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Archive for Cookies/Cake/Pastry

FOOD HOLIDAY: National Banana Creme Pie Day

March 2nd is National Banana Creme Pie Day. But is it banana creme or banana cream?

Crème, pronounced crehm, is the French word for cream. As recipes evolved in the U.S., the trend was to emulate French spellings to give the recipe a cachet. Doesn’t soupe du jour (typically misspelled as soup du jour) sound better than today’s soup?

Thus, in the name of cachet (or perhaps they weren’t good spellers), some of America’s bakers and restaurants began to offer creme pies. The proper use, however is cream pie.

To compound the error, crème got pronounced as creem—that’s right, the same as cream. So why the incorrect and pretentious spelling?

It would be nice to go back and correct the mistakes of the past, but that just won’t happen. So feel free to use the words interchangeably.

And bake this delicious double banana cream pie recipe. The “double” comes from an American invention: Instead of just banana creme/cream in the pie crust, there is a layer of fresh-sliced bananas. It’s the way to go!



Double banana cream pie: banana pudding over a layer of ripe bananas. Photo courtesy McCormick.



How long have we had banana cream pie?

Pie is an ancient dish, although not the sweet pies and meat pies we know today. For much of pie history, the dough was inedible, used as a casing for meat pies to keep the juices in, before the widespread availability of pie pans.

Cream, custard and pudding pies date back to medieval times.

But bananas weren’t readily available in the U.S. until the 1880s, due to improved transportation and aggressive marketing. Late 19th and early 20th century cookbooks are full of banana recipes. The oldest published American recipes for “banana pie” date to the late 19th century. They fill the pie crust with sliced bananas, not a banana cream/custard like today’s pies.

Advises the Woman’s Exchange Cook Book of 1901: “Fill a pie shell, already baked, with sliced bananas and powdered sugar. Put in the oven a few minutes until the fruit softens. Very nice so, but far better to cover the top with whipped cream and serve at once. Flavor with lemon juice.”



A banana cream cupcake, filled with banana
pudding with a cream and cookie crumb
topping, from Crumbs Bakery.


In 1906, The Blue Ribbon Cook Book provided a banana and custard filling, but the two were not blended together into today’s familiar, creamy banana filling. Instead, sliced bananas lined the bottom of the crust, and the custard was poured over it.

By 1950 we get a version covered with whipped cream and toasted coconut. But the blended filling of creamy banana pudding? Our friends at, which provided this history, don’t have it. Our mom, who was baking at the time, says “late 1950s, early 1960s.”

The original pie, with sliced bananas on the bottom, survives today as “Double Banana Cream Pie: sliced bananas topped with banana cream pudding. Here’s a recipe.



Have a banana cream cupcake, like this one for crumbs.

Or make “deconstructed” banana cream pie: banana pudding topped with shortbread crumbs.



FOOD FUN: You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It, Too


We’d have to eat this devil’s food cake: The
temptation is too great! Photo courtesy


You can’t have your cake and eat it too, is a popular English proverb. Some of us wonder why it isn’t reversed, to the more logical “You can’t eat your cake and have it too.”

The earliest known variation is clear. A letter dated March 14, 1538 from Thomas, Duke of Norfolk to Thomas Cromwell, expresses that “a man can not have his cake and eate his cake.”

But in either form, people understand that it means that you can’t have it both ways (another proverb). It’s a trade-off.

This proverb appears in other forms, in other languages. Here’s a partial list from one we found in Wikipedia:


Wolf & Sheep Theme

  • Bosnian: You can’t have both a lamb and money.
  • Bulgarian and Polish: Both the wolf is full, and the lamb is whole.
  • Czech: The wolf is full and the goat stayed whole.
  • Estonian: The wolves have eaten, [and] the lambs are whole.
  • Lithuanian: To have the wolf fed and the lamb safe.
  • Macedonian: Both the wolf is full, and the sheep are intact.
  • Russian: The wolves are full, and the lambs are whole.
  • Slovenian: The wolf [is] full, and the lamb [is] whole.

    Goat Theme

  • Hungarian: It is impossible that the goat has enough to eat and the cabbage remains as well.
  • Romanian: You can’t reconcile the goat and the cabbage.
  • Serbian: You can’t have both the goatling and money.
    Butt Theme

  • Hungarian and Russian: It is impossible to ride two horses with one butt.
  • Serbian: You can’t sit on two chairs with one butt.

    Assorted Themes

  • Chinese: To want a horse that both runs fast and consumes no feed.
  • Danish: You cannot both blow and have flour in your mouth.
  • French: To want the butter and the money from (selling) the butter.
  • German: You can’t dance at two weddings (at the same time).
  • Greek: You want the entire pie and the dog full.
  • Italian: To have the barrel full and the wife drunk.
  • Persian: Wanting both the donkey and the sugar dates.
  • Portuguese: Wanting the sunshine on the threshing floor, while it rains on the turnip field.
  • Spanish: Wishing to be both at Mass and in the procession (or, wishing to be both at Mass and in the belfry, bell-ringing).
  • Spanish (Argentine): You can’t have the pig and the twenties (a reference to old piggy banks that held 20-cent coins; the only way to get the coins was to break the piggy bank open).
  • Swiss (French): You can’t have the five cent coin and a Swiss bread roll.


    Our contribution: You can’t both fry the fish and have a sushi dinner. Photo courtesy Sushi Takibun.

  • Tamil: Desire to have both the moustache and to drink the porridge.
    How about making up your own versions as a dinner table activity? Ours is: You can’t both fry the fish and have a sushi dinner.



    RECIPE: Almond Butter Cookies (Chinese Almond Cookies)


    We buy jumbo packages of raw almonds at
    Costco. Photo courtesy Niederegger


    February 16 is National Almond Day. Almonds are great for snacking, roasted or raw; and are so flavorful they don’t need added salt or salted seasonings.

    Enjoy some almond triva, and scroll down for a butter-enhanced recipe for Chinese Almond Cookies.


  • Historians generally agree that almonds and dates, both mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, were among the earliest cultivated foods. The only other nut mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 43:11) is the pistachio nut.
  • Between 600 and 900 C.E., almond trees began to flourish in the Mediterranean, in Greece, Israel, Spain and Morocco. Because of their portability, explorers consumed them while traveling the Silk Road between the Mediterranean region and China.
  • Almonds are actually stone fruits related to cherries, plums and peaches. In this case, it’s the “stone” that is eaten. The botanical name of the almond tree is Prunus amygdalus.

  • California produces 80% of the world’s supply of almonds. The world’s largest almond factory is in Sacramento; it processes 2 million pounds of almonds a day. California produced 998 million pounds of almonds in 2004. The largest crop on record was in 2002: 1.084 billion pounds.
  • It takes more than 1.2 million bee hives to pollinate California’s almond crop, which spans more than 550,000 acres.
  • Chocolate manufacturers use 40% of the almond crop (and 20% of the world’s peanuts).
  • It takes 1,000 pounds of almonds to make 1 pint of almond oil.
  • There are 5,639 people in the U.S. listed on with the last name “Almond” (source: Mark Morton, “Gastronomica,” Fall 2010).
  • The Jordan almond, a large plump variety of almond from Malaga, Spain, is considered to be the finest cultivated almond. It is frequently sold with a hard colored sugar coating.

  • Almonds are the most nutrient-dense tree nut. One ounce of almonds (20-25 almonds) contains 160 calories and only 1 gram of saturated fat and no cholesterol. The unsaturated fat in almonds is “good” fat, with 13 grams per one-ounce serving.
  • Almonds are also an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, and a good source of protein and potassium.
  • Almonds are highest in protein and fiber of all the tree nuts.
  • The protein in almonds is more like the proteins in human breast milk of all the seeds and nuts, which is why it is the choice of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine as the base for its baby formula.
  • Almonds are known for high satiety, almonds provide the perfect pre-workout boost, are easy to keep in your office drawer stash, for snacking alone or with yogurt or fruit.


    These almond butter cookies are a whole-wheat and almond butter version of the classic Chinese almond cookie. The recipe was developed by Ellie Krieger, author of So Easy:Luscious Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week.

    You can find more almond-based recipes at the Almond Board of California’s website..
    Ingredients For 36 Cookies

  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, or regular whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup smooth, unsalted almond butter
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 36 raw whole almonds (a heaping 1/4 cup)


    Almond butter cookies. Photo courtesy The Almond Board.


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.

