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Blueberry Pie with Basil-Infused Cream

2 Jul

What would summer be without blueberries? What would Laura’s birthday be without pie? Lackluster at most. ;) That’s why I took this opportunity to bake up something I’ve been wanting to for a looooong time–a blueberry pie filled to the brim with blueberries bursting with juice.

My goal was to make it as I tasted it before at my friends Nancy and Elliott’s house. Their pie was deep. It was running all over with sweet juice. We had to eat it in bowls! We even poured basil-infused cream over the top, creating rivers of deliciousness. It was epic, my friends, epic.

I’ve been thinking about this pie ever since Nancy and Elliott hosted a “family meal” at their house for us starving college kids. That means more than a year ago! Laura’s birthday was the absolutely perfect time to bake one up. She is pretty epic, having raised my fiance to be the most wonderful guy in the world, and all. :)

Laura is beautiful. She is kind. She is hilarious and sweet. She is devoted to loving others with fierce strength and gentle compassion. I first met her when she was helping organize our high school’s PSAT (she probably doesn’t remember that!), and now she just finished teaching my first Bible Study Fellowship class. Can you believe it?! It’s been 8 years! Throughout that time, I’ve come to know her, adore her, and look up to her as a woman after God’s own heart, who’s completely in touch with both her status as a perfect child of God, and as a humble human in need of grace.

I wanted to make this woman one EPIC birthday dessert! And knowing that she lacks an affinity for cake, but loves pie, that gave me one more reason to make this treat. You should, too! It’s a great recipe to have under your belt, it’s universally appealing, and it has a super high deliciousness to easiness ratio. Serve it with the basil-infused cream, and you’ll have fireworks (haha, get it? tomorrow’s 4th of July?!?) going off in your mouth. Whoever is around your dinner table with sing your praises with their mouths full of buttery crust and berries. Make that garble. They’ll garble your praises. :)

Flaky Double Pie Crust
2 C. + 2 Tbsp. All-purpose flour
1/4 Tsp. Salt
Pinch of sugar
12 Tbsp. Cold unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
4 Tbsp. Cold water

  1. Whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar together in a bowl.
  2. Add the shortening and the butter in 1-cm slices.
  3. Using a pastry blender (or two knives, or your fingers), cut the butter and vegetable shortening into the dry ingredients until it looks like crumbs.
  4. Sprinkle the cold water into the mixture and toss with a fork until its is moistened evenly and comes together in lumps.
  5. Gather the dough into two balls. It’s OK if one is larger than the other one; that one can be for the bottom crust.
  6. Place the balls onto plastic wrap, flatten slightly, and wrap up. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
  7. After the resting period, flour your board and rolling pin lightly, and roll out the bottom crust to about 1/8-inch thick. It should become about a 12-13-inch diameter circle.
  8. Roll the dough around the pin, lift, and bring it over the pie plate. Unroll the crust and gently ease it into the plate. Stretching it will only cause the dough to shrink back to its original when baked.
  9. Cut off the overhanging outer edges, then chill the shell in the refrigerator for additional rest while you prepare the filling and top crust.
  10. Roll out the top crust to about 10-inches in diameter in the same manner, and place in the refrigerator.

Adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts

Blueberry Filling
3 Pints of Blueberries, washed
1 c. Granulated Sugar
1/4 c. All-purpose Flour
Pinch of Salt
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 egg for wash
1 Tbsp. cream for wash
Additional sugar for dusting (coarse sugar or turbinado sugar looks lovely)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Make sure the berries are clean and dry, and no stems remain. Toss with 1 c. sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl.
  3. Squirt the lemon juice directly onto the berries and toss again.

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Blueberry Pie

Assembly

  1. Take the pie shell out from the fridge and fill with the berries.
  2. Brush the edges of the bottom crust with water, then cover the berries with the top crust. Pinch together the crusts with your favorite design, or merely press the tines of a fork all around the edge.
  3. Cut a vent or two in your top crust with a sharp knife. I chose an “L” for Laura. Cover the crust edges with one of these doo-dads, or with foil.
  4. Position the oven rack in the lower third slot. Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch leaks and bake the at 425 F for 30 minutes.
  5. Whisk together the egg and cream wash. Reduce the oven heat to 375, quickly (but carefully) remove the pie and its crust shield, and brush the wash over the top crust. Sprinkle the sugar garnish all over the top. Replace the pie in the oven quickly.
  6. Bake for an additional 30 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown. Remove the pie onto a wire cooling rack for at least 30 inutes before serving. In the meanwhile you can prepare the basil-infused cream.

