Cookies and craft beer. That’s what Landry leaves out for Santa. The jolly old elf’s tastes sure have changed over the years!
30 years ago, his choice of treat while making the brief stop at our house was always a glass of milk and a slice of chocolate pie. I remember asking my dad why we didn’t leave cookies out like everyone else did.
“He eats cookies all night, Shiner. By the time he makes it to Texas, he’ll be hankerin’ for somethin’ different.”
(Yep, my dad still says “hankerin.” And yep, I had a nickname that would end up the name of a popular beer. Go look up foreshadowing if you need to and then giggle.)
You can be sure, though, if something had prevented Santa from visiting our house, a fear we 4 kids secretly had… and all secretly had pre-pinned fault on my troublemaker sister Kristen, that chocolate pie would have never gone to waste.
Because coincidentally [wink wink], it was also my dad’s very favorite pie.
We were pie people. So on Christmas Eve, before and after we visited my MeMaw & PaPa’s house to open gifts, we baked pies. And when we woke up before dawn on Christmas morning, there was always a single bite of chocolate pie left on the plate – fueling our belief in Santa that much longer.
Because no way in hell would my dad had ever left a perfectly good bite of chocolate pie behind. (I can just see that heavy-whispered argument go down between my mom and dad, as much tradition in our house as the slice of pie itself, no doubt: Don’t eat it all! Why not? Because! Because why? Because it needs to look like Santa ate it! BUT IT’S CHOCOLATE PIE!!!)
The Santa of today prefers cookies and a glass of Texas beer on his brief stop in Katy, Texas. So cookies he will get. Chewy cookies studded with butterscotch chips, pecans roasted in browned butter, and a sprinkle of salt over top.
As for the beer, Santa will get a tall frosty mug (unless he decides to bring me those fancy beer glasses I’ve been wanting) of our homebrew Cousin Eddie’s Christmas Ale – it’s a strong ale flavored with oak, bourbon and vanilla bean. Although, at a whopping 9% ABV, he’ll probably have to settle for a flight glass unless he wants to stick around a while
Merry Christmas Eve!
Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies
Thick and chewy cookies studded with pecans roasted in browned butter and butterscotch chips.
For the pecans
6 oz pecan halves, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp butter
For the cookies
2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt, plus an extra pinch for sprinkling
12 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
12 oz pkg of butterscotch chips
Preheat oven to 375.
Over medium heat, brown the butter in a small sauce pan, scraping the bottom occasionally to prevent the milk solids from sticking and burning.
When the mixture has turned a nice amber color, turn off the heat and stir in the pecans until complete coated.
Spread on a baking sheet in an even layer and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt.
Roast for 7-10 minutes, until browned and fragrant.
Let cool and set aside.
Lower oven temp to 325. Line two baking sheets (I move the pecans to a bowl and wipe down the "pecan pan") with parchment or a silicon mat.
Place butter and sugars in a mixer bowl, mix on medium high until well-combined, 2-3 minutes.
Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla.
Add dry ingredients and mix on low just until combined. Add butterscotch chips and peanuts until distributed.
Did you click the link to look at Tara’s version? No? I’ll wait. Because sweet flaky, buttery baby Jesus.
The homemade pie crust is incredibly buttery and flaky and the apples inside are lightly coated with a cinnamony (it’s a word) bourbon caramel sauce. If you’re doing the math at home, that’s 5 sticks of butter.
And it’s so totally worth every single bite.
Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie
Sweet apples are served family-style in a bourbon-caramel sauce, underneath a buttery, flaky homemade pie crust.
For the crust
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
4 sticks (1 lb) of cold butter, cut into small cubes
1-1 1/4 cup very cold water
For the filling
6 lbs apples, peeled and sliced thin (I used a combo of Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Braeburn)
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
3 Tbsp cinnamon
3/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt,
Add the cubed butter (I cut the sticks into quarters lengthwise and then make 10-12 cuts for small cubes) to the bowl, toss to coat, and then cut the butter into the flour until the butter cubes are about the size of small peas. You can use a pastry cutter or two knives. I use my fingers - it's a workout!
Add 1 cup of the cold water and stir with a spoon at first, and then use your hands to fold the dough a few times to create one large ball - add the additional water if necessary to bring it all together.
Divide the dough into two pieces - I weighed the ball and pulled 2/3 off for the bottom crust, leaving the remaining 1/3 for the top crust.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 375.
To make the filling, melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot (you'll be adding the apples to the pot - I use my big "pasta pot").
Stir in the sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
Let the mixture come to a slow steady boil and cook for ~10 minutes.
Add the whiskey and cook for another ~10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and heavy cream.
While the mixture is cooking, line a 11x17 jelly roll pan with parchment (or just butter it).
Flour your work surface and roll the bottom crust to a rectangle larger a few inches larger than then pan.
Transfer it to the pan, making sure it is big enough to hang over the edges, and then put it back into the fridge.
Roll out the top crust to about the same size of the pan.
Put the apples in the still warm caramel sauce, stirring until all of the apples are coated.
Pour the apples into the prepared pan, spreading out into an even layer.
Top with the other crust, fold the excess crust over the top crust, and then crimp the edges.
Take a knife and cut several small venting slits over the top of the pie and brush with the egg wash.
Bake in the top of the oven (with a large pan or foil on the shelf below - you will get spatters and drips) for ~45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
Take out, let stand for ~15 minutes, and then enjoy with an optional (just do it) scoop of Salted Caramel Gelato on top.
I am all cookied out. Every single cookie that I brought home from last weekend’s exchange is gone. I didn’t eat them all, because that would be a terrible idea, but I had my share. And now I can’t even bring myself to edit the photos for the butterscotch cookie post that’s hanging out in my drafts folder.
I’m so over cookies that I’m actually looking forward to a spinach salad for lunch.
What I am not over, besides that salad, is caramel popcorn. But not just any caramel corn. Caramel corn spiked with a generous dose of gingerbread spices.
It’s Christmas in a bowl… you know, if you’d ever put Christmas into a bowl and then try to ruin it by sitting on the couch to hate-watch a Homeland mini-marathon. But at least while the frustratingly empty minutes tick by, your house smells like gingerbread and you have handful after handful of spicy, crunchy gingerbread caramel corn to keep you company.
Gingerbread Caramel Corn
Caramel popcorn gets a holiday makeover with a generous dose of gingerbread spices.
6 cups popped popcorn (the yield from 1/3 rounded cup of kernels)
Cooking spray or parchment paper
6 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar*
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
Scrapings from 1 vanilla bean (can substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste)