Monday, August 29, 2011

Favorite All-Shortening Crust

I'm a big believer in making your own crust. This is also something I struggle with when making pie because it never seems to turn out the way my mom makes it. I found this recipe on Our Best Bites and learned how incredibly easy pie crust can be! After I got the hang of it, I searched through my own recipe book to start an attempt at my mother's recipe... Turns out it's exactly the same :)

(Printable version)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup and 2 Tbsp butter-flavor shortening
About 1/2 cup ice water
(This makes enough for a top and bottom crust. If you only need a bottom crust, cut the recipe in half.)

Mix together flour and salt.

Add shortening in small chunks. Use a pastry cutter to blend the shortening until pea-size shapes form.

Add water 1 Tbsp at a time. This part is important: do not stir. Using your hands, gently shift the dry mixture into the water so everything eventually becomes damp and sticks together. You are not mixing; you are just making sure water touches everything.

Eventually, you have dough. Separate into two discs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Dough can last one day in fridge and longer in the freezer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pie # 7: Peanut Butter Honeycomb Pie

Did anyone reading this blog have any idea that custard pies are difficult to make? Well, they are. I discovered this fact in the middle of making this pie after several swear words and threats of throwing the recipe out the window. I don't plan on making a custard pie or any other recipe out of Bon Appetit for a while. However, the end result was an incredible, creamy, sweet, delicious, peanut-buttery concoction. I don't even like peanut butter that much but this pie was awesome. If you're up to the challenge, this pie is worth all the effort. (Printable version)

Use a basic graham cracker crust recipe and add 1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg. (Instead of fresh nutmeg, I lightly sprinkled dried nutmeg into the food processor before I pulsed.)

Honeycomb Candy:
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp corn syrup
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp baking soda, sifted

Line baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. 

Combine sugar, corn syrup, honey and 1/4 cup water in heavy, deep saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat to dissolve sugar. Cook without stirring, instead, swirl the pan occasionally and brush the sides of pan with a wet pastry brush. Boil until sugar turns amber-colored. Add baking soda and quickly whisk just to combine. (Mixture will foam up so make sure you whisk at super-speed.) Pour mixture onto baking sheet. Do not spread. Cool until candy hardens (about 20 minutes). Use hands or knife to break up candy into small chunks. 

Unfortunately, I had to make this candy twice because the first time I didn't let it cook long enough and it came out white. It also refused to harden. The second time, I made sure that the sugar was as "amber" as it was going to get before I poured it onto the cookie sheet.

Custard Filling:
8 large egg yolks
12 Tbsp sugar, divided (6 and 6)
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 2%)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (Yes, it seriously calls for a real bean. That should have been my first warning sign.)
3/4 butter, at room temp
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tea kosher salt

Mix yolks and 6 Tbsp sugar. Beat on high for about 2 minutes or until ribbons form. Combine milk and remaining 6 Tbsp sugar in a large saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add bean. Bring to boil and dissolve sugar. Remove bean.

With mixer running, slowly add hot milk mixture. (Apparently, this part is important because if you add the hot milk too fast, it will cook the egg unevenly and the filling will lack a smooth texture. I added everything really fast because I had no idea that this would ruin everything. After I "destroyed" the filling, I really didn't care anymore because I already had to remake the honeycomb and wasn't about to find another vanilla bean to scrape into another pot of boiling milk. I also didn't want to separate 8 more yolks from the egg whites so I decided to continue with the recipe with the chunky egg filling and take a risk that the flavor would turn out. Sorry for the rant - moving on!) I don't really have pictures of this process because all the f-bombs coming out of my mouth made me forget that I was supposed to be blogging. 

Pour mixture back into pan and bring to boil while whisking constantly. Remove from heat and continue to whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Return custard to (cleaned) mixing bowl. Beat on high for 4 minutes or until custard is cool. (At this point in the recipe, my custard wasn't "custard-like" enough for me so I returned it to the stove and reboiled it, cooking it for a longer period of time. This was also the point at which I decided custard pies were pure evil and the devil himself probably invented each recipe.)

Mix in butter 1 Tbsp at a time. Add peanut butter, powdered sugar and salt. Beat to blend; scrape filling into cooled crust and smooth. Chill in fridge for 2-3 hours.

2 oz bittersweet chocolate (don't exceed 61% cacao)
2 1/2 Tbsp butter
Honeycomb Candy
Roasted, salted peanuts (I used honey roasted peanuts for the added honey flavor.)

