Hi, I'm Torrey. Welcome to Left Field, where creativity runs amok and imagination is ALWAYS more important than knowledge. Shoes are not allowed but ties are optional. This is a repository of snippets from my life out here in Left Field. One never knows what shiny bits of creativity will be found here... cards, scrapbook layouts, photography, poetry, recipes, ponderings, rantings and musings. It could be anything! Life in Left Field is always changing, always real, always ...interesting.

August 25, 2015

High Tea, Texas Style--Part 8...Baker's Dozen

Hidy Ho, crafty peeps!

I tell ya, this Tea Party series seems like it's never gonna end, doesn't it? I assure you, it will. I think there will be just one more post after this one. Maybe 2, depending on how much I squeeze into this post.

For those of you who are just joining this Conga line, here are links to the first 7 parts.
The Sweet Stuff
    Today's post is mainly about the baked goods. As you may have noticed so far, I haven't exactly made anything that is diet-friendly. I realized that, and in my defense, I did substitute non-fat Greek yogurt for sour cream, and Neufchatel for cream cheese in several recipes. But, I decided to make at least ONE offering that was TOTALLY non-fat, dairy-free, with no added sugar. THREE, if you count the tea and mixed nuts.  

    Rainbow Fruit Kebabs. I made one as an example, and dear Jonathan assembled the rest of them. Each skewer has a red grape, 2 blueberries, green grape, pineapple, cantaloupe, and a strawberry on top. They're very artistic--all rainbowy and what not.
    Rainbow Fruit Kebabs
    Ok, enough of the healthy stuff...let's move on to the baked goods. We served 4 different baked confections (well 5, if you count the lemon tarts). I'll start things off with the "easiest"...Brownie Bark.

    It goes by many different names--Brownie Brittle, Brownie Crisps, Brownie Chips, Brownie Snaps, Brownie Crunchies... I chose to call mine "Brownie Bark", but I think "Brownie Crack" would have been more appropriate because this stuff is so ADDICTIVE.

    Whatever you call it, it's yummy, crispy, crunchy, chocolaty confectionary goodness. I think Willy Wonka probably fed this to the Oompa Loompas. There is a commercial version of these available in stores called "Brownie Brittle" by Sheila G. and you can visit her website HERE. Mom and I discovered her version and man-o-man is it good. I think we ate 10 bags of it. 


    They are VERY small bags

    Anyway, here is my version of this tasty treat. 
    Brownie Crack, er, um... Bark
    • Your favorite boxed brownie mix (which will probably take oil, eggs, and water)
    • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips 
    • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 C)
    • Mix up brownie batter--according to its package directions
    • Pour about a third to half the batter onto either a silicone baking mat in a cookie sheet or one that has been lined with parchment paper. I used my silicone baking mat.  
    • With an offset spatula or butter knife, spread the batter out THIN...like to a thinness of 1/8-1/4 of an inch (~1/2 cm) thick. It needs to be UNIFORM thickness to its edges. Try to fill the bottom of your cookie sheet as much as you can.
    • Sprinkle chocolate chips all over surface.
    • Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until it's completely done all the way through. It may seem burnt along the edges...that's ok.
    • Remove from oven and immediately cut into squares with a pizza cutter or knife...though the pizza cutter is MUCH easier. 
    • Move cut pieces, immediately, to wire rack to cool.  
    • Store in airtight container once they're completely cooled. They'll hold a week or more when stored properly. 
    The next sweet sensation in the lineup is my Pecan Shortbread. I've posted my recipe on this blog before (though it's been a couple of years). This is, hands down, the best Pecan Shortbread you will EVER eat. I promise. It's the holy grail of shortbread cookies.

     Torrey's World Famous Pecan Shortbread
    Yield: a ton (3-4 dozen depending on diameter of dough log)
    • 3/4 lb. (3 sticks) regular, salted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 cups chopped pecans (reserve 1/2 cup for dipping)
    • half of a 12-oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (for dipping)
    • 1 tsp vegetable shortening (Crisco)
    • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
    • 1/2 cup crushed toffee candy (like Heath bars)
    • Cream together sugar and butter--until light and fluffy.
    • Add vanilla and stir into butter/sugar mixture. 
    • In separate bowl, whisk flour and salt together.
    • Add flour/salt mix to butter/sugar mix, a little at a time.
    • Add 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (I chopped them by hand) to dough and THOROUGHLY incorporate them.
    • The dough can either be very stiff or very crumbly and you won't think it will hold together...but it will when you press it with your hands. Trust me.
    • Place reserved 1/2 cup of pecans in separate bowl and set aside.
    • Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. 
    • By hand, form each piece into a log (about 2 inches in diameter). Wrap each log, snugly, with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
    • Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
    • Remove plastic wrap from dough log and slice into 3/8-inch - 1/2-inch thick slices.
    • Place sliced dough onto UNGREASED parchment paper-lined cookie sheet (or foil-lined, or silicone mat-lined) about 1/2 inch apart...they don't spread.
    • Bake for 15-20 minutes until edges are golden brown and center is cooked but NOT browned (see photo above).
    • After baking, gently transfer to cooling rack (they're very fragile at this stage), and cool completely. Once cooled, they're sturdy.
    • You can leave them plain, OR...dip them in chocolate.
    • Spread reserved, chopped pecans onto cookie sheet and return to oven for 5-10 min. until toasted. Watch them carefully so they don't burn. Then, place them back in a bowl.
    • In microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips. 
    • Stir in shortening.
    • Coat cooled cookies 1/2-way with melted chocolate (front, back, and sides)--scraping off excess.
    • Immediately roll chocolate-dipped cookies in toasted pecan pieces. Alternately, you can use sliced almonds, or crushed toffee pieces (or leave them plain chocolate if you like) and return cookies to cooling rack.
    • Chill chocolate-dipped cookies for 20-30 min. in fridge to set chocolate.
    • Store in tightly-sealed container (if you have any left). 
    Ok...this post is long enough, so I'll conclude the baked goods in the next post. Tune in for Apricot Scones and Spiced Chai Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting. 

    Thanks, as always, for trodding out here to Left Field...where the grass is ALWAYS greener.



    1. You amaze me!!! Have you recovered yet?

    2. I have been thoroughly enjoying all your Tea Party posts! Looks like it was a wonderful party!


    Thank you for taking the time to comment! It is always wonderful to get virtual pats on the back!! I truly appreciate every comment...they are little bits of love.