Salty Honey Pie courtesy of Four and Twenty Blackbirds

I’ve wanted to make a pie for the past couple of weeks. I haven’t made one since November and I haven’t bought one since before then. So it became part of my to-do list this past weekend and, honestly, it felt really good to go through the routine of getting ready to make another one. I looked through many sites for something interesting. I came across the women of Four & Twenty Blackbirds while searching for booze pies for St. Patrick’s Day. I checked my list to see what I still had in the pantry (I had most of what I needed) and the fridge (I had none of what I needed). I used their custard recipe but went with my crust recipe. Off to the store and back into the kitchen…

The crust:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

3 tbsp. (or more) ice water

Blend the flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor. Add butter using on-off turns until mix resembles a coarse meal. Add ice water and combine. Form dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 20 minutes. Roll out into 13 inch diameter circle and transfer to a 9 inch pie dish. Trim the excess and crimp as desired. Freeze for 10 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 450F. Remove crust from freezer and line the bottom with foil. Add beans or pie weights to shell and bake for 15 minutes, until sides are set. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare your custard filling.

The filling:

1/2 cup butter melted

3/4 cup white sugar

2 Tbsp. white cornmeal

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup honey

3 eggs

1/2 cup cream

2 tsp. white vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla paste

1 or 2 Tbsp. flake sea salt for finishing (Maldon is a good choice)

Combine melted butter, sugar, salt and cornmeal to make a thick paste. Add the honey, vanilla and vinegar and mix. Fold in the eggs, add the cream and continue to blend.

Pour the filling into a pre-baked pie shell and bake at 350 F for 45 to 60 minutes. The filling will puff up like a marshmallow and the center will be just slightly wobbly. Once cooled (at least one hour), finish with a sprinkling of flake sea salt. Slice and serve with freshly whipped cream.

My pie looks a bit like it overcooked. I would recommend staying closer to 45 minutes of bake time and not split the 45-60 minutes into a 50 minute bake time, like I did.

I like the mix of the sweet and the salt. The salt hits the taste buds first and then the sweet kicks in. I suggest going light on the salt. It’s tasty and the texture doesn’t seem like the custard it’s designed to be.

And Pie #52…The Cherry Bomb

Before I start on my pie blog swan song, I’d like to send healing thoughts and hope for a speedy recovery to my Aunt Judy in Nashville who’s very ill. Please get well soon.

The cherry bomb cleverly disguised as a chocolate cake

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you:)

A year ago I decided to do a pie a week and blog about it. It’s been an experience part exciting, boring, humorous, fun, not-so-fun, and an all-around pleasant learning experience (I still need to work on my crust skills though…). For those of you who followed along, thank you. Thank you for asking me how things were going and staying interested. And in doing so, keeping me interested. 

I hope you’ve used this small library of classic and unique recipes and I also hope you had an even better go of it than I did:) I also hope you continue to use it. For anyone coming along after the fact, thank you for looking around. I hope you find something that you would like to try, and something that you enjoy.

This has also been a marker of time and happenings in the past year. Nothing too crazy but certainly some sadness and some excellent times, and everything in between. As it should be, it has been a mix. It also marks a transition. It’s re-kindled my desire to get out and do new things. So, I will shortly be fostering of a reasonable number of Siamese cats and volunteering with Austin Siamese Rescue and Austin Pets Alive! Joining me on this adventure is my lovely wife. Yay! Doing good deeds together:) Maybe I can blog about that too.

Pie number 52 was something I couldn’t think of a good name for. So I asked my friends on that-social-network-thing for a name and gave them the description; a cherry pie baked inside a chocolate cake and frosted with a semi-sweet chocolate and sour cream frosting. I got some good names and umm, some abstract. I decided to go with The Cherry Bomb. It has a nice ring to it. Thanks Heidi.

My final concoction is inspired by Kate Orenberg over at Summer of Pie. You can find her story of the epic Capownie here. I initially wanted to do her recipe, which is 6 pages long. It also requires baking tools I couldn’t McGyver. So I went with a toned down version of her larger concept and created a flavor concoction that my wife came up with. My recipe was 3 pages, which makes sense. Kate created a double-decker. And she did it over the course of a week. I just didn’t have that kind of time.

I started putting this together Wednesday at 8am. I finished it around 9:30pm. In between, I also made Baby-Screamin its Head Off in the Middle of the Night and Ruinin my Life Pie, helped Tammi braise a turkey, and did a couple of other things to get my Thanksgiving on.  This modipied creation was a bit of work but, after sampling the wares as it was coming together, I think this is going to rock.

