Apple Galette – Fancy Cheating

Apple Galette 29

For the first time in I don’t know how long, it wasn’t up to me to cook Thanksgiving dinner this year. I’d been traveling for two weeks straight and I simply didn’t have the time. I did, however, volunteer to make a dessert for the meal, and I decided on something autumnal but at the same time not too heavy: an apple galette, which I adapted from this Jacques Pépin recipe. The best part about galettes? They look SUPER fancy and elegant and they’re hella easy. So it’s almost like cheating. And I made the pastry and cut the apples the day before so it got even easier.

Apple Galette 4

Dump 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice cold butter (cut into small pieces) into the bowl of a food processor.

Apple Galette 5

Pulse for about 5 seconds, until you have some rough crumbs. Drizzle in 1/3 cup ice water and pulse again for another 10 seconds, until the dough starts to come together.

Apple Galette 8

Scoop it out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and pat it into a small disc. Wrap up tight and refrigerate until chilled. I left it in overnight.

Apple Galette 9

Apple Galette 10

Next, grab yourself 4 apples of your choice and give them a good scrubbing. You can peel them if you want but I like the colour that leaving the skin on brings to a dish. And yes, I know there are six apples in the picture, not four.

Apple Galette 1

Halve, then quarter the apples and remove the core. Slice them into crescents about 1/4″ thick.

Apple Galette 11

Apple Galette 12

If you want to do the apples the day before, you totally can. I layered my slices in a plastic container and sprinkled each layer liberally with lime juice (this prevents browning and adds a nice level of tartness to the finished dessert). Then I covered them with plastic wrap and sealed the container. They were fresh as daisies the next day.

Apple Galette 13

When you’re ready to git ‘er done, preheat your oven to 400°F and lightly flour a clean work surface. Roll the pastry dough out until it’s about 14″ in diameter. You can free-form this galette by laying it on a baking sheet, but I have a very shallow tart pan that is ideal for making sure nothing gets away on me. Lay your dough into your dish (you will be folding over the edges, but if the edges are super extreme feel free to trim them).

Apple Galette 16

Apple Galette 17

Apple Galette 19

Slap on one layer of apple slices, arranged however you like – I did concentric circles. Drizzle that layer with about 1 tablespoon honey.

Apple Galette 22

Do another layer, or until you run out of apple slices. Then sprinkle the top with a mixture of 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut 1 tablespoon butter into tiny pieces and distribute those evenly over the top.

Apple Galette 24

Fold the edges of the dough over the top of the apples.

Apple Galette 26

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the crust is nicely browned and the apples are cooked through. Keep an eye on things and remove the pie if things are starting to burn. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Apple Galette 27

Freezer Pies

Freezer Pies 25

What do you do when you have a big party coming up that requires lots of yummy baked goods, but you know that on the weekend in question you’re going to be way too busy to do anything as involved as make a pie? You take advantage of your freezer, of course.

Freezer Pies 4

First you make up your favourite pastry dough. I always love the original Joy of Cooking version that you can find in a previous post here. The Joy also has some great information on how to make pies ahead of time by freezing them before baking.

Freezer Pies 11

Then you make up your fillings. Here we opted for a vanilla peach and a strawberry-blueberry version. As long as you have about five cups of fruit, and then a couple tablespoons each of sugar, butter, and thickener (flour or corn starch), plus a few drops of lemon juice, then you can make any pie you want.

Freezer Pies 12

We had a tool that Cait called a “strawberry effer-upper” (though she used a stronger word than “effer,” if you catch my drift) which handily slices your strawberries into several neat pieces. Cait’s sister Jules was very happy to take on the effer-upper role. She’s a little sadistic like that.

Freezer Pies 2

Freezer Pies 9

Cait also made the error of purchasing clingstone peaches for our pies instead of freestone peaches, so getting the flesh of the fruit off the stone was a bit of a challenge. Eventually I discovered that if you cut wedges into the peach then it’s easier to pry off the sections.

Freezer Pies 5

Freezer Pies 6

Freezer Pies 7

Freezer Pies 8

Once your fillings are made and mixed, leave them at least fifteen minutes to macerate.

Freezer Pies 13

Ideally your dough has been chilling happily all this time and you’ve had a chance to roll it out and let it chill some more. The difference between a regular pie and a freezer pie is that when you plop the bottom shell into the pie dish, you leave a piece of plastic wrap on the bottom between the dish and the pastry. Honest.

Freezer Pies 14

Then you fill your pie that is sitting on top of a layer of plastic wrap. This pie is quite tall.

Freezer Pies 15

Seal it in with more pastry. Do not glaze your pastry at this point, if you’re into that kind of thing. You gotta wait on that.

Freezer Pies 16

Now wrap the rest of it up in plastic wrap so it’s tightly sealed. Wrap again in foil and shove that into the freezer.

Freezer Pies 17

When you’re ready to bake, haul the frozen pies out of the freezer. Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Freezer Pies 18

I stored the strawberry/blueberry one on an angle so I did have a bit of leakage.

Freezer Pies 19

Pry the pie out of the dish and peel off the bottom wrap.

Freezer Pies 20

Freezer Pies 21

Plop the pie back into the dish (you can glaze it now if you wish) and pop it in the oven for 10 minutes.

Freezer Pies 22

After ten minutes, haul it out and cut steam vents in the pastry.

Freezer Pies 23

Then shove it back in the oven (this time at 350°F) for a further hour, until the pastry is light brown and crusty and the insides are bubbling out.

Freezer Pies 26

Let those cool completely (or nearly completely) before eating. Yum!

Freezer Pies 28

The From-Scratch-iest Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 5

Some day I’m gonna be super hardcore, growing my own pumpkins in my magic pumpkin patch and harvesting my own gluten-free flour from the enormous gluten-free flour tree on my massive acreage. Until then, however, I will acquire all my ingredients from fairies, just like everyone else. Or the grocery store. Whichever is more convenient.

Still, there’s a certain satisfaction to be garnered from taking a thing from the absolute start to its completion. For me, for now, that means making things as from scratch as I possibly can. And for this particular recipe, that means pie crust from scratch and pumpkin that I slaughtered and roasted myself. Don’t question my wording on that. Have you ever cut up a pumpkin? Yes, “slaughter” is appropriate.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 3

Let’s start with that, shall we? Look at these beautiful pumpkins. These are NOT carving pumpkins. They are sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins, specifically grown for their tender sweetness and exactly the sort of thing you want to dismember and roast for this pie.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 2

Give them a good washing to remove any dirt.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 6

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 8

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grab yourself a nice big rimmed cookie sheet or baking dish.

Decapitate your pumpkin by gently sawing off its stem.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 9

Cleave the pumpkin in two vertically.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 10

Eviscerate your pumpkin by scooping out the seeds and guts. You can wash and dry the seeds for roasting later on. They’re very good for you but may make you a little gassy. Just sayin’.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 12

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 16

Brush the fleshy surfaces of the pumpkin with vegetable oil. If you’re roasting this pumpkin for savoury purposes, then you would probably dust it with salt and pepper as well, but we’re using it for un-savoury purposes (as in, sweet, not nefarious), so you probably shouldn’t do that.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 13

Place the pumpkin halves face-down on the baking sheet and let that roast for about 45-60 minutes (depending on your pumpkin size). If you want this whole thing to go faster, then cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 15

When the pumpkin is done the whole thing can be stabbed easily with a sharp knife.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 19

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 20

While that is baking, try to figure out how to scrub the residue off your hands. It’s harder than you think.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 18

Let the pumpkins cool a little bit so you don’t burn yourself, then scoop out the flesh and discard the skins.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 22

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 24

I ate some toasted pumpkin seeds while I waited for the pumpkin to cool a little bit more.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 26

I puréed the pumpkin flesh in a food processor to make it extra smooth.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 27

