How to Bake the PERFECT Chocolate Chip Cookie

Originally Posted on http://www.ozy.com

I have often wondered myself how people get that PERFECT chocolate chip cookie. I like them a little chewy, soft center, with a crisp edge. Looks like the cookie marked BOTH is the one for me! My daughter on the other hand loves the kind marked MORE FLOUR.  Now I will be able to fine tune my cookies to fit exactly what I am craving. Now if I only had some chocolate chips  ….

 

You like soft and chewy. He likes thin and crispy. If only there were a chocolate chip cookie recipe that pleased everyone…

There is! And, no, it’s not Martha Stewart’s. It’s science.

We’ve taken our cues from a few spots: a bioengineering grad student named Kendra Nyberg, who co-taught a class at UCLA called Science and Food, and chef and cookbook author Tessa Arias, who writes about cookie science on her site, Handle the Heat.

There’s also an illuminating Ted Talk animation on cookie science. And if you really want to go nuts (or no nuts, your call), Serious Eats offers 21 painstakingly tested steps for the Perfect Cookie, including kneading times and chocolate prep techniques.

“Even though I can describe what I like,” says Nyberg, “I didn’t know the role of each ingredient in the texture and shape of cookies.” So she looked into it — as only a scientist can.

(MORE: His Grandfather Invented Doritos But Tim West Prefers Kale)

Here, relying on the experts’ help and based on the classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, OZY presents no-fail tips for baking your perfect cookie. (You’re welcome.)

Ooey-gooey: Add 2 cups more flour.

A nice tan: Set the oven higher than 350 degrees (maybe 360). Caramelization, which gives cookies their nice brown tops, occurs above 356 degrees, says the Ted video.

Crispy with a soft center: Use 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Chewy: Substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour.

(MORE: Food Waste – There’s (Finally) An App For That)

Just like store-bought: Trade the butter for shortening. Arias notes that this ups the texture but reduces some flavor; her suggestion is to use half butter and half shortening.

Thick (and less crispy): Freeze the batter for 30 to 60 minutes before baking. This solidifies the butter, which will spread less while baking.

Cakey: Use more baking soda because, according to Nyberg, it “releases carbon dioxide when heated, which makes cookies puff up.”

Butterscotch flavored: Use 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (instead of the same amount of combined granulated sugar and light brown sugar).

Uniformity: If looks count, add one ounce corn syrup and one ounce granulated sugar.

More. Just, more: Chilling the dough for at least 24 hours before baking deepens all the flavors, Arias found.


 

 Check out more about the PERFECT COOKIE on this BLOG:   H A N D L E **  THE ** H E A T

 

 

 

 

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Dinner Party Cooking – Circa 1946

Imagine eating something that looked like this, in 2014. I certainly can’t. Pink ice cream looking substance in a cantaloupe shell with some interesting placements of fruit.  It’s something about the bananas… just makes it so … wrong. It doesn’t look very appetizing. Thank goodness for me we don’t still have to eat like this, but just in case you are throwing a vintage party and need some ideas, let’s take a trip back in time.

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Lets go back again to the 1940’s and see what we should make for dinner tonight.  Put on the radio, roll up your hair and put on an adorable apron. Let’s consult my Lily Wallace New American Cookbook for some dinner ideas. Hmmmm .. . How about a Spaghetti Crown with Savory Spinach?


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Nooooo … I’m not really in the mood for fried cocktail pork sausages. What else looks good……  Oh I know, what about everyone’s favorite Spaghetti with Tuna Fish. Drat, I’m all fresh out of smelly canned tuna. Dang, that one looked promising!

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Maybe we should stick to something more traditional, like macaroni and cheese.  So many varieties to choose from…… Maybe I should just combine ALL these ingredients and put them in a jello mold. That’s what they did back then right?

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OK, now for dessert. I really need some inspiration. I could make one of these:

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These look too scary to eat, like some crazy old evil witch deep in forest made them to fatten me up so she can turn me into a stew or something…. they do not look appetizing in the least bit.  Besides, who puts a whole orange on top of a slice of cake and slathers it in some shiny sugary glaze? Or a circle of poop cookie filled with red jelly? Or a whole mushroom on top of a piece of cake? A witch I tell you, a witch. If you EVER see these at a party you are attending, RUN, don’t walk to the nearest exit and don’t ever go back!

