Saturday, August 8, 2009

Recipe #12 - Desserts - Vermont Pecan Praline Cups with a Whiskey Sauce

My do I have a lot to blog about during the next week, I did indeed see and enjoy Julie & Julia. Someday, if it gets to be a hot topic, I may add a little insignificant analysis. But in the mean time, yesterday I cooked and it was (in all humility) SPECTACULAR! I made (in all humility) the perfect chicken. Smoking a chicken makes a difference, brining a chicken makes a difference, what you coat the chicken with makes a difference, and what you shove up it's ... ummmm cavity makes a difference. I have lots to talk about cookin chickens coming up soon. I am not a fan of cooked cabbage, but I made an amazing BBQed cabbage yesterday. That is something I want to share soon. But, for dessert, I smoked pastry and that's what I am going to talk about...

First things first, credit for the inspiration goes to (the person I stole this recipe from is) GIRLICHEF and her amazing looking Walnuts + Maple Syrup + Phyllo = Heavenly Bites recipe from a few days ago. For that recipe, click here. OK, here's how I took her perfect recipe and made it mine...

First, I wanted to smoke this. I am always looking for something to do with my smoker while I Texas Cheat (wrap in foil) the meat that comes off the smoker. Generally, I like my meat to relax in foil for 2-4 hours prior to cutting and serving. I have talked before about the benefits of this. One of the problems is that your smoker is hot when you remove the meat. I am cheap and I hate to waste anything, including a hot smoker. So, I smoke corn, or peppers, or any number of items while my meat is settling. Smoking a dessert item would be ideal for presentation at the same time I begin unwrapping my meat.

So, here they are in my smoker, ready to cook. But just smoking instead of baking in an indoor oven is not enough to make them my recipe. There's more.

I chose to use Pecans instead of Walnuts in my recipe. I have New Orleans on my mind right now. I am planning a trip in a couple months, and Cajun/Creole recipes are floating through my mind. Girlichef's original recipe reminded me of those beautiful candied nuts you get there called Pralines. New Orleans Pralines are made with Pecans and never walnuts. Conveniently enough, I had a bag of Pecans in my pantry and no walnuts, so it was very easy to make the substitution.

I made one cup with the size cutter Girli recommended. I decided to make the rest bigger, using a 5 inch cutter so the edges would stick up more. This let me get more goop in the cup for the added next change...

Other change I made was to add some shredded coconut on the top, and finally, just prior to serving, I added 1/2 teaspoon of whisky frosting over the top.

Another change was to more liberally brush the butter onto the phyllo dough. Since I would be cooking these at a lower temperature, adding moisture kept the dough moist instead of drying out in the smoking process.

Here's one of the little beauties fresh out of the smoker

And here she is after the whiskey sauce, just prior to eating!

So, I did have one small problem, phyllo dough (god curse it). I am trying to find recipes, cooking techniques and ingredients that improve my cooking skills and take me out of my comfort zone. Sure enough, I knew I was way out of my comfort zone when I left the butcher shop, sidestepped the fresh produce and checked every shelf in the bakery department. No Phyllo dough to be found. AHA I thought, it must be in the baking supplies aisle, next to the flour and pans. Nope. Finally, I did what i should have done earlier... ask directions. Sure enough, there it was in the frozen food aisle (silly me, not to look for dough in the frozen food aisle). But that was only the beginnings of my frustrations with this crap (oops, I mean this delicate delicacy)

I imagine that girlichef has beautiful dainty thin fingers that gracefully handled this delicate delicacy (crap). I do not. My pudgy little digits ripped through the first 5 sheets fast as you can say, "Bob's your uncle". Whatever I did ended up with half torn sheets, ripped sheets and holes rendering each sheet I tried useless. I soon figured out that I needed to let the sheets thaw before separating. Sure enough, 30 minutes later, they were much easier to deal with. Before I finished making all the cups, I ruined just 2 more sheets. But I did finish. So, after 30 minutes of cussing Girli in the grocery store because I was not willing to ask for directions, and 30 minutes of cussing Girli over my counter top because I had no patience; I can now add shopping for and handling phyllo dough to my comfort zone. So, thanks to girli, and we will agree to ignore all that negative energy I put into the universe yesterday. It all turned out great! Better than great...