    2. WHISK together the flours, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. In another large bowl beat together the butter, almond butter and sugars until fluffy.

    3. ADD the vanilla and egg and beat until well combined. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, bending well.

    4. SHAPE the dough into 3/4 inch balls, and place on the baking sheets. Place an almond in center of each cookie and press down lightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.



    RECIPE: Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake


    Cheesecake with a twist: made in a tart pan
    with a hazelnut crust, topped with apples
    and salted caramel sauce. Photo courtesy
    U.S. Apple Association.


    Dying for a piece of cheesecake, we ran out to the corner deli for a slice. It was satisfactory, but a mistake: 12 hours later, we wanted another piece.

    But the fourth snowfall of the month was swirling fiercely, so we did the next best thing: We tried a new recipe for for Cheesecake Tart with Salted Caramel Sauce.

    The recipe is courtesy U.S. Apple Association. It makes the cheesecake in a tart pan instead of a spring mold, so the pieces are half the height (and half the calories). Other tasty variations:

  • A hazelnut crust. You can choose a different nut of choice, or, if you’re nut averse, eliminate the nuts altogether.
  • An apple topping. You can use a broad selection of fruits, but apple is a nice change of pace, seasonal and delicious with the caramel sauce.
  • Salted caramel sauce. The salt hits the spot. If you don’t want to make the sauce, you can buy a jar at most specialty food stores or buy a conventional caramel sauce and add your own salt.

    Ingredients For 10 servings

    Crust Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup whole hazelnuts, unpeeled
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    Filling Ingredients

  • 1 bar (8 ounces) regular or reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large tender-sweet apple such as Fuji or Gala, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices


    1. PULSE the hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor, until they have the texture of coarse sand. Add the butter, sugar, flour and salt, and pulse again until the mixture comes together and forms a dough.

    2. GATHER the dough into a ball, then press into the bottom and sides of a 10 or 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Transfer to the freezer and chill for at least 15 minutes.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F and set a rack to the lower position. Rinse out the bowl of the food processor, then set it back on the base and add the cream cheese, sugar, cream, egg, vanilla and salt. Process until evenly mixed, about 1 minute.

    4. SET the tart pan on a baking sheet and pour the cheese mixture into the shell. Arrange the apple slices around the tart, pressing them lightly into the filling. Transfer to the oven and bake until the filling is set and the crust is lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with salted caramel sauce (recipe below).



    If you don’t have time to make the salted caramel recipe below, you can buy a jar. Photo courtesy Sur La Table.



    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt

    1. POUR water into a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and set over high heat. Add sugar in a mound in the center of the pot.

    2. COVER the pot and cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to bubble. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue simmering until the mixture turns a pale amber, 12 to 15 minutes. Do not swirl or stir during this time.

    3. REMOVE lid and watch the caramel closely. When it turns a darker amber color, remove it from the heat and carefully add the cream. There will be a burst of steam, so be careful.

    4. ADD the teaspoon kosher salt and stir. Serve warm.


    VALENTINE: Rice Krispie Treats Pops


    Rice Krispie Treats on a stick for your
    Valentine. Photo courtesy Bella Baker.


    Thanks to for these fun Valentine Rice Krispie treats. Just grab your heart-shake cookie cutter, some red-striped straws and a box of Rice Krispies.

    They’re sweet and sticky and oh so satisfying, and in the shape of a heart and stuck onto a striped straw, they’re a perfect addition to your V-day celebration.



  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 10-ounce bag mini marshmallows
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies
  • Heart shaped cookie cutter
  • Optional decoration: candy melts, red or other
    colors, cinnamon candies or chocolate chips

  • 9″ x 13″ baking pan
  • Red and white striped straws or lollipop sticks
  • Squeeze bottle(s) for candy melts


    1. MELT butter in a saucepan over low heat, then add in the marshmallows.

    2. SPRAY a rubber spatula with nonstick cooking spray (to avoid marshmallows sticking to the spatula), then stir the marshmallows until melted. Add Rice Krispies and stir until cereal is well coated in marshmallow.

    3. LIGHTLY SPRAY a 9″ x 13″ pan with nonstick spray, then turn the Rice Krispie mixture out into the pan. Press down with the palm of your hand to flatten the Rice Krispies evenly into the pan. Allow 15 minutes to cool.

