Caramel Pecan Pie

Let’s talk about pie. There’s nothing better than homemade pie. In fact, I’ve never met one I didn’t like. The only obstacle in my love affair with pie is that I’m terrible at making pie. Like really, really bad. Pie-making for me usually turns into a full cardio workout with a lot of swearing; some burned gunk in the oven, a huge mess in the kitchen and a sad, sad looking pile of fruit at the end. But there IS one pie that I can pull off consistently: Caramel Pecan Pie! 

Thanksgiving Pecan PieThis pecan pie became part of our Thanksgiving celebration around the time my grandmother wasn’t well enough to make pie anymore. She was the expert pie-maker in the family, and she passed the torch to my mom. They make it look easy as…well, pie. Maybe with another decade of practice, I can achieve consistent results. Until then, I’ll stick to pecan pie. 
BattleOfthePiesGraphic copyWhen my buddies at Wayfair invited me to be a part of their Pie Bake Off*, I jumped at the chance. Not because I’m awesome at making pie; but because I love a good contest. And since I’ve only got one pie in my arsenal, deciding what to make didn’t require a lot of thought.  
Pie
I’m sharing the recipe with you here today, in case any of you are similarly pie-challenged. Plus, it’s delicious. My husband claims it’s the best pecan pie he’s ever had. And he’s extensively explored the wide world of pecan pie. For real, though, the pie holds together beautifully without being too gloppy; and it’s topped with beautiful caramel-glazed pecans.

Pecan Pie

Caramel Pecan Pie
Serves 8
Perfect, easy pecan pie; topped with crunchy caramel-glazed pecans.
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Cook Time
40 min
Cook Time
40 min
For the crust
  1. Favorite homemade (or frozen) pie crust recipe
For the filling
  1. 4 eggs
  2. 1 C. Karo syrup
  3. 1/4 C. packed brown sugar
  4. 1/4 C. sugar
  5. 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (melted)
  6. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  7. 1/2 tsp. salt
  8. 1 C. chopped pecans
For the topping
  1. 1/3 C. packed brown sugar
  2. 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  3. 3 Tbsp. honey
  4. 1 1/4 C. pecan halves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Prepare crust, according to your favorite recipe (or package directions)
  3. Roll crust to fit a 9" pie dish; with about 1" extra dough hanging over the sides.
  4. Gently ease the crust into the pie dish.
  5. Pierce with a fork in several places.
  6. Tuck the edges under, or make your favorite edge design
For the filling (combine in a large bowl)
  1. 4 eggs (slightly beaten), Karo syrup, brown & white sugars, melted butter, vanilla and salt.
  2. Mix to combine.
  3. Stir in chopped pecans.
  4. Pour into pie pan
  5. Bake for 40 minutes. (check crust intermittently to make sure it's not burning).
While the pie bakes, make the topping
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, honey and brown sugar. Stir constantly over med/low heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the pecans and stir to coat.
  2. After the pie has baked 40 min; remove from over and spread topping evenly on top. Cover the edges of crust with foil and return to oven 10-15 minutes; or until the topping is bubbly and warm.
  3. Cool completely; and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Christina Williams https://christinawilliamsblog.com/
PecanAnd there you have it. My one pie wonder. Happy baking! 
Caramel Pecan Pie

*This post is sponsored by Wayfair. Recipe and photos are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands who support my work. Visit my full disclosure policy here, for more information on how I work with brands. 

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Frosting copyThis is one of my most beloved, and most versatile recipes. I use it for cookies, cakes, and every manner of dessert where frosting is necessary. You can change the color, or the flavor to fit just about any recipe. And today I’m sharing it with you! 

A couple of hints: use high-quality vanilla for this recipe. I love Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla; and Trader Joe’s is pretty inexpensive. The amount of mixing you have do do depends on the beginning temperature of the butter. If it was a little too cold to start with, you’ll have to mix it a bit longer. This recipe is quick, easy, and virtually foolproof. Here it is: 

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
The most perfect vanilla frosting ever.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 C. Unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 1/4 C. Milk, room temperature
  3. 1 Tbsp. Vanilla
  4. 7 C. Powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Use a stand mixer to cream butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy (about 3 minutes).
  2. Scrape bowl. Add milk, vanilla and half of powdered sugar. Mix slowly at first, then on medium for another 2-3 minutes. Scrape bowl, and add the remaining powdered sugar. Mix on medium for another 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape bowl one more time and mix for another 30 seconds .
Notes
  1. Use high-quality vanilla for the best flavor. I prefer Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla for this frosting.
  2. Store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use. Or keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before using.
Christina Williams https://christinawilliamsblog.com/
Buttercream RecipeHey, look! It’s one of my new recipe cards. How did that get in there? Weird. Now go whip up some frosting and have a little fun today. Can’t wait for you to try it. xo

Money Cakes

Today’s Friday Favorites post holds a special place in my heart. Growing up, my grandma used to make money cakes for family birthday parties. The birthday kid got to choose their slice of cake first; and you got to keep whatever money you found inside the cake. The grand prizes were Grandma’s extra special 50-cent pieces and silver dollar coins. The rest of the cake contained quarters, dimes and nickels; but everyone felt like a million bucks after eating one of Grandma’s money cakes.

