Pie A Week Results from WordPress

WordPress sent me a cute summary of my blog readings this year! Neat! I had not gotten that from other blogging services.

Apparently the most popular pie is the Pecan Mystery Pie, which sort of surprised me, though it is very good.  The most popular search on this blog was for the Bad Baby Pie.  I can sort of see why, because as I did the search myself, others didn’t post the recipe. Or they posted an unmodified recipe that bakes up kind of funny (the originally stated recipe).  I personally suggest putting a half-dozen eggs in this pie. But maybe I’m just not a great quiche-maker and the originally stated 4, in the recipe, is enough.  Try it yourself and see! I have a big ham in my freezer so maybe I will do just that.

I’ve decided to continue posting my cooking experiments to this blog, though they won’t always be pies this year… so no need to leave forever if you were planning. However it’s a bit nice not to “have” to bake a pie today…  or at least, to be able to revisit some of my old favorites.

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Chocolate Brandy Pie

A Pie Tin

This is the last pie I’ll make for Pie-A-Week.

Thanks to anyone who enjoyed this experiment!  I think mostly my husband benefited from it, since he got a lot of pie, but it also gave me a year to refine my baking techniques!  I’ll be adding additional posts to this blog as they come up, detailing other cooking projects I do, roundups of what I’ve learned, and other stuff, though it may not happen on a weekly basis.

Graham Crackers

This pie took a Graham Cracker crust.  This can easily be store-bought, but this time I made my own by pulverizing the crackers in the food processor, adding some butter, and pressing into the pan.  Bake for about 10 minutes to firm it up.

Crust

My post-Christmas kitchen was such a mess. It’s better now, honest.

This pie has two main flavors:

cocoa

Cocoa

and Brandy

and Brandy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the filling was easy, as it’s mostly made in the blender.

Ingredient layers

Here we have the layered look of all the ingredients for the filling:

1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 5oz can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp brandy
3 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

Blended up

Here it is all blended up.

pour into crust

Pour in to crust…

Chocolate Brandy Pie

Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes.  Serve with whipped cream. It has a nice brownie-like consistency with a little brandy bite.

So turns out a very popular present to buy for me this Christmas was baking stuff… to make cupcakes…  So I don’t think that giving up on baking projects will be happening any time soon!  Not sure I’m really ready to take the plunge on cupcake-a-week.

Happy 2011!

Mincemeat Pie

Now complete!

Alton Brown has this recipe. Not reproducing for copyright fears.  You can even probably watch him make the pie on a “Sweeny Todd”-inspired episode.  I’m not going to link to said episode but Google might be able to help you out on that one before whoever is hosting it gets taken down. It’s really a fun one and I would hate to deprive you of it with a careless link.

What I will provide here is a bit of a trip report, with my photos…

Day One.  Chopped up many fruits, dried and fresh, in the food processor. Added spices, brandy, sugar.  My mince being in a regular food processor, it’s not as fine as Alton’s was (done in a meat grinder).  It looks… messy, but smells pretty good.

Day Three. Wow, that’s a lot of leftover brandy. It’s pretty strong to drink straight, not that I didn’t try. I have another plan for how to use it.

Day Seven…

Okay, I’ve been soaking the mince for about a week in the fridge now. It supposedly will keep up to six months, but it’s time to bake today.

Opening it up, the raisins, which were more or less intact after the grind, have gotten fat with absorbed liquid. The smell is heavenly.  It looks kinda gross, yes, but this is all counteracted by the smell (not pictured).

To create the crust, you mix the dry ingredients, then grate in a lot of butter with a cheese grater. A bit different. The crumbly bits are mixed by hand.

I may have measured a little funny during crust creation. The recipe given is by weight.  It says what to do if the dough is too dry, but mine was a little too … squishy, so I added more cornmeal and flour until it got a bit more solid.

The crust on TV wasn’t really rolled, just flattened out, like mini-pizzas. Then dump the filling on.  Well, mine don’t look as pretty as Alton Brown’s, but they do smell really good.

Out of the oven to cool…and…

Well, I was all prepared to say this was not worth the effort, except: I think it was.  Mm, so tasty with all those Christmas-flavored spices. And not any actual “meat” in it mind (just a bit of fat, which you could probably skip if you had trouble getting it).