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NO, NO, NO, and NO … none of these will do. It has to be really special. Something no one has had before that will really wow a crowd.


I’ve got it.. how about this! Recipe # 2978 PORK CAKE – YUMMMMMMY

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*** T H E *** E N D ***

Sugar Cookie Extravaganza and it’s Back to School Already?

Wow, I am amazed that this summer break has flown by so quickly. More quickly than when I was working full time and commuting.  Not sure how that is possible, but it certainly feels that way. Where we live school starts August 20th. That’s exactly 2 weeks away! There are times I wish it didn’t start until after Labor Day like when I was a kid, but in exchange we are out for the “summer” earlier than most people in May. Which means if we take a vacation right after school ends, we beat the crowds.

So the last few days have been a flurry of cookie making. Decorated Sugar Cookie making to be exact. Sometimes I wonder why I can’t be like other moms and just buy the cookies, or make plain circle cookies and slather on some pink frosting, shake some rainbow sprinkles on them and call it a day. But NOOOOOO, I become possessed by some Martha Stewart spirit and wind up turning it into a 3 day cookie making extravaganza for my daughter’s Dance Company’s Bake Sale Fundraiser.

I did my research. I followed the rules and directions and I do have to say that I am quite pleased for my first attempt at this decorating style. I was lucky enough to stumble upon this website that offers really great explanations and how to’s. I wanted to have those professional looking cookies that you find at fancy bakeries. I can see now why they always charge $5 a cookie! However, I’m sure after doing this a few times, I would be able to complete the process much faster.

I was pleasantly surprised by all the compliments I received over these Dance Themed Cookies, taste and the decoration. Everyone in the dance company went berserk for them. They sold out on the first day! Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I see all the things I could have done better, all the little spots that didn’t come out exactly perfect. But in the end cookies were eaten and loved by all.


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Here’s the recipe for Rolled Sugar Cookies that was inspired by The Glorious Baker

Ingredients for cookies:

  • 1 Cup Golden Flaxseed Meal
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
  • Parchment paper

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This should take about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and beat another minute or so.
  5. Add the flour mixture slowly, mixing after each cup is added.  (Be careful not to add too much at a time.
  6. Blend until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  7. Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a piece of parchment paper.
  8. Place the dough in a large plastic (ziplock type) bag or tupperware bowl with a lid and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
  9. Prep an area to roll out the dough. I use a roll out mat, and a little flour.
  10. 15 min before you remove the dough from the refrigerator, preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  11. Take about half the dough at a time and roll it out until about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick.
    Carefully stamp each cookie cutter until that piece is full. (If cookie cutter starts to  stick, dip the edges in flour.)
  12. Pick up the scraps and re- roll the dough, continue to stamp cookies until full, then repeat.
  13. Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and place in the freezer for about 5 -10 minutes. This assures that the cookies stay very cold and will help prevent spreading.
  14. Take the other half of the dough and repeat the process until all cookies have been stamped.
  15. If you don’t have enough cookies sheets you should leave the unrolled dough in the fridge until your first batches are completed.

    PRO TIP: Place similar sized cookies on the same cookies sheet. That way all the cookies will cook evenly and you won’t have some cookies under-baked and others to crispy.

  16. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.  Bake until they are just barely beginning to take on a golden tone.  They will continue to bake as long as then are on the pan, so don’t let then get too brown.
  17. Cool for just a minute or so on the pan, then carefully remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.
  • This recipe yields about 30, 2 1/2 inch cookies or 16, 3 1/2 inch cookies.
  • Once cooled, the cookies can be decorated with frosting, royal icing or rolled fondant.


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::: ROYAL ICING RECIPE :::

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) of warm water
  • 5 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2.25 lbs. powdered sugar

*** Note; if your meringue powder has no vanilla flavor (vanillin powder) in it, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to this recipe.