Basil-Infused Cream
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 c. loose basil leaves

  1. Submerge the basil leaves in the cream in a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the cream just begins to steam.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Remove the basil leaves from the cream, and taste. If it is not strong enough to your taste, add new basil leaves and use the same process (bring to just steaming again, and let cool again).
  4. Refrigerate before pouring over warm pie… HEAVEN.

Sorry, no picture of the cream! We were too busy digging in :)

<3 ATP

Triple Chocolate Tart

9 Dec

Sorry for the blur, y'all. This tart is from the archives... when I lived in my old apt!

Hello! I hope you’ve had a good last couple of weeks after Thanksgiving! Hopefully you’ve recovered from the massive amounts of turkey and/or candied yam leftovers, and have had the chance to get started on all the new holiday flavors that surround Christmas! I’ve been loving all the cookie ideas, hot beverage recipes, and other festive treats I’ve been seeing on my regular food blog list. They’ve definitely got me in the mood for Christmas cheer. :)

Well, this chocolate tart is no different. I don’t know about you, but in my family, the Christmas season is always accompanied by a (maybe a few) box(es) of chocolates on the coffee table. I’ve always been the family member known to eat about 5 a day, until my sister opens the box and notices there are none left for her. :[ Sorry sis. I’m definitely an extreme chocolate lover (if you couldn’t already tell from the high ratio of chocolate recipes on this blog), so I thought this Triple Chocolate Tart would be a perfect holiday recipe.

Yes–triple, my friends, I mean business. This tart is overloaded (in the best way possible) with chocolate crust, chocolate truffle filling, and a chocolate ganache topping. But even if you’re not the biggest chocolate fiend out there, this delectable dessert won’t taste too rich or strong. The tart is at a maximum 1-inch tall, so there isn’t much filling in each slice as there would be in, say, a deep-dish pie pan. It delivers just the right amount of richness for the average tart-consumer, but will leave the chocolate-devotee craving more. :)

Moreover, this tart is truly striking, with the matching deep brown colors of the chocolate crust and filling together, all in the dainty tart pan. Garnish the center with a sprig of mint, pipe whipped cream swirls along the edge, or dust the top with powdered sugar, and you’ve got a real showstopper. All the more reason to bake this treat up for a holiday party! Your guests or your host/hostess will really be impressed. But don’t tell them this took merely all but 1 hour of hands-on kitchen time. ;) That will be our little secret.

 

Here’s the simple and easy recipe! It takes no fancy techniques or special skills. The hardest part for me was the 1-hour resting time for the chocolate dough (that’s because I’m impatient, and a bad planner).

Triple Chocolate Tart
Makes about 8 servings

Chocolate Crust
1 1/2 c. All purpose flour
1/4 c. Powdered sugar
1/4 c. Cocoa powder

1/2 c. Unsalted butter, at Room Temperature
3 Egg yolks
1/4 tsp. Salt

  1. Cream the butter and sugar until well beaten.*
  2. Add the yolks and salt, and beat until incorporated.
  3. Dump in the flour and cocoa, and mix just until incorporated.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form a flattened disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350. Roll out your dough on a floured surface, and press it into your 9-inch tart pan. Bake in the center rack for about 10-15 minutes. After you take the tart out, keep the oven on 350.

*Notes: Since the crust is chocolate and we want a homogeneous distribution of this flavor, the typical “cutting-in” method of preparing tart/pie dough won’t work. We want to use this creaming method instead.

Truffle Filling
1 1/3 c. Semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 Sticks of butter (3/4 c.)
3 tbsp. Sugar
1/4 c. Strongly brewed coffee

  1. While the tart is baking, you can prepare the filling. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, sugar, and coffee together.
  2. Put your chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the hot liquid over the chocolate and let it stand for about 3 minutes to melt the chocolate.
  3. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until smooth.
  4. Pour this mixture into the tart shell, and bake about 20-30 minutes, or until the center has set.
  5. Cool on the counter.

 

 

Chocolate Ganache
2/3 c. Semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 c. Whipping cream
2 tbsp. Unsalted butter

  1. Scald the whipping cream on the stove (heat to just under boiling).
  2. With the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, pour the cream over the chocolate. Let stand for about 2 minutes.
  3. Whisk in the butter. When the ganache is smooth, pour over the cooled tart, and smooth out with an offset spatula. Refrigerate until ganache has firmed up or until ready to serve. Then eat and enjoy!

