As mentioned before, you can use your golden syrup, bought when baking the pecane pie, for the salted caramel necessary for making BAKED's sweet&salty brownie. Don't be discouraged by the word "caramel". Bakesaurus used to fear making it too; what if the sugar burns, what if he cooks it for too long, what if his hands are to short for stirring it... It is actually good to make such caramel first, when starting your adventure with different types of caramel. It contains water so it's quite hard to burn it which gives us a bit more control over it. Also, don't be afraid of the word "salted" either. We give less amount of salt because original sweet&salty brownie they serve at BAKED is suuuper salty! Besides, salt brings out flavours so you will taste caramel flavour even stronger. You will deifnitely love it! Today, Bakesaurus let me make the caramel on my own (he decided I was ready...) but he promised he will be the one to make the brownie!

(Modified recipe from BAKED.)

There was no other option. Cupcakes had to appear on my blog and it had to be fast and in my favourite flavour! Those, who know me, are aware of my love for cupcakes. Every time Bakesaurus and I are amazed by their look, size, decorations, and most of all, taste. They're a perfect portion to satisfy your sweet tooth (not mine). It's like getting an individual cake for dessert (or breakfast, or dinner, or a snack, or lunch...). No need to share... well, maybe with Bakesaurus. He has to try everything.

The flavour combo for this cupcakes was being created for years. Buttercream was the first thing to appear. I love white chocolate and I could include it in every recipe. So when I came across a swiss meringue buttercream with various flavour option I obiously chose the white chocolate one. I will never forget that day when the buttercream turned out so nicely (those were the times when each of my creations was accompanied with "I know it doesn't look so good, but it tastes very nice!" phrase). I put my finger in it, tasted it and fell silent. For the first time in my life, and actually the only time in my life, I rubbed my belly and made an "mmmmm" sound. It was a breakthrough.

I tried Pecan Pie for the first time in a small sandwich bar called Giovanni's, in London, where I was working for two summers. First off, I was surprised with pecans. I've never heard of them before, they were completely new for me, and since it was 2008-2009, I thought I wouldn't be able to get them in Poland. The second fascinating thing about this pie was its consistency. Gooey, sticky, thick, but without any taste of flour. I tried to figure out what was the secret ingredient. And I bought 4 packages of pecans, just in case...

After a while I came across a recipe for the pie in one of my cooking books I brought back home from England. I closely studied the ingredients and saw something very beautifully called - Golden Syrup. I've never heard of it before, we never used it in Polish recipes, so I started reading about this magical syrup. I found out it was actually sugar in a liquid but thick form, and that you could actually make it yourself. But as I was not as experienced as I am now, I decided not to risk burning a whole kilogram of sugar and I just ordered it online.

Whoa! The smile that appeared on my face when Mr Postman brought me a tiny package a few days later! For me, golden syrup tastes like cotton candy, so you can easily use it on crepes, pancakes or other treats. For instance, my brother eats it with a spoon...

Bakesaurus suggested though preparing a bit more fancy type of Pecan Pie, with bourbon and chocolate, that comes from a recipe from one of my favourite bakeries, BAKED, in New York City. But more about them when it is time for the sweet&salty brownie... A recipe really worth waiting for. Ha! I can see Bakesaurus' mouth watering!

(The recipe is from the book "Baked. New Frontiers in Baking" written by the owners of BAKED, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.)

Bourbon chocolate pecan pie

6-8 portions

(24-26cm diameter pie dish)

Ingredients:

Crust:

1,5 cups (250g) plain flour

1/2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup (225g) unsalted, cold butter

3/4 cup (180ml) very cold water

Filling:

200-250g pecans

3 large eggs

3/4 golden syrup or light corn syrup

3 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp dark brown sugar

3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

a pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp bourbon

150g semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

1. Prepare the crust. Place flour, sugar, salt and butter in a bowl. Cut the butter with a pastry blender or a regular knife, and start kneading with your hands. Sprinkle a bit of water on the dough and continue kneading. Repeat a couple of times. Form a ball, cover in foil or put in a small foil bag. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Toast the pecans. Preheat the oven to 200oC. Line a form with baking paper and pour the nuts onto. Toast for 7-10 minutes, opening the oven every 2-3 minutes and stirring the nuts a bit. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Chop 3/4 cup of pecans, leave the rest aside. Do not skip this step! Toasted nuts taste way better and are crunchy which makes the pie so delicious!