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COOKIE DECORATING TOOLS NEEDED

OPTION 1 – Pastry Bag Method:

  • Piping bags or Candy Melts squeeze bottles
  • Glasses – to stand your icing bags in
  • Clean cloths – a few damp and dry ones nearby
  • Elastic bands or bag clips
  • Piping tips(at least #’s 1-5)
  • Couplers
  • Toothpicks
  • Food gel coloring
  • Parchment Paper (Decorating Bags)

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OPTION 2 – Squeeze Bottle Method :

I used this method and it works great!

  • Candy Melts squeeze bottles for flood fill
  • Decorating Squeeze Bottles with changeable tips
  • Clean cloths – a few damp and dry ones nearby
  • Piping tips(at least #’s 1-5)
  • Couplers
  • Toothpicks
  • Food gel coloring
  • Parchment Paper ( Decorating Bags)
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Left: Flood Fill Icing Bottle ************** Right: Border icing and Final Detail Bottles with Changeable tips

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Directions:

  1. Using Kitchen-aide mixer, pour in the warm water and the meringue powder.
  2. Mix it with the whisk attachment (or by hand) until it is frothy and thickened…about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds more.
  4. Pour in all the icing sugar at once and place the bowl on the mixer.
  5. Switch to the paddle attachment.
  6. On the LOWEST speed, mix slowly for a full 10 minutes. Icing will get thick and creamy.
  7. You will want this to be thicker at first so you can use this for your borders. (You will add water as needed later for the flood fill.)
  8. In small bowls place some of the white frosting in each one. Tint with food coloring or thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency. For the borders, you want it to be stiff and thicker, but still able to squeeze out.
  9. Once your desired colors are mixed, then fill each bottle, or parchment bag.
  10. DECORATE : See below for the how to video’s and ideas.
  11. While the borders are drying, use the same bowls as before to mix your thinner flood fill icing. This needs to be thin enough to “set” itself in about 10 seconds. Add only a few drops of water at a time. If it’s too runny, then you will had to add more powdered sugar and mix again.
  12. Fill pastry bags or candy squeeze bottles with flood will icing
  13. Once your borders are set and dry you can begin filling in all your designs and colors. The possibilities are endless, so watch the videos for inspiration.
  14. In-between uses, cover the bowl of plain white icing with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying. You can also cover each bottle with a tip or damp cloth to prevent them from getting hard or clogged.
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In the process of bordering and flood fill. The square cookies can be anything you want. I just wrote out words or drew things with the border icing. This was the only photo I took of the in between process. Next time I will add some step by step photos of each cookie.

 

  PRO TIP: To make sure the icing is at the right consistency for the FLOOD FILL, use the “10 second rule“.  Drag a butter knife through the surface of your royal icing and count to 10.  If the icing surface becomes smooth in anywhere between 5-10 seconds, then your icing is ready to use.  If it takes longer than approximately 10 seconds, the icing is too thick.  Slowly add more water.  If your icing surface smooths over in less than 5-10 seconds, it is too runny.



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Here are some links to some tutorials and decorating ideas that I used to create my cookies.

::: Information ::: Tutorials ::: Pro-Tips :::

The Glorious Baker says:

I also highly recommend the book Cookie Craft.  This is the best and most complete book I’ve found on decorating cookies.  This book has gorgeous photos for inspiration, but also has every bit of information you need, including directions and recipes.  Despite the thousands of cookies I’ve made over the years, I still come back to this book for ideas or to refresh my memory on a particular technique.



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The finished cookies all packaged up in my Snapware Cupcake & Cookie carrier. I LOVE this thing. Not only does the inner tray flip ever so you can hold cookies, cupcakes, and muffins, I also used it to carry sandwich or burger fixin’s with an ice pack under the inner tray to keep it cool. So many great uses. I got mine at Costco, but you can find them on Amazon.com (click photo to go there) and it comes with 3 stacks with the flipping inner trays.

Thrift Shop Fun & Cooking 1940’2 Style

So my daughter and I have this new thing we do. We discovered it by accident one day, when a couple of her friends were going with me to see her dance show. She had two shows in one day so I had to get her some food in between shows. We happened to have a little extra time before we needed to be back at the theater and I didn’t want to waste money on something. We stopped at a thrift shop and before we went in, I told everyone to take photos of the weirdest thing you can find and we can laugh about it when we share the photos with each other.