Adapted from Tartlette

 

One more thing before I go! Last night, I finished up a little of my Christmas shopping at the malls, and had the opportunity to go and support one of my fellow San Diego food bloggers, Brandon Matzek! He was doing a live demo on 4 scrumptious recipes, and the BF and I got to go and see just how simple it is to prepare these delicious dishes, and even got to taste all of the food he made! They were downright delectable, and we both had seconds of everything. Seriously, friends, this guy has got talent! Not to mention, meeting him was such a pleasure! Really a down-to-earth, funny, super-nice guy. We chatted briefly about food blogs we like, and the challenges of posting regularly. He encouraged me to set goals, so this blog won’t fall to the wayside. So you can thank Brandon for this blogpost!

Brandon runs the ever-so-tasty Kitchen Konfidence, and has just released a new book, The Home Distiller’s Handbook, in which he took all the photos! If you’re a fan of interesting and novel flavors like Jalapeno Pepper vodka, or Chinese 5-spice and Pumpkin ice cream, definitely check out his blog (he’s got lots of equally delicious and easy recipes like this), enter the contest (just comment!) to win The Home Distiller’s Handbook, or pop over to Amazon/Barnes and Noble to pick up a copy for yourself!

Thanksgiving, and the Verdict – Triple Silken Pumpkin Torte

26 Nov

Hello again, everyone!
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of family, friends, love, great food, and of course thankfulness. :) I had a great double thanksgiving–one on Thursday, and one on Friday! I love this time of year. There are so many things to be thankful for– for my family with all their wonderful imperfections and amazing love, for my friends with all their steadfast support, for the blessing of an education, for the opportunity to live in this great country (despite its issues), and most of all for the free Grace we’ve been given in Christ. It’s times like these when I am reminded most that I am still a work in progress–I fail so many times, but with His gift of the good news of grace I can stop trying to be perfect with my own will power, stop feeling guilty, and instead turn my life into a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1) out of gratitude for what He’s done for me. And I can hold onto this and be full of gratitude despite my circumstances. And gratitude is what Thanksgiving is about, right? This is a perspective I must remember and foster all year round. What are you thankful for this year? It could be a job in these tough times, a new friend, warm Fall clothes, a fabulous new book? Leave a comment below to share what you’re thankful for!

What did you eat for Thanksgiving? On the first Thanksgiving I had with one half of my family, we had a lot of delicious Vietnamese food, and then on the second day, a more traditional fare of Cornish game hens and all the wonderful sides that go along with it (chestnut stuffing, SO YUM). Of course, we dug into the Triple Silken Pumpkin Torte that I shared with you all on Wednesday!

First slice

Since I had never made this torte before, and wanted to save cutting into it for our Friday dinner, I didn’t know exactly 100% what to report back on the flavor, or what I might have changed in the recipe at the time of my first post. Here’s a little update on all of that, based on my preferences, so you have  some ideas on how you might want to alter the recipe for the future.

Tastes: I loved this torte! As someone who isn’t a huge fan of the homogenous pumpkin filling in traditional pies, and who appreciates a greater mix of flavors, this was the perfect Thanksgiving dessert for me.

  • One thing I loved about this pie was the pumpkin/ginger flavor. I opted to use fresh ginger root instead of the more common ground ginger spice (in the little jar from McCormick or the like) and it was phenomenal! I’ve tasted many desserts made with that powdery-like cabinet spice, and never really thought much of the flavor it brought through. On the other hand, I noticed that the fresh ginger immediately made my ingredients fragrant and heavenly smelling. A big plus! This may be because of my strong affinity for ginger, so you may or may not agree with me, but I think this addition really added a wonderful dimension to the torte. Verdict: Stick with fresh ginger.
  • I was a little concerned that the maple cream layer didn’t have enough maple taste–when I tasted it before I put it into the mold, it tasted more sour (like the creme fraiche) than maple-y. After I got feedback from my family, however, they loved how the cream layer tasted, and thought that more maple sugar would have overpowered the pumpkin layers and not really allowed them to shine. Verdict: Keep the cream layer sweetened with 4 tsp. maple sugar. :)
  • The top layer (caramel pumpkin chiboust) was very sweet! I moderately liked the way it tasted, but my family likes subtley sweet desserts, and commented on this strongly sweet flavor. To remedy the possibly over-sugary taste, next time I will reduce the amount of caramel made, or allow it to “burn” a little longer to get a warmer flavor, or both! Verdict: Modify top layer recipe to contain less sugar, or cook the caramel longer.

Textures: The overall texture of this torte was very light, which I enjoyed. Although each slice contains a lot of carbohydrates and fats, the texture made me believe I wasn’t eating a ton of dessert.

  • The pie crust recipe used was the typical short crust pastry (recipe in this post) that I utilize in most of my pie desserts. It’s formulated for tarts and the like, because its higher flour to fat ratio makes it crumblier rather than flakier. However, I find it so easy and almost just as tasty as real pie crust (I’m not super picky in this area). It’s flaky enough for not containing any shortening, but I would really have loved to get the traditional pumpkin pie feeling of a real pie crust in this torte. Especially since the filling is so light, I would have liked to feel a heavier crust. Verdict: Next time, use a pie crust.
  • The term that describes this torte is silken, so the fact that I didn’t add gelatin to the top layer really screwed that part up. The top layer was more of a very light mousse-y texture than a silken, creamy texture. The lightness of the folded-in egg whites needed to be complemented by the stabilization of gelatin, but wasn’t, which resulted in quite a foamy top layer. This created a bit of interest because the torte got lighter in density as you rose up the layers, but even so, I really made a mistake in not adding the gelatin. There was very little “silken” nature, and because there was no gelatin, I doubt that what I made qualified as a true “chiboust.” Verdict: Don’t skip the gelatin! The recipe in the post reflects this addition.

Second Slice

There you go–a little bit of my personal take on Thanksgiving, and a little bit of my deliberation over perfecting this recipe. I hope this helps any of you who were thinking about making this treat for a holiday meal/party/potluck, and who wanted a little bit more information on the final taste test! Are there any other tweaks or alterations you would make? Any tips that pop into your mind that would make this torte more phenomenal? Please let me know in the comments! I appreciate constructive criticism–I love to learning about baking, and it can only make me better, right? :)

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend, friends! I’ll be reuniting with a bunch of old school friends that are in town for the holiday. It’s going to be pretty epic, and I am way excited!

Triple Silken Pumpkin Torte

23 Nov

It’s the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving! I hope all of you are joyful and full of peace at this happy season. There is so much to be grateful for! If you’re hosting your Thanksgiving dinner, you’ve probably got your menu planned out, most of your food prep waiting in the fridge, and your house all cleaned and shiny. If you’re like me, however, and only think about dessert, I bring you the mother load of pumpkin treats! YES. Or at least that’s according to several pie contests in which this torte won the Grand Prize. :)

Can I tell you about this torte?! (Rhetorical question, because I’m going right ahead and doing it anyway). This torte contains three different, perfectly complemented flavored layers that are light and creamy. I have yet to taste this baby (waiting till Thanksgiving), so I’m judging all this based on the quality of the recipe. And it’s a good one, peeps. But I will let you know exactly what the final verdict is once I’ve tasted it , with a picture of it plated and all. :) I just wanted to get this recipe up in case any of you wanted to try this tomorrow. Although it may be time-consuming and may produce a sink full of dishes, this torte is truly a showstopper. Check out this picture I found via Google on this website:

Of course, mine doesn’t look as impressive. I’m going to have to work on the photography/food presentation skills. Anywaaaay, since this is a pretty long process, I took the liberty of taking some step-by-step pictures, in case those help you at all. I know I loved step-by-step photos when I first started reading food blogs!








Triple Silken Pumpkin Torte
Makes 8-10 servings

Pumpkin Custard Layer
Dough for a 9-inch pie crust. (If you need a good recipe, this post [or this post] contains the shortcrust recipe I use 75% of the time.)
1/4 c. Granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. Finely minced ginger
1/2 tsp. Ground cinnamon
2 Eggs
1/2 c. Dark Brown Sugar
3/4 c. Pureed Pumpkin (canned, or the like)
1/2 c. Sour cream
3/4 c. Heavy cream
2 1/2 tbsp. Brandy

  1. Roll out your pie crust and place it into a 9-inch springform pan, with a little lip on the sides. Make sure you allow your pie crust to rest for 30 minutes so that it doesn’t shrink when you bake it blind. Allow the crust to cool.
  2. Heat your oven to 325 F. Whisk the sugar, ginger, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the eggs and whisk till smooth. Then add the pumpkin, brown sugar, brandy, heavy cream and sour cream, mixing until smooth.
  4. Pour this mixture into your pre-baked pie shell, cover the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil, and bake the custard layer in the oven for about 1 hour, or until just set. The middle will still be jiggly, but when you cool it, it will firm up nicely. Refrigerate

Maple Cream Layer

3/4 c. Heavy cream
1/2 c. Creme Fraiche
4 tsp. Maple sugar

  1. Combine the cream and the creme fraiche, and whip it until it starts to gain volume and thicken.
  2. Add the maple sugar and continue to beat until the cream is stiff.
  3. Pour this layer into your springform pan and smooth out the top with an offset spatula. Refrigerate!

