Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holiday Berry Trifle

Day 54

I love Christmas for all of the obvious reasons, of course, but not only for those reasons. I love this time of year for the way it warms my heart, for the way it makes me see the world in a gentler light, and for the way it causes me even more nostalgia than usual. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that there’s a certain feeling at Christmas time that cannot be duplicated; I suppose it’s best described as an intoxicating mélange of peace, contentment, and anticipation. Naturally, it should come as no surprise that such a spiritually meaningful time of the year as the celebration of Jesus’ birth evokes similarly deep and positive emotions. Even still, I am sometimes surprised by their intensity and by the deluge of memories that consume my mind and heart in December.

Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013
One such memory is that of my childhood Christmas Eve celebrations. Until I was 17 years old, my father’s side of the family spent Christmas Eve in my grandmother’s log cabin—a quaint house, built in the Scandinavian-style by my grandfather in the early 1940s. I remember many things about Christmas Eve at Grandma’s; too many to enumerate here, certainly. For example, she always invited two of her best friends, Mrs. Clement and Ms. Stutz, along with their families or guests. My cousins—Hunter, Cassye, and Rose—would be there too, with their parents. And Maggie, our youngest cousin who wasn’t born until I was 16, joined us years later, much to our delight. 

The evening was spent listening to stories, usually told by my father who was and still is an impressive storyteller. There was homemade green sherbet punch, finger-foods in the 1950s housewife-style presentation, and delightful company. Because our household of three was not usually very festive—my parents’ tending to be mostly quiet and introspective, even during the holidays—I anticipated this evening with my entire being. I was giddy with excitement every year on the day before Christmas Eve and even more on the day itself. 

I remember that my mother and I would go early to Grandma’s house to help her with some of the food preparations. My job was to cut-away the edges from the white loaf bread, then to make mini-pieces of bread from each slice, some triangular, some round, and some square. For the round ones, I was given a mini-biscuit cutter; those were my favorite to make because of all of the leftover bread I could bag for Grandma to use the next week to make her bread pudding with damson preserves and cream glaze. I’ll have to share that recipe in a future blog, for sure. 

My mother would spread some of my grandmother’s famous chicken salad on each piece of square bread and pimento cheese on the triangles to make finger sandwiches. I was positively delighted whenever one would be less than perfect so that I could eat the mistake. In addition, Grandma mixed cream cheese with a small bit of mayonnaise and chives, then dropped red or green food coloring, alternately, into the mixture to make festive round cream cheese finger sandwiches. These little holiday wonders were my favorite, and I clearly remember finding far more “mistake sandwiches” than there really were. 

Even as a child, I loved standing back and surveying a perfectly presented table for company. Once finished, Grandma’s labor of love had resulted in spinach dip in a sweetbread bowl, round cream cheese and chive finger sandwiches, square chicken-salad finger sandwiches, triangular pimento-cheese finger sandwiches, mini-country ham biscuits, fudge, peanut butter balls, butter mints, carrots and celery with dip, port-wine cheese with German-style sliced meats, spicy sausage balls, and homemade lime punch. She filled the table with so much food that there was barely room for plates and napkins. It was heavenly, and the absolute best part of Christmas for me. Honestly, I looked forward to this table more than any gift I ever received as a child. 

One year, I clearly remember Mrs. Clement bringing her favorite English berry trifle to add to the feast. As a student of history and a lover of British culture, she never failed to impress me with some interesting addition to Grandma’s table each year. I always felt so continental and sophisticated when I ate whatever she brought since it was very different from the traditional fare we usually enjoyed. Another bonus was the interesting cultural story Mrs. Clement would share each year about whatever she brought. The idea that a world of different foods and cultures was out there for the taking was so incredible to me. Not much has changed; I’m still enchanted by the customs of different places.

