On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...

my true love sent to me:

12 Drummers Drumming
Eleven Pipers Piping
Ten Lords a Leaping
Nine Ladies Dancing
Eight Maids a Milking
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Fiiive Goolllden Riiings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Are there guys out there that are really sending all of this crap to their true love?

What happened to a nice piece of jewelry? A bouquet of roses? A box of chocolates? A gift card to Williams-Sonoma, or Bath & Body Works?

Honestly, who wants a bunch of dudes playing instruments in your living room on Christmas morning?

A bunch of lords leaping around in your house? (Possibly knocking over furniture) (Or worse, possibly injuring themselves... lawsuit...)

Nine ladies dancing? What kind of dancing are we talking about? Isn't that more of a gift for the guy? Yeah. It is.

No one wants cows in their house. They're messy. Although fresh milk would be nice.

Here's my biggest problem with this song: what's up with all of the BIRDS?

Bird-giving is not a good idea! Who told you that?! Stick with gift cards and candles. Sweet Jesus, do you know how many people are allergic to birds? Plus they are probably expensive pets. And they make your house smell.

Swans, Geese, Calling birds (What the hell is a calling bird?), French hens, Turtle doves and a Partridge.

I would probably kill someone if they gave me all of those birds on Christmas morning when I was expecting some aromatherapy candles, Rocher chocolates and house shoes.

Unless we were going to be eating the geese, French hens or turtle doves, because that could be delicious.

Can you eat turtle doves? I think you can.

We have lots of doves here in our yard, and they're always really plump. They can barely take flight from all of the extra weight they're carrying around.

That could make for some good eatin'.
You could roast them over a bed of root vegetables and baste with with an herby-butter sauce, and have a nice Christmas dinner.

I'm going to contemplate eating turtle doves on Christmas, but first I have a recipe for you: Turtle Brownies. Give me these for Christmas and I'd be happy!

This is what I used my freshly harvested pecans for!

Ah, yes, such a classic recipe that I didn't have on my website. Turtle brownies are so delicious, I'm going to have to make them again very soon. That combination of dark chocolate, pecans and caramel is killer. I even made my own caramel for the top. And yes, I used milk chocolate for the topping. I like to pretend that I don't like milk chocolate, but in reality, I do. There are times when it's okay to use it.

Turtle Brownies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, plus an additional 2 tablespoons, divided use
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips (Hersheys)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar, plus an additional 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided use
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted*
1/3 cup coarsely chopped milk chocolate, or milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch baking dish.

Melt 3/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Turn heat off, and whisk in chocolate until melted and well combined.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir together flour and salt, until combined.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, 1 cup granulated sugar and vanilla, until well combined. Whisk in melted chocolate mixture, gradually, until combined. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in about 1/2 cup of the pecans, until combined.

Scrape batter into prepared baking dish, and spoon the surface with a spatula. Sprinkle additional pecans on top. Bake at 350 degrees F, for 25-30 minutes, or until set. In the last 2 minutes of baking, sprinkle milk chocolate over the top to melt.

Cool brownies on a wire rack, while you make the caramel.

To make the caramel topping, whisk together the additional 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water, over medium-high heat, and bring mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. When the syrup starts to boil, stop stirring. Boil syrup until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in additional 2 tablespoons butter and a pinch of salt, until melted and well combined. Drizzle caramel evenly over brownies.

Chill or freeze brownies until set, before slicing.

Makes 12 brownies


  1. I certainly do like your take on Christmas Emiline! LOL...However I will take some of those brownies!

  2. Try singing "Hush little baby don't you cry", now there is a silly song!!!
    There is nothing silly about these delicious treats that you've made!

  3. Oh wow, these look SO decadent!! Maybe someone will give you that cute little "twelve days of Christmas" ornament tree they have at WS and you can return it for a cookbook on game birds. :)

  4. Now that looks good. I think I could eat those all day long!

  5. looks like might have to cancel that order from McMurray's....(google it)

  6. Oh MY GOSH. We JUST got back from the store where I saw pecans for the first time ever in Poland and DIDN'T buy them because I didn't know what I'd make with them. Then I come home and see this recipe sitting on my computer and I'm going to die! I NEED some of these. And thank you SO much for not melting store bought caramels! You can't get them here, and I automatically throw out any recipe that requires them. I'm making these this week for sure. Oh yum

  7. I learned a song in middle school that was called "The 12 Days After Christmas" and it went "The 12 days after Christmas were the worst I ever had/the gifts kept right on coming till I finally went mad/the drummers 12 kept drumming no one got a moment's peace/so the landlord called the p'lice." It went on and on about what a pain in the neck all of those gifts were and how it angered the landlord. I think the song is about a king giving gifts to his queen. They have the room for all of those birds in the caste, and yeah, I think they ate them! The 5 golden rings were originally meant to be ring-necked pheasant. A little pheasant under glad perhaps?

