November 2012 Daring Bakers Challenge \ Two Holiday Cookies

I’m still here! Promise…. and boy has my kitchen been busy! Get ready to have some recipe filled days ahead! I am always amazed at time. I guess I never realized how quickly a month passed until I signed up with Daring Kitchen. Yay, a new challenge…. Bam… due date… seriously?! Wasn’t it just last week?! Jeesh… Not that I don’t love it I do… but they creep up on you ….. and Sundays with Joy oh man…. you best not even count because Sunday to Sunday is like a heartbeat…..especially when you have been busy traveling and pulling extra 12 hour night shifts at work….. its like double dutch in my kitchen right now. You miss a jump and you’re standing on the outside wondering which recipe you should jump back in with….. add in Thanksgiving …. I finally stopped looking at my blog planning calendar all together ….it was a huge confusing mess of scribbles and arrows….BUT…. I cook because I love it… and even though I was in the kitchen 13 plus hours cooking for the big feast at my house … I was up and back at it upon rising the next morning… I blog here because I love to share my recipes, experiences, and photography…..No matter how late or far behind I am, I refuse to let it be stressful… So please bare with me as I get caught up… And now without further ado… this months baking challenge……

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Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us. Peta was awesome! The mandatory parts of the challenge were to make one of her featured dozen and one of our own….I dont know about you but I have an abundance of my favorite nuts around….I know what your thinking…no I do not mean family….I mean pecans….And, since I didn’t get to use them during the Thanksgiving Day feast, I was itching to do some baking with them. So, I decided to go with two bar recipes… they bake up easily and they transport easily… they cut up easily… what more could you want!

Challenge Recipe: Chocolate Turtle Bars
*slightly adapted from the Challenge Recipe
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes

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Ingredients
Base
2 cups (280 gm) (10 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (200 gm) (7 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) apple pie spice
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) melted unsalted butter

Caramel Layer
¾ cup (180 gm) (6-1/3 oz)unsalted butter
1 cup (200 gm) (7 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
1½ cups (200 gm) (7 oz) pecans chopped into 1/4 -inch (2/3-cm) pieces

Top Layer
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
plus extra pecans for garnishing as you wsh

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Directions:
– Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/ 180°C/gas mark 4
– Grease or line with bake paper a 13”x 9” x 2” (33cm x 23 cm x 5 cm) baking tin
– Mix the dry ingredients well in a medium size bowl and mix in the cup of melted butter.
– Press evenly into lined tin.
– Bake for 10 minutes.
– Scatter the chopped pecans over the base. Bake for another 5 minutes.
– While the base is baking melt the ¾ cup (180 gm) (6 1/3 oz) butter in a small pot over low heat.
– Add the brown sugar and stir until smooth.
– Heat over a medium heat until the entire surface is bubbling.
– Pour over the base and spread evenly.
– Bake for 10 minutes or until the surface is covered with bubbles.
– Spread mini chocolate chips evenly over slice as soon as it comes out of the oven.
– Let it sit for 2 or 3 minutes and then smooth the chocolate with a spoon or leave as is if you prefer.
– Garnish with pecans if desired.
– Cool completely in the pan before cutting.

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My Recipe: Pecan Pie Bars
* very slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Baking Magazine 2010.

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For the base:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tea. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (mine was well chilled), cut into tablespoons

For the Filling:
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 cup chopped black walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tbl. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tea. vanilla

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Directions
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
– In food processor bowl place dry ingredients for base and process 5-10 seconds to combine. Add butter one tablespoon at a tome and pulse to combine until the mixture looks like course crumbs. Pat into and ungreased 11x7x1 1/2″ pan Bake for 20 minutes or until light to golden brown.
– For filling, stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl until a well combined mixture is seen.
– Spread evenly over baked base. Bake another 20 minutes or until filling is set. Cool on wire rack before cutting into bars.

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The chocolate turtle bars were good , however I was expecting a gooey caramel layer, which got lost into the other the layers. Sad day. I don’t know that I would make them again. That being said the pecan pie bars were AWESOME. They have all the goodness of an all out pie without having to roll out the crust. My family and coworkers gave this two thumbs up… So do I …it would be ideal for a cookie swap or a Christmas gathering….no fork or knife needed!

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Enjoy!
Dream. Bake. Believe.
Love, Steffie

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