My daughter came up with the idea to open an Instagram account and call it Not So Nifty Thrifties and start her own blog as well at http://www.notsoniftythrifties.wordpress.com. I thought it was a brilliant idea and who knows, maybe this will be the next Awkward Family Photos. So if you are on Instagram, please follow #notsoniftythrifties and you can send in your photos to be featured on the account!

We love thrift shops, but lets be honest, sometimes they try to sell the most bizarre items that really make you question:

  • WHY?
  • Who would ever buy THAT?
  • They want how much for this?
  • What IS it?
  • What do you use THIS for?

We never really truly noticed all the weird little things until we started this game. It’s also very interesting to see what my daughter and her friends think are weird. Sometimes it’s an item that I know what it is, but they are too young to know.   The electronic section is really fun with them, because they truly don’t know what half of the items are. Just yesterday I had to tell them what an answering machine was and what it did. 

I do end up buying one or two small things from most places we visit. I feel weird about taking photos and not buying anything, maybe it’s just me but I can’t help it.  My latest find is this 1946 cook book: The Lily Wallace New American Cookbook.  This book is like gold to me. It’s beyond amazing to go back in time and see what people were making almost 70 years ago.

There are so many interesting recipes that I decided to share them with you from time to time on my blog. I am an huge history fan, and I am obsessed with know how and why people lived a certain way. This is by far one of the coolest ways to learn about our ancestors.


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I just knew this had to be a cookbook. Looks similar to the Betty Crocker Cookbook.

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Originally published in 1941, The Lily Wallace New American Cook Book circa 1946

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The words at the top read: NOTHING IS SMARTER, NOTHING MORE PLEASING, THAN A FRUIT FINALE TO A MEAL. HAVE A VARIETY OF IN-SEASON FRUITS, AND ARRANGE THEM ARTISTICALLY FOR SERVING. I’m not sure about you, but I just love her presentation, those bananas really make the whole thing come alive!

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Banana Cream toast sounds weird, but might be good. However, I just love that they need to give detailed instructions on how to freeze fruit.

 

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I know there are still people in America eating squirrel, which is sad,  but the fact that it was so mainstream that they put it in a cookbook is just shocking.

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The people in 1946 must have been totally ready for a zombie apocalypse. They even have recipes in here to prepare you for just such an occurrence.

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I really with there was a photo of this one, cause it just sounds so nasty. I cannot imagine how FISH AND JELLO can taste good. BLECH!

     

Cranberry Pecan Flax Muffins

Hello I am back from our summer break. We have been on a 3 state amazing road trip, had to be at my daughter’s two dance shows, and helped out at one Girl Scout Harry Potter Camp. I hope I can get back to writing more regularly. I have so many wonderful things to share with you for the summer I am just bursting at the seams.



::: Do you want to start of your morning in a healthier way than usual? It’s important to eat something for breakfast and what you eat can make a big difference in how you feel later in the day. I know I have already given you the green smoothie challenge, but if you have a bunch of hungry people to feed or you are in need of something more filing in the morning, let me introduce you to my newest and greatest love : Flax-seed Meal, a very ancient thing from biblical times that is making a comeback. I had no idea how much I would truly love the taste of this stuff, I am kicking myself for not trying this sooner.

Flax-seed meal contains all sorts of healthy things for you.  Mainly omega-3 essential fatty acids, lignans and fiber. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Lignans have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flax-seeds contains 75 to 80 times more lignans than other plant foods as well as being high in dietary fiber (both the soluble and insoluble types). It’s also a powerful natural cholesterol controller!

So today I bring you a recipe inspired by one that was on the package of flax-seed meal. The recipe called for carrots and apples, but I really wanted something closer to a bran muffin so I changed it up. In fact I liked these muffins way more than any bran muffin I have ever had and these are healthier and less fattening than those store made ones. You could also try subbing out the oil for applesauce to make it even healthier, but I have yet to try that.


