Saturday, December 28, 2013

Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Cocoa Banana Cream Pie

Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Cocoa Banana Cream Pie

Happy holidays! I've been to the Midwest for a week and back again, but the season's festivities are not over yet. Tomorrow a crew of friends and I are headed to a West Virginia cabin to x-country ski, hot tub, play music, make delicious food, and hold our annual micropong winter classic tournament! I'm packing my sweaters and tarot cards and fiddle and ski boots and praying for snow.

One celebration that's become a marker of winter for me is the annual party at my friend Bradley's house, "The Urban Homestead," in Brentwood, Maryland. There's always great food, a well-stocked bar, an outdoor bonfire, music jams, and a living room square dance. This year, Bradley and her housemate Pete bought the house (or the homestead) they'd been renting for years, so there was an additional reason to celebrate. I'd been battling a nasty cold, but pulled it together to make it to the party and bring along this Peanut Cocoa Banana Cream Pie to add to the dessert table.

Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Cocoa

You may recall the Pumpkin & Chai Spice Nut Butter Pie I made last month, using nut butter from Durham, North Carolina's Big Spoon Roasters. This recipe uses their Peanut Cocoa Butter as a base for the filling, and is topped with fresh bananas in a graham cracker crust. It's essentially the same recipe as this Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie, but with an exceptional chocolate, honey, coconut oil, and sea salt infused peanut butter. If you really wanted to take it up another level, you could add this chocolate ganache, but I think it's already plenty rich. For further variations, try substituting a peanut, Oreo, or pretzel crust.

This Elvis pie spin-off was a fast mover at the Christmas party-- only a few graham cracker crumbs remained when I went to collect the pie dish at the end of the night. For more information on where to find Big Spoon Roasters fantastic handcrafted nut butters (all of which would be good in a pie), visit their website, where you can also place an order to have a jar or two delivered to your door.

Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Cocoa Banana Cream Pie

Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Cocoa Banana Cream Pie
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
2 Tblsp. whole milk
2 c. heavy whipping cream
3 bananas, sliced into 1/4-1/2 in. slices

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 bananas) 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 serving.

Big Spoon Roasters

Related recipes:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Pie Ideas

Christmas Pie Ideas

I came home a little earlier than usual for Christmas this year. So far I've had a sleepover with best friends in Chicago, visited favorite local haunts (and some new ones), and hosted a music party at our house with family friends. I've also done a bit of holiday baking, but we still haven't yet planned our Christmas menu. So if you're like us, here are a few ideas for Christmas pies from brunch, to appetizers, to dessert. If you can't quite find what suits your table here, check out this list of Thanksgiving pie ideas or visit the Recipe Index.

Chocolate & Nut
Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie
Chocolate Orange Pie with Mascarpone Cream
Milk Chocolate & Salted Caramel Hazelnut Tart
Peppermint Pattie Tart, pictured top right

Fruit & Nut
Cranberry Chess Pie, pictured bottom left
Fig-Pistachio Tarte Tatin
Pear Tarte Tatin
Shaker Orange Tarts, pictured bottom right

Preserves & Icebox
Almond & Grapefruit-Ginger Marmalade Crostata
Bakewell Tart with Apple Rosemary Jelly
Meyer Lemon Honey Marmalade Linzer Torte
Speculoos Icebox Pie, pictured top left

Ham, Gruyère & Caramelized Onion Galette with Fried Egg
Quiche Lorraine
Red & Golden Beet & Goat Cheese Tart
Tri-color Potato, Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese & Rosemary Galette

Whatever you bake,  from this list or not, I'd love to hear about it. Have a very Merry Christmas, all!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nothing In The Dog House Presents Pie for Dogs!

Nothing in the House Presents Pie for Dogs with Elizabeth Graeber

Don't know what to get your dog for Christmas? Pick up a copy of Pie For Dogs, written by me, illustrated by Elizabeth Graeber, and tested by Chickpea (featured on the cover)! Inspired by the dog pie with bacon grease whipped cream that I made for Chickpea's birthday, Elizabeth and I made this little zine so wo/man's best friend can enjoy our nation's favorite dessert. It includes a recipe for a canine-friendly pie adapted from a King Arthur Flour dog treat recipe. You can find it for sale on Etsy and soon at Meeps & Treasury in D.C.

