We spent Sunday afternoon testing our tea recipes–and Christmas tree-decorating skills–on a group of volunteer family members (okay, Barbara Hambly may not be family by blood, but she’s been one of our own for many years) at a beautiful 1920s Tudor Revival home in the Pasadena area. Our hostess, Mary McGinnis, works at the John Tracy Clinic, an institution in Los Angeles that provides, without charge, parent-centered services to young children with hearing loss. Mary asked us to mention that we have an opportunity to support that cause without spending a penny. The clinic is a finalist for a $250,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh challenge; you can cast a vote for it here , and we hope that you will.
How did the recipe testing go? Well, there wasn’t much food left, which is generally a good sign. I’m not sure we had a conclusive winner in the gingerbread trifle sweepstakes, so we either need to tinker with that dessert or throw it open to voting.
I would say that the hands-down favorite on the menu was the Kahlua-Pecan-Topped Brie, a recipe that came to us several years ago courtesy our sister Margaret and her Green Valley moms group. There’s no need to reserve it for an afternoon tea–it’s a great party appetizer. Or, you know, you could make it and just keep in the kitchen and eat it all yourself. We won’t tell.
Here’s the recipe:
1 14-ounce round Brie
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons Kahlua
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans
Cut the top off the Brie. Combine the sugar, butter and Kahlua in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar melts. Zap the Brie in the microwave oven just until softened, maybe 30 seconds, depending on your microwave. Stir the pecans into the Kahlua syrup and pour over the Brie. Serve it with crackers or baguette slices.
(A word about toasting pecans: You can buy them by the bag already finely chopped and toasted at Trader Joe’s if you feel rushed or uncertain of your toasting skills. Or you can spread the nuts on a jelly-roll pan and toast them in a 325 degree oven for about five minutes. They should be brown–but not black–and fragrant when you take them out. Um–you might want to toast extra if you’re inclined to taste-test them; it’s pretty hard to resist eating toasted pecans warm out of the oven.)