Pardon me here for my long-winded lead to the point of today’s blog entry, but my trip down memory lane was begging to be shared, and it’s because of the memory that I chose to make today’s Holiday Berry Trifle, in honor of my favorite woman, my dearly- departed grandmother, Dorothy, and her outstanding food, her loving heart, and her interesting friend who made it first for me. Alas, thank you Grandma, for being such a positive role model in every way, for giving me a love of attractive food presentations, and for making me strive to follow in your culinary footsteps. I wish you were here to spend Christmas with us; it’s simply not the same without you. 

Holiday Berry Trifle
2 pints of strawberries, cut in bite-size chunks
1 pint of blueberries
1 9x5 loaf pound cake*, cut in cubes
1/3 cup sweet Sherry
½ pint heavy whipping cream
3 tbs. powdered sugar
2 pkgs. (3.5 oz. each) Cook and Serve vanilla custard
½ of 8 oz. container Cool Whip, thawed
Cinnamon sugar

Cook custard according to package directions. Set aside to cool completely. 

In a trifle dish, place ½ of pound cake sprinkled with all of Sherry. Sprinkle all of blueberries on cake. 

Combine Cool Whip with cooled custard by folding it in gently until completely incorporated. Spread ½ of custard mixture over berries and pound cake. Add a layer of most of strawberries, then a layer of remaining custard, and finally another pound cake layer without Sherry, saving a few pieces of pound cake and strawberries for garnish as you layer. 

Whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Beat in powdered sugar until stiff. Spread over strawberries. Garnish with additional crumbled pound cake, sprinkled cinnamon sugar, and remaining strawberries.**

* Note 1: I usually make my own pound cake (see recipe for Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Day 3 of my blog, using loaf pans instead of Bundt) but store-bought pound cake works fine too. 

** Note 2: the layering order is really up to you, as long as you start with Sherry-soaked pound cake and end with heavy whipped cream and garnish. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Toffee Brownie Trifle

Day 53

Merry Christmas! Here’s a decadent dessert to serve during the holiday that I found in the Taste of Home magazine. It is perfect for taking to a get-together, and its preparation is very fast and stress-free. Served in an elegant trifle dish, this heavenly dessert will appear more time-consuming than it actually was. Throw some flour on your face and clothes to give the illusion of hours and hours slaving away in the kitchen. I won’t tell.

Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013
In all seriousness, an added plus is, of course, that people will be instantly delighted by the textures and flavors, no matter how easy the trifle was to make. 


Toffee Brownie Trifle  
1 package fudge brownie mix (13-inch x 9-inch pan size)
2-1/2 cups cold (whole) milk
2 packages (3.4 ounces) instant white chocolate pudding mix
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
5-6 Heath candy bars, chopped (or bag of Heath toffee bits) 

Prepare and bake brownies according to package directions for
cake-like brownies, using a greased 13x9-in. baking pan. Cool

In a large bowl, beat milk and pudding mixes on low speed for 2
minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Fold in whipped
topping. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Cut the brownies into 1-in. cubes; place half in a 3-qt. glass trifle
bowl or serving dish. Cover with 1/3 of toffee pieces and half of the pudding. Repeat layers.
Finish with chopped candy bars. Refrigerate leftovers. 

*Original recipe from Taste of Home magazine.


Friday, November 29, 2013

White Chocolate Ginger Cookies

Day 52

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to try a new cookie recipe. For me, it’s the holiday when I begin to think about and to look forward to making some Christmas goodies too. While I focus primarily on main dishes and sides for Thanksgiving, I tend to lean more toward sweets throughout the month of December. 

Thus, today’s cookie recipe, and I think you’ll love it!
Photo by Maggie Kapustin

Since my Christmas cookie and bread baking officially begins this weekend, I ventured to try something new. Ginger cookies are usually an old stand-by for fall, which made me want to start with a basic ginger cookie base. Finding the perfect ginger cookie recipe is a chore, but I happened upon one by Ina Garten and I’m hooked. This time, to her recipe, I decided to add white chocolate. At first, the combination sounded odd, but the results were phenomenal. 

