Saturday, December 27, 2014

Bourbon Ginger Pecan Pie

Bourbon Ginger Pecan Pie

I came home for Christmas on Tuesday evening and it's pretty much been a cooking, baking and eating marathon ever since. We've had quiche and pizza, gumbo and fresh baked baguettes, creamy au gratin potatoes and Brussels sprouts in bacon fat, porchetta pork roast and beef roast, Bûche de Nöel and Sweet Potato Sunshine Buns, Cranberry Chocolate Chess Pie and a Lemon Hazelnut Tart, and chocolate-- oh the chocolate! I'm feeling the need to go on a detox-- at least a mini one, before I hole up in a cabin with a group of friends who are all fantastic cooks and bakers...

One of my go-to detox ingredients is fresh ginger root. Aside from offering of my favorite flavors ginger root also has a number of medicinal properties. It's used to curb nausea and indigestion, treat colds, and has been known to help lower cholesterol. It's also an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. I like to drink it as a tea-- grating about 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger into a tea ball or bag and steeping for 10 minutes in boiling water, then adding lemon and/or honey as desired. It also is a great addition to a smoothie or soup.

Bourbon Ginger Pecan Pie

But if you're not ready for the holiday indulgences to be over just yet, I offer this Bourbon Ginger Pecan Pie as something of a gateway. I know, I know. With its hearty dose of whiskey and sweet stuff, it's a pretty far cry from anything resembling a detox, but it does contain three forms of a main detox ingredient-- ginger. Does that count?

From Allison Kave's superb cookbook First Prize Pies, this recipe is a zesty, boozy take on a classic pecan pie. Like my go-to Pecan Pie with Brown Sugar recipe, this version also contains no corn syrup, using brown sugar and maple syrup (you could also use sorghum) instead. I dialed back the sugar just a tad from the original recipe, but other than that it's pretty close to Allison's original version, which won her the "Best Overall" prize at the Brooklyn Pie Bake-off in 2010. You'll understand why upon the first bite.

Bourbon Ginger Pecan Pie Slice Overhead
Bourbon Ginger Pecan Pie
Adapted from First Prize Pies by Allison Kave

Nothing in the House pie crust, halved
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoons good bourbon (I used Four Roses)
2 teaspoons (about a 2-inch piece) finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
Egg wash (1 beaten egg + 1 Tablespoon whole milk or heavy cream)

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. Place pie plate in fridge for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Once you've let the pie crust chill, prick crust with a fork all over the bottom. Line crust with parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove weights, and bake 3 more minutes. Let crust cool completely and set aside while you prepare the filling.

3. Lower the oven to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, syrup, eggs, bourbon, fresh ginger, ground ginger, and salt. Add the pecans and crystallized ginger to the pie shell and pour the liquid filling into the pie shell.

4. Brush crust with egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes until the filling has just set and is slightly wobbly in the center. Remove pie to a wire rack and cool completely, at least 1 hour. Serve at room temperature or just warm.

*Chocolate variation: Melt 2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and stir into filling before pouring into the pie shell.

Bourbon Ginger Pecan Pie Slice

Related recipes:
Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie
"Indiana" Amish Oatmeal Pie
Pecan Pie with Brown Sugar

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake with holly

The first aluminum Bundt cake pan was cast in 1950 by H. David Dalquist, who owned the Minneapolis, Minnesota Nordic Ware company. Similar cakes were of course made before the aluminum pan was cast. Prior to that, traditional cast-iron Kugelhopf pans were used to make tube cakes, and "Bunt" or "Bun" cakes appear in Jewish-American and German-American cookbooks as early as 1889. Dalquist, however, is credited with making the pan affordable and accessible and his version grew to popularity in 1966 when the "Tunnel of Fudge Cake" won the Pillsbury Bake-off.

Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake with holly and pine

By the time I was growing up in Indiana, Bundt cakes were ubiquitous, at least in the Midwest, from what I could see, and my grandma would often make them as a quick Sunday dinner dessert. When I was back in Indiana last Christmas Eve, with 2 pies on the docket for Christmas dinner, I wanted to make some other type of dessert for that evening-- something that wouldn't take too much time or extra ingredients. So I opted for this Bundt, adopted only slightly (just a little less sugar in mine) from Molly of Orangette. It paired perfectly with a nip of Bailey's that night, as well as some strong coffee the next morning. I think my dad and brother may have sprinkled on some extra whiskey the next day, but I'll let that remain their little secret.

Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake for Christmas

Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake
Adapted only slightly from Orangette (originally from the New York Times)

Makes 10-12 servings

2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, softened, plus more to grease the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more to flour the pan
5 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup bourbon, rye, or other whiskey, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Confectioner's sugar, for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-cup capacity Bundt pan (or 2 8- or 9-inch loaf pans).

2. In a heatproof bowl, set over but not touching a saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate until just-smooth, stirring occasionally. Let cool.

3. Put espresso and cocoa powder in a 2-cup (or larger) glass measuring cup and add enough boiling water to come to the 1-cup measuring line. Stir until powders dissolve, then add the whiskey and salt. Let cool.

4. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar, and beat until well-combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, baking soda, melted chocolate, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. 

5. With the mixture on low-speed, beat in a third of the whiskey mixture. When the liquid is absorbed, beat in 1 cup of the flour. Repeat additions, ending with the whiskey mixture (batter will be liquid-y). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes for a Bundt pan (loaves will take less time-- start checking them after 55 minutes). 

6. Transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack. Unmold after 15 minutes and sprinkle warm cake with more whiskey (about 3 teaspoons worth-- or more!). Cool completely before serving, and garnish with Confectioner's sugar, if desired. 

Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake with Powdered Sugar

Related recipes:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cranberry Pie

Cranberries and the American Folklife Center's Cookbook

Cranberries, along with Concord grapes and blueberries, are fruits uniquely native to North America. Native Americans harvested the tart red berries in what is now Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon, where they ate them fresh and used them in cooking and baking, as well as in dyes and poultices. Early settlers to North America began cultivating cranberries as well, and their production continues to be an important part of the culture and economy in the regions in which they grow.

Cranberry Pie with Decorated Crust, Pre-Bake

In 1983, Mary Hufford and a team of other folklorists worked on a American Folklife Center (AFC) project which documented the "interplay of natural and cultural resources in the agricultural regions, woodlands, and wetlands," in the Pinelands of Southern New Jersey. Their fieldwork focused particularly on the laborlore, foodways, and traditional culture surrounding the area's cranberry production in the area-- one of the last places to harvest the berries by hand.

Cranberry Pie with Decorated Crust, Close-Up

As part of that project, the AFC produced the booklet Cranberries (pictured in the top photo), including photos, background information, and recipes collected from consultants in the area. The recipes, shared by women home cooks, feature dishes ranging from Cranberry-Mincemeat Sweet Sour Bread to Cranberry Wine. This Thanksgiving, I adapted Helen Zimmer's recipe for Cranberry Pie, adding just a little zest and spice. I searched the AFC archive to see if I could find out a little more about Ms. Zimmer-- I didn't turn up much (though did come across this related song), but I'd say this pie enough is quite a thing to be known for.

Cranberry Pie with Decorated Crust

Cranberry Pie
Adapted from Helen Zimmer via Cranberries: Pinelands Folklife Project

Nothing in the House pie crust
1 quart cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup maple syrup (you can also use molasses, sorghum, or any other sweet syrup)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 beaten egg + 1 Tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash
Turbinado sugar, for dusting

1. Prepare Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions. After chilling the dough for at least 1 hour, roll out half of the crust and fit into a 9-inch greased and floured pie pan. Place pan and unrolled crust back into the fridge while you prepare the filling.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir together cranberries and maple syrup and set aside. In a separate medium-sized bowl, mix together sugar, cornstarch, and orange zest, then add it to the cranberry mixture. Pour the filling into the chilled pie shell.

3. Remove the remaining crust from the fridge and roll it out on a clean, floured surface. Cut any crust designs desired. Dot cranberry filling with butter, then place top crust on top, fluting the edges decoratively.

4. Brush crust with egg wash and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Place pie on a baking sheet, and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35-40 minutes until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling. Let cool and enjoy just warm with a dollop of maple whipped cream.

Cranberry Pie Slice

Related recipes:
Cranberry Chess Pie
Cranberry Goat Cheese Tart with Almond Shortbread Crust
Cranberry Hand Pies
Cranberry-Lime Galette
Cranberry Sage Pie

Monday, December 08, 2014

Nothing in the House X Elizabeth Graeber Pie Tea Towels

Nothing in the House X Elizabeth Graeber Tea Towels

Back in 2012, Elizabeth Graeber and I decided to collaborate on something. It took us a while to figure out what-- a calendar? a zine? recipe cards?-- until we settled on an illustrated pie cookbook featuring a recipe for every month. Since putting out (and selling out of!) Pie. A Hand Drawn Almanac we've collaborated in many other ways, but among the original ideas in our first brainstorming session were hand drawn tea towels.

