Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baked Brie with Plum Preserves and Spiced Pecans

Walkers Shortbread sent me the most amazing box full of goodies. This time not only did they send me a large selection of their fantasic cookies, for this shipment Walkers Shortbread partnered with Bonne Maman. Bonne Maman is the creator of gourmet, all-natural, preserves and jellies produced in France. Their preserves and jellies are made without the use of preservatives, artificial coloring, or high fructose corn syrup. I have been a long time fan of Bonne Maman's wonderful products. I adore the little jars, with their iconic red gingham lids that the preserves come in almost as much as I love the preserves and jellies themselves. So cute and delicious!! Anyway I was so excited about all the great products Walkers sent in this box. 

The theme for this shipment is Festive Recipes for Autumn and Holiday Entertaining. Walkers Shortbread included their Highland Oatcakes in this box. The oatcakes are a savory oat cracker, and like all Walkers products are made from all-natural ingredients. I had never tried Walkers oatcakes before. They have now become my go-to cracker for any cheese platter. The oatcakes have a wonderful nutty flavor from the oats that pairs beautifully with cheeses. 

The holiday season is busy so I decided to share this really simple but beautiful and delicious baked brie recipe. It takes very few ingredients and can be put together in matter of minutes. Perfect for the busy holiday season! 
Make the spiced pecans ahead of time and store them in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. Try not to eat all of the spiced pecans beforehand (it will be really tempting!) and you can throw this baked brie together in under 15 minutes! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sticky Bun Pumpkin Muffins

Have you heard about the Cronut crazy? A bakery in New York came up with the idea to blend a croissant and a doughnut into to one delicious new pastry. A doughnut and croissant in one! Sounds crazy good, doesn't it? The method they use to make the Cronut is top secret and I read it was even being patented. The real Cronuts are only sold at this one bakery and people apparently will wait in line for hours just to nab one of these hybrid pastries. I live in Alabama, so I'm not able to get my hands on a Cronut unless I hop on a plane. Not a very convenient option for pastry buying. Hopefully the Cronut is still around the next time I make it to New York. Until then I've found another cross bred pastry hybrid that has made me all but forget my lust for the Cronut.

This muffin is the best of both sticky buns and pumpkin muffins. That sticky topping that makes a sticky bun a sticky bun, tops a super moist pumpkin spiced muffin. How good does that sound? Uh huh, pretty amazing. Best of all they take no time at all to make, in your own kitchen. No need to jump on a plane or wait in an hours long line.  Go make a batch. You'll thank me. Who knows you may just have people lining up at your door hoping to get one of these muffins!

Sticky Bun Pumpkin Muffins
2 cups pecan halves and pieces
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup water
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs 

Preheat oven to 350°. Place  pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan and bake about 8 minutes or until nuts are lightly toasted, stirring halfway through.

In a medium bowl, stir together melted butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Lightly grease 2 12-cup muffins tins. Spoon 1 teaspoonful butter mixture into each cup and add 5-6 toasted pecans on top of the brown sugar mixture. (Overfilling the muffin tins with the brown sugar mixture will cause the muffins to overflow when baking. So a nice rounded teaspoon full is plenty of topping!)

In a large bowl, whisk together together flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, salt. Make a well in center of the dry mixture. In another bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, water, oil, and the eggs. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring  just until moistened.

Spoon batter over the pecan mixture in the muffin cups , filling three-fourths full. Place an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet on lower oven rack to catch any overflow.

 Bake at 350° on for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert pan immediately onto a cookie sheet. Remove muffins, and arrange muffins on a wire rack. Spoon any topping remaining in muffin cups over muffins. Let cool 5 minutes.

Part sticky bun, part pumpkin muffin....the best of both in one delicious muffin!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cinnamon Chip Hot Chocolate Mix

I woke up this morning and there was a definite nip in the air. For those of you that don't live in the very deep South, you have probably had several weeks of such weather already this season. As soon as there's even a slight chill in the air, I start to crave hot chocolate. I stumbled on this recipe while searching for recipes to use the cinnamon chips I'd just bought. Have you tried cinnamon chips yet? If not go get some right away! A word of warning though, if you are like me and lack self restraint, buy them at you own risk. It's hard to resist just eating those little guys right from the one sitting. Really! For a cinnamon lover like myself they are down right addictive. I catch myself grabbing a handful every time I walk near the kitchen. Anyway, I found this recipe for cinnamon hot chocolate mix and had to give it a try. Luckily I didn't need an entire bag of chips to make this recipe, as let's just say the bag wasn't quite full anymore. 
I'm so glad I made this hot chocolate. It's fantastic. Rich cocoa with a cinnamon kick makes this the perfect beverage for a cool Fall day.

The recipe is for a dry hot chocolate mix. You make the mix up and keep it in an airtight container. All that's needed is a cup of boiling water and you can have a rich cinnamon-y mug of cocoa anytime! 
This hot chocolate could also serve as a hostess or teachers gift. Double or triple the recipe and divide the hot chocolate mix into mason jars. Tie the jars with a cute ribbon, add a tag or label with instructions and it's gift giving ready!