Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pie # 33: Floating Top Cherry-Vanilla Bean Pie

Cherry pie is a classic; I (among others) believe it's even better than apple pie. Traditional cherry pies are baked with sour cherries in the filling. This recipe (adapted from Ken Haedrich's Pie) uses sweet cherries and a vanilla bean baked right into the filling. It's a simple recipe with dramatic effect. I brought this to a dinner right after pulling it out of the oven and it was gone instantly. (I think my coworkers were disappointed that they didn't get to taste the leftovers.) Serve this with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Vanilla Bean.
Cherry-Vanilla Bean Pie


4 cups sweet cherries (mine were frozen), stemmed and pitted
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of ground nutmeg
One 3-4 inch section of a vanilla bean, slit lengthwise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine cherries, 1/3 cup sugar, and lemon juice in medium bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to juice. Mix together remaining sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. After cherries are done juicing, add cornstarch mixture and nutmeg.

Carefully pour the filling into unbaked pie shell.  Bury the vanilla bean in the center of the filling so it's easy to find later. Make the floating top by rolling out top crust and using a bowl slightly smaller than the pie plate as a stencil for a circle. Use a sharp knife to cut the circle and place over pie filling so that (about) 1 inch of filling is visible around the sides. 

Brush melted butter and raw sugar over the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake pie for 25 - 30 more minutes (until filling is bubbly). Cool for at least 2 hours. Remove vanilla bean before serving.

This pie is ready for a BBQ!
My new friend, Priya.
Picture by Priya

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pie # 32: Chocolate Cream Pie

This pie tastes exactly the way it sounds: chocolatey and creamy. If you're a chocolate lover, this is a recipe for you. A certain someone (Steven) has been requesting this pie for about 6 months. I think that level of perseverance deserves a pie :)

Chocolate Cream Pie
From Ken Haedrich's Pie
(Printable version)

Oreo Crumb Crust

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
1/8 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

Prepare crust and set aside.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and egg yolks. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly. Keep stirring until mixture starts to boil and thicken. Keep over heat for 1 minute longer.
Try to not eat all the filling before you serve this pie :)
Remove from heat and immediately stir in butter (1 piece at a time) and vanilla. Whisk in chocolate, 1/3 at a time, until smooth and completely melted. Slowly pour into the pie shell and smooth with spoon.

Press a piece of plastic wrap directly over the filling so that a skin doesn't form. Chill in fridge for 4 hours or overnight. Serve with whipped cream.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oreo Crust

Usually when a recipe calls for an Oreo crust, I head to the store and pick-up something pre-made. Not this time! I stumbled across this recipe in Ken Haedrich's Pie and I don't think I'll ever go back to the store for an Oreo crust.
Oreo Crust

3 cups coarsely broken Oreo Cookies (18-20 cookies)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2-3 teaspoons milk

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine cookies and cinnamon in food processor (or crunch them up in a ziploc bag like me). Pulse repeatedly to make fine crumbs. Transfer crumbs to large bowl. Add butter and mix well with a fork. Add milk and mix with fork until crumbs clump together when pressed between your fingers.

Press crumbs into 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 325 degrees for 6 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pie # 31: Sour Cream - Blackberry Pie

This pie is being added to my "favorites" list immediately after I tell you about it. I've been getting tired of all the custard pies lately and craved some fruit this weekend. I called my mom and offered to empty her freezer. She gave me Boysen Berries. Not my favorite - but at this point, I'll take what I can get! This pie was such a success that it didn't even last 24 hours. I'm currently down to my last piece since I shared at work, the bf's work and with my parents. Make this for yourself and see how wonderful Boysen Berries can be! (Or any other berry you have around your house - fresh or frozen.)

Sour Cream - Blackberry Pie
(Printable Version)

All Shortening Crust (1/2 recipe)

2 large eggs
2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest (I used lemon instead)
Big pinch of salt
3 cups fresh or frozen berries

Streusel Topping
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter

Prebake your crust and cool completely.

Whisk eggs in large bowl until frothy. Add sour cream, sugar, flour, vanilla, orange zest, and salt. Whisk again until blended. Spread berries evenly in cooled pie shell. Slowly pour sour cream mixture over the berries.

Make streusel: combine flour and brown sugar in small bowl and mix with fork. Add butter, stirring with fork until topping is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the sour cream filling.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. (I baked mine for 45 minutes because I used frozen berries.) when done, the filling will puff slightly and will no longer seem liquid-loose. Transfer to wire rack and cool. Serve at room temperature or chill in fridge.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pie # 30: Coconut Cream Pie

We're hitting a milestone with this pie: only 22 more pies to go! Let's forget for a moment that I fell behind in January, February and March... I am aware of the fact that I'll basically need to bake 2 pies each week until July. Right now, let's talk Coconut Cream!

I have never had Coconut Cream Pie before this Easter weekend. Quite frankly, I didn't know what to expect. I won't keep you in suspense any longer - this pie is incredible. The filling is so smooth and creamy; it isn't too sweet but definitely has a lot of flavor. Whip this up this weekend and share it with everyone you know. (Or don't share and eat it all by yourself. There's nothing wrong with that!)

Coconut Cream Pie
(Printable version)

1/2 recipe All Shortening Crust

1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk (I used 2%)
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 toasted coconut (see below for instructions on toasting coconut)

Roll out pie crust and prebake in 9-inch pan for 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let cool completely.

Love this new tool for rolling out pie crusts!
Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and egg yolks. Continue to stir/whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens and starts to boil. Continue to cook, stirring nonstop, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, one piece at a time.

Whisk in vanilla extract, coconut extract and coconut flakes. Immediately pour filling into pre-baked pie shell. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the filling so there are no gaps or air bubbles. (This will prevent a skin from forming.) Allow to cool completely. Chill in fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

Right before serving, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and whip for a few more minutes. Toast coconut flakes on the stove over medium-low heat until coconut turns a soft golden hue.

Toasted coconut.
Serve pie with whipped cream and toasted coconut. YUM.

Successful desserts for Easter!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pie # 29: Apple Cheddar Pie

This has been on my list since the very beginning. Despite disliking cheese most of the time (I know, shocking!), I am able to enjoy a few slices when fruit is involved. As a kid I can remember eating sliced apples with cheddar as an after-school-snack; the salty and sweet combo is one of my favorites. I found this recipe in Pie by Ken Haedrich. My conclusion after tasting it last night is this: not one of my favorites, definitely a "different" and "unique" light flavor, it wasn't bad but not a pie I would make over and over again. However, if cheese and apples are your thing, feel free to give it a shot!

Apple Cheddar Pie
(Printable version)

1/2 of All-Shortening Crust

6 cups peeled and sliced apples (I used Granny Smith)
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar (separated)
big pinch of salt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstach

2 1/2 cups Cheez-it crackers (white cheddar flavor)
1/4 cold, unsalted butter
3/4 finely shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

Combine apples, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, lemon juice and lemon zest in large bowl. Allow to set for 10 minutes to juice.

Combine remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar with cornstarch in small bowl. Stir into apples. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn oven down to 375 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes.

Meanwhile, make crumb topping. Combine crumbs with chunks of butter in the food processor. (Or if you're like me and don't have a food processor because your bff moved across the country, mix this up with a fork or pastry blender.) Add the cheese and mix a bit more.

After the pie has baked for a total of 40 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle the topping evenly. Pat down with your fingers and bake for another 20 minutes or until the filling is bubbling.

Cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Pie is best served warm. (I heated mine in the oven at 350 for 5-6 minutes before I served.)
Thanks, Mom for helping me keep my crust from burning!