Category Archives: pecans

Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}

Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}E2 Bakes Brooklyn is five years old today! Yep, this little blog is exactly half a decade and 544 posts old. I can’t believe it.

This post, lucky number 544, has the distinction of being my very first repeat. I mean, I’ve used the same chocolate cake in a few different recipes and I have repurposed the same sugar cookie dough at least five times, but this is my first straight-up repeat recipe.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Today, I’m remaking the Cocoa Brownies that I posted on day one: October 21, 2015. They are a twist on Alice Medrich’s stellar recipe, and though I have made many more brownies in the intervening years, these are still my favorites. They’re dark, dense and fudgy, and so chocolaty, you’d never guess that all their flavor comes from cocoa powder.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}But still, do they warrant a repeat? Even on an anniversary? Well, call me nostalgic, but yes. And for the record, I’m not just revisiting my first post for nostalgia’s sake. As my favorite writer/comedian/Deranged Millionaire/actor/podcaster/celebrity crush, John Hodgman, likes to say, “Nostalgia is the most toxic impulse.” What that means is that you need to live in the present. And in my present, I’ve got unfinished business with my Cocoa Brownies.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}I mean, I like my first post and the recipe, but the photos? Yikes. They’re not my worst ever, but they’re not great. I’ve gone back and re-done the photos on a few posts in the last couple of years, but it seems wrong somehow to mess with the first post, even with its weird formatting and stilted instructions. 2015 Liz was super proud and excited about finally starting this blog, and I don’t want to diminish that in any way. It was a moment in (my) food blogging time.

That said, today is another a moment in (my) food blogging time—a moment in which Cocoa Brownies finally get the photoshoot they deserve. While I am not a pro food photographer or stylist, I have learned a lot while photographing 544 posts, all on iPhones and nearly all with the same Carrara marble pie board as backdrop.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}And baking? I’ve learned ten times as much about baking in the last five years as I have about photography. Still, these Cocoa Brownies didn’t need much of an update recipe-wise. In remaking them, I only made one major adjustment: I mixed them right in the pot where I bloomed (melted together) the butter, cocoa, and sugars. You can, of course, just mix the batter in a bowl, but why add more dishes if you don’t have to, am I right?! I simply waited for the cocoa mixture to cool a few minutes so I could add the eggs without scrambling them, then stirred in the dry ingredients. Then I just transferred the batter into an 8-inch square pan. Et voila!Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}I decided to top this pan of goodness off with a pecan mosaic. My dad, the primary brownie baker in my family, always uses pecans to write something on his brownies—initials, greetings, silly words–and I like to as well. I think today warrants a “5,” don’t you?Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies bake in 30 minutes and cool in about an hour, making them the perfect simple treat for celebrating one of my biggest accomplishments to date—one that I couldn’t have done without you. This blog has helped me make new friends, reconnect with old ones, strengthen existing relationships, and interact with so many people that I truly would never have met if it weren’t for this compulsive home-baking and over-sharing habit of mine. Thank you for the kind notes, laughs, likes, questions, comments, and social media posts—for just being a part of this community. It means the world.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}

Cocoa Brownies
adapted from Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
2 large eggs, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
pecan halves for decorating, optional

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter the inside of an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter again. Set aside.

In a small pot over medium-low heat, melt butter, granulated and brown sugars, and cocoa powder together, stirring frequently, until a thick, grainy mixture forms. Remove from heat and let mixture cool 5-7 minutes.

Add vanilla and eggs to the pot, and stir/whisk to combine. Add flour and salt and stir/whisk to combine. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread to the edges. Tap the full pan on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles. Top with pecans, if desired.

Bake brownies 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not wet batter).

Let brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack. Slide a knife around the edges of the pan before using parchment overhang to lift brownies onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice brownies into 16 or 25 pieces. Serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. These may also be layered with wax paper or parchment and frozen.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}

Pecan Sandies

Pecan SandiesWhen the folks at Fisher Nuts gifted me a bag of their delicious pecan halves a few weeks ago, the first recipe that came to mind was Pecan Sandies.Pecan SandiesThere was a package of storebought Pecan Sandies in our pantry for my entire childhood, but I never cared for them. In fact, the kindest thing I can think to say about them is that they were inoffensive. These shortbread were too hard, flavorless at best, and seriously lacking in pecans for something with the word “pecan” in their name…but they’d do if there were no other desserts available.Pecan SandiesI remember going into the pantry to grab a snack and eyeing that package of cookies—who in their right mind would buy those over and over again?!

