Keely’s Kitchen: Chocolate-Dipped Pecan Bars and Espresso Chocolate Glaze Cake

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Chocolate-Dipped Pecan Bars

During winter break, I hosted another bake sale to raise money for Lakeview Pantry. It was a great success; Latin students and alumni participated. The pecan bars were a hit—the perfect dessert for the holidays and winter months. I took a slight risk by baking these bars, as I had never baked them before. For this reason, I made two batches just in case one didn’t turn out well. The recipe I used says that the pecan topping should be golden brown and set on top before taking it out of the oven. I noticed that mine was still sizzling and not set when I wiggled the pan, so I kept the bars in for longer. I ended up slightly burning the first batch of pecan bars, and after reading some other recipes, learned that it is fine to take out the pan even if there is bubbling on top. The next batch turned out a lot better; the topping set after the pan had cooled. I completed the bars by dipping the bottom thirds in semi-sweet chocolate chips I melted with a teaspoon of coconut oil. Set them out on a tray to dry and enjoy at room temperature for up to three days after baking.

Espresso Chocolate Glaze Cake

This Espresso Chocolate Glaze Cake is one of my favorite desserts and is appropriate for any time of the day. It isn’t a super sweet cake. In fact, there is only ¾ cup of sugar in the whole cake (not including the chocolate glaze), but what I think makes it delicious is the strong coffee liqueur and rich chocolate glaze. Baking this cake is a slightly time-consuming process, but it is definitely worth it. The recipe lists broad ingredients like “coffee beans” and “chocolate,” allowing the baker to experiment and choose their preferred types of each. Some coffee grounds may be more granulated than others, so don’t worry if you see specks in the batter; it won’t give the cake a crunchy texture or affect the cake’s taste or appearance. Once the cake has baked and cooled, flip it onto a cake tray. If the cake is thick enough, you may divide it into two layers. A strategy I find helpful when doing this is placing toothpicks around the cake’s circumference after measuring the direct middle. As you cut with a serrated knife, the toothpicks will be a guide to keep the layers even. To decorate, sift cocoa powder on the chocolate glaze and place coffee beans on the cake however you’d like. Serve right away for a mouthwatering treat! A very special thanks to my talented sous-chef Alanna Madryfor for making this cake with me.