Cranberry Pecan Flax Muffins

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Makes 12 large muffins

:::  Ingredients  :::

  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Flaxseed Meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
  • 1/4 cup Almond Meal
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk, almond milk, or soy milk
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs or 3 tsp of Egg Replacer + 4 tbsp warm water

::: Instructions :::

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Spray cupcake pan with baking spray or oil & flour the pan
  • In Kitchen-aid, mix together dry ingredients: flour, flaxseed meal, almond meal, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, & cinnamon
  • Stir in cranberries and pecans
  • Add milk, oil, vanilla, and eggs (or egg replacer already mixed with water) and blend slowly until combined
  • MIxture should be thick and sticky, if too thick add a little more milk
  • Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full – using egg replacer I was able to fill them up almost all the way, but not overflowing
  • Bake for about 17-22 min for metal cupcake pans or 20-30 min for stoneware muffin pan
  • Muffins are done when you can stick a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean

Bob’s Red Mill Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal

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Blackberry Chocolate Molten Lava Decadence

Looking for a tasty, yet simple dessert to make for a last minute party, or guests, or just because you need something chocolatey RIGHT NOW? This is the dessert is what you have been waiting for! Impress all your guests with this and they will definitely think you slaved away in the kitchen all day making this.

This simple- one bowl- one pan- gooey- rich treat, will make you wonder why you don’t make a homemade dessert more often.

What is great about this dessert is that you can sub out the blackberries for any other berry you prefer. I did make it once with fresh blackberries, but they kind of disappeared into the molten lava and were not as good as with the frozen ones.  What the heck, throw caution to the wind and why not add three kinds of berries at once and see what happens.


Blackberry Chocolate Molten Lava Decadence

Prep time – 5 mins       Cook time – 20 mins        Total time – 25 mins
Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 Cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup granualted sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 1 cup frozen blackberries
  • Vanilla ice cream

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400F
  • Grease a small, deep rectangular baking dish (mine is a stoneware pan roughly 9 by 5 inches) or a square brownie pan will work as well
  • In a microwave safe mixing bowl that is big enough to take all the ingredients later, melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring frequently.
  • Once the chocolate and butter is melted, let it cool slightly and then stir in all the remaining ingredients.
  • Scrape the mixture into your baking dish, and place in the oven for 20 minutes. The dessert should be set around the edges, with but still be jiggly a bit in the middle.
  • Let cool for 5 minutes, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

Mustardy Maple Pecan Brussels Sprouts

Today’s blog is short and sweet. We have so much going on with the end of school next week, it’s kind of insane. I am planing the end of school party for my daughters class, making a movie (iMovie) from their awesome “Age of Sail” overnight historical field trip we went on earlier this year, and trying to prepare for summer break by planning activities, our first ever Mother-Daughter Road Trip, went out of town for 2 Dance Competitions in a month, and keeping up with housework, cooking, major cleaning projects and normal life. I am not sure how I would have done all this when I worked a full time (commuting) job. Perhaps I just missed out on all this stuff when I was stuck in traffic or at work late to close the month or meet a deadline.  Somedays I think I work harder now than when I was in the office 45-55 hours a week.

So with all of this hectic energy swirling about me like a mini tornado, I wanted to share something so easy, that is so simple, yet mind blowing amazing and all you have to do is throw all the ingredients into a slow cooker, give it a good stir, then and press “on” and spend the next three hours doing whatever it is you are behind schedule for. (Or take a break and watch that TV episode you have been wanting to catch up on, or give yourself a manicure, or take a relaxing bubble bath!)

These are such a nice change from the butter, bacon and deep fried brussles that have been all the rage over the last few years. Slightly sweet and savory, I guarantee that even non brussels sprout loving kids, will at least entertain the idea of eating one or two of these.


 

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::: Mustardy Maple Pecan Brussels Sprouts :::

Ingredients

  • 1 stalk fresh Brussels sprouts (about 2-3 cups) or one bag of pre-washed whole
  • 2 Tbls Dijon or yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbls butter (vegans can use olive oil)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbls pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbls lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. If you are using fresh brussels sprouts, trim from stalk and remove any outer layers that don’t look good.
  2. I prefer to cut my brussels sprouts in half or quarters depending on how large they are. If you have walnut sized ones, halved is perfect. If you have larger ones, then quarter them. This helps all that yummy sauce get deep into the leaves.
  3. Add all ingredients except the nutmeg to your crock.
  4. Stir well and make sure the sprouts are covered.
  5. Cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until al dente.
  6. Adjust salt and pepper and add nutmeg.

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