You’ll choose to add these cookies to your holiday baking collection, with or without the white chocolate chips, I’m sure. It’s important to note that one additional  modification I tried for today’s batch was not to dip the cookie dough in sugar before baking. You choose for your batch! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

White Chocolate Ginger Cookies

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1½ teaspoons ground cloves 

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed

¼ cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup unsulfured molasses

1 extra-large egg, at room temperature

1 ¼ cups chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces) 
1 cup mini- white chocolate chips or chunks

Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. 

Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and white chocolate chips, and mix until combined.

Scoop the dough with 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1¾-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. 

*Optional: Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the sheet pans. 

Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a minute or two, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

(Modification of orginial recipe by Ina Garten, link )

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tourtière de Québec (French Canadian Meat Pie)

Day 51

The idea of dinner pies has always been comforting—Shepherd’s Pie, quiche, Ricotta Pie, and now a Canadian Tourtière. This recipe is packed with flavor, and will most likely become a hearty favorite on your winter dinner rotations. 

Although not pictured, I sometimes make the dish more company-ready or “presentation pretty” by making a Parmesan sauce to drizzle on each slice. To make this, simply heat 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 clove minced garlic,
Copyright, Doug Kapustin  Photography, 2013
and ½ stick of butter on medium low until hot. Then, add a block of cream cheese, cubed. Stir constantly until cream cheese is melted. Add ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until fully incorporated. Serve immediately. 

Tourtière de Québec (French Canadian Meat Pie)

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
¾ cup chopped onion
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, sliced finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup beef broth
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
½ tsp. dried, crushed rosemary
½ tsp. sage
½ tsp. dried thyme
5 cups cooked, diced potatoes or shredded hashbrowns, browned in olive oil 
16 oz. Muenster cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic pepper seasoning
4 pie crusts for 2 pies

Brown ground beef and ground pork in a large pot or stove-top Dutch oven.  Remove from pan and drain in colander or on paper towels. In same pot, sauté onion, celery, and carrots until tender. Add garlic, beef broth, pork and beef, cooked potatoes, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme. 

Combine and heat together for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. 

Place bottom pie crusts in two 9-inch pie pans and fill each with half of the meat mixture. Cover with top crust. Cut slits in tops of both pies and seal edges by pinching or by using a fork to press the two crusts together. Brush with one beaten egg OR butter. Sprinkle top of crusts with garlic pepper seasoning.

Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Blackberry Wine Cake

Day 50 

The first professional job of my teaching career was a Godsend. I worked in a small private school with a kind, generous, and helpful group of people who taught me so much that I still use on a daily basis, 16 years later. One lady with whom I worked was quite a bit older when we were colleagues, but we had a very special past connection because she had also been my first and fifth grade teacher. As a teacher, Mrs. Cooper was of that older, no-nonsense generation of instruction that was strict and demanding. As students, we respected her and worked hard to meet her academic demands.
Copyright 2013, Doug Kapustin Photography
She was the best kind of teacher, truth be told. This remarkable lady was also a gentle spirit who truly cared about her students. Mrs. Cooper was the sort of teacher and colleague that made everyone more confident and ready to face any challenge. Just knowing her made all of us—co-workers and students alike— feel empowered. Although she has passed on now, I have many fond memories of her.

Once, for a potluck meal at work years ago, Mrs. Cooper made a blackberry wine cake that was sinfully rich and delicious. She shared the recipe with anyone who wanted it, and I made it right away. Over the years, the recipe somehow made it to the back of my recipe collection, and I had almost forgotten about it.  What a mistake that was!

I received a letter from my aunt Sarah recently, who shared the recipe again with me, after she had tried it for her weekly dessert. So many memories came rushing back when I saw Ms. Cooper’s potluck contribution, and I simply had to make it again.  It was tremendous; even better than I remembered, I’m happy to report. The fruity, tangy flavor of fermented blackberries and vanilla are pleasantly overwhelming to the senses. They present an explosion of flavor. 

