Honey~Cream Pine Nut Tarts

In 1998 I  lived in New Mexico for only a short time; 4 months in the dead of summer. I’ll never forget that kind of heat. We are talkin’ 115-120 degree summer weather. The hot dry climate of New Mexico is perfect for pine nut trees as they are drought tolerant. I have a great fondness for New Mexico still, and one of my memories is remembering the pinon trees. There was a trail I used to ride my bike down and along the trail was a cluster of pinon trees. I used to wonder, what does one really do with pine nuts other than using them in pesto? Well, I can tell you they are really good tucked into a tiny tart with honey cream! The Italians have long loved their pine nuts and you will see them used a lot in baking there in cookies. In New Mexico they love their pine nuts and they even impart them into their coffee providing a nutty flavor to the coffee. I have to be honest, I never really got into pine nuts much when it comes to baking, but when I saw this recipe I thought it sounded really good and I was right. I have adapted the recipe slightly but toasting the pine nuts and making tiny tarts instead of a full muffin size which is called for in the originally recipe.

Honey~Cream Pine Nut Tarts

recipe adapted from “Mini Pies” cookbook

yield: ~ 24 mini muffin size tarts

1/4 Cup sugar

1/4 Cup honey

1 tsp. kosher salt

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

1/4 Cup heavy whipping cream

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

2  1/4 Cups roasted pine nuts

1 recipe all butter pie dough; click HERE  for my “fearless pie crust” recipe

1. In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, honey and salt over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the butter gradually and stir until combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Whisk the cream and egg together in a bowl. Slowly whisk this into the honey sugar mixture until combined. Add the vanilla and stir.

3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Roll out the pie crust to about 3/16 inch. Using a 2 1/2 inch fluted cutter cut out rounds and carefully shape into the mini muffin wells. Fill a heaping teaspoon of pine nuts into each pie well and top with about 1  1/2 tsp. of the honey cream mixture until almost full to the brim. Top with a small decorative pie shape if desired. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the crusts are done. Allow to cool in the muffin tins for about 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Pretty In Pink Marshmallows

Strawberry Marshmallows 

I’m honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month by making some pink treats. Here is a fun recipe to try for marshmallows. It’s super easy and they are very light and fluffy. The strawberry puree adds a lot of flavor as well as the pink color.

Strawberry Marshmallows

(recipe by Elizabeth LaBau @ About.com Candy)

(The mallows take several hours to cure so plan ahead to make them the day before)

4 envelopes gelatin

3 Cups sugar

1 1/4 Cup light corn syrup

1 1/4 Cups water, divided

1/2 Cup strawberry puree*

1 tsp. strawberry flavoring (optional)

1/3 Cup confectioners sugar

1/3 Cup cornstarch

*You can make strawberry puree by cooking fresh or frozen berries in a saucepan for about 10 minutes, then blending the soft berries in a blender or food processor. Strain the mixture to remove any seeds.

1. Prepare a 9×13 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying it liberally with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Place 1/2 cup of the water, strawberry flavoring, and the strawberry puree in the bowl of a large stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and stir briefly to distribute. Let the gelatin sit and dissolve for at least 5 minutes.

3. Place remaining 3/4 cup water, corn syrup, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and insert a candy thermometer.

4. Allow the mixture to cook without stirring until it reaches 240 degrees on the thermometer (soft ball stage). Brush down the sides occasionally with a wet pastry brush to avoid crystallization. While the candy cooks, briefly run the stand mixer on low to ensure the gelatin and puree is well mixed.

5. Once the sugar mixture reaches the proper temperature, remove it from the heat immediately. Turn the mixer on low, and slowly pour the hot syrup into the mixer bowl; being careful not to let the hot sugar touch the whisk attachment. [If you have a large glass 3 cup measuring cup] you can transfer the hot syrup to the cup instead and it is easier to pour.

6. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer to high. Whip the marshmallow mixture for 10 minutes, or until it is stiff and shiny. You can tell when it is done when you stop the mixer and lift up the whisk and the marshmallow will slowly drip back down into the bowl into a thick and shiny stream.

7. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Allow it to sit and firm up at room temperature for about 10 hours (overnight).

8. Sift the confectioners sugar and cornstarch together. Cover your workstation with waxed paper and liberally sprinkle the surface with the sugar/starch mixture. Sprinkle the top of the marshmallow with the sugar/starch coating and flip the marshmallows out face down onto the prepared surface.

9.Carefully peel back the foil from the marshmallow, and sprinkle the top of the marshmallow slab with the coating powder. Spray a large knife with nonstick spray and coat both sides with the powder. Cut the mallows into squares, coating the knife blade with sugar/starch as needed. Roll the cut edges of the mallows in the coating mixture so that all sides and smooth and not sticky.

10. Store the mallows in a dry airtight container in a dry location. Do not refrigerate them or keep them in a humid place. If they are stored longer than 3 days, you may need to re-roll them in coating. Fresh marshmallows go stale after about a week.