My dad. That’s who. I can’t tell you when or why he started eating Pecan Sandies, but I can’t see the packaging without thinking of him.Happy Father’s DayMy dad’s a great guy. He’s sweet, he’s smart. He looks great in a hat. He took us to a gazillion baseball games, danced with me in six of my dance recitals (once in tights), and tried to teach me to golf for years in hopes that I’d ever be good enough to play with him (I’m not). He’s the kind of guy who uses pecan halves to write your name on brownies on your 35th birthday and then sends you a video of your family singing “Happy Birthday to You” and blowing out candles in your honor, even though you are halfway across the country and unable to travel due to a pandemic.

Y’all, my dad deserves better Pecan Sandies.Pecan SandiesLucky for him, they’re easy to make and far superior to anything on store shelves. We’re talking thick, rich, buttery shortbread loaded with chopped toasted pecans. They’re crunchy with ever-so-slightly soft centers and a sort of smooth meltaway quality (sandiness?) from the addition of confectioner’s sugar. That’s a long way of saying that they’re very good.Pecan SandiesThe dough is a seven ingredient slice-and-bake situation loaded with real butter and toasted chopped pecans. It comes together quickly, but does require a two hour chill, so plan ahead. Once it’s nice and cold though, you’re just twenty minutes away from the best dang Pecan Sandies you’ve ever had.Pecan SandiesPecan SandiesThe recipe makes three dozen and they keep like a dream for days on end. If you’re a better daughter (or son or child) than I am, these would be perfect for sending to your dad on Father’s Day. Unfortunately for my dad, I’m terrible with anything involving the post office, so he’s getting something I can order online that will not make it on time. Ah, well.Pecan SandiesHappy Father’s Day to everyone celebrating, especially my sweet dad. He loves all his daughters, but I think the dog is his favorite. Pecan Sandies

Pecan Sandies
makes 36 cookies

1 cup raw pecan halves
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 300F. Place pecans on a cutting board and use a large, sharp chef’s knife to chop them finely. Place them on a dry rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes, until fragrant and toasted. Let cool completely.

Place softened butter in a medium-large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat it until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add granulated and confectioner’s sugars and mix until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and salt. With the mixer on low, beat in flour. Dough will be crumbly looking, but should hold together very well when pinched. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in chopped pecans.

Divide dough in half. Take one half and lay it on a piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap and clean hands, form the dough into a log (roughly 8 1/2 x 1 1/2-inches) and wrap tightly. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 325F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Remove one log of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it and place it on a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice the dough into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place them 1 1/2-2 inches apart on prepared pans. Refrigerate any leftover dough between batches.

Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes minutes, rotating the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at the halfway point. Let cool on the pans for 10 minutes before using a thin spatula (not your fingers!) to remove cookies to cooling racks to cool completely. Repeat slicing and baking processes with any remaining dough. Serve.

Shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.Pecan SandiesPecan SandiesPecan Sandies

Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky Buns

Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky BunsSome recipes I’m posting during this time are going to be super pared-down and simple, and others are…well…not. What can I say? Bakers gonna bake.Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky BunsThese Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky Buns came to be because I went into this time of quarantine with a ton of heavy cream in my fridge. It’s usually reserved for making buttercream for the various layer cakes I make every month, but there are no cakes on my calendar for…who knows how long.Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky BunsSo, what to do with all that cream? Whip it, make ice cream, make biscuits, and—oh yeah—combine it with the giant bag of pecans in my pantry and roll it all into super soft, tender sticky buns. Yesssss.Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky BunsThis is not the first time I’ve used biscuit dough to make sweet rolls on here, but it is certainly the prettiest (forgive those photos—I was a baby blogger). Assembly is super simple and, aside from the lack of rise, pretty similar to regular sweet rolls. Make a dough, make a filling, roll it all up, slice, arrange, bake over a lake of sticky pecan stuff, invert, eat. Boom, done.Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky BunsCream Biscuit Pecan Sticky BunsCream Biscuit Pecan Sticky BunsI’ve designed this recipe to be for just nine rolls. I figure most of us don’t need more than that sitting around to taunt us from the kitchen counter. If nine still seems like too many, know that these keep remarkably well in the fridge for a few days and can be reheated on demand.Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky BunsNow for the social distancing swaps so you don’t have to go to the store.

-Have nuts that aren’t pecans? Use ‘em.

-Don’t like nuts? Leave ‘em out entirely. Nothing terrible will happen.

-Don’t have honey for the topping? Use maple syrup, agave, light corn syrup, or golden syrup.

-Use any milk you like for the topping. I went with almond. In a pinch, you can swap the milk for 2 tablespoons of cream and 3 of water.

-Don’t have cream at all? You can use another biscuit dough. I’d be careful about making sure the dough stays cold and probably give the sliced & arranged rolls a good chill before baking.