I hope you’ll try this one. The fact that it uses a cake mix and jello powder makes it easier to make for a last minute function or family dessert. If you tend to prefer from-scratch cakes, I’d venture to say that you would be happy to take a preference detour for this one.  I recommend some vanilla ice cream and fresh sugared blackberries to make a berry shortcake, but even plain, it’s delicious. You can use any blackberry wine that you like, but Manischewitz is a really good choice for this one. 

Here’s to you, Ms. Cooper, for sharing this cake with your friends and colleagues all those years ago, and for being a truly admirable lady. I know I speak for everyone when I say that we truly miss you. 

And, what better time to dedicate a recipe than on my 50th entry! Bon appétit! 

Blackberry Wine Cake

1 box Duncan Hines white cake mix
1 box blackberry flavored jello
4 eggs, beaten
¾ cup canola oil 
1 cup blackberry wine (Manischewitz works nicely)
1 tsp. vanilla

For glaze: 
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup blackberry wine
2 tsp. melted butter
1-3 tsp. milk, as needed 

In a mixer, blend the eggs, oil, and wine. Add jello, vanilla, and cake mix. Mix well. Pour into greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until knife in center comes out clean. 

Cool on wire rack. 

To make glaze, mix butter, wine, and sugar until glaze forms. Add milk one teaspoon at a time, and ONLY if you need it to make the glaze thinner. The glaze should be able to pour but should be thick. You might not need any milk at all. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Apple Pound Cake

Day 49

Autumn is finally in full swing, and the temperatures are here to prove it. There are few things more invigorating than the cool, crisp air this time of year. To celebrate the arrival of cooler temps and the best of fall food, Doug and I recently ventured to a local apple orchard here in Maryland, Larriland Farm. We spent the afternoon walking through the rows of apple trees, picking from several varieties. 

I guess it should have come as no surprise that the orchard would be filled with visitors who wanted to spend a day away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives. Children and families madelong lines for funnel cakes and hot apple cider, and there were more than a few pumpkin shoppers too. Doug was able to take some nice fall pictures as we meandered through the fields and orchards. Back at home, the kids carved pumpkins and drank hot cocoa to finish an already perfect day. 

Spending time at Larriland caused a deluge of fond memories from childhood, mostly surrounding food prepared by my grandfather and both of my grandmothers. From fried apple turnovers to baked apples to apple pie, it seemed that the months of September, October, and November were always filled with apple dishes. 

In honor of those memories, I tried to tweak a quick and easy pound cake recipe to include apples. Using a cake mix really makes this one perfect for a last minute prep that you can take to a Halloween party or any fall gathering. The apple pound cake is delicious with caramel sauce and ice cream. It’s also great for breakfast, served with coffee and a cheese platter. For that matter, try it with baked brie—it’ll be a crowd pleaser, for sure!

Happy fall, everyone!

Apple Pound Cake

1 box Pillsbury white cake mix (with “pudding in the mix”)
½ cup sugar
¾ cup butter, softened to room temperature
1- 8 oz. container sour cream (I recommend Breakstone)
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground ginger 
3 medium tart apples, peeled, cored, and petite-diced in food processor

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a standard Bundt pan. 

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sour cream, and sugar. Add room temperature* eggs, one at a time, until fluffy. Add cake mix and mix well. Add vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger and mix just until incorporated. Fold-in diced apples. 

Bake at 350 degrees in Bundt pan until a knife in center of cake comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. 

*To bring eggs quickly to room temperature, place them in very warm tap water for 10 minutes. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bacon Chive Egg Salad

Day 48

Egg salad never fails to rate highly on my ever-growing list of comfort foods, I must say. I love trying a long list of unusual ingredients in egg salad from time to time, even though the traditional mix is normally my favorite. For this entry, I have chosen to add bacon and chives.  This change also works perfectly for deviled eggs if you’d prefer to make more of an hors-d’oeuvre than a sandwich filling. 

