Roasted Maple Butter Pecans

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Roasted nuts are powerful and simple all in one bite. I sprinkle mine in salads with a nice vinaigrette or I just eat them by the handful at an alarming rate.

Two things here. Well, three. One, you can use whatever kind of nuts you want in the recipe. Two, remind yourself when you’re taste testing them that the nuts will be chewy when really hot. As they cool, they’ll become crunchy again.

…and three, it’s really hard to talk about nuts like this without laughing like I’m 12 years old again.

Roasted Nuts:

2 egg yolks

1/4 c. melted unsalted butter

3 T. pure maple syrup

1/4 c. caster sugar

1 t. salt

18 oz. raw pecans

250 F / 120 C

-Beat the egg whites on high in a bowl until frothy and white (about 20 seconds).

-Add melted butter and continue to beat. Then add maple syrup, sugar and salt. Beat until fully combined.

– Add the pecans to the mixture and fold them into the egg mixture with a spatula until they’re fully coated and there is no puddle of unused mixture sitting at the bottom of the bowl.

-Bake in 4 15-minute increments, stirring each time until the egg white mixture has hardened over the nuts entirely.  They’ll also be fragrant and be giving off a crackling sound.

Cocoa & Black Cherry Brownies

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3/4 c. unsalted butter

1 1/4 c. caster sugar

A pinch of salt

3/4 c. dutch process cocoa powder

1 1/2 t. vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/2 c. AP flour

large handful of pitted and halved black cherries

350 F / 180 C

-In a bain-marie, melt butter and add sugar, salt, and cocoa until you have a grainy mushy mixture.

-Remove from the heat and stir quickly for 2-3 minutes to cool the mixture down. Stir in the eggs one by one. Then add vanilla.

-Once you’ve added the wet ingredients, stir in the flour and pour half into a lined 9″ tin.

-Place half of the cherries on top and then add the second half of the brownie mix over them. Add the rest of the cherries over top and bake for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean.

-Serve with 10 tons of vanilla ice cream over the top until you feel your heart shutting down.

 

Sticky Toffee Banana Cake

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When I lived in Thailand I missed a few Christmases. It was sad and a little weird, but in hindsight, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. You learn a thing or two when you’re making Christmas dinner in a tropical country of 104-degrees. For one, I learned that no dinner is worth that amount of sweat ever again, and two, I learned that whether it be one mile or three-thousand miles, love still exists between people. We had a table of about 10 friends that year, and though we all felt the void of our parents, grandparents and cousins, we still found comfort in the presence of each other.

Anyway, before all that warm-hearted stuff, you have to actually cook the big meal. When you love someone (a.ka. Jay) who comes from another far away land other than your own, it takes a little collaboration to get the combination of traditions just right. Our result? We had sticky toffee pudding for dessert on the day and bubble and squeak on Boxing Day. That series of words had never left my mouth before so, it took Google and some serious Great British Bake Off watching to get to the bottom of it all.

Essentially, all of that was just my long way of telling you that this recipe was inspired by the sticky toffee pudding I made that year. It’s gooey, dense, and smells like caramel banana covered bliss. Just think that if banana bread and sticky toffee pudding had a baby, this would be it.

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For the caramel top:

3/4 c. brown sugar

7 T. salted butter

2 ripe bananas

  1. Melt the butter and sugar together and pour into the bottom of a 9″ cake pan.
  2. Peel and slice the bananas in half so that you have two stubs, not two long slices. then, slice the banana halves into thin slices and place them in a fan shape in the caramel. Refer to the picture if you have no idea what I’m talking about.
  3. Set aside.

For the cake:

1 1/2 c. AP flour

1/2 c. almond flour

1/4 t. salt

1/2 c. soft butter

3/4 c. brown sugar

2 eggs

3 very ripe mashed bananas

1 t. almond extract (you can use vanilla if you don’t have this)

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients together and set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Then add the eggs, bananas, and extract until fully combined.
  3. Once combined, add the dry ingredients you had set aside just until the batter is moistened and without lumps.
  4. Pour it on top of the caramel and banana design you made beforehand and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake springs back up when you push the middle of it. **
  5. Once done, flip onto a cake plate after about 5 minutes.

**Depending on your pan depth, you may not need all of your batter. Your pan should be 3/4 of the way full with batter.

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