Week 22: macaroon truffle pie of perfection

Coconut is a divisive ingredient. A little like coriander or anchovies in the way that people seem to either adore it or despise it. Coconut is a magnet to me. In a bakery, if something has coconut in it, I will find it and I will want it. Add chocolate and I will want it even more. So it’s no surprise that this pie called to me, because it is really like a macaroon’s more sophisticated cousin. Once you’ve tasted it, you will know that it is hard to classify this pie. It’s a little bit like the best chewy chocolate macaroon you’ve ever tasted, and a bit like a Bounty bar, and a bit like a fine dark truffle. All. At. Once.

I swear.

To make this scenario even more perfect, I am happy to report that it is dead easy. Probably the easiest pie I’ve made so far in this venture.

So go make one.

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Week 20: rummy, creamy, disaster pie

Sorry for the long absence! There have been pies made, just not pies blogged. One reason for that is that one of the most recent pies was a disaster. A rummy, creamy disaster, but a disaster nevertheless. This sucked the wind out of my sails. Dumping a liquid pie into your compost bin kind of does that to a girl.

I will not post the recipe for Rum Vanilla Cream pie, because it did not work. I have made many a pastry cream in my life. I doubled checked my measurements as a I went along. I didn’t rush. I was a good little pie baker.

Sadly, after hours of hanging out in the fridge, chillaxin’, the filling was still frighteningly sloshy. This was how it remained. It was its destiny to be so. I knew that as soon as I attempted to “cut” a slice and remove it, the rest of the filling would rush into the hole in a natural-disaster sort of way.

Yep. That’s what happened.

Now, if you’re into drinking pastry cream, this pie was for you. It had a beautiful vanilla / rum flavour that did not disappoint. Just the right amount of booze against the sweet vanilla tones. In fact, the flavour was so good that I really do want to figure this recipe mystery out and make the pie again. That is saying something.

But it was like having a bowl of custard with a pie crust floating around in it. Not cool.

I wish I’d taken a picture but I couldn’t bring myself. It was too sad. Only pies that are not mean to me get to have their pictures taken.

A tune for sad pie making:

And duh, this pie ain’t getting a blue ribbon. No sir.

Week 15: crack pie

I thought I’d keep going with the Ugly Pie theme this week, since last week’s pie was so delish. I was sure there must be more satisfying ugly pies out there to find. Which brought me to Crack Pie. Based on pictures I’d seen around the web, I knew it wasn’t famous for its beauty. There was a whole lot of work-up to this pie. Could it really be that good? (Read a little hype here and here and here). I was skeptical. Here is my pie (and as it turns out, I think it has a rather lovely appearance in its own simple way):

And with a sprinkle of snowy sugar:

Crack pie was tasty. Really tasty. If you like something gooey, a little fudgy, salty and sweet all at once, then look no further. This is one of those pies that tastes wonderful right out of the fridge with a glass of milk. Crack pie will travel well. I can imagine it would be just right around a camp fire. Or in front of the Christmas tree. Or standing by the fridge at 2 am.

I made mine exactly as described here, but I doubled the salt in the oat cookie crust and the filling. Make it. You will want to make another one the next day. Just try to resist.

Blue Ribbon for being like eating fudgy candy pie.

Week 12: you are naughty hoosier pie

I had not tasted Hoosier Pie until last week, and I discovered that you only need to taste Hoosier Pie once in order to know it is a very naughty pie. This is not a pie for anybody who is afraid of sweet. If you are at all affected by sugar, after you eat a slice of this pie, your heart will be racing and you will feel a little out of control. I speak from experience. This pie frightened me a little, it was so powerful. Powerful enough that I took the leftovers to work and halfway through the day (it was not a very good day), I decided that I would be taking 2 slices back home with me again because I needed me some more Hoosier Pie.

Do not even think about how bad this is for you. Just don’t make it every week, ‘kay? Continue reading

Week 11: well, even apple pie is sometimes a little forgettable…

I think the reason it’s taken me so long to post about last week’s pie is that it was perhaps the only pie that has disappointed me so far on this pie journey. It was a little forgettable, and so I considered not even posting about it. The perfectionist in me was thinking, why bother?

But that would be cheating. That would be against my mission statement. I promised I would present every single pie, good, bad, and just a little forgettable. Besides, I did learn a thing or two from this pie, not to mention it raised a pie mystery that I hope to solve in the weeks ahead. However, since I don’t want you going and making a pie that is less than worth it, I’m not going to bother posting the recipe. You get a picture, you get my musings, you get a great song, and that’s it!

