Chocolate-Pecan Biscotti and Refrain

Chocolate-Pecan Biscotti and Refrain

R E F R A I N – to stop oneself from doing something.  synonyms: abstain, desist, hold back

Chocolate Pecan Biscotti

Chocolate Pecan Biscotti

If you are like me you probably refrain from purchasing a swimsuit until the one you have is falling apart and maybe you refrain from even trying on skinny jeans because who other than a 9-year-old girl can get her thighs into them.  The reason I hold back on these purchases is because they tend to make me feel unsatisfied and unhappy with my body, perhaps a little or perhaps a lot, depending on the day.

Well, unfortunately today I must add another item onto my above list.  Bras!  You thought it would be the pictured Biscotti, right?  Absolutely not, Biscotti makes me feel good and indulging brings some satisfaction, perhaps a little or perhaps a lot, depending on the day.

Why bras? you may ask.  Have you bought a bra lately.  Gone are the days when I can waltz in and any little thing will do.  It didn’t matter if it had a wide strap, a skinny strap, scalloped cups or demi cups and who needed a pushup….the girls were sitting pretty and everything came in my small size as support and smoothness were not required.  Now, it is a torturous foray into racks upon racks of unfamiliar items.  Not only do you have to decide if you want part coverage, full coverage, some support, full support or no support you also need to determine front snap, back closure, t-back, smooth look and more.

As if that isn’t enough you are made to suffer through looking at yourself in garish lighting while wondering where the back fat should go. I somehow never seem to resemble the Angels with their Wings even when trying on a Victoria Secret bra.  (You know, only approximately 2% of the population are built like models, so technically they are the freaks and weirdos not us yet most of us lament not being weird and freakish).   Hmmm, if you can grab some of it (the back fat) and push it forward to stuff it into the cups you will have a fuller bosom but, hey all that extra means my bust is entering the room way too soon.  As if that is not annoying enough the cleavage becomes a line that runs from between your breasts to almost under your chin.  NOT a nice look.  And it looks worse if your skin has lost a little of its elasticity.  It then doesn’t resemble cleavage at all.  It looks more like a crepe-y scar running through the top half of your body and as I have several scars (or life experience lines) on my lower half I don’t need any more on the top half.  O.K. found out you need to purchase a bra with rounded cup edges so you don’t have the double boob look on each one.  Are you familiar…you put on your t-shirt and look down and see a weird bulge cutting the area into 2 hills with a little valley between on each one.  Again, not so nice or flattering.  OK, now I have the right cup and my usual size but when I turn around I see bulging above and below.  When did this occur.  Surely there is a flaw in this bra.  Don’t they lift and separate anymore.  Think I will abandon the whole bra purchase and wear undershirts and thick tops.  Maybe by next Spring when I need to switch back to t-shirts there will be something new on the market to take care of all my concerns. In short order what I need is a smooth coverage, bulge eliminating, cleavage enhancing, boob perking bra at a reasonable price.

Another question that recently got me to thinking..how come guys underwear doesn’t ride up.  You never hear men debating which briefs are the ones to purchase to avoid pantylines and hungry bum.  If manufacturers can produce a product in a heavier fabric for the male population why don’t we have access to this wonder garment.   I guess underwear is for another blog.

Chocolate Pecan Biscotti

Ingredients

Ingredients

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 cup toasted pecans

4 ounces chocolate, chopped or chips

Preheat oven to 325F.  Line large jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  Toast pecans and allow to cool and rough chop, if desired.

Toasted pecans and chocolate ready to stir into finished batter

Toasted pecans and chocolate ready to stir into finished batter

Stir the eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl until blended and set aside.  Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugars together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg mixture and then gradually add in the flour mixture in 3 additions.  Beat well after each addition of flour and use a spatula to scrape down sides of bowl between each beating.

Stir the chocolate and toasted pecans into the batter.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and on a lightly floured surface shape the dough into 2 logs. (Dipping your hands into either water or flour helps to prevent dough from sticking to your hands too much.)

