Thursday, November 29, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate Ganache

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate Ganache

I did it again. The last time my friend Sabra was over for a party, I completely forgot about her serious peanut allergy and made a Banana Cream Pie with a Peanut Crust. Then last Saturday, when she and some other pals were coming over for a Southern Friends' Thanksgiving (or Friends' Southern Thanksgiving?) I found myself in the kitchen, mindlessly whipping up what is essentially a variation of the very same pie--when I suddenly remembered. Ack! So stupid of me.

I went ahead and finished making the dessert-- a Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie from Nancie McDermott, stowed it in the mini fridge, then promptly washed all of the dishes I'd used and sterilized the counters with bleach. I had half of a Drunken Pumpkin Bourbon Pie leftover from Thanksgiving, and had already made this Cranberry-Lime Galette,  so we were fine on the dessert front even without the deadly-to-some-but-delicious peanut butter 'n' banana pie. It stayed in the fridge until the coast was clear on Sunday, and housemates and co-workers eventually enjoyed the benefit of my poor memory.

As I said, this Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate Ganache is a sister (a paternal twin, even?) to the other Elvis sandwich-themed Banana Cream Pie with a Peanut Crust and Salty Bourbon Caramel that I made last Spring. Nancie McDermott's version employs a peanut butter cream instead of the vanilla cream in Ashley Christensen's. Though Nancie's recipe calls for a pastry crust, I opted for graham cracker (though pastry would be tasty), and since I had some leftover chocolate ganache from Thanskgiving baking, I swapped that in for her fudge sauce. That addition sounds wonderfully decadadent, though, but if you want the recipe, I guess you'll just have to buy her cookbook (and you should!).

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate Ganache

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate Ganache
Adapted From Nancie McDermott's Southern Pies

For crust:
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
5 Tblsp. unsalted butter
1 Tblsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

For filling:
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. confectioner's sugar
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
2 Tblsp. whole milk
1/3 c. (2 oz.) roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
2 c. heavy whipping cream
3 bananas, sliced into 1/4-1/2 in. slices
1/4 c. granulated sugar

For chocolate ganache:
3.5 oz. 60-70% dark chocolate (unsweetened), broken into pieces
1/2 c. sugar
scant 1/2 c. heavy cream 1 tsp. sea salt
For crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour graham cracker crumbs in a bowl and add melted butter, sugar, and salt until well mixed. 

2. Pat the buttery crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan, pressing mixture into the bottom and sides to form a pie crust. Place in oven and bake until crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Place on a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature before adding the filling.

For filling:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, and peanut butter, beating until fluffy. Add the milk and the peanuts and mix well until incorporated.

2. In another bowl, using an electric mixer if desired, beat whipping cream until it becomes thick and holds medium-stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture until well combined.

3. Add a layer of sliced bananas (about 1 1/2 banans) to the bottom of the pie crust and pour the filling on top. Add the remaining bananas on top of the filling, around the edge of the pie. Cover pie and refrigerate at least 2 hours before adding the chocolate ganache.

For chocolate ganache:

1. Put chocolate, sugar, heavy cream, and salt into the top of a double boiler. Put water in the bottom of the boiler and place on medium heat until filling is melted, glossy, and thick.

2. Drizzle the ganache over the chilled pie and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Serve pie while still slightly chilled. Enjoy! (Unless you have a peanut allergy. Then please enjoy something else!)

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate Ganache

Related recipe:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cranberry-Lime Galette

Cranberry-Lime Galette

We went to see Spielberg's Lincoln this weekend. Though my personal Civil War historian had some issues with the costuming of the soldiers, any problems were totally eclipsed by Daniel Day Lewis' impeccable Lincoln portrayal. Though we've never seen Lincoln in moving pictures, obviously, based on photographs, words, and stories of the Great Emancipator, Lewis seems to have captured the vision of Lincoln that exists in our collective imagination.

Inspired by the work of that British-Irish method actor, *I* set out to capture the vision of Lincoln's Thanksgiving dessert. After all, the 16th president is the one who proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday. Though my source is not necessarily the most academic, one of the desserts that apparently graced Lincoln's first official Thanksgiving table was cranberry tarts.

This version of a cranberry tart, a cranberry-lime galette (aka rustic tart aka free-form tart) was inspired by Dorie Greenspan's. I simplified it a bit, taking out the nuts and bread crumbs, and swapping out the raspberry jam for homemade apple butter & jelly. It's a new favorite, tart and sweet and festive with the bright red cranberries and specks of green apple.