    Brownies look super yummy. I don't hold the milk chooclate thing against you. Personally, I think everyone is a bit too obsessed with dark chocolate these days. Milk chocolate deserves some recognition for its creamy texture and mild flavor. I know that too much straight dark chocolate can give me a bit of a tummy ache. Not so much with the milk. Just because dark chocolate as all of those antioxidants doesn't mean you have to ignore the fact that milk chocolate tastes pretty good.

  8. I'm so excited that you've been able to have the whole pecan experience. Pecan gathering and picking are some of my favorite things to do (trashes a manicure as you well know though). These brownies are an amazing use of those beautiful gems. Gorgeous.

  9. How divine are these brownies! I love the fresh pecan usage as well. They look so decadent! I don't think if I tried to make these would they turn out so beautifully. So, on to the birds stuff. Did you know birds are really dirty, they have lice and other nasty germs and can aslo care the west nile virus which is deadly here in California. So I am with you get rid of the bird bring on the real gifts diamonds, roses, slippers!

  10. These look so great! Thanks for sharing, Emiline. :-)

    I'll have to try them when I get some time.

  11. Oh Em...you are high on love! Awesome! That is one funny post. I agree about the birds...remember Hitchcock? Birds are flying dinosaurs!

    Actually, I can send you some great recipes for dove! But I guess eating the symbol of peace isn't such a cool idea.

  12. Ha, you're so funny! I read some article that the cost of the 12 days of Christmas gifts is something like $80,000. I completely agree with you, who in their right mind would even consider giving those items? :) The turtle brownies looks spectacular! Way to put those pecans to good use.

  13. Oh wow. Tell you what, I *won't* send you birds and you send me some of those. Deal? :)

  14. looks great! Almost as good as the turtledoves!

  15. LOL, Em, thanks for making me laugh!!!

  16. The brownies look amazing!! They are my favorite treat and you just made them even better:)

  17. These look so decadent! I bet they tasted delicious!

  18. WHOA! those look amazing! I can't get over how delicious and decadent they sound!! And the pictures... GORGEOUS!

    I always love reading those stories about how much all that crap would cost if someone bought them today. makes me laugh :)

    hopefully you'll get some better stuff for the holidays... i like the ws gift card.

  19. hahahahaha oh my gosh - you are hilarious.

    may i add you to my blogroll? not only do i love your writing, but your pictures and recipes as well :)

  20. Um,luv me some turtles..really I do.

  21. Emily this is absolutely tasty and yummy, love these!!!!Gloria

  22. You have outdone yourself. Gorgeous recipe. I'm just impressed that you didn't nibble all your pecans away.

  23. seriously. where is your column in the new york times.
    i'd subscribe, i would! :)
    these look yummy!

  24. oh me. thanks for the chuckle, emily. and obviously, thanks for the glorious food porn. :)

  25. Ya know, I never really dug that song much either. Especially the fiive golden rings part... kinda obnoxious after, well, two times :)

    Ha and nah guys don't buy that stuff. I stick with jewelery, cards, or I make something. Does the thought really count?

    Mmm nice turtle brownies. I don't know why, but I have Ninja Turtles stuck in my head now :)

  26. hehehe! i love the lawsuit part...I'm studying for my last law school exam (of the semester) and it just hit home! These brownies are so delicious and drool worthy...yummy! :)

  27. Any dessert with the word "turtle" in front of it and I'm first in line to chow down.
    Chocolate, caramel, pecan. Yeah, thats pretty much as good as it gets.

  28. Those look intense, Em! I'm down with eating birds of any kind, just so you know.

  29. Haha, there ARE a lot of birds in that song :-D

    TURTLE BROWNIES!!! Holy freaking yum.

  30. And don't forget, all those birds have probably got bird flu too.

    Those Turtle Brownies look totally decadent and delish.