-Feel like making traditional yeasted sticky buns? Click here. (You can leave out the bananas.)Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky Buns

Even with all those swaps, these buns may not quite qualify as quarantine-friendly for some, but they do for me. In an effort to stay home, I’m baking with things that are already in my pantry and fridge, as we all should be. To see more social distancing bakes, click here. And if you’re more inclined to cook than bake right now, head over to my Instagram. I’m posting easy dinner recipes over there a few times a week.

For now though, have a great weekend, and for the love of yourself and everyone else, stay home and make yourself a special breakfast. You’ve earned it! We all have.Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky Buns

Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky Buns
makes 9 medium-large buns

Topping:
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, divided
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup milk of choice
2 tablespoons honey
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Biscuits:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream, cold

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan with butter. Set aside.

Make the topping. Place pecans on a dry baking sheet. Toast for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool for a few minutes. Chop finely. Set aside 1/2 cup pecans for the filling.

Combine butter, brown sugar, milk, honey, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Stir constantly while mixture boils for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour mixture into prepared pan—it will seem thin. Tilt pan slightly to coat evenly. Scatter 1 cup chopped pecans evenly over the topping. Refrigerate full pan while you prepare the rolls.

Make the filling. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt, until it’s completely combined. Set aside.

Make the biscuit dough. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in heavy cream, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Dough will be shaggy.

On a floured surface, roll half the dough into a 10×14-inch rectangle so that the edge closest to your body is 14 inches. Drop spoonfuls of filling over dough and use an offset knife (or butter knife) to spread it out, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the edge. Scatter on reserved pecans. Starting at the long edge furthest away from your body, tightly roll the dough toward you until you have one large cylinder. Slice into 9 pieces, and place close together in the prepared pan. Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes, until light golden and fully cooked.

Let cooked rolls rest in the pan on a rack for 3 minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan. Place a large serving plate (or cutting board) upside down on top of the pan. Wearing oven mitts, tightly grab the plate and the pan and flip them over, inverting the rolls onto the plate. Remove pan. Nudge any leftover topping onto the rolls and smooth to distribute evenly. Serve warm. If rolls do not release, return pan to the oven for a minute to warm the topping before trying to invert again.

Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky Buns are best served the day they are made, but may be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky BunsCream Biscuit Pecan Sticky BunsCream Biscuit Pecan Sticky Buns

White Chocolate Pecan Cookies

White Chocolate Pecan CookiesSince we last spoke, things have only gotten weirder. What is happening? I mean, I know what’s happening, but…what. is. happening?

Well, a lot. And also very little. Like everything outside and on TV is bananas, but everything inside and away from the news is super chill. I’ve never been much for FaceTime or putting my face on video, but I’m doing more of both of those things because social distancing. I am doing less and less going outside—my kitchen is stocked and I have all my essential medications. I hope you do, too.White Chocolate Pecan CookiesOne thing that hasn’t changed at all? I’m still baking. Sure, there’s a part of me that just wants to quit everything and pout, but I think that would get boring quickly. Also, I’d run out of cookies.White Chocolate Pecan CookiesAnd speaking of cookies, I am in love with these White Chocolate Pecan beauties. They’re thick and chewy and stay that way for a whole week! Yes, a whole week! That simply doesn’t happen with most cookies.White Chocolate Pecan CookiesThis is not a flavor combination I would have thought of myself. I was clued in when a friend’s fiancé mentioned that they loved their grocery store’s white chocolate pecan cookies but didn’t love the ingredient list, and could I make them with less-questionable ingredients, please???

Yes. Yes, I could. And I did. And now, you can too.White Chocolate Pecan CookiesToasty pecans and sweet, creamy white chocolate chips are a match made in heaven, especially when folded into a buttery sugar cookie base. These cookies are rich, but not heavy, and I know from a lot of personal experience that it’s difficult to only eat one.White Chocolate Pecan CookiesI recognize that not everyone has white chocolate chips and/or pecans at home right now (this recipe is not a reason for “essential travel” to the grocery store!), so feel free to put whatever mix-ins you like in the sugar cookie base, up to 2 cups. When things get to some point of normalcy though, get yourself some bags of both and prepare to meet (and eat) the cookie combo you didn’t know you needed!