“Payday Cookie Bars”

Is there a happier word than payday?…. Okay, maybe “weekend”.  These bar cookies are a bit like a payday candy bar. They are salty and sweet.

I love salty/sweet. Yin and Yang, Lucy and Desi, Tom and Jerry, opposites are good, no?

Have you noticed there seems to be a lot of salty/sweet recipes these days? If you like salty/sweet treats, this is your recipe. I adapted this recipe slightly from a cookie recipe found in the cookbook: The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle. I made this recipe once a couple of years ago and brought them to work. People asked, what are those things? [in a good way]. I needed a favor from a co-worker and I told her I would make her ANYTHING SHE WANTED for a favor and this is the cookie she chose, so there ‘ya go. The next time you are craving something salty/sweet

(or you need to bribe someone) give these a try. 😉

Payday Cookie Bars

recipe adapted from “crunchy peanut bars” in  The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle


1   1/4 C all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/2 C firmly packed light brown sugar

Peanut topping

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1/2 stick)

2/3 C light corn syrup

1   2/3 Cups (10 oz.) peanut butter chips

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2   1/4 Cups (12 oz.) salted “party” peanuts

Caramel drizzle

20 Kraft caramels; unwrapped

1 Tbsp. heavy cream

fleur de sel (sea salt)

Make the crust:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9×13 inch pan by lining the pan in both directions with double thickness aluminum foil; allowing about 2 inches of overhang on each end.  Lightly spray the foil with non-stick spray.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt; set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. At low-speed, add the flour mixture and mix just until crumbly, 10-15 seconds.

4. Pat the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough well with a fork. Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the topping. Leave the oven on.

Make the topping:

5. In a large saucepan,, combine the butter, corn syrup, and peanut butter chips and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

6. Pour the topping over the crust, using a spatula to spread it to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the peanuts evenly over the topping, and press them lightly into the topping. Bake the bars for 18-25 minutes, until the topping is bubbly. Cool the bars completely in the pan on a wire rack.

7. Lift out the bars from the pan in one whole piece and carefully peel off the foil. *Make the caramel drizzle as below.  Drizzle the caramel over the bars in a diagonal pattern. Sprinkle with fleur de sel or sea salt. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut into bars.

*Caramel drizzle:

1. In a medium nonstick saucepan on low heat combine the caramels and the heavy cream until melted. Save the fleur de sel to sprinkle over the bars once you drizzle the caramel.


Happy Baking,


S’mores with Salted Caramel and Ganache

I love not camping.

Please don’t send me hate mail. It’s just not my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a nature hater, I just don’t fancy sleeping in a small bag for more than 48 hours. The Husband and I have an agreement. I will camp for 3 days max and then I need a hotel. Or a motel. You see, I prefer to take a shower without bugs dangling from a shower head. Call me crazy. Maybe if I was one of those kids that camped when I was growing up it would make a difference.

Or not.

There are some things about camping that I do love. I like meeting new people and the easy conversation that you usually find in people who camp. A total stranger will loan you almost anything you forgot to bring. I love that. I wish people could be like this all the time.

I dig the whole fire thing.  It brings out my primal side.  I dig sipping a good Merlot while watching the fire. Okay, that part may not be exactly primal, but I do love grilling or cooking over the fire and of course, MAKING S’MORES.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not exactly the camping type.

The Husband is total camping type. Like hard core camping. Like camping in Death Valley in the dead of spring in 115 degree heat camping. Yeah….that’s a story for another time. The marriage survived that one some how.

The Husband caught me making home-made marshmallows in preparation for our camping trip once. He thought I was a little crazy.

Husband: “Uh, honey, what are you doing???”

Me: “Making marshmallows” “We need to have stuff for s’mores”.

Husband: “Why do we need s’mores?” (we’ll cut him some slack on this- he grew up in Taiwan, and s’mores are not exactly part of his childhood).

Me: “Because….it’s like camping law. You just don’t go camping without s’more product.  You need to have marshmallows if you go camping”.

Husband: “Yeah, that’s why they have Safeway”. “You buy them”.

Never go camping with a pastry chef.

This recipe for home-made marshmallows is from Alton Brown from “Good Eats” and it is tried and true. I have made it several times.



Home-made marshmallows (Recipe by Alton Brown)


  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Nonstick spray


Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares. {Alton says to use a pizza wheel, but I actually like to use kitchen scissors and cut long strips and then cut into squares of your choice}. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

S’more assembly~

graham crackers or cookies of your choice {I found these really groovy cookies the other day that are vanilla and chocolate swirl and thought they were kinda cool.}

• marshmallows

• salted caramel

• chocolate ganache

• fire/flame/blowtorch {your choice} personally I like the blow torch- silly pastry chefs!

Toast your mallow. Set aside. Smear one cookie/cracker with about 1 tsp. of caramel. Smear one cookie/cracker with 1 tsp. of ganache. Place the toasted mallow on top of the caramel cookie {It’s easier to assemble this way} then top with the other cookie.


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