Caramel Pumpkin Chiboust Layer

1/2 c. Heavy cream
2 tbsp. Brown sugar
1/2 tsp. Finely minced ginger
1/2 tsp. Ground cinnamon
3/4 c. Granulated Sugar
3 tbsp. Water, divided
1/2 tsp. Lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. Unflavored gelatin
3/4 c. Pureed pumpkin

3 Egg whites
1/8 tsp. Cream of tartar
3 tbsp. Granulated Sugar, divided

  1. In a bowl, whip the heavy cream until it forms soft peaks.* Try not to whip it too much, or it will curdle.
  2. In a separate small bowl, combine the brown sugar, minced ginger, and cinnamon. Mix well.
  3. In another separate small bowl, bloom your gelatin by combining it with the 2 leftover tbsp. of water. Stir well and set aside.
  4. In a non-corroding saucepan, make the caramel. Put 1 tbsp of water and the lemon juice into the pan along with the 3/4 c. of granulated sugar. Stir this until you get a homogenized mixture, and then don’t touch it anymore. Heat this over medium-high flame until you get a deepish caramel color, or 335 F. As a reference, this may take about 5 minutes. Remove this immediately.
  5. While the caramel is cooling down, whisk in your gelatin, brown sugar mixture, and pumpkin. Set this aside.
  6. With an electric mixer, whip your egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat, adding the 3 tbsp. of sugar in a steady stream. Continue to beat until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.
  7. To break up some of the caramel pumpkin mixture, add about 1/3 of your egg whites and fold in. Then fold the remaining 2/3 egg whites gently. Fold in the whipped cream.
  8. Pour this chiboust into your springform pan over the cream layer, and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Chill in the refrigerator until set, about 2 hours.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the springform pan, and gently unmold. You can set it on a fancy cake plate and garnish with additional whipped cream, if you like. Use a hot knife to cut each slice. Enjoy!

*TIP* It helps to whip cream in a cold metal bowl. Don’t ask me why. :)

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Adapted from LA Times Food

Harry Potter-Inspired Pumpkin Pasties

27 Oct

Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t love Harry Potter? Nor have I! I’ve been a big fan of the books ever since my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Kraus, introduced them to our class. I would wait patiently until that time after P.E. when we would finish up assignments quietly while she read to us out of the first, and then the second book. I just loved that imaginary, exciting, and magical world, and hoped that in a couple months when I turned 11, I would receive a letter by owl asking me to attend Hogwarts.

Unfortunately I never was visited by an owl, so now I must resort to other ways of coping with being a muggle–hence, these Pumpkin Pasties, inspired by the Harry Potter Cookbook! I don’t own this cookbook, so I am improv-ing this recipe from what little I know of pumpkin pies. :) These palm-sized treats are perfect for Fall because of the deep/spicy/warm flavors, and are also great for this Halloween weekend, especially if you’re planning on enhancing the spirit of your Luna Lovegood costume with some Harry Potter foods!

Being so portable, these little empanada-type hand-pies are also wonderful for popping into your hubby’s lunch for work, or your daughter’s brown bag for school (this is one thing she won’t be trading with friends)! They’re also awesome for people who prefer a larger crust-to-filling ratio. Do I need to say anything more? Probably not, but I will– the ingredients are SO simple and basic, and these hardly take up any time. Literally, I only spent about 30 minutes of actual hands-on action in the kitchen making these delectable treats. Honeydukes, meet your match. ;)

I decided to make these because my bf’s sister is coming home for the weekend from college! She is a huge Potter fan (we saw the last installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at midnight together), and I think she would appreciate these. Here’s to you, Emily!

Short Crust Pastry
Makes about 7 pastry shells

2 c. All-Purpose flour
1 c. Unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 tbsp. Granulated sugar
2 tbsp. Cold water
1 tsp. Vanilla extract

  1. Sift your flour, salt, and sugar together in a bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into slices about 1/4-inch thick and put these into your flour mixture.
  3. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until it looks like cornmeal. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can also use two knives or merely your fingers, but I find that it works much better with the tool. Read more about this cutting technique in one of my posts here.
  4. Mix the vanilla and the water together, and sprinkle it over your mixture in the bowl. Use a fork to toss. After about 30 seconds of tossing, I like to start pressing my fork into the dough that is starting to form, causing it to lump together more. If your dough looks too dry… I say trust in this recipe, it’s my go-to ultimate favorite! Don’t add more water, just press as much as you can with your fork. The dough will come together in large lump.
  5. Dump out your lump onto a piece of plastic wrap. Press the lump together with your hands to form a ball, flatten the ball, and wrap in the plastic wrap. Put this in the fridge for about 30 minutes to let the gluten proteins develop.