Photo by Maggie Kapustin 

Bacon Chive Egg Salad

12 extra large, hard-boiled eggs, chopped roughly
1 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s recommended)
½ cup finely chopped celery
2 tbs. pickled jalapeno, chopped finely
½ cup chopped red onion
3 tbs. chopped chives
5 slices fried, crumbled bacon 
¼ cup dill pickle relish
½ tsp. salt (more to taste if needed)
1 ½ tsp. black pepper
*more mayonnaise if needed, added 1 tbs. at a time


Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or mayo as needed. Refrigerate at least three hours before serving. Perfect on sandwiches with lettuce and tomato, or on crostini or crackers. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Roquefort Cheeseball

Day 47

For your next get together, or as a delicious topping for grilled burgers, try this unbeatable Roquefort Cheeseball. It is easy, zesty, and very versatile! With football season under way, this is an excellent appetizer for company, and it only takes a few minutes to prepare. 

Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013
Roquefort Cheeseball

1- 8 oz. package cream cheese, slightly softened
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup crumbled Roquefort (or bleu) cheese
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup finely diced green onion
½ cup crisply fried, drained and crumbled bacon (or fried pancetta)
2 tsp. buffalo wing sauce
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
Paprika for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, Roquefort cheese, and cheddar cheese. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment is an option, although clean hands really work best. Add Worcestershire sauce, green onion, bacon, and buffalo wing sauce. Mix well to incorporate fully. 

Form into ball or log, then roll in paprika and toasted pecans to thoroughly coat. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours to allow flavors to mingle and for cheeseball to become firm. 

Serve with crackers or as a topping for burgers. 

*To toast pecans, heat oven to 350 degrees, then place pecans on a baking sheet. Toast for about 5 minutes or until pecans appear a richer brown and aromatic. Watch carefully so as not to scorch. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Country Fried Steak & Spicy Cheddar Grits

Day 46

My grandparents on my mother’s side, I called Nanny and Papa. Although Papa died well over ten years ago, Nanny is still alive and kicking, surely as feisty as ever. I haven’t seen her in a few years, actually, but I am as certain as I can be that she still fries most of her food and she probably still curses and smokes with reckless abandon.
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013
Albeit disconcerting at her ripe old age, it’s also endearing in some ways I can’t quite explain.

Whenever I’d visit Nanny and Papa as a child, I would eagerly anticipate the next meal. They were both outstanding cooks in a very basic, Southern Country sort of way. One of the most memorable meals we enjoyed at their table was country-fried steak. Sometimes, it was served with mashed potatoes or fried potatoes and onions. At other times though, they would make salted grits seasoned with black pepper. The simplicity of the fried steak and grits or potatoes was so comforting. Sliced tomatoes, string beans, broccoli, and biscuits were the usual sides.

For today’s blog recipe, I decided to revisit grits. Months ago, I shared a recipe that was easy and delicious, but this time, I’m going to recommend the quick cooking grits for a fast and easy weeknight alternative. So many people lament over their busy evenings during which they have no time for quality home-cooked meals. Preparing something like country-fried steak and quick cooking grits is a way to combine a slightly more complicated meat prep with a delectable and fast side. If, of course, you’d rather make the slow cooking grits, please refer back to Day 7 of my blog.


Spicy Cheddar Grits
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half and half
1 cup “Quick-5 Minute” grits
½ tsp. salt
3 cups grated sharp cheddar
½ tsp. crushed red pepper
½ tsp. hot sauce

Bring broth, crushed red pepper, and half and half to a boil. Slowly stir grits and salt into boiling broth mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover. Cook four minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. During last minute, add cheddar cheese and hot sauce, and stir. Remove from heat. Serve immediately with country-fried steak.

