Tag: pecans

Cranberry Pecan Loaf with Orange

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …

The tree is glinting in it’s silver and blue finery. The stockings have been retrieved from storage. We have snipped and unfolded dozens of snowflakes and hung them in an arch between the living and dining rooms. We have had a festive December, indeed. One thing that our Christmas does not include is a fruitcake.

Are you a fruitcake fan? It seems so few people are these days. Growing up there was always fruitcake, often made by my aunt Judy. It was dense and dark and boozy. I made it with her once or twice and it was astonishing to see how much went into it: cups and cups of fruit and nuts, so much so that there was barely room for the spiced batter that held it all together. I never loved it, but each Christmas I like to have just one small piece, a couple mouthfuls, just because it tastes like Christmas.

The recipe here for Cranberry Pecan Loaf has become the closest thing to fruitcake in my household each year. It has the Christmassy zing of orange and it is studded with other ‘mix-ins’ that give it the look and feel of fruitcake, but with a much cleaner, more modern flavour profile. It’s a great balance of sweet, tart, bitter and nutty. As a simple quick bread it mixes up quickly and bakes reliably making it a no-fail nod to the season.

Cranberry Pecan Loaf with Orange 

preheat oven to 350°

1 ½ C flour

1 tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

juice of 1 large navel orange (¼ C)

¼ C milk

6 Tbsp butter, room temperature

¾ C packed light brown sugar

1 vanilla bean, scraped, pod discarded

2 eggs

1 C chopped pecans

½ C chopped dried cranberries

½ C white chocolate chips

the zest of 1 large navel orange

Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and well creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla bean seeds. Add the eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients together. Likewise, mix the orange juice and milk together in a measuring cup.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter, sugar and egg mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the wet ingredients.

Stir in the pecans, cranberries, zest and white chocolate chips. Scrap the batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is golden.

Cool completely on a wire rack before wrapping. This loaf freezes well once it is completely cool.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Today is Thanksgiving here in Canada but our celebrations have finished and we are resting after a busy, social and incredibly fun and heartwarming weekend. We hosted a small Thanksgiving at our house on Saturday, (Orphans’ Thanksgiving as we call) which involved a Thanksgiving dinner for friends who don’t have family locally to celebrate with. This year that included an Australian friend of ours who had never experienced Thanksgiving at all. It was a lot of fun sharing the traditions we Canadians have been lucky enough to grow up with.

Following Orphans’ Thanksgiving, my extended family gathered, cooked, laughed and shared the traditional harvest feast, complete with turkey and all the things that come with it. Highlights included my brother wearing a turkey shaped hat and making an incredibly odd, yet accurate, gobbling sound, our grandfather proclaiming that next Thanksgiving we should all take to the road and celebrate at our cabin, despite its tiny oven, and lastly, but not at all least, my tiny nephew Gavin who is just 13 months old, pointing and laughing at everything and repeating his one phrase “what’s that?”.

So why, after all that, am I baking? Well, the truth is, I kind of failed at my post yesterday: I was supposed to bake these pies for Family Thanksgiving. Orphans’ Thanksgiving went late, I had cooked all day and I ended up sleeping in yesterday morning (thank goodness Costco was open so we were able to take a store-bought apple pie). Additionally, tomorrow is Baked Goods Tuesday in my office and it’s my turn to bring in the treat. What better to bring in after a holiday weekend than something that nods to Thanksgiving itself? (As if we haven’t had enough already …)

The recipe is simple enough, though I have made some tweaks to the original with a change of crust, amplified butterscotch flavours and earthy fall spices to offset the nuts and chocolate. It’s quite forgiving, so don’t stress — considering what its made of, it’s nearly impossible to go wrong.

Chocolate Pecan Pie with Graham Cracker Crust

Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe found on epicurious.com

preheat oven to 350° makes 1 – 9?pie

For the crust, combine the following and press into a 9 inch pie dish:

1 1/4 C graham cracker crumbs

1/4 C butter, melted

Add to the bottom of the crust:

1 C chocolate chunks (chips would do fine)

2 C whole, raw, unsalted pecans

For the pie filling, mix together:

1/2 C butter, melted and cooled slightly (about 5 mins)

1 1/2 C light brown sugar, packed

4 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons Scotch or dark rum (if you’re not into adding alcohol, use vanilla)

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Pour the egg and sugar mix over the nuts and chocolate in the prepared pan.

Place the pie dish on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 35 minutes until it is puffed and golden, still slightly jiggly and smelling richly of caramel.

Allow to cool and set fully before slicing and serving.