For illustration: When I'm at a coffee shop I always scan the pastry display. If something looks really good, I then look at the price. Then I say to myself, "Oh, my gosh! They want $4 for a sticky bun? A single sticky bun? I could make a whole pan of them for that much." So the cheap part of me wins and I go home without the sticky bun.
At home, the thought of sticky buns has taken root in my mind and I can't shake it. Enter my lazy side. "It would take at least 4 hours before you got buns. You'd have to go to all that effort, make a mess in the kitchen, clean up the mess, and then you wouldn't get to eat buns for hours." So the lazy part of me wins and I put sticky buns on my "make some day" list and leave it at that.
Sometimes nefarious forces are at work to thwart both my cheap and lazy sides and conspire to make me pudgy. Recently Force A (my husband) gave me a new cookbook, Sticky Gooey Messy Chewy. Force B (the good people at The Pecan Store) offered to send me some pecans to try out. When my bag of beautiful pecans arrived I opened my new cookbook for a recipe that showcases pecans. What should hit me smack between the eyes but a mouthwatering picture of sticky...biscuits! That's right. All of the gooey, sweet, bready pleasure of a bun, but none of the yeasty waiting.
The pecans came as beautiful halves, so I took a picture to show you how lovely they were before I chopped them up to toast them. Always chop your nuts to the size you want before toasting, as that exposes maximum nut for delicious roasted flavor. They'll need a little longer to toast if you've stored them in your freezer (as you should, if you're not going to use them up quickly.)
I was so pleased with how the caramel turned out. I've always been a bit fearful of caramel, but following the directions gave me a beautiful, just right sticky-but-not-rock-hard caramel.
And then the biscuits. A snap to make. No yeast to fear or wait for. I was unsure that I had rolled them out to the right size. My rectangle was smaller than 9 x 13 -inches. But in the oven the biscuits rose, puffed, and melded together to fill the pan.
How was it, you ask? Oh my, if this blog had a soundtrack, right now you'd be hearing a sexy, smoky sax solo. They were amazingly good. Gooey caramel, roasted pecans, beautiful biscuits, all melded together into delicious morsels of dessert heaven. The kind of dessert you take a bite of and moan, even if you're not normally a moaner.
If you are on a diet, don't try them. It'll be your undoing. But if you think of trying them, be warned: you can't rely on your lazy side to rescue you here. If lazy side is saying "But I don't have pecans," you can just sit at your computer and order them (along with sauces, mixes, gift sets and candies). They'll come to your door. How much easier could it be?
Sticky Pecan Biscuits
- adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Conner
Sticky Pecan Sauce:
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) frozen unsalted butter
1-1/2 to 2 cups cold buttermilk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 stick ( 4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Spread the chopped nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 6-10 minutes, until they are golden brown and smell toasted (but not burnt!).
2- Take the nuts out and set them aside to cool. Adjust the oven temperature to 425 deg. F.
3- Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with softened butter.
4- In a medium saucepan combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Melt over low heat. When the butter is melted, increase the heat to high and bring to a gentle boil. Cook, uncovered, until the mixture thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. stir in the chopped nuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Set aside.
5- In a large bowl, sift together twice the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a coarse grater, grate 1 stick of the frozen butter into the bowl. Cut the other stick into 8 pieces and add to the bow. Using two table knives or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture. Blend until most of the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, with some of the bits of butter the size of small peas.
6- Make a shallow well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in 1-1/2 cups of the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to blend the buttermilk into the flour to create a soft dough. If the dough seems too dry as you are stirring it, add the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk, a tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times to make sure it comes together. Pat the dough into a 3/4 -inch-thick rectangle. Using a knife or a bench scraper, cut the dough into 12 square biscuits.
7- Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and sprinkle with some of the cinnamon-sugar. Place the biscuits, evenly spaced, cinnamon-sugar-side down, into the pecan syrup-lined pan. Brush the tops (which once were the bottoms) of the biscuits with more melted butter and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon-sugar.
8- Bake the biscuits until golden brown and puffy and the sticky pecan sauce is bubbling around them, 17 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly, then place a large serving platter over the top of the pan and invert it. (I didn't have an elegant platter that size, so I used a jelly roll pan.) Remove the pan and allow the pecan sauce to fall around the biscuits. Use a small spatula to scrape any residual syrup from the pan onto the biscuits. Serve immediately.