Great, now you’re finished with the crust! This takes about 10-15 minutes

Pumpkin Filling
Makes enough for 7 hand-pies

1 can (15 oz.) of Pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 c. Granulated Sugar
1/8 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/8 tsp. Ground Cloves
1/8 tsp. Ground Ginger

  1. Merely stir all these ingredients together with a spatula or what have you!

Easy as… dare I say it?… PIE?

Assembly

  1. After your crust has rested, take it out of the fridge for about 5 minutes. At this time, set your oven to 400 degrees F. Then flour your surface and your rolling pin, and roll the dough to 1/8-inch thick. Try roll from the middle, and not back-and-forth.
  2. Use a 6-inch saucer or other template to cut circles out of your dough.
  3. Place about 1/3 c. of the pumpkin filling on one side of the circle. Fold the other half over, and press the edges together with the tines of a fork. Continue until all the dough is used, gathering the scraps and re-rolling as you go. Cut slits in the tops of the pasties to let steam out.
  4. Place all the pasties on a baking sheet. Beat one egg, and brush the egg over the pasties with a pastry brush. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cool before digging in!

So, what do you think? Are you a fan of pumpkin? Would your special someone like to take this handy taste of fall with them to the office? Who in your life is a die-hard Potter fanatic? Got any tips or tricks that I could use to hone my baking skills? Leave a comment below to let me know!

Happy Halloween, everyone! Stay safe :)

KISS ME Apple Pie!

26 Sep

Hello, strangers!

Yes, it’s me again, the bad-blogger girl. It’s been a hella (can you tell I miss NorCal?) long time since my last blog post, and I must apologize for that. I really don’t have an excuse for you, other than that I’ve been pretty busy. LAME! However, I hope this delicious Kiss Me Apple Pie recipe will make the wait worthwhile!

I absolutely adore all apple pies–definitely in my list of Top 10 favorite foods. It’s just such a comforting, down-to-earth, homey, all-American, totally delicious dessert! There are a million different ways of baking it, all of which I want to try one day, but for this blog, a simple Kiss Me Apple Pie with crumble topping kicks off the Fall season fabulously.

I call it by this name because the crust is so amazingly flaky, the filling is sweetened and spiced just right, the crumble on top adds a scrumptious accompanying texture, and the rich caramel sauce warms you from the inside out…  so much so in fact, that after his first bite, the bf gave me a gigantic kiss–even more delicious than the pie, might I add. TMI? sawree. :] Needless to say, I stowed this recipe away in my mind as a keeper for sure!

ANYWAY! {awkward chuckle} I can only speak from my personal experience, so I don’t guarantee that this pie will always produce kisses, but have no fear! I can definitely assure you that whoever you share this with will no doubt express loads of affection. Hugs. Gushings of your greatness. Noogies. Make this for your Dad? Your math students on Pi Day? Friend’s baby shower? Thanksgiving dinner? For the benefit of your own serotonin receptors? Dive right into the recipe below!

* <-Asterisks mean that I’ve written a note or two below about the indicated step at the end of the recipe.

9-Inch Pie Crust*
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. of salt
1 Pinch of sugar
6 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. shortening
Scant 2 Tbsp. ice water

  1. Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together.
  2. Cut half of the butter into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and use a pastry blender* to cut it into the dry ingredients until the dough looks like cornmeal. Add the rest of the butter and the shortening* in the same manner, but this time stop when the fat pieces are about 1/8-1/4 inch.*
  3. Sprinkle in the water and toss the dough with a fork until it has come together in lumps. Try to get it so that there is no dry flour left.
  4. However, if there is dry flour, don’t add more water. Simply do your best to gather the dough in the bowl as best you can by pressing it together. Knead only if you need (haha), and very minimally!*
  5. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap, and let it rest in the refrigerator at least 4 hours.*
  6. After the resting period, preheat your oven to 375. Lightly flour your rolling surface and your rolling pin. Quickly roll the ball of dough into a 12-13-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. If this is hard (I definitely struggle), I suggest laying plastic wrap down on your surface instead of flour. Then on top of your flattened ball of dough, another sheet of plastic wrap. This makes it easy for the rolling pin to not stick, and also makes it easy to pick up the circle of dough without tearing. :)
  7. Ease your crust into a 9-inch pie place, without stretching.* Trim the overhanging edges or turn the dough under the plate’s edges. You can make a pretty scalloped edge by crimping it with your fingers, or merely press fork tines into the rim. Prick the bottom of the pan all over with a fork.
  8. You can let the pie rest in the freezer for an additional 15-30 minutes, but this is only to make sure the crust doesn’t shrink in the oven. If you don’t have time, this step is of course optional. Bake the crust with pie weights (optional) for 20 minutes or until it’s dry on the bottom.
  9. Turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. You can cover the crust edges with foil if they get too brown before the bottom dries.