Because fresh pumpkin is more watery than canned pumpkin, you might want to drain it a bit. These mesh bags are actually for picking produce at the farmer’s market, but they’re also perfect strainers for thick substances like mashed pumpkin.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 28

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 30

I ended up with about 4 cups pumpkin goo, which is pretty much exactly what I needed for two pies. I shoved it in the fridge for a couple of days before I made the pie.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 31

Now for the crust, which I prepped the night before I made the pie. Gluten-free pie dough still needs to rest, just the same as regular pie dough, so that the flour can absorb all the liquid properly. This recipe, adapted from Martha Stewart, makes one pie shell bottom, so I did it twice.

As with regular pie crust, you still want all your ingredients to be ice cold when you work with them, and you want to handle them as little as possible.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 32

Start by whisking together 1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup white rice flour, 1 teaspoon xanthan gum, and 2 teaspoons castor/superfine sugar in a small bowl.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 33

As well, assemble a small pitcher of ice water. Cube 1/2 cup cold butter and put that in a bowl as well. Finally, crack 1 large egg into another bowl and scramble it a little. Shove the water and the egg into the fridge and the butter and flour into the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 34

When you’re ready to go, dump your flour and your butter into the bowl of your food processor.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 35

Pulse the dough until the butter forms little pea-sized crumbs.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 36

Tip in the egg, as well as 1-2 tablespoons ice water and pulse until the dough clumps together.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 37

I would err on the side of less water as opposed to more. In this batch I think I added 2 tablespoons water and you can see it’s very sticky (gluten-free dough will be stickier by nature, but not this sticky).

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 38

So the next time round I used less water and got this more crumbly dough.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 40

Squish your dough into a patty and wrap it in plastic. Let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably three hours, at best, overnight.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 39

When you’re ready to roll (literally), place a piece of waxed paper on your work surface and lightly dust it with gluten-free flour. Plop your dough patty down and dust that with flour as well.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 41

Place another sheet of waxed paper over top and carefully use a rolling pin to spread out your dough. Work from the inside out, and flip it over and lift up the waxed paper as often as possible so it doesn’t stick in weird wrinkles.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 42

When you’re ready to plop the dough into your 12″ pie pan, remember that the dough will stick more to the waxed paper than regular dough, so you might want to chill it a bit beforehand.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 43

Trim and crimp the edges as usual and chuck it back in the fridge.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 44

If you’re only making one pie, then halve the ingredients for the filling, but if you’re making two (because really, why not make two?), then here’s how you do it. In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups pumpkin purée, 3 300mL cans sweetened condensed milk (900mL total), 4 large eggs, and 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 45

Nice and smooth and sweet!

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 46

Pour the filling into your two shells and carefully shove them into the oven (preheated to 425°F) on the same rack, if possible. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for another 35-45 minutes.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 47

They will be done when the middle is almost set and you can jab a knife into the filling about an inch from the crust and it comes out clean.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 48

Set those on a rack to cool completely, then EAT!

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 49

The Cross-Border Pie: Serviceberries in Service!

Serviceberry Pie 23

Teedz requested a pie when we eventually made it across the border to visit her and Tego and Ando in NYC. And you guys remember that I have all those serviceberries I stole gathered from the neighbourhood. So I made a serviceberry/blueberry pie for the road. Actually, I made two, and the pictures will reflect that, but the recipe below is just for one.

First, I made the pastry dough, using the beloved food processor method. Now that I’ve found a technique that yields consistent results I am so reluctant to try anything else. Anyway, you can find the recipe and process way back here. I pulsed up the dough, split it in two, wrapped it up, and chucked it in the fridge overnight to do whatever it is that pie crust does overnight in the fridge. Dance party maybe?

Serviceberry Pie 1

So, get your dough rolled out into tops and bottoms and preheat your oven to 450°F. Beat up 1 egg in a wee dish.