Biscotti dough ready to bake.

Biscotti dough ready to bake.

Tip: I find it easier to divide the dough in my large bowl and shape into a bit of a ball and then place on my parchment lined cookie sheet.  It is easier for me to shape on the sheet and makes less on my counter.  Just make sure if your dough feels really sticky you add some flour so you can handle and shape it.

Pat and press the dough in the logs into rectangles about 12-14 inches longs, 1 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch thick.

Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes.  Using a serrated knife cut each log diagonally into 3/4-inch thick slices.  Place the slices upright and spaced slightly apart back onto baking sheet and bake for another 10 minutes.  Turn slices over and bake for another 5 minutes or until slightly dry.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Before cutting and baking 2nd time. Mine are a little too thin!

Before cutting and baking 2nd time. Mine are a little too thin!

Makes about 3 dozen.  These will freeze well.

White Chocolate Cranberry Shortbread

White Chocolate Cranberry Shortbread

This sweet treat has 5 ingredients.  3 for the cookie and 2 for the  add ins….so really there is no excuse not to whip these up the next time you have the urge.  You know that urge that can only be satisfied with a mouthful of rich, buttery sweetness with a hit of white chocolate and cranberries.  Not only do these look rich and pretty they taste fabulous.

White Chocolate Cranberry Shortbread

White Chocolate Cranberry Shortbread

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup fruit sugar (berry sugar, instant dissolving sugar)

1 7/8 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup craisins

Preheat oven to 325F  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper

Beat the butter and superfine sugar together until light and fluffy in colour.  Scrap down sides of mixing bowl.  Add in 1 7/8 cups of all-purpose flour (I know it is an odd amount but that’s what Bonnie Stern’s recipe says!) and mix in.  Add in the white chocolate and craisins and fold in.

Scoop dough onto prepared sheets.  I use a medium size scoop and then flatten the cookies slightly with the heel of my hand.

Bake approximately 15-20 minutes.  It may be difficult to tell when they are done by appearance but they will firm up slightly and go very lightly golden on the edges.  Cookies will firm up as they cool.

Sweet and Easy Toffee

Sweet and Easy Toffee

Today’s offering is Toffee.  Sweet, buttery and sprinkled with toasted nuts.

Toffee - Yum!Have you ever had a McIntosh Toffee Bar? This recipe brings back memories of summer days at the cottage. After a trip to McMurray’s store for pixie sticks and McIntosh toffee I’d come back to our rented cottage and whack the package of McIntosh toffee, in its red plaid packaging, on the counter and it would break into a variety of different size pieces. Then you would pop these pieces into your mouth and immediately experience the hit of buttery sweet smoothness.  macintosh toffee1Then you either chomped on the hunks of toffee and had them stick to your teeth or let them last by just melting away in your mouth.

The base of this toffee tastes just like that McIntosh bar.  Add the chocolate layer and a sprinkling of toasted nuts and you have a winner.  One tip though, no matter how tempted DO NOT lick off the hot toffee from the wooden spoon directly from the pot, unless you wish to remove all the skin from your tongue.  As tempting as it is just wait a few minutes to let it cool down enough and then sample the creamy base of this sweet treat.

Note:  You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe.

Toffee

8 ounces dark, semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (or a mix of all three)

3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts toasted

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Line a 10-inch square pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

In a heavy saucepan combine butter, sugar, water and salt over a medium heat.  Once butter is melted stir occasionally and bring mixture up to 305F on a candy thermometer.

Watch carefully.  It will take a while to heat up but the temperature will quickly rise from about 270F to 305F very quickly.  Mixture will seem to thicken up and turn a light golden brown.

As soon as mixture hits 305F remove from heat and add in 1 teaspoon vanilla. (Careful it will spit and splash slightly!)

Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread to edges if needed.  Let set for about 45-60 minutes. Once toffee has set melt chocolate and pour over toffee layer and spread.  Sprinkle toasted nuts over top and press down lightly to adhere the nuts.  Put in fridge to set.  Break into pieces and enjoy.