The recipe made a little more filling than I thought it would, so I still have enough left for it looks like two pies. I think I’ll make them on Christmas. If you want one on Christmas, you’ll have to start making it now!

No photo of the completed pie because it turned out too bright.  Alas. I’ll follow up with that later or just watch the episode for a prettier final pie than mine.

Candy Cane Pie

This is a busy time of year! So while I have been baking, I haven’t been blogging.

I’m going to catch you up this week with two pies (one for the previous week).

This one is a festive pie I somewhat invented based on the recipe for a Grasshopper Pie.

I wouldn’t call it a super-duper success because it’s a little overly sweet, though I also baked two dozen very rich chocolate cupcakes for the party I made this for and those tended to disappear faster, so maybe it was just sweets overload!

Here’s how to make it, anyway.

Crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate cookies
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
3 cups marshmallows
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup creme de menthe liquor
1 cup heavy cream
red food coloring (optional)

Topping:
Reserved crushed cookies
Crushed candy cane

First make your chocolate cookie crust by crushing chocolate cookies and mixing in the melted butter. Press in to pie tin and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

 

I used chocolate animal crackers this time.  Prepare to blend, cute animals!

Reserve some crushed cookies for topping if you want.

I also smashed two candy canes as additional garnish.  More Cooking with Construction Equipment!

Now for filling:

Melt the marshmallows on the stove in the 1/2 cup milk, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn.

Then put the melted goo in to the fridge for about 20 minutes. Stir periodically.  It’s set up when it starts to mound when lifted with the spoon.

Whip the heavy cream until it is fully whipped.

Blend the whipped cream in the creme de menthe and the marshmallow mixture, then pour in to the pie crust.

I added about a teaspoon full of mint extract to taste. Other recipes add creme de cacao here, but I wanted a pure mint flavor. May have been too powerful; I am uncertain. But do what works.

You can call it good here. Put it in the fridge, garnish as desired, serve when set.

I tried something a little extra, which is putting a little reserved filling aside, mixing in the red food coloring, and trying to swirl the top together.

It was a first attempt. Didn’t maybe quite work out.  I often underestimate the power of red food color.

Candy Cane Pie

Looks sorta festive with the candy cane bits, though.

Mincemeat Pie, Part Zero

So, my plan was to create a traditional Mincemeat Pie, AKA, Christmas Pie, for one of my dishes this month. Since I wanted to get an accurate recipe (there is little to no ‘meat’ in a mincemeat pie…) I turned to Kitchen Scientist Alton Brown.

But now I have discovered that this particular style of pie takes… a little more prep than my usual pie, including at least 3 days in the fridge. That means it’s going to be a project for the entire week. So, more updates later, after I have every ingredient and the requisite prep time.

Chocolate Brownie Pie

Around this time of year is the only time you can get peppermint ice cream reliably, one of my favorite flavors.

I had some in the freezer and it occurred to me I wanted to have a brownie to put it on.

Then it occurred to me you can put a brownie in a pie tin, so, there you go.

Step 1: set oven to 350 degrees.

Melting chocolate

 

Step 2:

Melt…
2/3 cup butter
5 oz unsweetened chocolate

in a pot on the stove. No need to double-boil if you melt the butter first, but watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.

Melted chocolate butter

Greased pie pan

Step 3:

Grease pie pan with shortening.  This is a 9.5 inch pan.

Blending eggs

Step 4:

Using electric mixer, blend:

3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups sugar

for several minutes until the mixture is smooth (not grainy)

Milk and chocolate

Step 5:

Add in the melted chocolate from the stove and blend on slow until mixed.

Adding flour

Step 6:

Lastly add

1 cup all-purpose flour

and mix until just incorporated.

Brownie batter

You know, this seemed a lot easier when I was doing it.

Anyway this is just a basic fudgy brownie batter.

Step 7, optional….

Now you can add anything to this that you want in your brownies.  Walnuts, peanut butter chips, whatever.

moar chocolate

I added more chocolate to it because maybe I should be committed.

Brownie batter and friends

Step 8: Pour the batter in to the prepared pie plate and put it in the oven.

Step 9: Bake for 40-45 minutes.

I took it out at 30. I like it a bit gooey in the middle. It looks dry on the outside however.