Cranberry-Lime Galette

Cranberry-Lime Galette
Adapted significantly from Dorie Greenspan via Celestial Confections

Nothing-in-the-House pie crust, halved for a small galette, full for a large galette
2 c. cranberries, fresh or frozen & thawed (I used fresh)
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely diced
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lime
3 Tblsp. apple butter or apple jelly (homemade apple butter recipe here)
Turbinado sugar, for dusting

1. Prepare the pie crust as per the directions here. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out into a 10-11 inch circle for a small galette (or 13-14 inch circle for a large galette) on a sheet of parchment paper. Put the rolled crust and parchment on a cookie sheet and return it to the fridge while you prepare the filling. 

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine cranberries, apple chunks, brown sugar, lime zest and juice, and apple butter or jelly.

3. Remove crust from the fridge and scoop the cranberry filling into the middle of the crust, leaving a 1-1 1/2 inch edge. Fold the edge of the crust over the filling, pleating at the corners. Brush on an egg wash to seal the crust, and sprinkle Turbinado sugar over the entire galette.

4. Bake for 35-40 minutes until crust is golden brown and cranberry filling is bubbling. Let cool slightly and serve warm, with whipped cream.

Cranberry-Lime Galette

Related recipe:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake Pie & Other Thanksgiving Ideas

Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake Pie
It's already started. I spent an hour or so this evening making, what my brother jokingly calls "butter-flour" (pronounced buda-flah) aka pie crust, and in the next few days I'll be busy cutting apple and mixing pecans and melting chocolate for Thanksgiving pie orders, along with a few for my own Thanksgiving table.

I don't necessarily have a go-to Thanksgiving pie recipe. I usually make a few each year and like to switch it up, try something new, or bake whatever will complement the rest of the dessert table. Last year I made a Drunken Pumpkin Bourbon Pie with Mascarpone Cream (which is also a by-order offering) and a Maine Blueberry-Cranberry Pie, and in years past I've made lots of others: Apple-Cranberry, Pear-Cranberry, and Maple Pie that was requested for a return appearance a few years running. If you're still looking for the perfect pie for your dessert menu, there's lots to chose from, and you can visit the Recipe Index for ideas, but here are a few specific suggestions:

-Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie (as well as a vegan version)
-Pear Tarte Tatin
-Apple Pie with Salted Caramel Glaze
-Fig-Pistachio Tarte Tatin
-Chocolate Chess Pie
-The aforementioned Drunken Pumpkin Bourbon Pie with Mascarpone Cream
-Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, either with Maple-Marshmallow or Maple-Cream Cheese Filling
-Or go savory with a Tri-Color Potato, Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, and Rosemary Galette

Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake Pie

Here's another that you might enjoy--A Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake Pie from Gourmet. I've made it a few times now, for a baby shower (er rather, the post-baby shower sleepover), a friend's 30th birthday party, and the Pie CSA. In a gingersnap cookie crust, the standard pumpkin pie is sweetly spiced with crystalized ginger, mellowed with the addition of cream cheese, both in the pumpkin filling, and swirled in contrasting white-and-orange. The cookies and brilliant swirl scream kid pleaser to me (those over 21 might opt for the Drunken Pumpkin Bourbon pie) but the adults I served this to had no complaints eating it all up.

Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake Pie
Adapted only slightly from Gourmet

For crust:
1 1/2 c. gingersnap crumbs
4 Tblsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 Tblsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

For filling:
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. crystalized ginger, chopped
8 oz. (1 package) cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1/4 c. whole milk
1 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. pumpkin purée (canned or fresh)

For crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour gingersnap crumbs in a bowl and add melted butter, sugar, and salt until well mixed. 

2. Pat the buttery crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan, pressing mixture into the bottom and sides to form a pie crust. Place in oven and bake until crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Place on a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature before adding the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

For filling:
1. Place chopped crystalized ginger and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until ginger is finely chopped and mixture is well combined. Add cream cheese and pulse until mixture is smooth. Add eggs, milk, flour, nutmeg, and salt and pulse to combine.

2. Measure out 2/3 of the cream cheese mixture and set aside. Pour the remaining 1 1/3 c. cream cheese mixture into a large bowl and whisk together with the pumpkin puree until well combined.

3. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the baked gingersnap crust. Stir the remaining cream cheese mixture, as it may have separated a bit. Drizzle the cream cheese mixture over the pumpkin filling, and swirl decoratively with a butter knife or the back of a spoon.