Serviceberry Pie 7

Use said egg as a wash in the bottom of your pie. You want to do this so the berries don’t make the sucker soggy.

Serviceberry Pie 10

Now, grate the zest of a lemon and juice it as well.

Serviceberry Pie 2

Juicy juicy. Set that aside for a second.

Serviceberry Pie 4

I had a peanut gallery of people installing eavestroughs while I was doing this.

Serviceberry Pie 3

Grab your serviceberries that you have handily frozen. You want them to defrost only enough that the berries separate from each other easily.

Serviceberry Pie 6

I also used some fresh blueberries I had on hand. Essentially you’ll need 5 cups frozen berries (or combo-fresh, but don’t tell).

Serviceberry Pie 5

Pitch the berries into a bowl with your lemon zest and juice, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3-4 tablespoons cornstarch (mine was a little runny so I suggest even a little more cornstarch than this), and 2 tablespoons melted butter.

Serviceberry Pie 8

Give that a sound stirring and get ready to fill your pie. Are you excited? I’m excited.

Serviceberry Pie 9

For a 9″ pie you’ll find the berries definitely come out quite high once you shove them into the crust. I patted mine down a bit, but don’t fret too much – they will shrink as they cook.

Serviceberry Pie 12

Slam the top of your crust down and seal the edges (repair any cracks with leftover dough trimmings).

Serviceberry Pie 13

Cut some vent holes in the top.

Serviceberry Pie 15
“Nooo, don’t put me in the oven, PLEASE!”

Slather that with some more egg.

Serviceberry Pie 14
“Heeeeeelp meeeeeee …”

Bung that in the oven for precisely 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350°F and bake for another 45 minutes, until it’s all bubbly and a nice golden brown. Let it cool completely before reheating or eating cold.

Serviceberry Pie 20

And, as a trick I learned from Mrs. Nice, take your leftover dough trimmings, brush them with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar, and bake for 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden.

Serviceberry Pie 16

These are handy treats for those young ones (or not so young ones) who can’t wait until dessert for the whole pie.

Serviceberry Pie 18

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie 2 5

I get a lot of questions from readers I meet about my husband.  The main one is, “why is he called the Pie?”  Well, I’ll tell you why.  And this goes back about nine or ten years, back when we had first met, and long before we started dating.  It’s really a great story.  I’ll tell it to you here:

One day, he told me that he really liked pie.

Yep.  That’s the whole story.  That’s why he’s called the Pie.  And now you know.  I hope you aren’t too disappointed.

Pumpkin Pie 20

Sometimes, the Pie’s favourite pie is blueberry.  Sometimes it’s apple.  I can’t keep track.  But I know that pumpkin pie, even though it doesn’t qualify as a “true pie”, is at the top of my husband’s list of favourite pies.  And now that I have sort of mastered the art of vodka pie crust, and especially considering the amount of pumpkin purée I have in my possession, it is a logical choice, and this recipe looks lovely.  So here it is, a pumpkin pie that is so from scratch with its home-made pastry crust and fresh pure pumpkin that it’s almost like I made it entirely by hand-stitching individual atoms together (I can do that, you know).

Pumpkin Pie 1

So, now.  It’s been a while since I made that vodka pie crust from Smitten Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated, so I think I’m going to lay it all out for you again, just so we both can get some practice.  If you like, you can take some more of Smitten Kitchen’s tips on better pastry from her second tutorial.  Like her, I’m not a fan of shortening, so I went with an all-butter version of the crust today.  And this dough recipe makes enough dough for two single crusts, so I guess that means I HAVE to make two pumpkin pies.  I will try to sneak one into the freezer so the Pie doesn’t eat it too fast.  That way later on when he grumbles about having no more pie I can dramatically reveal that he is wrong.  I like doing that.

Pumpkin Pie 2 11

For the pastryyou need to make sure everything is cold.  If your kitchen is frigid, like mine, this is easy.  For everyone else, just keep chucking stuff in the refrigerator if need be.  Ingredients.  Tools.  Bowls.  You name it.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons sugar and a pinch of salt.