Apple Pie Filling
6 1/2 c. Peeled, sliced cooking apples (Don’t know which apples to use? See this handy cooking apple guide by the amazing Joe Pastry)
3 Tbsp
Lemon juice
1/4 c. Flour
1/2 c. Sugar

1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Salt

  1. Mix apples, lemon juice, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together.* Fill the pie shell.

Crumb Topping
1/2 c. Flour
1/2 c. Regular oats
1/2 c. Brown sugar
3/4 c. Cold salted butter
1/3 c. Chopped Pecans

  1. Cut the butter into the flour. Add the brown sugar, oats, and continue cutting until the pieces are about 1/8-inch big. Top the apple filling with the crumble.
  2. Cover the pie crust edges with foil to prevent them from burning while the filling bakes. Pop the pie in the oven (still at 375) for 50 minutes. You can check your pie crust edges a couple times during this process. Judge how brown you want the edges to be–you can take off the foil at the end of the baking period or leave it on.
  3. Open up the oven and top the pie with the chopped pecans. Bake for another 5 minutes and remove the pie to cool.
  4. You can top the pie with caramel topping from a store-bought jar, or make THIS amazing caramel sauce from Annie’s Eats (one of my favorite cooking/baking blogs). For now, I’m not going to instruct you on how I made the caramel sauce for this pie. As mentioned before in this previous post, it didn’t turn out so well. *facepalm* Luckily, my bf actually loved the crunchiness of the caramel “sauce” (a.k.a. hard caramel candy) that I made. Haha go figure! The end!

**[NOTES]

  • Because making this crust can be time consuming (especially the rest period), I suggest making a double batch and freezing the other half!
  • Warm butter is easier to melt and distribute all through the flour, which is why we use cold butter and cold water. Hands are warm and melt butter, so that’s why pastry blenders or food processors are best for cutting butter into flour. If you don’t have either, you can use two dinner knives in both hands, but this is a bit laborious, and I suggest investing in a pastry blender. They’re affordable!
  • Butter makes a pie crust have that amazing taste. Shortening helps it have a flaky nature. Both are good to have in a pie crust.
  • The method of cutting fat into flour for pastry dough (like pie crust) ensures that the fat is not evenly distributed, but instead that the dough is a heterogeneous mixture with small lumps of fat throughout. In using this technique, the big slices of butter are slowly cut smaller, and are covered by more and more flour. It’s important to stop before the pieces get too small, otherwise your dough will be too homogeneous and your pie crust won’t be as flaky.
  • Kneading makes the dough more homogeneous, which is why we want to keep that minimal in the ball-forming step.
  • Resting the dough in the fridge is important, because the enzymes in the wheat flour react with the moisture from the water, and release their gluten proteins. Gluten strands are loosened and lengthened in the resting process.
  • When the pie shell is rolled out and baked, the gluten strands are stretched. When the crust is baked, the gluten strands will snap back into their non-loosened formation if they aren’t allowed a good rest period after being placed in the plate. Pie weights are usually small metal balls that are placed in the bottom of the pie to further help the crust from shrinking. You can also put foil down, and fill the pie with dry beans or rice in place of pie weights.
  • Some people suggest letting your sliced apples sit in a colander for 30 or so minutes, in order to let some of the moisture drain out/evaporate. This would prevent a soupy pie filling, but I’ve never actually noticed a difference with this tip.

There you have it, folks…  Kiss Me Apple Pie, a perfect way to start fall, in my opinion! Serve up the slices warm to your screaming fans sitting at the kitchen table. A dollop of vanilla ice cream wouldn’t hurt either. I really hope you guys enjoy this one. :)

Also, I have been faithfully baking away at the inspired recipe that was promised a long time ago. Please trust, I have 3 failed batches wrapped up in the fridge, waiting for some poor soul to eat. A good (hopefuly) batch is coming soon!