4. Bake pie for 35-45 minutes, until the center is just set. Let cool completely to room temperature, about 1-2 hours, then refrigerate at least 4 hours. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie at an Elsewhere Baby Shower

Elsewhere, Greensboro, North Carolina

My good friends Lora and Joe are about to have a baby girl! Lil' sugar biscuit, we're calling her. And earlier this month, we had a little biscuit brunch celebration for this new family to-be at the Greensboro, North Carolina artist collaborative and living museum in a former thrift store, Elsewhere.

This was my second time at Elsewhere. I had visited previously when I first moved to North Carolina; my friend Ross, who helped start the place was visiting and invited me to come. I wasn't sure what to expect from what I imagined was a wildly quirky and fascinating place, but I remember making the trip armed with my fiddle, camera, and a few rolls of film, figuring they were appropriate tools for the adventure. I ended up using both, as I wandered the installations of baby tornados, denim log cabin, and creepy tea party, and eventually befriended two Irish artists who were working on a performance/spatial practice piece "Elsewhere Cleaning Inc." where they would go into willing "customers'" homes, "re-curate" a room, then interview them about the experience and spatial arrangement. They were running a spot on a local radio station for the project, so they enlisted me and together we composed a little jingle for the cleaning company.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie

For this trip to Elsewhere, I still brought my camera, film, and fiddle, but I also equipped myself with two pies-- a Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie and a Pumpkin-Ginger Cheesecake Pie (recipe coming soon), both from Gourmet. Earlier that week, Gourmet Live had posted a "food fight" photo between the two pies and when I reposted their photos, Lora, the mama to-be, suggested I bring both, so we could judge for ourselves. We brought the chocolate pecan to the baby shower, and stowed away the pumpkin for our sleep-over treat later that evening.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie

This is actually the second time I've posted this Bittersweet Chocolate-Pecan Pie recipe. I made it about two years ago for Thanksgiving at my friend Jamie's family's home in Potomac, Maryland (see the post here). It was as big a hit then as it was this time, the bittersweet chocolate cutting a bit of the over-sweetness that pecan pie can often have. And you really can't go wrong with the chocolate-pecan combo (see some other variations here, including a vegan option). This is also a pie that we're offering for Thanksgiving orders this year, but regardless of whether you order from Nothing-in-the-House or make it yourself (it's quite easy!), this is a great choice for your feast's dessert table.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie
Adapted from Gourmet 


Nothing-in-the-house pie crust, halved

4-oz., 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped
2 cups pecan halves, toasted and cooled
3 large eggs
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup agave-maple syrup blend or light corn syrup

1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Put the rolled and fitted crust back in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt chocolate in a metal bowl over simmering water. Stir and remove from heat when melted.

3. Roll out chilled dough and place in a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan, fluting the crust decoratively.

4. Spread chocolate in the bottom of pie shell and let set a bit, then cover with pecans. Whisk eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and agave-maple blend (or corn syrup) in a bowl. Pour over pecans.

5. Bake pie until filling is puffed and crust is golden brown, 40-50 minutes. Serve with bourbon whipped cream and enjoy!

Elsewhere Baby Shower Spread

Along with the pie on the Elsewhere baby shower spread, there were delicious pumpkin-cornmeal and buttermilk biscuits by Julie and Lora; assorted jams, preserves, and spreads, including a bacon marmalade, French Schezuan fig-peppercorn confiture, and homemade apple butter; pear-almond cake, and mimosa fixin's. We enjoyed the spread, made Lora open presents (sorry again, lady!), decorated onesies & other sugar biscuit attire with fabric stamps, and took a creep-tea tour of Elsewhere's upstairs haunts--the ghost room, apothecary, and fabric fort, all in this lovely (and slightly creepy??--there were dismembered baby dolls as our centerpiece) celebration and reunion of friends from all over.

Crafting at Elsewhere

In talking with some Elsewhere employees and artist residents, I learned that they were planning an election pie party, where they made a pie for every state. I was REALLY disappointed that I couldn't stick around for that, but you can find photos of the event and every pie on the Elsewhere Facebook page.

Elsewhere, Greensboro, North Carolina

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

PIE. A Hand Drawn Almanac: We Made A Book!