Also, if you don’t have both granulated and brown sugars, you can use all of one or the other. Oh, and should you not have baking powder, swap all the leaveners for 3/4 teaspoon baking soda. Your cookies will likely be a little darker and flatter, but they will still be cookies.White Chocolate Pecan CookiesStay safe, y’all! I’ll be back Friday with a list of things to make while you’re cooped up ❤ White Chocolate Pecan Cookies

White Chocolate Pecan Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen cookies

1 cup pecan halves
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips + more for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Scatter pecan halves on a dry rimmed baking sheet and roast 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Do not burn. Let cool completely and chop finely.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in granulated and light brown sugars. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in white chocolate chips, followed by pecans. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Scoop chilled dough in 2 tablespoon increments, and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 10-11 minutes, until puffy. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process with any remaining dough, letting the baking sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Cookies will keep extremely well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.White Chocolate Pecan CookiesWhite Chocolate Pecan CookiesWhite Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Pecan Pie Kolaches

Pecan Pie KolachesHello! Everything is upside down here in New York, but I’m trying to make the best of it and blog anyway (because I love it). I know that baking is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind these days, but it’s a great way to relax and put your focus elsewhere for a little while. And it just so happens that tomorrow is one of my favorite food holidays: Pi Day!Pecan Pie KolachesIf you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s the calendar date 3/14, which corresponds to Pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, enumerated as 3.14159265359 aka “π.” Whew MATH.Pecan Pie KolachesIt’s not technically a food holiday (National Pie Day was January 23), but it’s the unofficial day to celebrate math by making pie. And why not? Pie is circular, requires math (fractions/ratios) to make, and has the perfect name. Also, it’s delicious.Pecan Pie KolachesPecan Pie Kolaches Pecan Pie KolachesAll that said, I did not make a pie for Pi Day this year. I did, however, mix up a batch of the filling from my Pecan Pie Brownies and put it in a bunch of kolaches. In case you haven’t noticed, they are also circular(-ish), require math to make, and have “pi(e)” in the name. Also, they are reeeeeally delicious.Pecan Pie KolachesThey’re super soft, buttery, filled with sticky nutmeg-scented pecan filling, and topped off with a big pinch of posypka (crumble). Oh my lord.Pecan Pie KolachesPecan Pie Kolaches, y’all. They’re something to celebrate.Pecan Pie Kolaches

Pecan Pie Kolaches
makes about 1.5 dozen kolaches

Kolache Dough:
1/2 cup (1 stick) + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature

Pecan Pie Filling:
1 1/3 cup pecan halves
2/3 cup maple syrup or light corn syrup
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Posypka (Crumble):
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

The night before you want to eat kolaches, make the dough. Cut 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter into 8 pieces. Combine butter, whole milk, and sour cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt together, stirring occasionally, until mixture is warm to the touch (about 115F). Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow to prove for 5 minutes. Mixture will have just a few small bubbles.

Add 1 cup of the flour, nutmeg and salt to the wet ingredients. Fold together. Fold in beaten eggs, followed by 2 1/4 more cups of flour. Dough will be very soft and a bit sticky.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5 minutes before forming into a ball. Dough will be very soft and sticky—use a bench scraper for easiest kneading. Grease a mixing bowl with oil. Place dough ball in the bowl, being sure to grease it on all sides. Press plastic wrap to the surface of the dough. Refrigerate overnight, about 8-12 hours.

Make the filling. Scatter pecans on a dry rimmed sheet pan. Roast 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Cool completely and then chop finely.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together maple syrup (or corn syrup), brown sugar, eggs, vinegar, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. Add butter. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat, just until bubbles are beginning to form at the edges. Mixture will barely thicken.

Set a mesh strainer over a heatproof bowl. Pour filling mixture through to remove any bits of cooked egg. Fold pecans into filling. Let cool overnight.

In the morning, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Remove dough from refrigerator and discard plastic wrap. Into two pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut kolaches, rerolling as necessary. Place 3 inches apart on prepared pans.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Brush on the tops of cut kolache dough. Flour the back of a tablespoon and press it into the center of one kolache to make a well. Immediately fill with 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) of pecan filling. Flour the tablespoon again and repeat process with all remaining kolaches on the baking pan. Repeat process with remaining baking sheet.

Loosely cover with plastic wrap (or greased foil) and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes, or until puffy.

Make the posypka (crumble). Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir with a fork until crumbly.

Position oven racks near the center. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Remove plastic wrap from one baking sheet of dough. Top each kolache with a big pinch of posypka. Bake kolaches uncovered for 18-20 minutes, rotating pans front to back at the 10 minute mark. They will be light-golden when they are done. Brush baked kolaches with 1 tablespoon melted butter.

Let kolaches cool slightly on the pans. Serve warm.

Kolaches are best the day they are made, but may be refrigerated for a couple of days. Warm before serving.Pecan Pie KolachesPecan Pie KolachesPecan Pie KolachesPecan Pie Kolaches