Country-Fried Steak
8 cube steaks
4 eggs, beaten
2 tbs. heavy cream
2 cups self-rising flour
1 tbs. sea salt
1 tbs. black pepper
1 tbs. garlic powder
1 tbs. onion powder
2 tsp. paprika
1½ cups canola oil

In a deep skillet, pour 1½ cups of canola oil, and heat on medium-high. When a drop of water dances on the oil, it is ready for the steaks.

In a large bowl, mix eggs and heavy cream. In another large bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Dip each steak in the egg mixture to coat on each side, then dredge in the flour mixture.

Place each steak in the hot oil, being sure not to crowd them. Cook 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. When steak no longer runs pink and when the crust is thick and crispy in appearance, the steaks are done. Place on paper towels to drain.  Serve immediately. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Day 45

With fall and winter just around the corner, I find myself looking for richer, more decadent dessert recipes. While flipping through a Ladies’ Home Journal supplement, I found this twist on a pecan pie. Rich, creamy, and absolutely sublime, this pie will be the highlight of your next dessert presentation.

It’s very necessary to share that the magazine in which I found the recipe did not correctly print it, and it was only after I made the first batch of pies that I realized the discrepancy between the magazine’s printed version and the correct online recipe. Below is the correct version that will come out perfectly
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013
every time. Interestingly, the magazine’s misprint still produced a delicious pie, although the filling was decidedly runny.

In a way, I’m glad to share that my first four pies were not as I had anticipated since—especially on television cooking programs—we home cooks are not usually privy to the mistakes. As a result, when we try a featured dish from television, it doesn’t always turn-out as anticipated, thereby making us feel like failures in the kitchen. Often, we become timid to try another recipe, but the entire mishap could have easily been avoided if the chef had shared some particular tricks to avoid pitfalls, based on his/her test kitchen trials.  I find that, for every recipe I successfully try, there are two that don’t work. It’s important to remember this, especially if you find yourself exploring a new passion for cooking.

You know, though, failures are still pretty tasty, truth be told. To avoid any confusion with this relatively easy pie, make sure that you only use 1 ¼ cups of the butterscotch sauce in each pie. The remaining sauce can be refrigerated to be used as an ice cream topping or a drizzle for apple pie.

Chocolate Pecan Pie
3 cups pecan halves, toasted (see below)
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1/3 cup butterscotch-flavored pieces
1 ¼ cups Butterscotch Sauce (*see recipe below)
Whipped cream (optional)
9-inch pie crust

*Butterscotch Sauce
½ cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup light-colored corn syrup
2 tbs. water
¾ tsp. salt
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla

Prepare the pie crust by baking empty in a 350 degree oven. Line pie pan of raw crust with aluminum foil and pour 2 cups of dry, uncooked kidney beans on foil to keep crust from bubbling while baking. Bake for 15 minutes with foil/beans and 5 minutes with foil and beans removed. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

To toast pecans, spread the pecan halves in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven, tossing occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat and stir 1¼ cups of the butterscotch sauce over low heat until warm. Remove from heat. Stir hot nuts, chocolate, and butterscotch-flavored pieces, stirring until the pieces are melted. Pour filling into prebaked tart shell. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 14 to 15 minutes or until edges are bubbly.

Cool on wire rack. Serve with whipped cream and chocolate curls, if you like. Makes 10 servings.

Butterscotch Sauce

In a heavy saucepan, melt unsalted butter over low heat, stirring often. Increase heat to medium. Stir in sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Bring to boiling; stir constantly. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring often (you'll see big, slow bubbles as it boils). Remove from heat. Carefully whisk in whipping cream and vanilla (the sauce may sputter). Use 1¼ cups of the sauce for the pie. Allow remaining sauce to cool. Cover; refrigerate remaining sauce. If you like, reheat over low heat and stir before serving over ice cream. Makes 3 cups sauce.

(Recipe borrowed from Ladies’ Home Journal “Delicious Desserts” supplement to Ladies’ Home Journal Magazine, 2011. )