Pie: A Hand Drawn Almanac by Emily Hilliard, illustrated by Elizabeth Graeber
Berry Tart from Pie: A Hand Drawn Almanac by Emily Hilliard, Illustrated by Elizabeth Graeber

Well. Ahem. Hello! I've alluded to this announcement on the ol' Facebook, but it's finally time to tell you. And what I want to tell you-- and it's something I'm very VERY excited about--is that illustrator Elizabeth Graeber and I are releasing a pie book!!! PIE. A Hand Drawn Almanac is a full color, fully-illustrated, 40-page collection of Nothing-in-the-House recipes and stories for a year's worth of pie making inspiration!

It's been a lot of fun working with Elizabeth, whose work I've admired in An Illustrated Guide To Cocktails, the Panda Head Blog, and hanging on the walls and decorating the chalkboard at the new DC diner, The Coup. I think her illustrations are a good compliment to my style of writing and baking. They have such a whimsical, handmade element, are fun--not stuffy, and tell a story. We hope that this is just the start of our collaborations, so look out for more projects in the future...illustrated pie tool wall paper? Printed tea towels? We'll keep ya posted.

For now though, the book! For more information you can check out this page on my site, or on Elizabeth's site herePIE. A Hand Drawn Almanac is currently available at a special pre-order rate of $13! All pre-orders will ship out in early December, or you can elect to pick it up at our release party (details below). Pre-ordered books come specially packaged in a pastry bag and baker's twine. After December 5th, they will be available for $14 online and at various DC shops. You can place all pre-orders and orders right here!

And for those of you in DC, come help us celebrate! We'll be having the PIE. A Hand Drawn Almanac Release Party on Wednesday, December 5th from 5:30-8:30pm at Ginger Root. Come pick-up a copy of the book, enjoy a slice of pie, and celebrate with us. More details to come, but you can get all the up-to-date info here

Thanks so much for checking it out, and as always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Speculoos Icebox Pie

Speculoos Cookie Butter Pie

My grandmother Georgette is half Belgian and half French, so her cookie jar was always filled with the Belgian/Dutch ginger snap-like windmill cookies, speculaas or speculoos. Later when I studied abroad in France, I was pleased to find that many cafés there served miniature speculoos with coffee, and I've also been given them as a snack on an airplane. Aside from that, I didn't really consider baking them or using them in other recipes. They were something I ate at home for Sinterklaas/St. Nicholas Day on December 6th or when my grandmother brought over a tin on Christmas.

That was until my housemate Bobbie introduced me to Speculoos Cookie Butter. I recall having something like it when I was younger--a jar shipped over from Belgium or bought at the German imported goods store--though I remember it being some type of swirled blend of speculoos cookies and hazlenut, like a gingery Nutella. Speculoos Cookie Butter, however, is a Trader Joe's product (though on the label it indicates its made in the Netherlands, and there are other varieties) made from crushed up speculoos cookies, ground to the texture of peanut butter. It is smooth and buttery, slightly spiced with little granules of sugar, and totally dangerous and really addictive!

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter

I was very excited to find this recipe for Lemon Speculoos Layer Cake by Desserts for Breakfast, and I made it for Bobbie's birthday, as several times now I've caught her in the kitchen with just a spoon and a jar of speculoos. It was really REALLY good, and the use of the cookie butter for the frosting got me thinking...what about a Speculoos Pie??!??

Last winter I made this Nutella Icebox Pie, and I figured that since Nutella and the cookie butter were essentially the same consistency, I could swap out Nutella for Speculoos. I changed the sugar amounts a bit, and added a chocolate ganache on top.

Speculoos Cookie Butter Icebox Pie

Speculoos Pie

For crust:
1 package Oreos (or chocolate sandwich cookie substitute)
3 Tblsp. butter, melted

For filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. powdered sugar + 2 Tblsp.
3/4 c. Speculoos
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla

For chocolate ganache:
3.5 oz. 60-70% dark chocolate (unsweetened), broken into pieces
1/2 c. sugar 
scant 1/2 c. heavy cream 

1 tsp. sea salt


For crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pulse cookies in a food processor until they form a fairly fine powder. Mix in melted butter and sugar until well incorporated. Pat filling into a 9 or 10-in. pie plate. 

2. Bake crust for about 7 minutes, let cool, then put in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

For filling:
1. In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and 1/2 c. powdered sugar using a hand mixer, about one minute. Add 3/4 cup Speculoos and beat until fluffy, about three minutes (continue even once it's combined so filling gets fluffy). 