Stir chocolate and butter together in small saucepan on medium-low heat. Keep stirring until melted and combined. Drizzle some chocolate glaze over chilled pie and smooth into a circle. Top with honeycomb and peanuts. (I really piled it on.) Drizzle more chocolate over the top. Now you are finally done with the world's most difficult pie recipe. Congrats on your achievement! 

I actually brought this pie with me to a bachelorette party and was shocked when it tasted so good. In fact, it was addicting. The filling even had a smooth texture despite my cooked-eggs issue. (Then again, I had been consuming several adult beverages by the time I ate this pie at 2:00 in the morning so it could have been the combination of alcohol and sleep-deprivation that made this pie taste so wonderful.)

Graham Cracker Crust


This crust is so easy and incredibly tasty. You don't need to roll anything out or be concerned about "flakiness" because it's essentially made out of cookies - therefore foolproof.

(Printable version)
9-11 graham crackers
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tea salt
6 Tbsp butter, melted

Crunch up anywhere between 9-11 graham crackers in a ziplock bag.

Pour into food processor and add brown sugar and salt. Pulse until finely ground. 


Transfer crumbs into bowl and add melted butter. Stir using hands or spoon.

Using fingertips, lightly press crumbs into pie plate. You can also use the bottom/sides of a measuring cup to pack the crumbs evenly. Bake at 325 degrees until golden brown (about 15 minutes).


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pie # 6: Stone Fruit Pie

I found this recipe in Bon Appetit, the August 2011 edition. I bought all my fruit locally at The Pumpkin Patch; I am lucky enough to live in close vicinity to several different markets. I highly recommend using whatever stone fruit is in season when you make this pie on your own. I think the pie smells even better coming out of the oven if you know the produce is 100% fresh.

I used Our Best Bites recipe for All-Shortening Crust (aka: the same crust recipe I used for the past few pies. I promise I'll start varying this soon!)

2 lbs Nectarines
1 lb Peaches
1 lb Plums (I loved using bright red plums because it made the filling so colorful!)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
A sprinkling of nutmeg (recipe calls for 1/4 tea fresh ground nutmeg, but I don't like nutmeg very much so I literally sprinkled once and called it good.)

Peel fruit. This is tricky because I didn't want to spend hours peeling 4 pounds of round balls. Instead, I placed the fruit into boiling water for 30 seconds and then immediately cooled them off in ice water. Once they were cool to the touch, the skin peeled right off. Voila!

Cut up fruit into 1/2 inch thick slices. Add sugar and stir. Allow fruit to sit at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Strain fruit and reserve 1/4 cup of liquid. Whisk saved liquid and corn starch together; add nutmeg. Stir into fruit.

Pour fruit into unbaked pie crust. (I'm adding the picture of my empty crust because - for the first time ever - my crust looks pretty legit!) Make lattice top. (Also, please notice the awesome new tool that my mom and dad gave me for my birthday. Now my lattice tops are even prettier.)

Brush melted butter over the top and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. I waited until my filling was bubbly. This pie seriously made my house smell de-light-ful.

 Then I realized I couldn't eat this entire pie so I delivered to some lucky neighbors :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pie # 5: Cherry Hand Pies

I made these adorable heart-shaped pies two days ago and shared them with some lucky neighbors. (AKA: my roommate, her mom and my parents.) These were so easy to make and only called for 2 cups of pie filling; I used pie cherries that I hand-picked out of my mom's orchard. Be sure to pit your cherries before you bake them in a pie... Yes, cherries totally have pits in them. I'm only telling you that because I actually dated a guy who didn't know that fact.

Anyway, I made my favorite crust recipe from Our Best Bites. I'll spare you the techniques I used because I blogged about it in the previous post.

2 Cups Sour Pie Cherries
1/3 Cup Sugar
2 Tbsp Tapioca

See this post or that post for my favorite crust recipe.

Combine cherries, sugar, and tapioca to make filling. Make crust and separate into two mounds. (I think it's easiest to work with less crust at a time.)

Roll out dough on floured surface. I used an awesome hand-press that my roomie gave me for my birthday to create fun, heart-shaped pies.

Note: I like to use an egg wash as glue or a seal when I press the mini pie together. Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tsp water. Spread this along the edge of the pie before you press and you'll have less mess on your hands when you pull these babies out of the oven.

(After I pop a pie out of the mold, I spread melted butter over the top and sprinkled raw sugar to give a sparkle.) Delicately lay these cuties on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Place on wire rack to cool.

Cherry pie is one of my (many) favorites. What is your favorite kind of pie?