Can be stored for at least a month but I really don’t think it will last that long!

Any questions or comments….sweetenuf@bell.net

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

White Chocolate P.B. Bars

White Chocolate P.B. Bars

Hmmm, I seem to be on a bit of a peanut butter chocolate bend these last few posts.  So I will make sure to switch it up for the next one.  These 3 layer bars are definitely not for the faint of heart as it is a combination of all things sweet.  Although upon sampling a few I must say I didn’t get that ‘OMG my teeth hurt from all the sugar’ I was sort of expecting.  These treats are layered with chocolate crumbs, toffee bits, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and chocolate melted with whipping cream.

Entertainment Tonight was on while I was prepping for these bars and I am not sure about you but isn’t this Kim & Kanye stuff just a little too much.  I mean how much money do you have to spend to convince the world you are in love.  If you are really in love do you spend all your energy convincing everyone else you are?  Seems to me you are so busy being in the lovey dovey stage everyone knows you are over the moon in love.  I know the media gets blamed for snapping photos, etc. but did photographers sneak into the venue or were they allowed in to make sure this event was splashed all over the world. It is so out of proportion with what they actually do.  It’s not as if they are out saving the world or finding a cure for rare childhood diseases or even bringing attention to the plight of the homeless (although to be fair I’m sure they do give to charity).

For a man who is supposed to be so private Kanye certainly knew what he was doing when he released the photo of Kim in that shockingly horrible white swimsuit…if a photo of my butt looking that huge got out I’d be mortified.  I think the point of the photo and his comments were to convince us that he really is heterosexual.  His voice is a little high pitched for my liking, but hey, that’s just my opinion. It all seems way to staged and showy.  What a waste of time and money especially when we all know the odds of this union standing the test of time are slim to none.  ( Yes, I do realize we all need our entertainment and something to watch but I prefer the Real Housewife sagas.)  Do you honestly think 3 times will be the charm for Kimmy.   Perhaps this show of commitment and love takes the spotlight off the 2 disintegrating marriages in the Kardashian/Jenner family and keeps the revenue pouring in.  But to look at their extravagant spending in a ‘the jar is half full’  frame of mind they sure did have to spend a lot of money on all the little people to make their magic moments happen. And I suppose those thousands and milliions in turn fuel the economy, right.  So I guess really it is a win win.  I get to complain about them, you can be entertained by them and the U.S. economy gets a little kick start.

Well, it is time for my extravagant evening to begin with my sweet treat and a cup of tea.

Step 1-Chocolate crumbs, melted butter, egg, sugar, toffee bits

Step 1-Chocolate crumbs, melted butter, egg, sugar, toffee bits

For Base:

1/2 cup butter melted

1 tablespoon sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs

1 cup toffee bits

9 x 9 square pan lined with parchment

Combine all of the ingredients except the toffee chips and spread into prepared pan.  Bake in 350F oven for about 12 minutes and remove from oven.  Sprinkle toffee chips over top and let cool.

Base layer topped with toffee bits. Ready to chill.

Base layer topped with toffee bits. Ready to chill.

Step 2 - combine and melt these 4 ingredients for filling

Step 2 – combine and melt these 4 ingredients for filling

Filling:

Combine 2 tablespoons of custard powder, 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips, 1 cup of white chocolate chips and 1 cup of peanut butter.  Combine and melt together, either in microwave or over double boiler.

Spread over chilled base and smooth.  Return to fridge to firm up.

Filling spread over base awaiting ganache

Filling spread over base awaiting ganache

Step 3-Chocolate Ganache spread over chilled bars

Step 3-Chocolate Ganache spread over chilled bars

Topping:

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chips)

Heat whipping cream to almost boiling and pour over chocolate.  Let sit a couple of minutes then stir until smooth.  Spread over bars.

Chill.  Cut into squares and enjoy.