil if needed for second batch. Set aside cooked chicken on a clean plate, cover to keep warm.
Add deglazing liquid to pan if using and stir up any browned bits. If needed, add another teaspoon (5 ml) of oil (or more) to pan for sautéing the shallots and mushrooms. Sauté the shallots and mushrooms over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and starting to brown. Add fresh thyme to the pan. Stir in pecan cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 minutes till reduced slightly.
Slice chicken into thin strips. Divide the noodles among serving plates. Add a scoop of the mushroom pecan sauce on top of noodles. Lay sliced chicken on top. Garnish with fresh thyme and/or a pinch of chopped pecans if desired.