Pecan Puffball Cookies

Say hello to your perfect Christmas Eve cookies! If you didn’t get around to baking yet, or you did but all the cookies are mostly gone already (ahem) and you need a great Christmas Eve cookie to bake today, these are them. These cookies have so many different names I can never keep it straight. I just call them puffballs because that’s exactly what they look like. And taste like. They are just literally little puffballs that melt in your mouth. They are so so good. They’ve always been my absolute favorite. They’re completely addicting! And since they’re basically bite size, it’s so hard to not just keep popping them in your mouth. They’re also easy to make and really pretty quick– perfect for some last minute baking just to get the festive air going in your house for Christmas Eve but not actually spend all day slaving away in the kitchen.

Pecan Puffball Cookies

For a long time I kept trying all these different recipes for these cookies trying to make them exactly right and as best as they possibly could be. Then I finally remembered that I actually have a recipe written down from my aunt years ago. She always made great ones every year for Christmas and I think they were actually the ones I had in my mind as the example of the perfect pecan puffballs and I had just totally forgotten. This is now my new tried and true recipe and there is no reason to try any others. I also like that this recipe makes a large enough batch that they’re not gone in the first few minutes after making them. They lasted like two whole days in my house. I had all intentions of bringing some of these to people as little gifts and treats for Christmas since I had a couple of parties and dinners to go to, but my husband ended up eating literally all of them before I brought any anywhere! I’m just glad I found a treat he loves because usually he claims to not be into sweets which is just not something I can comprehend.Pecan Puffballs

So fluffy!

Definitely making these again though before this holiday season is over. I like that they are so festive and cute too because they work perfectly for New Years Eve as well as Christmas is my opinion. I don’t refer to these as Christmas cookies, they are just perfect celebration cookies in general.

:Pecan Puffballs:

INGREDIENTS

1 cup butter

4 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups pecans

2 cups flour

1 cup confectioners sugar

ASSEMBLY

Heat oven to 300. Beat butter until soft. Add sugar and keep beating until creamy. Add vanilla.

Grind nuts in food processor until they are the consistency of sand. You want them totally tiny and ground up, but stop before you turn it into a nut butter. Add to butter. Add flour, and mix until both are thoroughly combined.

Roll into small balls, about an inch in diameter, and place onto parchment lined baking sheets. They expand a little but not much, so just leave a little space around each one. Bake for 30 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Let cool for only a minute or two, just so they’re cool enough to handle.

Pour confectioners sugar onto a plate and roll warm cookies in it until thoroughly coated. Let cool completely and sprinkle with another layer of confectioners sugar. The first layer will absorb into the cookies a bit, but the second layer will sit on top and make them look like little snowballs.

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Toffee Buttercrunch Two Ways: Toasted Coconut Almond & Hazelnut Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt

Can you just look at this.

Brown Sugar Toffee

Oh my goodness. These are some of the most gorgeous things I have seen in a long time.

Toasted Coconut Almond Toffee

Buttercrunch, or toffee, whichever you prefer to call it, is one of my absolute favorite candies. I think a lot of people don’t know how easy it is to make it, which makes it seem so special and fancy. But it actually really is so easy! A bit dangerously easy really.. And the best part is you can mix and match the nuts and toppings and make it exactly to your liking or those of your friends or whoever may be lucky enough to be receiving some of your delicious treat. On one I used white sugar for a classic toffee and made it with almonds topped with milk chocolate, more almonds and toasted coconut. I made another version using brown sugar instead of white for a brown sugar toffee base, used hazelnuts, and topped with dark chocolate, hazelnuts and sea salt. Both are seriously superb. The brown sugar version is a little more difficult because the mixture starts out very close to the color of the finished product so you can’t use the color as an indicator of when it is finished the way you can with the white sugar version that turns the shade of brown that you expect toffee to be once it’s done.

I’ve heard that you should really use a candy thermometer to make this and that you will then know exactly when it’s ready based on temperature, but let’s be honest, I don’t know a single person who owns a candy thermometer. It’s not too hard to gauge it based on color and texture, once you know what you’re looking for though and it’s totally worth figuring it out.

Try these combinations, or try making up your own. But be careful- this is so good and so simple you definitely need someone to give most of it to as soon as it’s done so that you don’t end up eating it all yourself in one day. Not that I would know.

 

:Toasted Coconut & Almond Toffee Buttercrunch:

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

1 1/4 cups chopped almonds

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

ASSEMBLY

Heat oven to 350. Place coconut on a parchment covered baking sheet and heat for 3-5 minutes, just until slightly toasted. Remove from pan and set aside. Place almonds on the parchment covered baking sheet and heat for 5-7 minutes until toasted and just becoming fragrant and slightly browned. The exact time will depend on how small you chopped the almonds so watch it carefully- just one extra minute and they will go from toasty to burnt. Remove from oven and remove 1/4 cups of the almonds and set aside for later. Leave the remaining almonds on the sheet, evenly scattered, and set the whole sheet aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat butter, sugar, vanilla and salt over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 15 minutes. The mixture will start getting bubbly and thick, but keep whisking constantly until it starts to turn brown, becoming the color of toffee and thins back out into a liquidy, pourable consistency.