Here’s what I think went wrong with this pie. I rushed. I really didn’t have time to be making a pie last weekend, but I tried to anyway. I didn’t have time because I was going with our friends to an amazing food event north of the city, called Foodstock. You can learn more about it here, and see some great pictures that really capture the spirit of the day here. In a nutshell, a mega-quarry is being planned on some of Southern Ontario’s more beautiful and productive farmland (genius, right?) and so chefs and musicians and local folk planned an amazing event to raise money that will be used to hire experts to help create the best plan to fight it. It was awesome and delicious and inspiring. I have to hope they have a chance to stop it. I grew up not too far from the proposed quarry site and the idea that more of this rich land could be devastated angers and saddens me profoundly. It was heartening to see so many people come together to say we need to start really thinking about the future of what is left of our landscape.

So, I rushed the pie for a worthy cause. I underbaked the pie and the apples did not have time to reach that luscious sort-of-falling-apart, melting caramely stage that is most desirable. I do not like it when the apples end up with a little crunch to them – it makes me think of grocery store apple pie. The flavour of the filling was good, but the texture was lacking.

Which brings me to the pie mystery. I sent the pie into the oven loaded up with apples. I really packed them in there. It looked bountiful as I draped the top crust over the fruit. However, after I took the pie out, I noticed that somehow in the baking process the top crust had set and the apples seemed to have shrunk away from it, leaving about an inch worth of sad, fruitless space between the top and the filling – a gaping black hole of sorts. This did not please me. Not one bit. This is a mystery to me. Aside from underbaking and using a different filling recipe (the same apples though), I can’t think what factor could have caused this. If you know, or if you have a good guess, please pipe up.

Finally here’s a great song, which I chose for this week because Sarah Harmer was at Foodstock, and she sang it that day. It brings tears to my eyes. (I didn’t cry over my mediocre pie though, just so you know!)

a pie poem

I found a pie poem! I found it in one of my very favourite collections for children (and grown ups too really), all the small poems and fourteen more, by Valerie Worth. It’s full of poems about everyday wonders. So of course, there would be a poem about pie in there. Here it is to enjoy on a Monday morning.

pie

After the yellow-white
Pie dough is rolled out
flat, and picked up
Drooping like a round
Velvet mat, fitted gently
Into the dish, and piled
With sliced, sugared,
Yellow-white apples,
Covered with still another
Soft dough-blanket,
The whole thing trimmed
And tucked in tight, then
It is all so neat, so
Thick and filled and fat,
That we could happily
Eat it up, even
Before it is cooked.

I’ll share my weekend pie with you soon. It was one of those “less-than-perfect” pies I knew I would make sometime this year. Lessons have been learned. But still, it must be shared, because it is pie.

Week 7: it might be square but it’s still a pumpkin pie

Last weekend I escaped the city and went up north to a friend’s cottage. I had my first feelings of fall nostalgia, so I decided to nurture them with a pumpkin pie. Wanting to keep things simple (no pie crust fuss + no big mess = more time for reading under a blanket in front of the fire), I decided to go with a no-bake pumpkin filling courtesy of Martha.

I was not happy that the “easy” graham crust was actually super annoying. For whatever reason it wouldn’t seem to stick to anything but my fingers and there was nowhere near enough of it (plus I was using a smaller pan than the suggested size so technically I should have had more than I wanted). After a whole lot of finickity pressing and caressing and a little cursing, I had a crust. A thin crust. I recommend making more crust mix than is suggested below. It ain’t enough folks, I’m telling you. The filling was as easy as promised. I like my pumpkin pie a little more assertively spiced, so I upped the spices a little and I think I could have added more. The texture of the filling is lovely and silky and rich – and it’s deep, which makes for a more decadent experience than I’ve had with pumpkin pie in the past. I wanted to take a picture of the whole thing in all of its rebellious squareness smothered in whipped cream, but then I wouldn’t have been able to bring home the leftovers afterwards. I discovered later that this pie doesn’t keep very well. The crust gets soggy and uninteresting and then what with all of the filling, you just feel like you’re eating a slice of pumpkin pudding.

Crust (remember this doesn’t make enough, so just play with it)
16 graham crackers
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling
1 tbsp unflavoured gelatin powder
1/4 cup ice water
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg
3/4 tsp coarse salt
29 oz can pumpkin puree
12 oz can evaporated milk

Topping
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
freshly grated nutmeg

1. Crust: Preheat the oven to 350ยบ. Process the dry ingredients for the crust and then add the butter, mixing to combine. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch square tray. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Bake until the crust is deep golden, about 15 minutes, and let cool completely.

2. Filling: Sprinkle the gelatin over the ice water and let it stand for 5 minutes. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, spices, and salt until smooth over medium speed. Add the pumpkin and beat. Bring the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add the softened gelatin and stir until it is dissolved. Pour the milk mixture into the pumpkin mixture and whisk until it is completely smooth. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and chill until it is set, about 4 hours.

3. Topping: Whip the cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Dollop on top of the pie and grate nutmeg over.

No pie music this week. Imagine instead the sound of crickets and woodpeckers.

Blue ribbon for creamiest pudding-like pumpkin filling