Brownie pie

Its fate was to be served with peppermint ice cream as such, but, hey, it’s brownies, so serve and eat however you like – frosted, with vanilla ice cream, crushed into a sundae, etc etc…

Brownie pie with ice cream

Mmm.

Pecan Pie Redux

Hello! Turns out I didn’t travel over Thanksgiving, so, I made that Pecan Pie after all.

Here’s some progress shots:

Making Pecan Pie

Eggs beaten

Eggs, butter, sugar, molasses

Pecan pie filled

Before baking…

pecan pie

And after! Ta da!

It’s very, very good, and really easy. Just throw pecans in, mix filling, dump, garnish, and bake.

Get the full details at Simply Recipes.

Pecan Pie

Here’s a pie I’d like to make.

Pecan Pie.

But I probably won’t have time right now, so there it is for posterity and your future attempts, in case you are having people over for Thanksgiving!  I’m travelling for Thanksgiving, which is why I am not cooking, but we can still make this the official pie of the week. I can take pictures of the lovely pies that I will be eating at the festivities and follow up with further pies soon!

Love and happy holidays 😀

Cherry Pie

The Pie-a-week experiment is almost over, and there are still some classic pies I haven’t done. Cherry, for example. What pie is more celebrated in song and poem than the simple cherry pie?  Loving you isn’t blackberry pie, after all.

But cherries aren’t exactly in season, so, I committed a baking sin.

Canned pie filling the horror

…canned pie filling! And from a big box store!

That’s okay. I’m not Martha Stewart. Sometimes using a can is just another way of doing a baking experiment!

Since this didn’t require a recipe per se, I focused a little on pie presentation.

To make the pie with canned filling, I made a double crust, poured two cans of filling in to the bottom crust, then sealed and fluted.

Sealed in a pie

Then cut slits to let out the air.

Falling pie

I realize that it looks like it’s about to fall off the counter, but, don’t worry, the pie is perfectly fine.

Tent of foil

Set oven to 425 degrees. For the first 15 minutes of baking, this foil tent was used (it goes all the way around, but, part removed for display) to keep the delicate edge from getting too brown.

egg

Then I got fancy. Lightly beat one egg…

ominous brush

And painted with a pastry brush on to the sealed crust.

sugar top

Dust lightly with sugar. Put back in the over for another 15 minutes, sans foil, then cool on rack for the finish!

Cherry Pie

So if you want to make a pie with a crust that photographs well, there’s a way to go about it.  Of course it’s tasty too.

Pumpkin White Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

I said this week I was going to do a variant on the pumpkin pie that required a bit more effort. That pie is the Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Pie, which I found and ripped out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine in 2008.

I thought to myself, then – self, I bet thanks to the magic of the internet, this recipe is posted elsewhere, and you won’t actually have to reproduce it.  And I was right! These are the instructions that I followed.  I did make one change, which was switching out the regular chocolate for white chocolate. I think it’s delicious that way, but follow your heart.

This pie takes 5 eggs, and they aren’t kidding about the deep dish. It also takes, um, a while, to make; over an hour in my case, and over an hour of baking. So be sure you have some time set aside if you attempt this.

Bottom Crust

My bottom crust prior to baking.

Cream cheese filling

Cream Cheese filling

Here is the bottom layer – cream cheese and sugar. It’s not overly sweet but the top layer will be sweeter so it balances.

White chocolate

A sort of bad photo of crushed white chocolate chips in my food processor.

pumpkin filling

cream and pumpkin

Stirring up the upper, pumpkin layer for the top half of the layered pie. This made a lot of filling; I might cut back slightly in the future on the top half.

Cheesecake pie filling bottom

Here is the cheesecake filling in the bottom of the pie shell.

Cheesecake pie bottom

This is what happens when the chocolate bits are added to the top. I know, not much difference, but, they’re there!

Pumpkin pie filling on top

This one got cut off a bit due to photography failure.  But notice the layer of stuff on top is really a lot; almost overflows the crust!

Pumpkin White Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

I’m not going to be a professional food photographer any time soon. Look at the pretty pictures at the Better Homes and Gardens site instead!  By comparison I’m so embarrassed. It’s tasty, though!

white chocolate pumpkin

And a bit prettier on the inside thanks to those nice layers!