Nothing in the House Presents Pie for Dogs with Elizabeth Graeber

Related post: Birthday Pie for a Gal and Her Dog

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cranberry Chess Pie

Hoosier Mama's Cranberry Chess Pie

I consider cranberries to be the ultimate winter fruit, the edible counterpart of the seasonally ubiquitous holly berry. Cranberries are harvested in the fall, and are part of the evergreen family, cousins to the other plant we welcome into our homes at this time of year.

I like them for their bright red festive color and especially for their tartness, which make them a dream to bake with and an ideal fruit for pairing with others--apples, pears, pomegranates, or summer berries you've stockpiled in the freezer.

Hoosier Mama's Cranberry Chess Pie

Cranberry pie in all of its forms is one of my favorites, but this Cranberry Chess Pie from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie may just top them all. It's sour and sweet, fruity and creamy, with a smooth buttery consistency peppered with flecks of tart berry. It's perfection. I usually only eat just a sliver of the pies I bake, but with this one I could not stop. In it I may just have found the answer to that ever-so-difficult "what's your favorite pie" question. Make it for Christmas, make if for Thanksgiving 2014, freeze some cranberries and make it all year.

Hoosier Mama's Cranberry Chess Pie

Cranberry Chess Pie
Adapted from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie

Nothing in the House pie crust, halved
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
Zest of 1 orange
3 large eggs
7 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornmeal
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vanilla paste (can substitute vanilla extract)
2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

1. Prepare half of Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash. Chill dough at least one hour before rolling and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Let chill for 15 more minutes in the fridge. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and butter. Zest the orange into the bowl and cream together the ingredients until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and salt. In a separate small bowl or pitcher, stir together the buttermilk and vanilla paste.

4. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix just until combined. With the stand mixer set to low, add half of the buttermilk mixture and mix to combine. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Add the rest of the buttermilk mixture, mixing to combine, and then the final third of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined.

5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate any unmixed ingredients and gently fold in the cranberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pie shell, smoothing the filling with a rubber spatula.

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating 180 degrees half-way through. The pie is done when the top is golden brown and slightly puffed. Cool to room temperature. Serve pie at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Hoosier Mama's Cranberry Chess Pie

Related recipes:
Cranberry-Lime Galette
Grapefruit Chess Pie
Lemon Chess Pie

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nothing in the House 2013 Gift Guide

My friend Morgan put together an enviable (I'll take one of everything) holiday gift guide by a dream team of local DC contributors for the December edition of her Panda Head Newsletter (which I highly recommend you subscribe to!). I gladly contributed this little set of present ideas for the baker on your list. You'll notice some overlap from previous year's gift guides, but that just means those things are tried and true.

Herriott Grace Rolling Pin: My friend Diane gave me one of these rolling pins a few years ago and now it's the only one I use (and I've accumulated a few). It's the perfect weight and size, plus it's hand turned and one-of-a-kind-- an heirloom in the making. $70

Heavy Linen Towel from my friends at More & Co. in Portland, Maine: Everyone needs a good dishcloth or two. These are durable AND stylish. If you're a baker yourself, wrap some homemade treats in one and you've got a perfect host/ess gift. $15

Vanilla Bean Paste: The "pros'" vanilla extract. A lot of recipes call for this and I never seem to have it on hand. It gives an added boost of flava and you can use it wherever vanilla extract is called for. $13

Hatch Show Print Measurement Poster: This hangs above my sink and is the handiest piece of kitchen art there is! This particular poster is from Hatch Show Print, the historic letter press & country music poster shop in Nashville, Tennessee. $12

Vintage Pyrex: I'm always on the lookout for nice, old Pyrex kitchenware. They're a common find at thrift and antique stores - I love this set of nested primary color polka dot mixing bowls on Etsy. Prices vary.

