Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve in the Kitchen with Us

On Christmas Eve, we enjoy baking and cooking together.  It's one of our traditions.  Our neighbors make things for each other and then deliver them.  I think Masako, our next door neighbor, started it.  Usually one of her sons, whomever was home for the holidays, would bring over one of her Japanese treats. We chat and catch up when deliveries are made. The Severs used to specialize in mini-banana breads, but they have moved South.  And Kirsten across the street does a ultra-sweet version of Chex mix along with cookies.  The Philhobers, who have also since moved away, used to send over an apple pie, which was John's specialty.  New neighbors replace the old ones.  We change it up from year to year.   Last year it was cut-out cookies.  This year we are doing the pecan butter balls with King Leo peppermint sticks.  Very festive.  (I forgot to take a photo of what we delivered tonight. :)

Another tradition is for me to bake for Tom a treat that he has only once a year.  This year it is date nut bread.  That's probably his most requested item.  I also do a Scottish marmalade pudding which he loves.

Had some problems this year.  No worries.  It still tastes good.  I think I didn't grease the pan well enough. Tom thinks that it is Bessie"s Pastry Flour that I used, which is a change. (I bought it at Birkett Mills as part of my buckwheat adventure last month.)  Anyway, I am not going to post the date nut bread recipe until I make sure it is sure-fire.

For the last couple of years, Tom has worked hard at making Monkey Bread from scratch, yeast and all ---putting it over the heating grate to get it to rise, etc. ---he received the Monkey Bread kit as a gift from the P.A. Halls ---but this year we are going with bakery coffee cake.

Instead, we are baking the pies for Christmas Day --- this year it is pecan -- Texas pecan  --- and I am still debating which recipe to use --- do I go with the one in the Silver Palette that we use often, or my grandmother's recipe which is fairly standard, or do we try a new one?  Maybe a chocolate pecan pie.  Hmmm.....

That's what we did  --- a chocolate pecan pie from the Texas Pecan Grower's website. Tom put a Christmas tree in pecans on top as his special touch.  ( I thought it was a sailboat but I was quickly corrected.)

Chocolate Pecan Pie
from the Texas Pecan Growers Association

1 12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 refrigerated homemade pie crust
2 T. butter
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups pecan halves, or large pieces, toasted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 inch pie plate with pie crust as directed on package. (I put ours in the freezer at this point.) Melt the butter and 4 ounces of the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave until the butter melts, between 1 and 2 minutes.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Brush bottom of pie crust with small amount of beaten egg. Stir sugar, corn syrup, eggs, and vanilla into chocolate mixture until well blended.  Stir in pecans and the rest of the chocolate chips. Pour into pie crust.  Bake 55 minutes or until a knife inserted 2 inches from edge comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.

Merry Christmas everyone!
      ----Barbara & Tom

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