Pumpkin Pecan Pie from Lisa Fazio. This pie layers traditional flavors in a 9-inch pie shell (a pie-crust recipe follows).
Ingredients for the pumpkin layer:
• 1 cup canned pumpkin
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
Combine pumpkin, sugar, egg and pumpkin-pie spice in medium bowl; stir well. Spread over the bottom of pie shell.
Ingredients for the pecan layer:
• 2/3 cup light corn syrup
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 3 tablespoons melted butter
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 cup pecan halves
Combine corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla extract in same bowl; stir in nuts. Spoon over the pumpkin layer. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; bake for 50 minutes.
State Pen Pie Crust: This crust is so named, notes Lisa, because "My great-grandpa Garver was a guard and a cook in the Ohio State Penitentiary. He taught his pie crust recipe to his daughter, Mary McCarthy, who taught her daughter, who in turn taught her daughter: me."
• 2 cups flour
• 1 cup shortening
• Approximately a cup of ice water
Get a big bowl, spread out a clean, smooth towel and a rolling pin. Flour surfaces of towel and rolling pin. Pour flour into the bowl and loosely mix shortening in with your fingers until you create marbles. Make well in the center. Pour approximately 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of cold water into the well, then bring in the side of the well like a reverse volcano, until dough forms a loose ball. Place the ball onto the floured towel. Using the rolling pin, roll it into a circle. Ease it into your pie pan.
Almond Butter Crunch from Sharon Withrow, who tells us, "This one is from my mother, Barbie Baggett."
• 1 cup butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon white corn syrup dissolved in 3 tablespoons water (it's easiest just to microwave it in a glass measuring cup)
• 1/2 cup sliced almonds
• 4 ounces chocolate chips
Melt the butter in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Add sugar. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and slightly bubbling. Stir in the water and syrup (be careful, it will splatter a bit). Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it reaches the soft crack stage (290 degrees). This takes about 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in almonds. Immediately pour onto a well-buttered cookie sheet and spread by carefully tilting the cookie sheet around. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and let them soften. Once soft, spread the chocolate. Cool completely on a rack until the chocolate is hard. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.
"Look At All I Do For You" Fudge from Melanie McGee Bianchi. She reveals, "My sly, busy mother has been making and giving away this Christmas fudge for years, fooling everyone from her accountant to the mailman to her own children into thinking she really owns a candy-making thermometer and would take the time to use it. Here's the recipe -- don't blink or you'll miss it."
• 12-ounce bag of semisweet chocolate chips
• 1 can sweetened condensed milk
Melt ingredients over low heat. Stir. Before the mixture boils, pour it into a greased, square 9x9-inch pan. Chill overnight. Cut into fudge squares. Add nuts and/or flavoring extract (e.g., mint), garnish squares with crushed candy-cane powder, pack fudge into pretty tins -- the ways to nudge this fudge into Martha Stewart territory are only as limited as your imagination.
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie from Jenny Bunn, who writes, "I wish I could say it was an old family recipe, but we weren't allowed to have liquor in the house when I was growing up. Must be why I enjoy it so much now!"
• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 cup cold vegetable shortening
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some small butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with three tablespoons ice water and gently stir with a fork (or pulse in food processor) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, one tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated, then test again. Do not overwork mixture, or crust will be tough. Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and divide into four portions. Gather dough together and form into ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least one hour.
• 4 large eggs
• 1 cup light corn syrup
• 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
• 3 tablespoons bourbon
• 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
• 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
Whisk together eggs, light corn syrup, and next 6 ingredients until mixture is smooth; stir in chopped pecans and morsels. Pour into piecrust. Bake on lowest oven rack at 350 degrees for one hour or until set.
Mint Chocolate Trees submitted by local catering company The Colorful Palate.
• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 sticks butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon mint extract
• 8 ounces white chocolate
Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt; set aside. Beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and mint extract and continue to beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture into the sugar and butter, mixing until smooth. Refrigerate the dough for one hour. Roll out the dough into a half-inch sheet and cut with cookie cutters of your choice (Christmas trees are a favorite, hence the recipe name). Bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Melt the white chocolate and dip edges of cooled cookies.
Traditional Scottish Cranachan from Tim Potts, who points out this recipe is part dessert, part cocktail, and part guilt-reducing soluble fiber.
• 1/2 cup coarse oatmeal (not quick oats)
• 1 cup whipping cream or vanilla ice cream
• 1 tablespoon Drambuie liqueur
• Raspberries or other fruit (optional)
Toast the oatmeal in a frying pan on a high heat until lightly brown. Whisk the cream into a soft consistency and mix in the oatmeal and Drambuie (if using ice cream, mix without whisking). Serve in tall glasses, parfait-style, with fruit if desired.
Prune Cake from Paul Glor, who admits, "I don't even like most cakes, but this one is so moist and has such a great spice taste that it's my favorite cake. Even better than Better Than Sex Cake."
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 3 eggs
• 1 cup oil
• 2 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 1/2 cups buttermilk
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 cup chopped nuts
• 1 cup mashed cooked prunes (about 28 medium-size prunes)
Mix the first six ingredients together well, and then add the last five ingredients. Grease and flour a large tube pan. Pour in mixture and bake for one hour at 350 or until toothpick comes out clean.
Ingredients for sauce:
• 1/4 pound butter
• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 1/2 cup buttermilk
• 1 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
Place in large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Turn off heat. Pierce prune cake with fork (lots of times) and pour the sauce over it. Let the sauce soak in and allow the cake to "ripen" overnight, well-wrapped in foil.
Angel Food Pineapple Cake from Erin Scholze, by way of her mother, who writes, "Here's the easiest cake recipe ever."
• 1 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple (do not drain)
• 1 box dry angel food cake mix
Fold pineapple and juice together with cake mix and ingredients specified on cake mix box. Bake in an ungreased 9X13 pan for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
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