A pair of great pie cookbooks-- The Hoosier Mama Pie Company Book of Pie and The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book -- came out this year, but for those literarily minded kitchen wizards, check out writer & baker Kate Lebo's new book A Commonplace Book of Pie - part-recipe, part-slim poetry volume, to feed both stomach and mind. Oh, and for a bit of shameless self promotion, Elizabeth Graeber's and my Pie. A Hand Drawn Almanac makes a lovely gift, especially when paired with another item from this list. $15-30

Stitch and Hammer Denim & Stripes Apron: I've been ogling this apron ever since I saw Shauna of The Long I Pie Shop donning it on her site. It is SO beautiful and utilitarian (the leather straps are removable so you can wash it!) and if I had one I would probably wear it everywhere and just pretend that I forgot to take it off, just because it is that nice. $92

Monday, December 09, 2013

Peppermint Pattie Tart Place Setting

Peppermint Pattie Tart Place Setting with Elizabeth Graeber

A few weeks ago, BYT featured a holiday place setting guide with inspiring table arrangements by local favorites Mutiny DC, Holley Simmons, and Panda Head. Pie Almanac illustrator and good pal Elizabeth Graeber created this fun 'n' fanciful part-illustrated part-real dessert spread featuring her An Illustrated Guide To Cocktails and Nothing-in-the-House's Peppermint Pattie Tart!

You can find the recipe for the tart on the blog here as well as in my recent story for NPR's Kitchen Window, "Get Freshly Minted This Holiday Season," which also includes recipes for making your own mint extract and Mint Julep Hot Chocolate. 

Photo by Jeff Martin for BYT

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Persimmon Pie

Hoosier Mama's Persimmon Pie

I first encountered persimmons while living in North Carolina. Wild trees grew all over the Piedmont, and I would stumble upon them on walks about town or step out of a classroom and find one just outside, dripping with orange fruit.

At first, I didn't really know what to do with this abundance, but my friend Alex is a big proponent of persimmon pudding (more like a bread or cake than pudding), and I experimented with putting them in pies, both by themselves and with other fruits like apples.

There are two varieties of Persimmons-- Asian and American. The Asian Fuyu is non-astringent, while the American variety and the Asian Hachiya persimmon are both astringent types (read more here). Despite their bright orange hue, the astringent versions are not necessarily ripe when plucked from a tree, and if you bite into it it's sour with a chalky, tannic flavor. They are generally ripe when they fall from the tree or have sat out and the fruit becomes very soft and the flesh slightly shriveled.


This Persimmon Pie recipe from Hoosier Mama is originally for American persimmons, though I couldn't find any in my neighborhood in D.C. and used Fuyu persimmons I bought at Whole Foods instead. Fuyu persimmons are slightly larger than American varieties, and are slightly sweeter, so I reduced the sugar in Paula's original recipe.

To extract the pulp, you'll probably need a food mill, which will allow you to separate the skin from the fruit and extract as much of the pulp as possible. The resulting pie bears a similar texture, color, and flavor to pumpkin pie, but tastes slightly more fruity or floral. Experiment with your spices if desired--it would also be good with a touch of cardamom or allspice.

Persimmon Pie

Persimmon Pie
Adapted from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie

Nothing-in-the-House pie crust, halved
1 cup strained persimmon pulp (American or Asian)
Zest of 1/2 orange
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (extract can be substituted)
1/2-2/3 cup granulated sugar (use more if you're using American or Hachiya persimmons)
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, meanwhile, return pie to fridge and let chill for 15 more minutes. Line pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and bake for 5 minutes more until crust is light-golden brown and flaky.

2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Using a spatula, press the persimmon pulp through a fine-mesh stainer, place in a medium bowl and sprinkle with orange zest. Whisk in the eggs, cream, butter, and vanilla paste (or extract), stirring well to combine after each addition. 

3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sugars, cinnamon, mace, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the persimmon mixture and whisk until combined.

4. Pour the filling into the blind baked pie shell and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the edge of the pie is slightly puffed and the center is dry to the touch (mine pictured baked just a *tad* too long).

5. Remove pie from oven and let cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to overnight before slicing. Serve slightly chilled or at room temp with a dollop of whipped cream. 

Persimmon Pie with Whipped Cream
Related recipes:
Apple Persimmon Pie
Persimmon Pie for Marcie

Cranberry Chess Pie

Fig Pistachio Tarte Tatin

Peppermint Pattie Tart

Whiskey & Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

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