Chunky Chocolate Fruit-and-Nut Bars

These, we are told, are the crunchy cousin of the Nougat bars we made a month or so ago. Those Honey Nougat Bars did not go over so well at my house. You might recall my husband’s somewhat humorous suggestion that I should have just used peanuts and chocolate because that would have been a much better combo. 😂

Well, just so happens this recipe was much more up his alley….chocolate and peanuts were encouraged. We were to use really any kind of nut and dried fruit combo we wished along with either a candied orange peel or crystallized ginger. It also had some coconut added as well.

Dorie has suggested that nuts with some salt on them would add to the flavor so while I was at my local produce store, I saw some Thai spiced peanuts and thought those might give some salt and a little kick, which my tasters like.

I ended up using the Thai peanuts, dried cherries and cranberries, coconut, and crystallized ginger….all held together with dark chocolate.

This was really an easy, mix and throw together kind of recipe…one that is highly customizable. I had a feeling this one might go over better than the honey nougat and I was right.

They loved this one…likening it to a gourmet version of a Mr Goodbar or a Sees Candy Nuts and Chew. I will take that any day haha.

This one was easy…and a keeper! Win, Win!

On a side note, WordPress wished me a happy anniversary yesterday…eight years of baking with you all! It has been a fabulous journey that I have absolutely loved…thank you for your baking friendships. 😍

Pasta with Cabbage, Winter Squash, and Walnuts

January found our group making two pasta dishes and it has me thinking in our house we just might not be big pasta eaters….at least not the kind that doesn’t have a red sauce. 😳

My husband said he could honestly say he hasn’t ever had anything like this mixture….I haven’t either and I think this was the first time I have had butternut squash…which I know sounds weird to say, especially because I love vegetables, but I don’t think I really liked it.

It is kind of funny as I reflect because it makes us seem like we haven’t experienced interesting dishes or fine dining but we live here in California and have had many types of dining experiences so I don’t know…maybe we are odd or particular haha but this one just didn’t do it for us. I don’t think there is any modifying this one to make us crave it.

As always, great experience and great adventure, just not a winner for us. 😃

Cannelés

This was a great one…fun, interesting, educational, and delicious!

I had never heard of Cannelés…and neither had any of my tasters. We were all new to this centuries old French dessert. We learn the name comes from shape of the molds they are baked in…”channeled”. I did not have a mold so thank goodness for Amazon. I searched and there, just like that, appeared a few options for me. I have had to buy very few tools to bake all these years in this group so I figured it was worth the few dollars to have my Cannelés mold….otherwise I would have to sit this one out. I went with the mini-silicon.

The batter it really quite simple with eggs, milk, sugar, flour, butter and then rum and vanilla for flavor. It is a thin batter that sits for 12+ hours in the fridge before using. The molds also have to sit in the freezer for 30+ min so this isn’t really a dessert you throw together.

The only thing I didn’t like about this dessert is feeling the need to explain to everyone, “they are suppose to look burnt” 😳…I mean to be honest when you get the blackened bottom and mahogany sides with just a peak of the yellow on the top center…it does look overdone…very. We are told though, that the dark and firm exterior gives way to the custardy, chewy interior. So I took my first bite quite apprehensively…but wow, they were amazing and really not like anything I have had before.

So, since I had tried them and found them to be strangely addicting, it was easy to sell them to my family and tasters. Everyone LOVED them and said the same things…how interesting, different, and delicious they were!

These were a perfect example of what I have loved about being a part of this wonderful baking group! Funny side story, I had to go buy the rum for this recipe. I have found it easiest to go to a local wine shop that has mini bottles of alcohol. I bought three for different baking needs. As I checked out, I was asked if I was leaving in a plane soon 😳🤦‍♀️ umm, no, just baking haha.

This one is a keeper!

Pasta with Shrimp, Squash, Lemon, and lots of Herbs

This recipe is described as a quick toss-together kind of dinner with ingredients normally found in the fridge. My kind of week night dinner!

Although there is squash, tomato, shrimp, pasta, and herbs, the lemons are really the star of the show. You use every part of them…the zest, the juice, and the empty halves are even boiled along with the pasta. I have never done that before!

Unfortunately for us, the lemon became the overpowering flavor…the only flavor. We really could only taste lemon and the kick the cayenne pepper gave. I was disappointed as we have loved every recipe from this cookbook so far, and we love everything in this dish. It just didn’t come together as well as we would have liked.

Can’t really complain though when we have been on quite the run of amazing recipes. 😃 I have re-made many of the dishes we have made so far. This just won’t be added to the list…or at least won’t be made with as much lemon next time 😂.