3. Prepare the filling. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl. Add sugars, butter, salt and golden syrup or light corn syrup. Mix together (you can use a whisk). Pour in the chopped pecans and set aside.

4. Roll out the dough and assemble the pie. On a table sprinkled with flour, roll out the dough flat and transfer it to a pie dish. Make a few holes using a fork and cover with chocolate chips. Delicately pour the prepared filling into the pie dish and cover with the rest of the pecans.

5. Bake in 160oC for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven for a second and cover the edges loosely with aluminum foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a while. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!

K. & Bakesaurus

P.S. Don't worry if you think you might use the golden syrup in time! You're going to need it for the sweet&salty brownies... And also for the golden syrup cupcakes I will be making pretty soon. If you really don't want to use pecans, you can substitute them with walnuts, but the pie will be a bit bitter. Almonds are okay too, except the pie turns out a bit bland, it doesn't have "it" anymore.

Autumn. I used to really hate it but after a while I fell in love with it. Since I decided to come back to my home city on the East of Poland, I just can't stop looking at the wonderful tiny roads covered in orange and dark red leafs; I can't stop smiling at people in their little gardens, picking delicious apples. Or even buying a new hat with a bobble makes me happy! Because why not, it's cold, right? All those things make the chill not-so-annoying-as-usually and with an addition of 2 (or maybe 3...) portions of apple pie I am in heaven.

It took us a while to decide on what recipe Bakesaurus and I should post first. Since we're both fans of using what's left in the fridge (we like being creative and making things out of nothing!) and using stuff our friends presented us with, we've decided to use apples from my best friend's future in-laws.

So today, each one of you buys butter, some flour and eggs and as much apples as you want! But let's face it, the more the better! You probably already have some cinnamon and vanilla extract in your cupboard. Nothing else needed! Well, maybe a spare hour. Ask your friend for help and you will prepare it in even less than an hour! It took 50 minutes for Bakesaurus and me.

Traditional lattice crust apple pie

6-8 portions

24-26cm diamater tart tin

Ingredients

Crust:

300g plain flour

200g cold, unsalted butter

70g icing sugar

2 cold egg yolks

a pinch of salt

2 tbsp very cold water

Filling:

10-12 large apples (tart type)

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 lemon

Preparation:

1. Prepare the crust. Place all ingredients in a bowl and cut with a knife or pastry blender for a while. Quickly knead the dough using your hands, form a bowl and cover with foil or put in a small foil bag. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Pre-cooking the apples. Peel them, core and slice evenly. The best way is to cut them in four even pieces and then, while holding them in your hand, slice with a knife. Place them in a thick-bottomed pan, add the spices and vanilla extract and drizzle with lemon juice squeezed from a lemon. Cook for about 15-20 minutes (depends on the type of apples), stirring from time to time, until it visibly looks as if there is less of them than at the very beginning. Don't worry if they are still tough a bit, they will soften in the oven!*

3. Preheat the oven to 180oC. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Set aside 1 portion and roll out flat the rest of the dough. Line the tart tin with prepared dough leaving 2-3 cm hanging from the sides of the tin. Set aside for a second and prepare the stripes for the lattice. Roll the rest of the dough flat and using a pizza cutter or regular knife, cut it into 1,5-2cm stripes. Pour the apples into the prepared tin and cover with the stripes like in the tutorial below (click on the first photo!).

from Butter Baking

4. Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes until the lattice is visibly browned. Don't worry if the edges look very brown; this is how it's supposed to be!

Enjoy!

K. & Bakesaurus

*Why should you pre-cook your apples? The answer is simple. When we cook them over a stove they release juices and shrink. Depending on the type of the apples we are using, they might release a lot of juices or almost none. So if we don't pre-cook them before putting in the oven, they will start shrinking and releasing juices while baking. Not only will they ruin the glorious crunchy crust and turn it into a very moist one, but also the apple pie will collapse. The lattice-top might break and crumble and if we are baking an apple pie with crumble on top, the apples will create visible, unattractive holes.