    4. CUT into heart shapes, then gently insert a striped straw into the base of each shape.
    Decorating Options

    1. CANDY MELTS. Melt candy melts in the microwave and then transfer to squeeze bottles. Decorate the Rice Krispie heart with various colors and patterns.

    2. CINNAMON CANDIES or CHOCOLATE CHIPS. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cinnamon candies (like Red Hots) or mini chips atop the Rice Krispie mixture in the pan; then press down with palms to flatten.



    VALENTINE RECIPE: Sweetie Pie Cherry Pie Pops

    Our favorite baker, blogger Lauryn Cohen (a.k.a. Bella Baker), suggests pie pops for Valentine’s Day.


    Ingredients For Flaky Pie Crust

  • 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold (or frozen) and cut into 48 small pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 6-7 tablespoons ice water

  • 24 six-inch lollipop sticks
  • Optional: “Sweetie Pie” tags or red or pink ribbons



    Valentine pie pops. Photo courtesy Bella Baker.

    1. PLACE flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and combine. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse peas or cornmeal. There will still be chunks of butter and that is fine.

    2. SPRINKLE the water, one or two tablespoons at a time, over the mixture and pulse a couple of times in between each addition. Test the dough by pinching it: If it holds together it is ready. If not, add some additional water until the mixture begins to clump together.

    3. REMOVE the dough from the food processor bowl and lightly knead it into two flat disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Dough can be made and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead of time.

    4. REMOVE the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Sprinkle flour onto a clean work surface and, using a rolling pin, gently roll out, lifting the dough from underneath and sprinkling additional flour if the dough begins to stick slightly onto the work surface. Once the dough reaches 1/4 inch in thickness, use a 2- or 3-inch round biscuit cutter or a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the pie dough.



    You can use prepared pie filling if you don’t
    want to make your own. Photo courtesy
    Chukar Cherries, which makes our favorite
    cherry pie filling.

      Cherry Filling Ingredients

  • 5 to 6 cups fresh pitted cherries in season†
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    1. COMBINE all ingredients except for the vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes.

    2. STIR in the vanilla extract, remove from heat and cool before using.
    †Out of season, use frozen cherries or buy prepared cherry filling.

    Ingredients For Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream
    To Make The Pie Pops

    1. PREHEAT oven to 450°F. Place half the dough circles or hearts onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place a 6 inch lollipop stick on top of each circle, pressing gently so it sticks into the dough circle, going about half way up the circle.

    2. ADD about a teaspoon of filling to each dough circle or heart and place another dough circle or heart on top. Use the tines of a fork to carefully crimp together the edges of the dough. It is important to make sure that your dough it securely closed around the entire circle so that your filling does not leak out.

    3. MAKE egg wash: Beat egg and milk/cream until combined and brush on the top of each pie pop. Bake pie pops in oven for 10-12 minutes. The crust should look golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely, then decorate with personalized tags, like the “Sweetie Pie” tags in the photo, or a pink or red ribbon.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Valentine Cake Decoration

    Decorated by you, with jumbo white morsels
    and cinnamon candies. Photo courtesy


    Want to bake a cake for someone special but don’t have the chops to decorate it?

    Just get chocolate chips and other candy decorations in contrasting colors and sizes, and press them into the frosting of your own homemade or a store-bought cake. Head to the candy store or baking supply store to check out the options.


  • Red chips, called cherry chips or baking morsels
  • Pink and red decorating hearts
  • Cinnamon candies like Red Hots
  • Red lips sprinkles
  • Sweethearts “conversation hearts” from NECCO or these Talking Hearts

  • Try white chocolate chips atop chocolate or pink frosting
  • Use milk or dark chocolate chips on pink or white frosting (contrast jumbo, regular and mini sizes)
  • We love decorating with chocolate or vanilla nonpareils
  • Coating discs, also called disc wafers and pistoles, are larger than morsels, about the size of a nickel; while they’re typically melted to make chocolates or baked goods, they are 100% delicious, quality chocolate
  • For mint lovers, press Junior Mints into the frosting
  • Although it’s a bit commercial, you can use M&M or Reese’s Pieces for fans of those candies
    What’s your cake decorating inspiration for Valentine’s Day?