Pumpkin Pie 2

Cut 1 1/4 cup cold butter into cubes and make sure it’s cold (re-chill it after you cut it before adding it to the mix).

Pumpkin Pie 3

Dump that into the flour and use a pastry blender to chop it into tiny buttery-floury pieces.  You want to keep going and going and going, using a knife to clean off your pastry blender occasionally, until you end up with a mixture that closely resembles cornmeal.

Pumpkin Pie 4

Put a dishtowel under the bowl to keep it from sliding around on you.

Pumpkin Pie 5

Here’s the right consistency. You still need whole chunks of butter in there but you want them small.

Pumpkin Pie 6

Drizzle 1/4 cup cold vodka (keep that baby in the freezer) and 1/4 cup ice water over the mixture.

Pumpkin Pie 7

Use a big rubber spatula and a folding motion to bring everything together.

Pumpkin Pie 9

You don’t want to stir so much as squish and squash everything into one big blob.  It will be pretty tacky, but that stickiness will disappear when the vodka burns off in baking.  You can use your hands to gently squish the remainder together, but don’t work it too much. If you feel you need to add more liquid, drizzle a bit more vodka onto it, but just a little.

Pumpkin Pie 10

Divide your blob into two even pieces and flatten them into disks.  Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap for at least 15 minutes, and for up to 2 days.

Pumpkin Pie 11

When your dough is sufficiently chilled, lay a piece of plastic wrap out on your work surface.  Unwrap one of the disks (keep the other in the fridge) and place it in the centre of the plastic wrap. Place another sheet of wrap over top.

Pumpkin Pie 14

Working from the inside and moving out, use a rolling pin to flatten your disk into a nice round piece of pastry.  You’ll need a rough circle of about 12″ in diameter to fit in a 9″ pie pan.  Most plastic wrap is about 12″ wide, so you can use that as a guide.

Pumpkin Pie 15

Notice how you can see gobs of butter in my dough?  That means I will have some lovely flaky pastry.  As the butter melts it will leave a little open space, which will fill with steam from the vodka and water, which will in turn expand the empty space, making the proper pastry flake.

Pumpkin Pie 16

Chill your flattened pastry again for a bit.  If you put it on a baking sheet and chuck it in the fridge you should be good.  When you’re plopping it in your pie pan, make sure to remove the bottom layer of plastic wrap before rolling it over a rolling pin or folding it into quarters to place it in the pan.  I’ve done both methods here, so you can see what I mean.

Rolling pin:

Pumpkin Pie 17

Folding:

Pumpkin Pie 21

Gently lift the edges of the dough to make it easier to press into the bottom of the pan without tearing.

Pumpkin Pie 18

Trim off the excess pastry from the edges of the pan.

Pumpkin Pie 19

I used a fork to press the edges more firmly down onto the glass.  Chuck those back in the fridge when you’re done.

Pumpkin Pie 25

I had some scraps left over from trimming, so I cut up a small apple, sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar, and rolled out the scraps again to form a small circle.

Pumpkin Pie 23

I put the fruit on one half, folded it over, and pinched the edges shut.  Then I put it in a sprayed pan and baked it with the pie.

Pumpkin Pie 24
It looks a little demented, but we’re not going for high quality here, just a snack.

For the pie filling, you need some pumpkin purée.  You can be lazy and buy the stuff that already has the eggs and spices in it and whatever and just dump that in your pre-bought frozen pie shell but that’s just not cool here at Ali Does It.  Make sure if you’re using canned pumpkin that it’s pure pumpkin, without the sugar and salt and all things spicy.

Now, you American folks are likely working from the 14 oz can of Libby’s or whatever it is you have.  Fourteen ounces is about 1 3/4 cups of pumpkin goodness.  Here in the FAR NORTH of Canada we have E.D. Smith pumpkin, which comes in 28 oz cans (~3 1/2 cups), so we generally use half a can for one pie, a whole can for two.  And of course I’m working from a I-have-way-too-much-pumpkin-purée-in-my-fridge perspective.  So I will be using that instead of the canned stuff.

