Tag Archives: Custard

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

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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