RECIPE: PUFF PASTRY STRAWBERRY NAPOLEONS

Easy to make but impressive to serve, these Strawberry Napoleons made from frozen puff pastry you buy in a box at the store will be your new go-to for dessert. I've made these with all sorts of fillings...

Be creative and use your own favorite flavors or whatever fruit that is in season. Find the puff pastry in a box (Pepperidge Farm is good and readily available at most stores) in the same section where you find frozen pie crust and frozen rolls.

Simply cut puff pastry sheets you find m the freezer section of the store into the size or shape you like, bake, slice, and fill with your favorite fruit and flavored whipped cream.

Simply cut puff pastry sheets you find m the freezer section of the store into the size or shape you like, bake, slice, and fill with your favorite fruit and flavored whipped cream.

STRAWBERRY NAPOLEONS

INGREDIENTS

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup Marscapone cheese

1 tablespoon vanilla

3 tablespoons + more Confectioners sugar (you will need some for garnish)

1 orange for a bit of juice and the zest (optional)

1 box of frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

all-purpose flour (for rolling pastry)

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  

Clean, core and slice strawberries. Put in a bowl with the sugar and Grand Marnier. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the whipping cream, vanilla and 2-3 tablespoons of the Confectioners sugar plus 2 tablespoons orange juice (or use Grand Marnier) and 1 teaspoon orange zest. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold in the Marscapone cheese. Spoon into a piping bag. Refrigerate.

Dust the work surface with a little flour so it won't stick. Open one package of the puff pastry. Cut along the fold lines to make 3 pieces and cut each of those into 4 pieces. Repeat with the second package. Put on the baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.

Split each of the puff pastry squares in half. Put the bottom halves on a serving plate. Pipe with whipping cream mixture.

Drain the strawberries. Add a layer on top of the whipped cream. Pipe some additional whipping cream and put on the top. Dust with powdered sugar.

There are a million variations on this recipe. Add a drizzle of melted chocolate for an extra special finish.

Cook fresh fruits like peaches, apples, pears, or plums until they are slightly softened. Add some sugar and heat until dissolved. Add brandy or other liqueur (off the heat so it won't flame) to create a sauce. Allow to cool before spooning onto the puff pastry. Or use frozen fruit with a little sugar and the brandy to accomplish the same thing.

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RECIPE: SWEET AND SPICY MIXED NUTS

Perfect for any party; these nuts are addictive. Southerners always have nuts around for the holidays and some of them aren’t family… I always make a big batch and break them out for get-togethers or package them in pretty containers to give as gifts.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts recipe Martie Duncan

SWEET & SPICY MIXED NUTS

Skill Level: Easy

Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 cups

INGREDIENTS

4 cups mixed nuts; I like pecans halves, walnut halves and whole almonds but use any

2 teaspoons melted butter      

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon dark brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Pinch black pepper

¼ t cayenne pepper

 DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Spread the nuts out in one even layer on a sheet pan. Put them in the preheated oven for 3 minutes or until lightly toasted. Watch carefully because they burn easily. Put the butter and maple syrup in a large saucepan over low heat to melt the butter. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and add the toasted nuts. Toss to coat. Line the sheet pan with parchment paper. Turn the nuts out on the prepared pan and bake for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oven. Toss the nuts around a bit with a spatula and allow to cool. They will keep for a few weeks in an airtight container.

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RECIPE: CHOCOLATE BOURBON PECAN PIE

My mom made a pecan pie for every occasion- and I mean she made the crust, too. This is the one time I always opt for a store bought pie crust, however. For a spin on a traditional pecan pie recipe, I added two ingredients I can’t live without: Kentucky bourbon and chocolate. Exchange this for your Thanksgiving Pecan Pie and you will make it every year. Melt some extra chocolate for plating!

My Food Network Star friend Emily Ellyn's sister Molly sent me this photo of my Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie after she made the recipe. Molly raved about it... and this family knows food and knows how to cook! Yay!

My Food Network Star friend Emily Ellyn's sister Molly sent me this photo of my Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie after she made the recipe. Molly raved about it... and this family knows food and knows how to cook! Yay!

Try my Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie for a twist on the traditional Southern Pecan Pie recipe. Leave out the bourbon if you must but the chocolate is a sweet surprise and always a big hit for Thanksgiving dessert!

Try my Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie for a twist on the traditional Southern Pecan Pie recipe. Leave out the bourbon if you must but the chocolate is a sweet surprise and always a big hit for Thanksgiving dessert!

CHOCOLATE BOURBON PECAN PIE

Prep Time: 20 minutes  Cook Time: 55 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 store bought refrigerated pie crust

1 ½ cups pecans, chopped

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup dark corn syrup

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

¼ cup Kentucky bourbon

4 large eggs

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons all purpose flour; divided

2 teaspoons vanilla

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Lightly dust the top and bottom of the crust and your rolling pin. Lightly roll to remove any creases. Drape over your rolling pin and transfer to your pie pan.

Fit the crust into a 9-inch pie pan and fold the edges under. Using a fork, crimp the edge of the crust. Spread the pecans and chocolate chips evenly onto the bottom of the crust; set aside.

For the filling: In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the corn syrup and both sugars. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Add the bourbon.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and add the butter, flour, vanilla, and salt. Temper the egg mixture by whisking 1 cup of the hot mixture into the egg mixture, ½ cup at a time. Once tempered, add the remaining hot mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour the filling over the chocolate and pecans.  

Sit the pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any spills. Bake at 325°F for 55 minutes or until set; cool on a wire rack. 

Over a double boiler, melt additional chocolate chips with a little heavy cream to make chocolate drizzle for serving.

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