2. In a separate bowl, beat 1c. of heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar until stiff peaks have formed- approximately 3-4 minutes. Starting with 1/3 of the whipped cream mixture, fold the whipped cream into the Speculoos mixture. 

3. Once it's combined, add the remaining whipped cream to the Speculoos mixture, folding gently until thoroughly mixed. Pour the mixture into the cookie crust. Freeze pie for about 20 minutes, meanwhile, make the chocolate ganache. 

For chocolate ganache:
1. Put chocolate, sugar, heavy cream, and salt into the top of a double boiler. Put water in the bottom of the boiler and place on medium heat until filling is melted, glossy, and thick.

2. Drizzle the ganache over the chilled pie and place in the freezer  for at least 1 hour. Remove pie from freezer about 20 minutes before serving and serve while still slightly chilled.

Speculoos Cookie Butter with Pendants

I've actually been sitting on this recipe for a while, as it strikes me as a recipe for the holidays, particularly because of the association of speculoos cookies and Sinterklaas Day. Even though it's technically an icebox pie, it would be really wonderful eaten round the fire with a cup of Belgian hot chocolate and a game of Scrabble or Miracle on 34th Street on the television.

 I, however, made it back in September for our friend Joe's going away party in Charlottesville. He was moving to Nashville to join a touring country band, so we needed to celebrate him in style, that is, with a pie and decorative flags citing an old
Hank Williams number. Regardless of what time of year you make it, though, or for what occasion, it'll make whoever you share it with look like a bunch of happy kids who just got a bunch of sweet treats (like a Speculoos Pie) in their wooden shoes.

Pie Eaters at Joe Overton's Going Away Party

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Chocolate Chess Pie

Chocolate Chess Pie

Have you seen those brownie pans that are designed so that every piece is a crusty edge piece? Well what about something for those who like those more rare gooey middle squares?? Where's our special pan?? Well, I think I've figured it out, and the answer is... Chocolate Chess Pie. Yep, this pie filling is pretty much all oozy, chocolatey, "middle" pieces with none of the crispier bites. PLUS there is the added bonus of a buttery pastry crust. A double temptation that might even win over those stalwart edge lovers.

I've talked previously about Chess pie and its nomenclature speculations here. The chocolate cousin, however, is a little bit different. Though it lives up to its name in basic ingredients and simplicity of preparation, I'm not sure I would call it a true Nothing-in-the-House pie, the way regular Chess pie is, for chocolate was historically expensive and a bit of a luxury. According to Nancie McDermott in her Southern Pies (buy this cookbook, already!), chocolate is a relative newcomer on the Southern pie scene. Though as an ingredient, it appears in cookbooks such as The Virginia House-Wife in 1824, it isn't used in pies until the early twentieth century. Even so, it is still a straightforward Southern classic that is just divine.

I made up my recipe from a few different versions. Originally I used one cup of sugar, but I'm reducing it to 3/4 cup here, as it was just a tad sweet for me. But as my co-worker Helen matter-of-factly said, "Chess pie is supposed to be sweet," so adjust according to your taste. It would also be delicious with a splash of bourbon or a dash of orange zest.

Chocolate Chess Pie

Chocolate Chess Pie

Nothing-in-the-House Pie Crust, halved
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
2 oz. (2 squares) bittersweet chocolate (I used 60%)
3/4 c. white sugar
1 Tblsp. yellow cornmeal
2 large eggs, beaten well
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Put the rolled and fitted crust back in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

2. Place the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan and over low heat, cook until they melt together and make a smooth chocolate sauce, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a medium bowl.

3. Add the sugar and cornmeal to the chocolate mixture and stir until well combined. Then add the eggs, vanilla, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until evenly mixed.

4. Pour the filling into the pie crust and place the pie on the bottom shelf of the oven. Bake until the pie filling has puffed and formed a crusty top, and crust is golden brown, about 50-60 minutes. Remove pie from oven and let cool until still slightly warm, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of bourbon whipped cream.

Chocolate Chess Pie

I brought this pie into work yesterday and shared it with my co-workers who gave it rave reviews. Though it was very very good, I think we all needed to indulge in a little stress eating to take our minds off of the election happening later. But it all turned out rather well, and it looks like we'll have a pie-loving president for another four years!

Chocolate Chess Pie

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Pie for President!

Obama loves pie | Nothing in the House

Though we've made our personal presidential pick pretty clear, whatever your choice, make sure that you make one. Because voting is as American as apple pie.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Cosmic Costume Room Debut Party at Meeps

Nothing in the House Baking Co. at Meeps, Washington, D.C.

