Baking - Desserts, Decorating

Thankful for Pralines

For Thanksgiving’s dessert this year I made a pumpkin cheesecake. I have made it before, but drizzled it with a simple caramel sauce as the garnish. This year I decided to be a little more extravagant and make some pralines, which I discovered are really just pecans in fudge. Oh yum!

I will diverge for a moment to clarify that I’m talking about American pralines. While looking up recipes for pralines I learned that European and American pralines (like many things) are quite different, each geographic region modifying the recipe a bit to use the most readily available nuts, sugars and/or chocolate. The European recipes mostly used almonds, so I decided to go with the American because I thought the pecans would go better with the pumpkin.

Now back to the delicious process (which you also can find by clicking here). I mixed, heated and boiled the pecans, sugars, butter, and milk to about 234F. I was having issues with my thermometer, so I ended up doing the water test to make sure it was at the soft ball stage – dropping a bit of the syrup into a bowl of cold water to see if it would create a soft ball. Once I reached the right temperature I removed it from the heat, added the vanilla, and set the pot in a sink of cold water for about 15 seconds while stirring constantly, then removed it from the cold water and kept beating until it started to lose its sheen. I knew it would only be a matter of seconds before it would turn into crumbs, so I scooped it out onto a parchment lined pan as quickly as I could, and it set beautifully!

I chopped the pralines into small pieces for the top of the cheesecake, and piled them on with abandon, while possibly sneaking a few to eat on the side. They added a sweet and nutty touch, as well as some nice texture, to the creamy, spiced pumpkin cheesecake. A delicious way to end a day celebrating all for which we are thankful!


Baking - Breads, Recipe

Crispy Amazingness!

This post is especially for my mother-in-law, and of course anyone else with a love of Raincoast Crisps. We were visiting my in-laws over Easter, and my mother-in-law had a box of these crisps. They are super crunchy, full of yummy nuts, seeds and dried fruits, with a touch of sweetness making them the perfect base for enjoying cheese, hummus, and any other savoury topping. But they are really expensive. Don’t get me wrong, they are all natural and totally worth it, but for those of us who can eat a whole box in one sitting, it can be a pricey habit. I looked at the ingredients on the box, and since they are all natural I recognized, and had on hand, pretty much all the ingredients. And being a baker, I also recognized by the look and consistency of the crackers, that they must be double baked like biscotti. And being resourceful, I headed to the internet to search for a recipe. I found a recipe on a blog and set about making some of these crisps for myself. You can find the original recipe here: Dinner with Julie.

I modified the recipe a bit, and you can too, substituting or adding any combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruits or herbs. It’s a cracker lover’s dream come true! Continue reading “Crispy Amazingness!”