<3 ATP

Pie crust adapted from Lindsey Remolif Shere’s Chez Panisse Desserts
Filling adapted from Ree Drummond’s Scrumptious Apple Pie

Goodbye, Summer…

20 Aug

My friends, summer is swiftly passing us by. If you’re like me and LOVE summertime, I urge you to make this pie as quick as you can and savor the last sweet blueberries of the season! Also, ignore the unsightly uneven crust edges. It’s what I like to call “Artisanal.”

The recipe is SPOT-ON, and with good reason! The crust and the filling recipes both came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Chez Panisse Desserts, by Lindsey Remolif Shere. If you haven’t heard of Chez Panisse before, it is the restaurant founded by Alice Waters, who started the California Cuisine movement earlier in the 70’s. Ms. Shere was the pastry chef at Chez Panisse and wrote this book for the great benefit of our tastebuds, and to the detriment of our lovehandles :)

This image is from a while ago, when I still lived in my apartment at college. Every Tuesday we’d have Bible studies at my place, and this is one of the treats I baked for the occasion. My guests were definitely fans! Make it soon, for your parents, your neighbors, your book club! They will feel like they’re eating dessert at one of the best restaurants in America.

Blueberry Meyer Lemon Cream Pie
1 c. Pastry cream (Halve this recipe)
2 1/2 c. Milk
– 1/3 c. Flour
– 6 tbsp. sugar
– 6 Egg yolks
– 1-2 tbsp. unsalted butter
– 1-2 Meyer Lemons
1. Scald (heat to just under boiling) the milk
2. In a separate heavy saucepan, mix flour and sugar
3. In a third bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and light-colored
4. Whisk the hot milk into the flour and sugar. Cook this over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture has boiled for 1-2 minutes.
5. Whisk a little of the milk mixture into the eggs to heat them up (I have learned that this is called tempering the eggs, and will prevent the hot milk from cooking the eggs into solid lumps in your custard). Then stir all of the eggs into the cooking mixture.
6. Cook, constantly mixing, until the pastry cream begins to hold a slight shape. If you have one, a thermometer works well to monitor the cooking. It should cook to 170F. (Ms. Shere notes that you should not undercook the cream, otherwise the enzymes in the egg won’t be cooked, and your cream will break down. You should also never let it boil.)
7. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and grate in the Meyer lemon zest.
8. Push through a medium-fine strainer to remove the lumps, and whisk occasionally while cooling to prevent a crust from forming. Then, chill this in the refrigerator.

Notes: Beating the cream after it cooks will thin it out, so if you over-cooked it, this will help to return it to the right texture. The cream should look shiny, and mound lightly. When I made this cream, it took less than 15 minutes.

Short Crust Pie Shell

Don't be afraid if it doesn't look like dough. Just have faith and press it together!


This was supposed to be a tart shell, but I put it in my glass pie pan, and called it a pie. I’m a rebel like that.
Makes 9-inch Pastry shell
– 1 c. Flour
– 1 tbsp. sugar
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– 1/4 tsp. grated lemon zest
– 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
– 1 tbsp. water
– 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon peel together.
2. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch slices and work it into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender (or your hands, or 2 dinner knives), until the butter is in small cornmeal-sized pieces, and coated in flour. This technique, “to cut in the butter,” makes a non-homogeneous mixture where the butter remains in small chunks throughout the dough, ensuring a flakiness to the pastry crust.
3. Separately mix the water and vanilla together, then work it into the dough until it is blended and will hold together if you press it. A good crust should not be too shaggy looking, but should definitely not be too wet either. I prefer to err on the shaggy side, however!
4. Gather the dough into a ball and let it rest for 30 minutes. This period ensures that the gluten proteins in your flour have time to relaaaaax, and that your crust won’t shrink in the oven.
5. Press the pastry evenly into a 9-inch pie pan and bake at 375F for around 25 minutes, or until it is lightly golden brown.

Blueberry Topping
      – 1 pint blueberries
– 2-3 tbsp. strained raspberry, red currant, or blueberry jam (I used boysenberry because that’s what I had. Still yummy!)
– 1/2 tsp. Kirsch, optional
1. Wash the berries and make sure there are no stems, leaves, or bad ones in the mix.
2. Pick a saute pan that is large enough to hold the blueberries in 1-2 layers on the bottom. Cook the jam in this pan until it is slightly less runny.
3. Toss the blueberries and the Kirsch in the jam over high heat very briefly, until they are coated and just barely warm.

Put it All Together
1. Smooth out the cooled pastry cream with a whisk, and spread it in the pie shell evenly.
2. Set the blueberries over the pastry cream with a spoon. Serve immediately!
3. Take a bite, close your eyes and envision you’re still in summer. MMmmmm

Who do you know that would enjoy this pie? :)


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