Perhaps you recall the Tart of Gold Valentine's day party with Tarts by Tarts at Treasury in February? Well now Treasury owners Cathy and Katerina have a new biz, and I'm baking under my "solo project" so with these relatively new ventures, we teamed up again for the Cosmic Costume Room Debut Party at Meeps! This time we had local Mexican restaurant Mama Chuy in on the fun, so with some tasty Mexican savory snacks, a vast and wild costume array, and paper mache skulls as decor, a Dia de los Muertos theme was definitely in order.

I planned the baked goods accordingly, and offered up complimentary ginger molasses cookies, almond polvorones, and sold doughnuts with spicy mexican chocolate and dulce de leche glazes, tequila lime tartlets with a pistachio crust (yep, a margarita pie), Mexican chocolate tartlets with spiced and candied pecans, and apple & green chile fried pies--sweet with just a touch of savory and a hint of spice. Though I think those were the best doughnuts I've made yet, and the tarts were pretty bangin' (and boozin'), the apple & green chile fried pies were the hands-down hit and they sold out fast. Because of that, and since a few of you have asked, I'll resurrect them here, in recipe form (the recipes for the tartlets will come soon).

Apple & Green Chile Fried Pies

Apple & Green Chile Fried Pies
Filling adapted from the New York Times

For crust:
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1 egg, beaten
6-8 Tblsp. cold water

For filling:
5 c. tart baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
1/2 c. green Hatch chilies, roasted and chopped (canned is okay, but fresh is preferred!) 
2 Tblsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. cornstarch

About 2 c. canola oil for frying 

For crust:
1. Add flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to mix. Add the shortening and cut into the flour mixture by pulsing the food processor until  mixture becomes the consistency of cornmeal and peas. 
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together egg and 6 Tblsp. of cold water. Slowly drizzle half of the liquid mixture into the food processor, pulsing to combine with flour. Slowly drizzle in the rest of the liquid, stopping when the dough starts to form large clumps. 
3. Once the dough is able to come together, form into a ball and remove from the food processor. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

For filling:
1. In a large bowl, mix the apples, green chilies and lemon juice and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and add to the apples and green chilies. Mix together with a wooden spoon until the apples and chilies are well-coated.

To assemble and fry:
1. Remove pie dough from the fridge and roll out onto a lightly flour-dusted surface about 1/4 inch thick. Using a 5-5 1/2 in circle cutter (I used the top of a large jar), cut circles out of the dough. 

2. Before completely assembling the pies, pour at least 2 cups of canola oil (or 4 inches deep) into a deep and heavy saucepan. Insert a candy thermometer into the oil. Slowly heat on medium-low until the temperature reads 350 degrees F.

3. Place about 2 Tblsp. of the apple-chile filling in the center of each circle (It is better to under-stuff than over-stuff). Moisten the edge of the pastry circle with your finger, then fold over the dough to form a half moon shape. Press the edges together and flute with a fork to seal completely.

4. At this point your oil should be hot enough to fry. When the oil temperature reaches 350 degrees, gently lower one pie at a time into the heated oil and cook until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side).  Using a slotted spatula, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining pies.

5. When all pies are fried, dust them with powdered sugar. Serving them hot and fresh is preferable, but they also taste great at room temperature and will keep for a day or two. 

Nothing in the House Baking Co. at Meeps, Washington, D.C.

The party made for a fun October evening in the bright and fresh new Meeps space. It was really nice to meet and hang out with Dinora from Mama Chuy (and gorge on the delicious chips and salsa); be served drinks by the dapper bartender Ari; jam out to some spooky Thriller-homage dance jams from shad-wearing C-Rob and Mondo; and as usual spend time with the radical Meeps/Treasury gals Cathy, Katerina, and Michelle. Big thanks to the whole crew and all of you who came out, tried on costumes (I saw a great Popeye and Olive Oil couple costume score!), and got yourself some spicy sweets.

Nothing in the House Baking Co. at Meeps, Washington, D.C.

As a little side note/friend favor, my pal and former co-worker Mike aka Mondo, who was DJing that night and also plays in the superb local DC dance duo Protect-U,  recently had ALL his gear stolen while on tour in Paris. If you want to learn more about what happened and help out, read more here.

Cranberry Chess Pie

Fig Pistachio Tarte Tatin

Peppermint Pattie Tart

Whiskey & Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

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