The name of this Blog, Killer Recipes and Pastry Forward, seems, at first, like two opposite concepts that shouldn't attract. Pastry Forward, the name of the non-profit bakery in one of my mystery series, is a play on "pay it forward" where "paying it forward' is done "one treat at a time" and all profits go to charity. So why have I paired it with anything called Killer?
Because "Killer Recipes" is my way of highlighting what I think are some awesome "killer" recipes and tips I've come across over the years (and still do). I've made, used, and shared most of these goodies numerous times for work meetings, conferences, and casual get togethers. I've always thought gatherings go better when people are eating, especially at meetings you think might turn contentious. I called it "cookie diplomacy". Not only is it harder to shout with a fudgy brownie or lemon square in your mouth, but I've also found that folks are more relaxed and calm when there's food around. Go figure.
Now, I realize in-person work meetings and social "pot-luck" gatherings have been on hold this year for now, but these recipes should still serve as a delightful break for you and will be there when we all start-up again! So have fun and try something new for your next online video meeting!
As for the Pastry Forward part, like other "baking for good" projects, Pastry Forward involves baked goods that are made, sold or donated to a worthy cause in some manner. While I don't have a non-profit bakery in real life (yet?), I still donate where I can. For the last several years, until all such donations were stopped in March, I've donated trays of treats to my local hospice. I do hope that I'll be able to again after restrictions are lifted.
So what do I donate? Most trays are rather simple, but sometimes I offer a variety. One tray contained some of my resurrected Triple Sweet Toasted Marshmallow Drops, Buttery Toffee Almond squares, St Patty’s Mint Brownies, and Banana Bread Cream Cookies with Cinnamon Pecans. The recipes for the St Patty’s Mint Brownies and Banana Bread Cream Cookies with Cinnamon Pecans are below. The other two will be featured in later blogs. Stay Tuned and Happy Baking!
Making The Mint Brownies
The mint brownies? Oh those were easy! Just use your favorite brownie recipe (mix or scratch) for either an 8x8 or 9x13 pan. Then, get a box of Andre mints (two packs for the 9x13, preferably frozen, easier to chop). Unwrap all the Andes mints and put them in a plastic bag and chop/pound until you get small pieces (You could use a food processor , but pulse it and stop before you get mint dust!). Mix the chopped mints into the brownie batter and spread into a sprayed (or Silpat or parchment paper lined) pan. Just bake at 350 according to your recipe or on the box. Turn half way through and always keep an eye on it as ovens widely differ! The toothpick test in the center (few crumbs) works here. I also drizzled chocolate on top for decoration.
There's also an adult version of this called Irish Cream brownies which is just regular brownies with a ¼ to ½ cup of, you got it, Irish Cream liqueur (any brand will work). I am pretty sure the old tale is true that the liqueur bakes out, but I did warn my work colleagues just in case. No one complained! You can be creative and really use any liqueur or even syrup, but watch the amount. I usually use it in place of the water or other liquid used.
A Banana Bread Party In your Mouth!
That's how I think of these delicious White Chocolate Banana Cream Cookies with Cinnamon Pecans. The recipe was blatantly borrowed with delight from the Picky-Palate and has become one of my all-time favorites! I modified the original recipe by using a yellow cake mix (as noted with additions) instead of making the dough from scratch for an experiment and it turned out great! The Cinnamon Pecans are ambrosia on their own!
Cinnamon Toasted Pecans
1 ½ cups Pecan Halves
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons water
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar**
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 medium very ripe bananas (I used 3 thawed ones cuz they were small)
1 ½ cups all purpose flour**
½ teaspoon baking soda**
½ teaspoon kosher salt**
1 ½ cups white chocolate chips
**You may substitute a cake mix (yellow or be creative) for the starred ingredients. If you do use a cake mix, ignore step 2 below, just add the vanilla, butter, mashed bananas, brown sugar and egg to the cake mix and stir/mix well then continue on with step 3! Also, if the dough is too moist to scoop (happens with bananas), chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so or even overnight. Just remember the chilled dough may take a bit longer in the oven because the dough is not room temperature.
- Toasted Pecans: Place Pecan Halves into a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cinnamon and water until combined. Stir and let pecans bubble cook for about 5 minutes. Mixture will become thick. Pour pecans onto parchment paper/Silpat to cool for at least 15 minutes before adding to cookie dough (will stick if not parchment or silicone!!).
- Cookie Dough: To prepare cookie dough, cream butter and sugars into a large mixing bowl. Add egg and vanilla mixing to combine. Mash bananas and add them to the bowl, stirring. Add flour, baking soda, and salt.**
- Add white chocolate chips and keep stirring. Place cinnamon toasted pecans into a large ziploc and crush. Careful not to crush too much, you don’t want dust. Leave some chunks! Add to bowl and mix to combine.
- With a medium cookie scoop, place dough onto a large baking sheet lined with a silpat liner or parchment paper. Leave a good inch and a half between each cookie.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 15-16 minutes until golden brown (I usually turn pan halfway through) . You might want these to bake longer if you like “drier” cookies. But beware, the cookies may be done, but still look moist due to the banana. So be careful not to over-bake unless that’s how you like them! Let cool on baking sheet for 15 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. ENJOY!!!!
Makes 2 dozen or so cookies depending on size! Cake mix made almost 3 dozen. They do keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days and do freeze well if double bagged. They may be a little more moist from the freezer when thawed, but still delicious!