The Crust!:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

10 tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

3 tbsp. cold water

In a food processor, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and blend using on/off turns. Process until coarse meal forms. Add water and blend using on/off turns. Add water by teaspoon if dough seems dry. Gather dough into a ball, flatten and chill for at least one hour.

Kinda looks like a cherry filled brownie in this picture

Line the inside of a 9 inch pie pan with tin foil. Wrap the edges down and under the side of the tin. A smaller pie tin would probably be best as you want to make sure the pie you put in the cake is a bit smaller and more dense. Dense is key, you don’t want the pie to come apart in transfer. That would be no bueno.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12 inch diameter circle. Transfer to a 9 inch pie dish. Trim the edges to 1/2 inch off side. Fold the extra dough under the edge. Don’t worry about fluting or crimping your edge. Nobody is going to see it unless they excavated their cake.  Chill at least an hour.

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Line the crust with foil and place dried beans or pie weights. Bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the crust is a light brown. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, create a tin foil collar  for your crust, making sure your edges are covered. You don’t want to burn the edge.

The Filling!:

2 16 oz. cans (equal to 4 cups) cherry pie filling

1/4 cup granulated white sugar, or as needed

2 1/2 tbsp. quick cooking tapioca

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tbsp. cherry brandy

Place the cherries in a large bowl. Add the sugar, tapioca, salt, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and almond extract and mix with a large wooden or plastic spoon until joined. Pour the mixture into the baked pie shell. Spread the cherry filling to the tin foil collar.

Bake at 425F, for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and bake an extra 25-30 minutes.

Place on wire rack. Let cool completely. Transfer to fridge and allow at least an hour to chill. Two hours would be better. It really needs to set.

Chocolate Cake!:

3 cups cake flour

3 cups sugar

½   tsp. baking soda

1½   tsp. salt

¾ tsp. baking powder

1 cup water

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup shortening

3 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

6 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled ( use a microwave safe bowl, and nuke it for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Not a cherry filled brownie.

Spray oil and flour 10 inch springform pan, removing excess flour.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Blend for 30 seconds on low-speed, stopping to scrape sides and bottom of bowl occasionally.

Beat for 3 minutes at medium speed.

Pour enough batter to have a ½ inch platform to allow pie to sit on. Bake 5-10 minutes or until batter is just firm enough to hold pie.

Unwrap the tin foil collar from the crust. Using the tin foil you lined your pie tin with, loosen and lift the cherry pie from your pie tin. Transfer your cooled cherry pie to the 10 inch springform pan.

Pour remaining batter into srpingform. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Let cool for at least 4 hours. Using a butter knife, run along outer edge of cake to separate from the springform. Remove springform. Place back in fridge until you are ready to frost.

The Frosting!:

1 (12 oz.) bag chocolate chips

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

In a medium sauce pan, let chips slowly melt over low heat. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. It’s ready to spread.

Remove your cherry occupied cake from the fridge and frost away. When done, you should have some extra frosting. Find a good cookie and dip that bad boy into the remaining frosting and enjoy.

I had a small gathering of friends eager to see the result and it turned out quite well. I actually had pie-parazzi snapping photos and videos of the cutting of the cake. Kinda felt like I was at my wedding again:) The entire thing was dense but had a good flavor and the chocolate/cherry mix really was the bomb. I have some left over if you want to stop by and try it:)

I’m so glad I did this. I have the disherprin. I may do a few more recipes periodically depending on what I find, or what I feel I can make up. But for now, I have achieved the goal I set for myself and this makes me happy. Have a great holiday season and take care.

Pie #48 – Baby Screamin’ Its Head Off In The Middle of the Night and Ruinin’ My Life Pie

I’ve never seen the movie The Waitress. But I came across a boat load of recipes from the movie and thought the titles really great. Pie number 48 is not so much a pie as a cheesecake and I am ready to make one. I had to make one modification to the recipe, adding Bauchant in place of Amaretto. Bauchant is an orange liqueur but, after tasting, agreed with my wife that it would do the trick. Maybe I’ll do another of the recipes somewhere down the road but I don’t think it’s going to happen in the next 4 weeks. You can find all recipes here.

baby-screamin-its-head-off-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-ruinin-my-life-pie

The crust!:

No crust!