    PS. It's been icy here too. We had a hail storm last night, and with a high of 20F today the roads have stayed like glass. Brrrrr.

    Stay warm, Em.

  31. Good looking turtle brownies - really they are!

  32. emiline, i would DIE if your next recipe was a turtle dove roast... and i'm somewhat hoping it is haha

  33. i can see you with a gun hanging out your window try to get a good shot of one.

    ok sorry if that image disturbs anyone. i just can't stop laughing haha

  34. You are a riot! I love what you did with the pecans!

  35. Thanks everyone!

    Lisaway, you should have purchased them!

    Rachel, interesting! And I enjoy all chocolate.

    Anj, the pecans you sent me last year were so much bigger! Gotta love those Texas pecans.

    Lisa, man, birds are even more disgusting than I thought they were.

    Sara, wow! That's a lot of money.

    Heather, thank you! I recently aquired a WS card and can't wait to use it.

    Pearl, you can add me. I'll have to add you at some point.

    Sue, it was tough!

    Marla, thank you! I would subscribe to you.

  36. People eat squab, which is basically fancy-chef code for "pidgeon", and doves are just less-gross pidgeons. So I'd say, yes, you can eat a turtledove. Maybe use the French hens and the swans and geese, too, and make a Swoosedoven. Mmmmm... Swoosedoven...

  37. What a hylarious post Emiline!!! You are soooooo inspired :D

    I love listening to this song, they sing the words so quickly that is hard for me to follow and understand what the lyrics say... so thanks for writing it :D

    On the Twelfth day of Christmas I WANT those gorgeous treats on my table!!! I'm coping your recipe and baking them :D :D :D I'll give you credit of course! Thanks ♥

  38. these brownies are such a looker!! i'd definitely have one of em now. i got a little square of brownie off the airline i was riding in and it looks just sad next to yours on my laptop screen. :(
    funny. i love turtle doves. they're beautiful to look at. but now that you mentioned eating 'em, i'm gonna find it quite hard to get the idea of them tasting better than chicken out of my head! x

  39. See, now I don'tknow wat I am drooling over more...turtle dove stew or brownies?!

  40. YUM - those look so rich and delicious!!

  41. Those brownies look wonderful!

    And I agree, the 12 Days of Christmas is a goofy song.

  42. I'm in sugar shock. I gained 10 lbs just looking at the recipe. This will be something to try AFTER the holidays. This looks too good right now, the whole batch would disappear on the first night.

  43. LOL! Way back then they didn't have a Williams Sonoma, so I guess Turtle Doves were like totally in, and hip. LOL!
    You are too funny woman!
    Love the brownies.

  44. Hey, it depends on what those guys are wearing, whether or not I want them in my living room. :P

    I ate summa these brownies (ones like them, anyway) and got the Type 2 squirrelies. I love a good sugar shock.

  45. LOL!!! That's a really funny view of Christmas. Sent your sussy out!

  46. Love it! Yeah - what's up with the birds indeed!

    But these treats would go a long way towards melting any girl's heart!

  47. Emily, you sure have some strong opinions on the 12 days of Christmas :)

    Your brownies sound delicious!

  48. Great! You got me drooling over my keyboard!
    Haha. the brownies look delicious. Loved the post!

  49. These look dense, delicious and decadent! And, yes, I'd much prefer a Williams-Sonoma gift card ;).

  50. I love milk chocolate, and I'm not afraid to admit it! These look delicious!

  51. Gosh woman - you've got my vote when it comes to turtles :)

    Love the sound of that Christmas; but, the photo of those brownies has me swooning! YUM.

  52. Oh I'm drooling these look fabulous!

    happy holidays to you!

  53. Hehe. I was thinking, too, that I would take all those birds if we were roasting them. :) That song makes me think of a big renaissance dinner with lots of music, dancing, and food--maybe it comes from that?
    Either way, I'd take these brownies as a gift as well.

  54. So I went back to get those pecans in December and they were gone! But I found some this week and made these brownies.

    These are amazing and fudgy and delicious. Like one of my favorite brownie recipes ever. Even considering that I over cooked the caramel sauce (or something) and as I was stirring in the butter (off the heat) it started to set. It ended up looking like a lump of toffee. But I just crumbled it over the top of the brownies anyway. So delicious!! Thanks for another great recipe!!