    VALENTINE’S DAY: Red Velvet Donuts ~ Baked, Not Fried

    For all your Valentine—the recipe makes two
    dozen donuts! Photo courtesy Farmgirl


    This recipe is courtesy of Farmgirl Gourmet, one of our favorite blogs. Author Heather Scholten, the author, is a recipe developer, food blogger and photographer. She writes: “I love whipping up deliciousness in my 100 year old kitchen. My emphasis is on family friendly recipes with a gourmet twist. I grow it, I cook it, I snap it, I eat it.”

    What better way to start off Valentine’s Day than with Heather’s red velvet donuts? They’re dipped in cream cheese frosting and decorated with sprinkles to add even more festivity.

    The donuts are easy to make—baked, not fried. Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes. The full recipe was originally published on


    Ingredients For 24 Donuts

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red gel food coloring (see section below on food coloring types)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • For The Icing

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • Garnish: red sprinkles or candy hearts

  • Donut baking pans


    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Spray a donut baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

    2. COMBINE the flours, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until fluff.

    3. ADD the milk, eggs, food coloring and olive oil and mix until just combined. Carefully pour into prepared baking pan. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until the tops are no longer tacky. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool.

    4. PREPARE the icing: Combine all ingredients for icing in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high at 30 second intervals, stirring in-between until cream cheese melts and frosting is a runny consistency. Add additional milk if frosting becomes too thick.

    5. DIP the cooled donuts in the icing and sprinkle with candy sprinkles of your choice. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


    The red velvet donuts have cream cheese frosting. Photo courtesy Farmgirl Gourmet.



    The typical food colors available in supermarkets are water-based liquids that work well for most purposes. In many recipes, you use so little of it that the teaspoon or so of water isn’t going to impact the outcome of the recipe.

    But if you are looking for intense color—such as in red velvet cake—you need to use a lot of liquid to get the vibrant color. Too much liquid will alter the consistency of cake, candies, donuts and deep-colored frostings.

  • Soft gel food coloring (sometimes called liquid gel, not to be confused with the conventional liquid) delivers a deep, rich color without thinning the batter or frosting.
  • Gel paste food coloring is very concentrated and provides even deeper, more vivid colors than gel. It and should be used in very small quantities.
  • Powdered food coloring is another very concentrated option that is often used to decorate cookies.
  • You can often find gel food colors in craft stores, as well as in baking supplies stores and online, where you can buy red only or the four basic food colors. Wilton sells a set of eight gel colors, as well as neon and pastel sets.
    Don’t substitute one for another, unless you have time to test the results.

  • If exact color is important, mix the color in daylight so you can see the true hue. Start with less color and adjust as you go.
  • Note that the longer the icing sits, the stronger the color will be. Proceed accordingly.


    RECIPE: Chocolate Caramel Turtle Brownies

    In this month’s issue of Ladies’ Home Journal, one reader shares how her “Man-Catcher Brownies” have captured the hearts of more than a few admirers. This caramel, chocolate and nut-filled dessert is reportedly so good, it’s prompted at least two proposals.

    Feminists that we are, we’re calling this brownie by its historic name: Chocolate Turtle Brownies.

    It’s named after the chocolate turtle confection—a caramel-pecan patty enrobed in chocolate, with four almonds, pecans or walnut pieces inserted to represent the legs of the turtle. A bit of head and tail are formed by extra chocolate runoff.

    Call them turtles, man-catchers, caramel-nut brownies or make-your-work-colleagues-happy brownies: anyone who loves sweet, chocolatey snacks will love them.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, total time is 40 minutes.



    Sweet, nutty and a bit gooey: turtle brownies. Photo courtesy Meredith Corp.



    Ingredients For 16 Brownies

  • 30 Kraft caramels, unwrapped
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 package (15.25 ounces) German chocolate cake mix
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips or other chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


    Make a double batch! They freeze well. Photo
    courtesy Meredith Corp.



    1. PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

    2. MELT caramels with 1/3 cup of the evaporated milk in a small saucepan, stirring mixture occasionally; set sauce aside.

    3. STIR together cake mix, melted butter and remaining 1/3 cup evaporated milk to form a dough. Press 1-1/3 cups of the dough into an even layer. Bake until puffed but not cooked through, about 7 minutes.

    4. REMOVE from oven and pour caramel sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle chocolate chips over caramel in an even layer.