MoneycakesThere’s no better time to bring back the money cake tradition than at St. Patrick’s Day. Baking your shiny gold coins inside a cake is the best way to keep them safe from those sneaky Leprechauns. Or not. But it’s still fun.

CoinsHere’s how you make money cakes: 

  1. Get a bunch of coins. Note: I usually ask the bank for new gold dollars…that appeases my inner germophobe.
  2. Sanitize the heck out of ’em. Bleach them, scrub them, run ’em through the dishwasher. Do whatever you have to do to feel good about baking them in a cake. Grandma always scrubbed them up with hot, soapy water and we never got sick. But I prefer to scrub them with bleach, then run them through the dishwasher. 
  3. Then cut squares of waxed paper and wrap up each coin in it’s own little packet.

Wrapping CoinsNow mix up your favorite cake batter and grab your favorite cupcake wrappers. Fill the cupcakes halfway, then put a little coin packet on top. After the coin is in place, top it off with more cake batter so the coin is hidden inside the cake. 

Money CakeWhile the cakes bake, whip up your favorite frosting and grab an assortment of sprinkles.

Buttercream RecipeLet the cupcakes cool, and decorate.

Money CakesCupcakes are always exciting; but cupcakes with a hidden treasure are the very best kind. Prepare yourself for oohs and aahs and squeals of delight as your little Leprechauns discover their hidden treasure. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Minecraft Cake

My oldest turned nine over the weekend. I can’t believe how the years are flying by. Being nine, naturally, he’s obsessed with Minecraft. He’s getting a little too old for themed parties, so I just try to incorporate a couple of his interests into the cake and/or favor bags, so the party reflects him, but doesn’t come across as too cheesy or overdone. The whole gang is getting a little too rambunctious to have them all over at our place at once, so I was relieved when he wanted to have his party at an activity center. All the dudes could run between the arcade, the skating rink, laser tag, etc., and I don’t have to call in the disaster repair team after the party’s over. I didn’t have much prep work to do, which was fantastic since his birthday falls so soon after Christmas. I simply made a few phone calls, sent out an evite and started shopping for the favor bags.
Minecraft Cake DIYSince I didn’t have to do much for the party, I decided I could put most of my efforts into a cool cake. Considering my meager skills, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I just threw some action figures on top of the cake to distract from the lopsided shape. 

Minecraft

For the fondant: A couple days in advance, you’ll want to make all the fondant squares. I used one small brick of Wilton fondant, and colored it three shades of green and two shades of brown. Use a fondant roller, and an embossing sheet to mark the squares. Cut them out as evenly as you can. Mine are a little haphazard…but I can live with it. Separate layers of fondant between waxed paper, and store them in ziploc bags or airtight containers until you’re ready to use them.

Make the cake: I started out by using a square 8″ x 8″ x 3″ cake pan. I used a cake mix, because I’m feeding this cake to a bunch of third graders, and they won’t know the difference. I take shortcuts whenever I can find them. But I did the entire cake mix in the pan, and baked it at 350 for 40 minutes. At 35 minutes, I covered it with foil, and finished baking it for another 5 minutes. I made two cake mixes; and it worked great. 

Then I let the cakes cool at room temperature until they were completely cool. (I didn’t take photos of this because I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post about it…sorry). Then I stuck them in the fridge for several hours. After the cakes were cold, I leveled them. (Hint: it’s way easier to level a cold cake…so definitely take the extra time to let the cake chill). I filled the cake with a “dirt” mixture to make the cake look a little more Minecraft-y.

Minecraft Cake FillingPut the bowl of your mixer into the freezer for 5 minutes. While the bowl is chilling, crush up about 15 Oreos and set aside. After it’s cold, pull it out and whip up 2 C. heavy whipping cream, 1/2 C. powdered sugar, 2T. cocoa powder, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Whip on high until desired consistency is reached. Don’t over-do it. Gently fold in the Oreos. The spread the mixture on one of the cakes, and put the other one on top. 

Let the cake chill in the fridge while you get ready for the next step. Make up your favorite buttercream frosting, and dye it green or brown. Then frost the cake, and start tiling it with the fondant pixels. Mine worked out so that I could do for rows of eight squares per side of the cake. 

Now I’ve got to figure out how to make a space ship birthday cake for my youngest. His birthday is next week. Have a great day!