OK, here's my recipe for New (certainly) Improved (possibly)

Vermont (cause they sure aren't from New Orleans)
Pecan Praline Cups

1 cup maple sugar
3 eggs
2 cups chopped pralines
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 tablespoons melted butter

30 sheets of phyllo dough (37 sheets if you have pudgy non delicate fingers)
1 stick of melted butter

1/2 cup shredded coconut

Mix the first 5 ingredients together. I used my handy dandy Kitchenaid mixer, but it was simple enough to just stir with a wooden spoon.

Take 3 mini muffin pans (each holding a dozen cups), and spray some canned canola oil on them to keep the cups from sticking.

set this aside while you work with the dough. On a cutting board, lay out a single sheet of the phyllo dough. Liberally coat the dough by brushing butter on it. Take another sheet and place directly over the top of the first. Coat that with butter, repeat again, again and again until you have 5 sheets laid out.

Take a 5 inch cookie cutter and cut circles out of the dough. you can get 6 circles out of each set of sheets. Form in the cups with a bit sticking out all around the cup.

1 rounded tablespoon of the goo goes into each cup, top with some of the coconut

once everything is full, put all three trays into your smoker. Get the chamber as hot as you can. I reached 275 degrees. It took nearly 40 minutes for these to cook, but I broke a cardinal rule of smoking, and opened the chamber every 10 minutes to see if they were burning. Each time you open the smoker, it releases some heat that takes a while to replenish. I would guess 30 minutes would do the trick nicely.

Once they have cooked, allow them to cool while you add the whiskey sauce.

Take ...

1 egg
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 TSP vanilla
2 tablespoons whiskey (any spirit can do, flavored rum or Grand Marnier would also work nice)

whisk this together. Add a little more whisky if needed to make a sauce similar in consistency to the maple syrup.

Add just 1/2 teaspoon to each cup


Makes 36 cups!

These were fabulous, just as good as you can imagine

And now, a final note to Girlichef. I LOVE your blog. Your photos are beautiful. the recipes I am sure are perfect for your family. I very much enjoy your blog, it is a joy to read.

But, until this recipe popped up, I never really thought I would be taking many of your ideas. I am a grill guy, you are a real cook that feeds her family. I really liked the idea of these, and hope you don't mind I stole it and claimed as mine. Funny thing, I barrel my way straight to my grill and cooker with a hunk of raw meat. You delicately fold together flavors to create something special.

A song just kept going through my head yesterday. I originally heard the smothers brothers doing this, but was only able to find a knock off version, but you will get the idea...

The actual lyrics do not start until about half way through, and the quality may make hearing everything difficult hope you enjoy



  1. Wonderful post, and I KNOW Girlichef will be very stoked & flattered to read this. Brilliant stroke of genius to SMOKE a dessert - wow. That is just awesome. Go you!

  2. I am seriously crying over here!!! This may be one of the funniest posts I've ever read...and I absolutely LOVE what you did with these beauties. I mean, come on...WHiskeY Sauce!!!! Yowza. And the smoking is brilliant...I bet they tasted amazing. You know, once you actually finished cussin' 'em & me, LOL!! I can seriously just picture, I wish I could have seen it :P. I don't mind a bit, and Coyote's right...I'm very stoked & very flattered! I'm lovin' your blog, too...and wish I could get out on the grill and work HALF of the magic that you do!

  3. I'm pretty klutzy, which is why I haven't worked with phyllo dough yet. I'm sure I'd rip them to shreds before I got one tart to turn out nicely. Good job!