Preheat your oven now, to 425°F and position a rack in the centre of the oven.

Beat up 4 eggs in a large bowl.  Whisk in 3 1/2 cups pumpkin purée, 2 cans (300 mL) sweetened condensed milk (I believe some countries sell condensed milk in 400 mL cans — I would just use the whole can anyway for a slightly sweeter pie), 1 cup packed brown sugar, and 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice.

Pumpkin Pie 12

Take your pie shells out of the fridge and divide the mixture between them.  You may end up with extra filling (lord knows I always do).  I emptied it into a smaller pie pan and baked it as-is, for a sort of pumpkin pudding.

Pumpkin Pie 26

Chuck the pies (and whatever else you now have on the go) in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Then reduce the heat to 375°F and keep baking for about 35 more minutes, until the pastry is all golden and lovely and you can stick a knife in the centre of the pie and bring it out clean again (i.e. the filling has set).  You can see that our crustless pie and the turnover turned out equally well, though with them in the oven everything took an extra 15 minutes or so to cook. Let the pie cool completely on a rack and refrigerate until ready to serve.  You can heat it up again if you like.  We enjoy ours with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.  Yum!

Pumpkin Pie 2 12

Fix This Recipe! (Gooey Caramel Pecan Squares)

When I’m arriving at an interview for my research, I like to bring the participant a little something that I made as a thanks for their time.  It’s kind of a rule for me.  I made the following recipe for a family I interviewed a couple of weekends ago and I was disappointed at how it turned out — I’d appreciate your views on what you think went wrong and how we could make this a super awesome dessert.  In light of this being Groundhog Day, I would say this recipe saw its shadow and needs a do-over.

I pulled this out of Esther Brody’s The 250 Best Brownies Bars & Squares, which has also yielded the no-bake peanut butter crunchy squares and the extreme comfort brownies.  So I figured this would be another excellent concoction.  I followed the recipe exactly, with the exception of adding salt, which I never do anyway.  And I doubled the recipe, of course.  Something, however, went horribly, horribly wrong …

Preheat your oven to 425°F and line an 8″ square cake pan with foil, then spray the foil with cooking spray or grease with butter.  I used spray.

For the Base:

In a bowl, mix together 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup granulated sugar.

Using your handy-dandy pastry blender (or two knives), cut 6 tablespoons cold butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

One tablespoon at a time, sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice water over the mixture, mixing lightly after each addition.  The dough should be just moist enough to hold together at this point.

I found I had to add more water in order to get the dough to stick together, probably about double the amount.

Press the dough evenly into your prepared pan.

Bake it in your oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown, then place on a rack to cool completely.  When I pulled mine out of the oven it was bubbling with butter and not golden at all.  I think I would perhaps use less butter.  Suggestions?

For the Filling:

In a saucepan over high heat, melt together 3 tablespoons butter, 1/3 cup light corn syrup, 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup whipping cream, and 1 teaspoon white vinegar.  Bring the goo to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla until the bubbling stops (bet you didn’t know it would bubble when you added vanilla, did you?)

Pour the filling over the cooled base (I let the filling cool a bit first, as it was rather molten).

Sprinkle the top with 3/4 cup toasted pecans and set aside to cool.

For the Topping:

In a double boiler or bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate and stir until smooth.  Let cool very slightly and then drizzle over the pecans.  Chill until the chocolate is set.

Using the foil as a handle, transfer your chilled squares to a cutting board and cut into squares.  My problem here?  The darned caramel didn’t set.  It got thicker, sure, but still remained steadfastly liquid.  What did I do wrong?

The bottom was pretty rubbery, too, which made eating this sweet confection impossible without a jackhammer, but it is definitely worth trying again, because while it didn’t work out the way I had anticipated, at least it wasn’t floor pizza.