The filling!:

4 8-oz. cream cheese, softened (I used non-fat as I need to watch my girlish figure)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sour cream (I didn’t use low-fat as I keep forgetting that such a thing exists)

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 3/4 cup white sugar

1/8 cup cornstarch

1 fl. oz. Bauchant liqueur (used in place of Amaretto)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

5 eggs

1 egg yolk

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Bring all ingredients to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap outside of 9-inch springform pan with foil.

Butter inside of pan and don’t skimp. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in sugar and cornstarch. Blend in sour cream and whipping cream. Add Bauchant and vanilla. Stir in eggs and egg yolk one or two at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition. Pour batter into pan. Place pan in another pan at least 1 inch wider and add at least one inch of water to outside pan (prevents cracks in sides). Bake on center rack for 70 minutes. Turn oven off and let cool with door open for 1 hour. Remove cake from water and chill at least 3 hours before removing cake from pan.

Top with crushed pecans and dust with nutmeg…

OMG this has just toppled the coconut cream pie as my favorite.  It’s probably because it’s more of a cheesecake and I love cheesecake. It’s creamy and has a whipped texture that just melts in your mouth. It is sooooooo gooooood. Easy to make, highly recommended.

Pie #45 – Death by Chocolate Pie

My little Fuzzle cat has gone missing without a trace. She’s been gone since this past Tuesday. She’s the kitty in the first picture I put on this blog, who was there with me last Thanksgiving when I made my first pie. She is heaven-knows-where.  It makes me sad as I write this post. I want pie to associate with happiness and The Yum. But I cannot help wonder where she went, how she went and whether she’s ok, or at peace. Fuzzle, I hope you come home. And if you do you’re grounded.

Today, I decided to try a recipe from Kate Orenberg’s Summer of Pie blog here on WordPress. It won’t be the last. She’s got the pie thing going on. This weeks selection is Death by Chocolate pie. And people, it’s Chocolate. The crust is a brownie, the filling is chocolate pudding (home-made of course) and the topping is a chocolate ganache and chocolate whipped cream topping. It’s also garnished with chocolate:) Please note the recipe is copied almost in its entire original form. She’s also a sharp writer. Thanks, Kate.

Choco-holic delightThe crust!:

(From King Arthur Flour’s “The Best Fudge Brownies Ever.”)

8 oz. (one stick) butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tbsp. vanilla

2 large eggs

3/4 cups flour

6 oz mini chocolate chips

Butter and flour a 9″ deep dish (2 – 2 1/2″ deep) pie pan.

In a medium-sized microwave safe bowl melt the butter. Add sugar and stir until combined. Stir in cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Add the eggs and beat until smooth. Add the flour and chips, and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, being care to bring it up the sides and over the top slightly. Make as thin a layer as you can as the batter will rise in the oven.

Place in the refrigerator for 30 min – 1 hour to set.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Line chilled crust with greased parchment paper, pressing it firmly but gently against the sides; fill with weights. Bake for 20 minutes or until sides are set. Remove the parchment and weights and bake for another 8-15 minutes. Set aside to cool. I baked at 8 because the crust started to burn. I’ll take undercooked brownie to burned brownie any day:)

The filling!:

Adapted from “Recipe of the week: Blackout Cake: Brooklyn’s long-lost dessert”

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup whole milk

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

2 tsp cocoa liqueur or vanilla extract

Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, half-and-half in medium saucepan, slowly whisk in milk over medium heat. Switch to a heat-proof spatula and stir constantly until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately stir in chocolate, continue stirring until all chocolate is melted (place on low heat if pudding is too cold to fully melt the chocolate). Stir in liqueur or vanilla, and pour into prepared crust. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. My vote is 2 hours…

Ganache!:

12 oz heavy whipping cream

8 oz. bittersweet (like my mood) chocolate, chopped

Heat 6 oz of cream in a small saucepan over medium/low heat until steaming, but not boiling. While cream heats, chop chocolate into small pieces (fine) and place in heat-proof mixing bowl. When cream is steaming, pour onto the chocolate. Mix until thoroughly combined and allow to cool to room temperature. You want the ganache to set up a little so it’s no longer liquid, but not so set up as it would be difficult to fold into the whipped cream.

In a separate bowl, whip the remaining cream until it holds stiff peaks. Fold into chocolate mixture, then gently spoon into chilled crust. Wrap in plastic and chill overnight or for at least 3 hours.

I only used 4 oz. of the bittersweet chocolate. I’m glad I did. The ganache almost ran off the top of the pie. Delicious but messy. I’m also a poor judge of determining how thick the ganache should be before folding in the whipped cream.