Immediately remove from heat and carefully pour over the almonds in the baking sheet. Let cool about 3-5 minutes and then sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly on top. Let them sit for about 3-5 more minutes and then gently spread the chocolate into an even layer using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle with remaining almonds and toasted coconut. Let cool until set. Break into pieces using a sharp knife.

 

:Brown Sugar Toffee Buttercrunch with Hazelnut, Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt:

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips, plus a few extra for topping

1 1/4 cups chopped hazelnuts

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

ASSEMBLY

Heat oven to 350. Spread 1 cup chopped hazelnuts evenly over a parchment lined baking sheet and heat for 5-7 minutes until toasted and just becoming fragrant. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat butter, sugar, vanilla and salt over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 10 minutes. The mixture will start getting bubbly and thick, but keep whisking constantly until it starts to thin back out a little bit and the butter is completely incorporated with the sugar. This one doesn’t want to get as liquidy as the other kind so remove from heat when it’s still a little thick.

Immediately remove from heat and pour over hazelnuts. Let sit for 5 minutes and then sprinkle dark chocolate chips evenly on top. Let them sit for about 3-5 more minutes and then gently spread the chocolate into an even layer using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle with remaining hazelnuts and sea salt. Let cool until set. Break into pieces using a sharp knife.

 

Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’ve been craving chocolate cake and all kinds of cupcakes lately, and trying really hard not to eat them too much. I have to admit, while I like muffins and they are always good in their own right for certain situations, they are still always just muffins. A muffin is like a cupcake’s annoying little brother. Until these ones. These ones have chocolate chips in them and are so light and fluffy and delicious. And have chocolate chips in them. Need I say more?Chocolate Chip Muffin

These are a perfect morning treat with a cup of coffee, or an afternoon pick me up. They’re best after being reheated in the toaster oven for a few minutes to warm them through right before eating. I may have also turned them into complete dessert by sticking one in a mug and cutting an X in the top and sticking more chocolate inside (or a whole Trader Joe’s chocolate peanut butter cup) and then microwaving it for a few seconds. Yum. I may have had multiple ones of these for the last few days in a row. I wonder if three chocolate chip muffins in one day is really better than eating a cupcake? Somehow I worry it may not be…Chocolate Chip Muffins

This recipe is from Little Sweet Baker and I did not alter it at all when I made these. I may play around with it a bit just to see what else can be done with these, but for now her recipe is quite perfect for a wonderful, fluffy chocolate chip muffin.

:Chocolate Chip Muffins:

INGREDIENTS

2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

ASSEMBLY

Preheat oven to 425°F and spray a 12 cup muffin tray with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips in a large bowl.

Whisk together melted butter, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla and then add it to the dry ingredients. Gently fold together until JUST combined.

Pour into muffin cups (it will fill them all right to the top) and bake at 425°F for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375°F and bake for another 13 minutes. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes but take them out of the pan before they have completely cooled so they don’t stick.

Recipe from Little Sweet Baker

Chocolate Chip Muffin

I had to mutilate one so you could see how chocolatey and delicious it is on the inside!

Peanut Butter Pie

This is one of the easiest yet most amazing recipes you will ever come across. Does that sound like a big claim? Maybe. But I stand behind it 100%. I GUARANTEE it is true. This is literally the easiest dessert to make and I have never found a single person who didn’t love it. I don’t care if someone says they don’t like pie. I don’t care if someone says they don’t like peanut butter. I don’t care if someone says they don’t like ice cream. They will like this pie.

peanut butter pie

 

It’s so so easy it’s almost embarrassing to tell people. And they always ask. It’s literally just vanilla ice cream mixed with your favorite peanut butter. I think crunchy peanut butter really makes the pie, but if you are really against crunchy peanut butter you can do it with creamy. I would try it once with crunchy though, because it’s really so different than peanut butter when it’s done that I don’t think it will even matter if you don’t like crunchy peanut butter.

peanut butter pie

 

Drizzle with chocolate sauce for garnish if, like me, you always can use a little extra chocolate with your dessert. Make sure it’s fully frozen before drizzling so it keeps it’s shape.

 

:Peanut Butter Pie:

INGREDIENTS

1 jar crunchy peanut butter

1/2 quart tub vanilla ice cream (this may be just about equivalent to 1 pint)

1 pre-made chocolate or Oreo pie crust. You can also use plain graham cracker crust if you don’t want chocolate. Some of them come with a plastic cover which is ideal.

Chocolate sauce for garnish, if desired

 

ASSEMBLY

In a large bowl, combine the ice cream and peanut butter, mixing well until incorporated. If you’ve left the ice cream out of the freezer for a little while first to soften this is easier, or if you have to buy the ice cream before making this, by the time you get home from the store and put all the other groceries away it should be perfect. (That’s what I usually do). Be careful not to let it get too too soft during mixing, because it will be easier to shape if it’s still a little frozen, and also it will take less time to refreeze later.

Pour into pre-made pie crust and smooth it out flat.Cover with tin foil, if the pie crust didn’t come with a plastic cover. If it did, use that.

Freeze until set, probably overnight. You can take it out and test it if need be, by touching the middle and seeing if it gives.

Garnish with chocolate sauce drizzled over the top, if you desire.

Slice with a sharp knife and enjoy! TIP: it can be helpful to run the knife under hot water before each cut in order to make it slice easier and cleanly.