Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Yields: 24 bars

Crust:
2 c graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c sweet ground chocolate and cocoa
1/2 c butter, melted
2 TBS sugar

Topping:
16 oz. cream cheese
1 c sugar
1/2 c creamy peanut butter
3 TBS flour
4 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 bar (2 oz.) milk chocolate baking bar, broken into 1″ pieces
1/2 tsp vegetable shortening

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Crust:
1. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, ground chocolate, butter, and sugar in a large mixing bowl until well blended.
2. Press the mixture onto the bottom of an ungreased 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
3. Bake 8 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Topping:
1. In large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, peanut butter, and flour until well blended.
2. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixture well after each addition.
3. Blend in the milk and the vanilla extract.
4. Pour the topping into the crust and bake 40 minutes.
5. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack.
6. Melt the chocolate pieces and vegetable shortening in a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water.
7. Stir occasionally until smooth.
8. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the cooled bars.
9. Chill approximately 10 minutes, just until the chocolate layer is partially set.
10. Score the chocolate layer with a sharp knife, forming squares, and return the pan to the refrigerator.
11. Chill 30 minutes, or until firm. Ct through the bars and serve. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.

Pecan and Caramel Chocolate Clusters

(Yield: 24 pieces)

Ingredients:
1 c pecan halves
1 c sugar
1 c dark corn syrup
1 c butter
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 bars (6 oz.) milk chocolate baking bars, melted

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
2. Cut the pecans in half lengthwise and arrange to form small circles (about 1 1/2″ in diameter).
3. Cook the sugar, dark corn syrup, butter and 1/2 c of cream in a saucepan.
4. Stir occasionally over low heat, until the sugar has dissolved.
5. Increase heat to medium and stir continuously until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F.
6. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the remaining cream.
7. Heat again and stir continuously until the temperature reaches 245 degrees F.
8. Pour the caramel mixture into a 9″ pan lined with foil and let it cool approximately 2 minutes.
9. Spoon caramel mixture over each pecan circle.
10. Melt chocolate according to melting instructions.
11. Spread melted chocolate over each cluster.
12. Chill 10 minutes, then let stand at room temperature until the chocolate is firm.
13. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Ingredients:
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
2 TBS all-purpose flour

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Butter and slightly flour four 6 oz. ramekins. Tap out the excess flour. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.
2. In a double boiler, over simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, with the egg yolks, sugar, and salt at a high speed until thickened and pale.
3. Whisk the chocolate until smooth. Quickly fold it into the egg mixture along with the flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the centers are soft. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each one over, let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold. Serve immediately.

Pear Galette

Ingredients:
2 C all-purpose flour
1/3 C granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 C buttermilk
2 TBS apricot preserves
2 large Bartlett pears, thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten
2 TBS turbinado sugar

Directions:
1. To make the dough, combine flour, sugar, and salt in a processor (if using); pulse 2 – 3 times to combine.
2. Add butter and pulse 4 – 5 times, or until mixture resembles coarse meal.
3. With the processor running, slowing pour the buttermilk through the chute, processing until the dough forms a ball.
4. Remove the dough ball and adhere any remaining pieces of dough to it, then wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper.
5. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before rolling out.
6. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a sheet of parchment paper.
8. Starting at the center of the dough, roll out, forming a 14-15 inch wide circle.
9. Place the dough with parchment paper on a baking sheet.
10. Brush the bottom of the dough with the apricot preserves.
11. Arrange sliced pears in a spoke pattern on the galette dough, leaving a 2-inch border.
12. Fold the border over the pears, overlapping where necessary and pressing gently to adhere the folds.
13. Lightly brush the edge of the dough with the egg and sprinkle crust and pears with turbinado sugar.
14. Bake the galette for 45 – 50 minutes, or until the pears are tender and the crust is golden brown.
15. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pecan Pie

Filling:
1 C sugar
1 1/2 C corn syrup (can use 1/2 dark and 1/2 light)
4 eggs
1/4 C butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C pecans, coarsely broken

Ingredients:
1. In a saucepan boil sugar and corn syrup together for 2 to 3 minutes; set aside to cool slightly.
2. In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly and very slowly pour the syrup mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly.
3. At this point, strain the mixture to make sure it’s smooth and lump free.
4. Stir in butter, vanilla, and pecans and pour into crust.
5. Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 45 to 60 minutes or until set.
6. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Refrigerating overnight works best.

Pie Crust

Ingredients:
1 1/4 C flour
1/4 lb butter (1 stick), cold
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 TBS ice water

Directions:
1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and sugar.
2. Cut the very cold butter into cubes and add them to the flour mixture.
3. Break up the butter into the flour with your fingertips or a pastry cutter.
4. Work it quickly, so the butter doesn’t melt.
5. When finished with this process the mixture will be dry and crumbly, like very coarse cornmeal.
6. Sprinkle one TBS of water over the flour butter mixture.
7. Work the water in with your fingertips.
8. Add the second tablespoon of water to the dough.
9. Work the water in with your fingertips.
10. Bring the dough together into a ball.
11. As soon as the dough can come together stop working it, otherwise the dough will become tough.
12. Flatten the dough slightly to form a disk shape.
13. Wrap the disk in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. This step is important, because without cooling, the dough will be too soft and difficult to roll out.
14. Once the dough has chilled, flour your surface and your rolling pin.
15. Unwrap the dough and work a little with your hands by squeezing.
16. If you squeeze the dough and it cracks, it needs a little more working. If the dough doesn’t crack, it’s time to roll out.
17. Roll out into a 10-12 inch circle. The dough should be about 1/8th inch thick.
18. Flour the whole surface of your dough.
19. Put your rolling pin on the edge of the dough and roll your dough up, around the rolling pin.
20. Unroll your dough into the pan.
21. Tuck in the extra dough around the edges, and use it to create the fluting.

Apple Pie

Ingredients:
3/4 C light brown sugar
1/4 C all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
7 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 TBS butter, diced and very cold
egg wash
1/2 C turbinado sugar for sprinkling

egg wash:
2 large eggs
1 TBS water

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl.
3. In another bowl, sprinkle apples with the juice of 1 lemon and toss.
4. Stir in the sugar mixture to evenly coat the apples and set aside.
5. Roll out chilled dough into 2 circles and use 1 round to line a 9-inch pie pan. Chill the other round.
6. Mound the apple and sugar mixture into the pie pan lined with dough. Dot with the cubed butter.
7. Using a pastry cutter, cut an even number of strips from the remaining rolled out dough.
8. Transfer every other strip to the pie top and weave in the lattice by folding every other strip back onto itself and laying another strip perpendicularly.
9. Fold the strips back across and repeat until completed.
10. Brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Trim the overhanging dough and crimp edges.
11. Bake pie for 45 minutes or until the lattice is browned and the apples are softened.
12. Let rest 20 minutes before slicing.