This year, we're circling back to that and have made 2 two towels, illustrated by Elizabeth, in two different designs. One, in multi-color is of the Nothing in the House pie crust recipe, and the other, in a red-orange and white, illuminates different pie tools, similar to the end pages of the pie almanac.

Both tea towels are printed on an off-white linen-cotton canvas, measure approximately 19'' X 26.5,'' and are made in the U.S. and sewn by us. They're now available, made-to-order via Elizabeth's Etsy shop.

While we *hope* to have them to you in time for the holidays, we can't guarantee it, as towels are printed and made-to-order. We'll try our darndest, though!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Pea & Corn Cookies

Pea & Corn Cookies

Inspiration for these cookies come from a a few different sources. In the spring of last year I wrote a series for the Southern Foodways Alliance on southern women pastry chefs. One of the first chefs I interviewed was Christina Tosi, known for her whimsical sugary creations at Momofuku Milk Bar. I was familiar with her crack pie and cereal milk soft serve, but didn't realize she was a southern gal. She said, "to me, Southern food is all about heart, flavor, nurture, resourcefulness, history, and roots." That sentiment is embodied in her Corn Cookies, which she called the "sleeper" hit of the Milk Bar, but  that has become a personal favorite.

I've experimented with a few variations of the cookie. This summer when I was in Kentucky, I came across this wholegrain heirloom cornmeal, produced by Salamander Springs Farm. It's from a version of Daymon Morgan's Kentucky Butcher Corn, which produces red, blue, purple, orange, and white kernels. As a result, the cornmeal is variegated, with a purplish hue, and let me tell you it bakes like a DREAM. The cornbread I made from it was the best I've ever made, light and fine (and I don't think it's just because I was using Ronni Lundy's great recipe).

I tried the cornmeal in Tosi's Corn Cookies, and it's magic. I just pulse the cornmeal in the food processor so that the texture becomes finer, and then I use it in place of the corn flour. It results in a little it of a grainier & less golden cookie than the Momofuku original, but I don't mind a bit.

So the corn cookie is one thing, but a PEA cookie, you might ask? I know, I know--it's a little weird. But hear me out. Back in October, some friends from out of town were visiting and having heard me and others (like Bon Appetit) rave about Rose's Luxury, they were itching to go. We waited in line the requisite 1.5 hours (really not that bad) on Saturday evening and sat down in the first seating. As you might expect, the entire dinner was fabulous with such an air of comfort and pleasantness and yes, a little bit o' luxury, but really did it for me was in the final blow by way of THE PEA CAKE. When we asked what it was, our server told us it was a yellow cake with peas in it (we imagined peas mixed in throughout, like chocolate in a chocolate chip cookie), but when it came out, it was bright green, served with a mint curd, pea shoots, borage, and candied pistachios. It tasted like SPRING and literally sent shivers down my spine.

Ever since then, I've been wanting to put peas in my sweet baked goods. I found a similar green pea cake recipe. But I got to thinking...would a pea cookie work? After I confirmed my hunch that green pea flour is actually "a thing." I ordered some from Bob's Red Mill, along with some freeze-dried peas, and gave it a go. The result is maybe not on a Rose's Luxury level (not much is), but these Pea Cookies are a soft and sweet, not to mention unusually fresh-tasting and brilliantly colored little tea treat. As a childhood pea-hater, I wish I'd been offered these as an option.

Pea & Corn Cookies

Pea & Corn Cookies
Adapted from Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar

(Recipe given for Pea Cookies, Corn Cookie variation in parenthesis or here)

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill green pea flour (for corn cookies use corn flour or fine ground cornmeal)
2/3 cup freeze dried pea powder (to make, pulverize freeze dried peas-- or corn for corn cookies-- like "Just Peas" from the Just Tomatoes brand, in a blender)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standard mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and beat for 7-8 minutes.

2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, green pea flour (or corn flour for corn cookies), pea powder (or corn powder), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Using a 2 3/4oz. ice cream scoop or a 1/3 cup measure, portion out the dough on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie domes flat (I used the bottom of a ball jar for this). Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake the cookies at room temperature--they will not bake properly.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4-inches apart on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. They should be a little brown on the edges but still bright green (or yellow) in the center-- give them an extra minute if not.

5. Cool the cookies completely on sheet pans before transferring to a plate or airtight container for storage.  At room temp, they will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer they will keep for 1 month.

Pea & Corn Cookies with milk

Related recipes:
Lemon-Lavender Meringue Pie Cookies
Sweet Corn Custard Pie with Tomato Jam

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