The whipped cream!:

12 oz. heavy whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. rum

3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup powdered sugar

Pour cold cream into a large bowl. Add vanilla and rum. Sift in cocoa powder and sugar. Blend with a hand mixer on low until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated; whip on high until cream has the consistency of a soft frosting. Spread gently on top of pie.

Decorate with a handful of mini chocolate chips, grated chocolate, or dusted cocoa powder. Chill until ready to serve.

This pie is, ummmm, chocolatey. Super delicious if you are a fanatic about chocolate. And I am.

They say chocolate cures the blues. I’m going to need to eat the whole thing myself in order to get over the sadness of the loss of my beautiful, flame-point Siamese kitty. Good night Fuzzle. Wherever you are…

Pie #36 – Grapefruit and Coconut Angel Pie

Greetings and Happy August. It’s still hot in Texas. Pie number 36 comes courtesy of my wife Tammi, and The Gourmet Cookbook, by Ruth Reichl. This one is unique for its pie crust, which is originated, if you will,  from coconut meringue. The recipe was mildly complex, so I leaned into the making of it.  Now my back is sore:) I didn’t want to take anything to chance so I spent some time studying the recipe before baking, and while I was creating it. I didn’t stretch because I didn’t realize it was going to be an exercise. And, action…

The crust!:

4 large egg whites left at room temperature for about 30 minutes

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp.  cream of tartar

1 cup sugar

1 cup sweetened flake coconut

3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Place rack in center of oven and pre-heat oven to 250F. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the salt until they are foamy, beat in the cream of tartar, and beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Beat in the sugar, a little at a time, beat the meringue for 5 to 7 minutes, or until it is stiff and glossy and the sugar dissolved; fold in the coconut.

Brush a small amount of the melted butter along the sides and bottom of your pie pan and place in fridge for about 3 minutes. Remove and brush your remaining butter along sides and bottom of pie pan.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the meringue evenly around the edge of a 9.5 inch pie plate, spreading the meringue with the back of the spoon to form the side of the shell, and spread the remaining meringue evenly over the bottom of the pie plate. Bake the shell in the middle of a preheated 250F. oven for 1 1/4 hours, or until meringue is firm and very pale golden, turn off the oven, and let the shell cool completely in the oven with the door ajar, about 45 minutes.

The filling!:

Grapefruit and Coconut Angel Pie

1 envelope (about 1 tbsp) unflavored gelatin

3/4 cup strained fresh grapefruit juice

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup well-chilled heavy cream

2 cups fresh grapefruit sections (cut from about 3-5 large grapefruit), cut into 1/2-inch pieces and drained well

fresh grapefruit sections for garnish if desired

Using a sieve over a medium size bowl, remove grapefruit from peel and membrane and place in sieve to allow collection of juice. This is going to take you a while. I enjoy making pie; it was still a pain in the butt.

In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup of the grapefruit juice and let it soften for 1 minute. In a small saucepan whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar, add the remaining 1/2 cup grapefruit juice, the gelatin mixture, and a pinch of salt, and cook the mixture over moderate heat, whisking, until it registers 160F on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, cook about 3-4 minutes.

Transfer the yolk mixture to a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and whisk it constantly until mixture is thickened to the consistency of raw egg white but is not set. Remove the smaller bowl from the bowl of ice and cold water and reserve the bowl of ice and cold water for later use. In another metal bowl with an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until it is light, fluffy, and smooth, scraping down the side, add the yolk mixture, a little at a time, beating, and beat the mixture until it is smooth and joined well.

Set the bowl containing the cream cheese mixture in the reserved bowl of ice and cold water and whisk the cream cheese mixture until mixture is thickened and forms a peak when you remove whisk. In a bowl beat the heavy cream until it holds stiff peaks and whisk about one-fourth of it into the cream cheese mixture. Fold in the remaining whipped cream gently but thoroughly and fold in the grapefruit pieces.

Pour the filling into the shell, smooth the top, and chill the pie, uncovered, for 3-4 hours, or until the filling sets completely. (If the pie will be chilled for more than 4 hours, cover it with plastic wrap or wax paper.) Just before serving garnish the pie with the grapefruit sections if desired.

The grapefruit is subtle in the taste of the pie, as is the cream cheese. Good balance. The texture of the grapefruit, coconut and the meringue crust is something I like. Tam likes it which is saying something considering she’s not a big pie person. The kids pooh-pooh it though. They aren’t fans of the grapefruit.  Ah well, adult scale is positive, kid scale is fail.  I’m also happy for the selection. It was a good one. Thanks honey.