Pumpkin Pecan Shortbread Squares

Pumpkin pecan shortbread squares

On Friday morning I opened my email to read this post. Emma, a friend in real life and one of my favourite baking bloggers, has decided not to post any new recipes on Poires au Chocolat while she gets to grips with her graduate medicine course. Rather than leave the blog completely static, she’ll be revisiting recipes on occasion, treating the blog something like an ever-evolving book, but I’m still sad that we won’t be seeing many (any) new recipes for the foreseeable future. Continue reading

Chocolate Orange, Cranberry & Pecan Christmas Cookies

Cookies

Thick chocolate chunk cookies packed with the flavours of Christmas

How often have you sat at your computer, wishing you could reach in and take even the tiniest taste of whatever baked treats lie in front of you? Of course the recipe is right there – you could most likely make them yourself – but there’s something about an original recipe baked by its creator and given with love that’s just that little bit more special.

If anyone could invent a way of instantly shipping blogged treats on demand, I’m sure it would make them millions. Continue reading

Chocolate Christmas Wreaths

Chocolate biscuit cake

‘C’ is for Christmas – the perfect festive chocolate treat

Saturday marked the official start of Christmas in the little loaf household.

We went in search of an oversized tree, cranked up the cheesy tunes, cracked open some bubbles and spent the afternoon stringing up lights and debating between different baubles. I baked a batch of gingerbread (which was delicious, but not quite perfect enough to make an appearance on the blog just yet) and the flat was filled with warmth, laughter and the scent of spices. Continue reading

Caramelized Apple, Cinnamon & Pecan Tartlets

apple_tart

Flaky pastry, caramelized apple & crunchy nuts create the perfect contrast of textures

Remember the fairy tale of the princess and the pea? This story starts a little like that.
Since before I can remember (when I was just the littlest suggestion of a loaf inside my mother’s stomach, in fact) I’ve spent my summers at my parents’ house in Italy. High up in the mountains just before the border between Tuscany and Umbria, it’s one of the most beautiful, relaxing places I know. Due – in no small part – to the fact that it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Continue reading

Pear, Maple & Pecan Bircher Muesli

bircher_muesli

Buttery pears, smooth pecans & sticky syrup make the perfect winter breakfast

This recipe started life as something really rather different.

It began on New Year’s Eve when I offered to cook dinner for my boyfriend and his family up in Yorkshire. Knowing that on New Year’s Day we might be nursing various degrees of hangover, and that the shops would be shut – or operating on minimum opening hours with a likely lack of any fresh produce – we hit the local market to stock up on ingredients. Fresh fish, bread, cheese, vegetables and various spices secured, my attention (surprise surprise) turned to pudding. Continue reading

Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream Tartufi

butterscotch_pecan_ice_cream

Creamy butterscotch pecan ice cream in a smooth chocolate shell

Cooking, for me, is all about memories; indulging in old ones and creating new ones. Looking back over previous posts, you’ll notice that the vast majority include the lines ‘When I was little’ or ‘I’ve always wanted to recreate’, and I think this sentiment is somewhat universal. Much of our lives can be measured in the edible; from celebratory meals and birthday cakes, to the comforting smell of a Sunday roast, the zing of an exotic new spice or a single taste which transports you instantly to a certain time or place.

When I was given an ice cream maker for my birthday, there were certain flavours I knew I had to make. Rich chocolate and vanilla – my all-time favourite childhood combination – velvet smooth and dripping from a giant cone; milky straciatella, packed with fragile shards of bittersweet chocolate; nutty gianduja, a slightly more sophisticated take on Nutella, and mint choc chip – for me the flavour of France – piled high in a sundae glass and topped with delicate clouds of crème chantilly. Continue reading

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Delicious_Chocolate_Pie

A slice of gooey chocolate joy!

We recently visited the Big Easy on the Kings Road for the first time.  Self-styled as ‘deluxe crab-shack dining’ this local institution transports you to another time and place, serving up lip-smacking, rib-sticking dishes; the perfect spot if you want a buzzing atmosphere and a big feed.

After polishing off platters of crab claws dripping in sweet drawn butter, smokey seafood, sticky ribs and piles of fries, our thoughts turned to dessert. Nine times out of ten I’ll choose a pudding based on its chocolate content, but if there’s pecan pie on the menu then the chocolate takes a back seat.  It’s my ultimate indulgent Amercian pudding – nuggets of crumbly pecan set in a syrup so sweet it almost makes your teeth itch, all encased in warm, flakey pastry and served with a dollop of cold vanilla ice cream.

A week later a friend asked me to make dessert for a girly dinner, and my thoughts returned to pecan pie.  Flicking through my recipe books, I found the following from my trusty Green & Blacks book. As you may have guessed, it’s got chocolate in. In fact the chocolate plays such a vital part it’s a cross between a pecan pie and a truffle torte. And that’s no bad thing.  It’s still sweet, nutty and delicious, but slightly less cloying than a traditional pecan pie, and the ultimate addition to any baker’s repertoire.  It’s also really simple to make – the pastry is whizzed up in a blender and the filling mixed in one other bowl.

Quick. Delicious. Easy as pie.

Delicious, and easy as pie . . .

Chocolate Pecan Pie (adapted from the Green & Blacks Chocolate Recipe Book)

Pastry
275g plain flour
75g icing sugar
150g cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 large egg yolks

Sift flour and icing sugar together then blend in a food processor with the butter. Add egg yolks at the end and bind into a pastry. Roll the pastry out thin, about 2mm, then roll round your rolling pin and drop onto a 28cm loose-based tart tin. Fill in any gaps with excess pastry and leave a slight edge – the pastry will shrink slightly while cooking.

Chill for 30 mins, then fill the case with baking beans, or uncooked rice, and bake for 15 mins at 180 degrees centigrade. Remove the baking beans then cook for 10 more minutes til a pale golden brown.

Remove from oven and reduce to 160 degrees centigrade.

Filling
275g dark chocolate
200g chopped shelled pecans (100g chopped, 100g reserved for decorating)
3 large beaten eggs
225g light soft brown sugar
250ml evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g melted butter

Melt the chocolate and butter together. Combine all the other filling ingredients (minus 100g whole pecan nuts), then add the chocolate and butter mixture.

Pour into pastry case and decorate with remaining pecan halves.  Cook for an hour, covering with foil towards the end if necessary to present pastry from burning.

Pecan_Pie

Whole Chocolate Pecan Pie