    5. TOP with remaining dough, crumbled into bits and scattered. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and return to the oven. Bake until brownies are puffy and set, 10 to 11 minutes more. Cool completely and cut into squares.


    Candy historians trace chocolate-caramel-pecan turtles candies to the 1930s. A caramel nut patty originally made from chocolate, caramel and pecans, it evolved to use a choice of other nuts, including almonds, cashews, macadamias and walnuts.

    Other names for the confection include pecan patties and caramel pecan patties (made without the “feet”) and katydids.

    Turtles can be enrobed in dark, milk or white chocolate, the latter of which can be painted with colored cocoa butter to resemble an actual turtle shell.

    The mix of flavors has been adapted to cakes, cookies and ice cream—and to this brownie recipe.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Pot Pie Isn’t Always A Pie

    Pot pie (also spelled potpie) is a favorite American comfort food. But the name is misappropriated. Originally, “pot pie” referred to a crustless mixture of meat pie ingredients and noodles, stewed in a pot on the stove top.

    Over time, the term became used to designate a meat pie with conventional crusts, baked in the oven in a deep pie plate or casserole dish. There’s more on the history of meat pies below.

    The pot pie can be baked without a bottom crust but with a conventional top crust or a biscuit topping (the dough is dropped onto the top), like a cobbler. Personally, we prefer a crisp biscuit to a crust.

    Here’s a recipe for a “crustless” pot pie using biscuits comes to us from; the original recipe was sent to them by Prep time is 1 hour, cook time is 1 hours, 35 minutes.


    Ingredients For 6 Servings

    For The Filling

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1-1/4 pound stew beef, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 12 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 2/3 cup frozen of fresh shelled peas
  • 1-2 red potatoes, cut into bite sized cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary


    Pot pie without the pie: Use biscuits instead. Photo courtesy

    For The Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2-1/4 cup beef broth
    For The Biscuits

  • 1-2 baked russet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour or freshly ground spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) very cold or frozen butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons very finely minced fresh rosemary


    Fresh rosemary makes a difference. Photo
    courtesy Burpee.


    Preparation: Filling

    1. HEAT the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet or pan. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium-high heat until it is browned on all sides. Remove and set aside on a plate.

    2. ADD onion to the pan, with additional oil as necessary. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.

    3. RETURN beef to the pan and add the red wine to deglaze, taking care to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan as they offer a lot of flavor (see how to deglaze a pan). Cover and cook over low heat for 30-40 minutes, or until beef is tender. (Optional technique: use a pressure cooker on high pressure for 10 minutes.) Meanwhile…

    4. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F and prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan, add the butter and melt. Whisk in the flour, then the milk and broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.


    5. UNCOVER and add the carrots, celery, potatoes and parsnips. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the peas. Stir in the sauce.

    6. POUR the ingredients into a large casserole dish and top with the uncooked biscuits (recipe below). Bake for 35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
    Preparation: Biscuits

    1. REMOVE the flesh from the baked potatoes. Mash it with a fork or press it through a potato ricer. This will take 1-2 potatoes and should result in a total of 1/2 cup of potato. In a small mixing bowl, combine the 1/2 cup potato with the buttermilk. Whisk until smooth and set aside.

    2. COMBINE in a medium bowl the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk until well sifted. Cut the butter into the flour mixture either using two knives, a pastry blender, or a cheese grater (to grate frozen butter into the flour mixture). Add the rosemary and stir to combine.

    3. MAKE a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the buttermilk potato mixture. Stir until combined, and then when you can’t stir it anymore, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until you can form a rough ball.

    4. FLATTEN the dough into a circle about 1/2-3/4 inch in thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass (about 2-1/2″ to 3″ in diameter for the listed baking time) turned upside down, cut as many rounds as you can. Using the dough scraps, form another circle of the same thickness.

    Meat pies likely date back to milling of flour in ancient times—but before the invention of pie plates. Very thick crusts were used as baking vessels, and were popular banquet fare during the Roman Empire.

    By the 16th century, the English gentry revived the ancient custom of meat pies. Venison was the meat of choice. The recipe crossed the pond to America, where it became as American as…pot pie! Chicken, beef and vegetable pot pies are the most common; but if you have venison, by all means enjoy a historic venison pot pie.



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