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 21: a lemon meringue pie worth photographing

No kidding, right? That is one pretty pie – and thank goodness, after the sad disaster of the rum cream pie. I deserved a pie that was as rewarding to look at as it was to eat. There was some serious height on this pie, and I am happy to report that the lemon filling was puckery and smooth. I had not ever made a lemon meringue pie with the usual cornstarch-based filling. In the end I’m not sure that I was all that into the texture of the filling. It’s a little too much like jello’s homemade cousin for me. Next time (and trust me, there will be a next time for this one) I am going to stick to my favourite lemon cream recipe and spread the meringue all over that instead. I think that would make this pie perfect.

Here’s the recipe I made this time though, which I recommend if you like a traditional style filling. Thank you Martha. You have redeemed yourself and I think I forgive you for the sad bad pie that happened to me the last time I trusted you. We can be friends again. Continue reading

Week 19: in which we resolve to make this year longer than 52 weeks (and we eat tiramisu pie)

Either time is slowing down (which would be awesome because my holiday ends tomorrow and I wouldn’t say no to just a few more days / weeks / months), or else I am not keeping up with my “pie a week” plan.

It’s true. Time is slowing down.

I wish.

No, I admit it. I have not been able to keep up my pie-a-week momentum over the Christmas break. I mean, when you’ve got peppermint bark, spiced butter cookies, gingerbread toffee, a seemingly bottomless Quality Street tin AND mincemeat tarts coming out the wazoo, how can a girl be expected to Keep. Making. Pies. That would be the mission of a crazy lady.

So a little New Year’s Resolution has happened. I have decided that I am going to need to modify my pie plan, ever so slightly, just the slightest of slight changes to the rules, okay? It’s not because I’m a lazy pie maker. It’s not because I am not committed to making many, many pies. It is mostly because over the holiday I realized there may be weeks in the year ahead when a girl just cannot find it in herself to make a pie. I’m going to keep on making pies (promise!) as close to every week as I can, until I hit 52 pies. Another way of looking at this is that I’ve just now declared that this “year of pies” is going to be longer than 52 weeks. Confused?

There may have been a little more rule-bending over the holidays with our New Year’s pie. Have you not heard of tiramisu pie? How about frangelico mascarpone cream pie with ladyfinger crust? Sounds legit, right?

If it’s shaped like a pie. If you can slice it. It’s pie. So say moi.

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Week 18: mincemeat tarts, my holiday happy place

It’s been a struggle to get festive this year. No snow. Working until December 23rd. A really sick doggy who has been in the pet hospital and may not be home in time for Santa. I can’t say I’m feeling the spirit the way I usually do. Good thing I did almost all of my Christmas baking two weeks ago.

I can tell you that it’s pretty hard to eat one of my homemade mincemeat tarts and not at the very least taste everything that Christmas is supposed to be. Maybe if I eat six of them, I will suddenly feel uber-Christmassy? Hmmm…

I already shared my mincemeat recipe last week. I decided to go with Maury Rubin’s pastry recipe from his Book of Tarts. It’s so simple, and it is sugar-cookie delicate and delicious. Plus, you could roll it and re-roll it and keep on going and it’s still going to be just fine thank you very much. Here’s the recipe:

13 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp heavy cream

1) The butter needs to be cool but malleable. Put it and the confectioner’s sugar into a mixer and use the paddle to cream it until you can’t see the sugar any more. Scrape down the bowl.
2) Add the yolk and beat until blended. Scrape down the bowl again.
3) Add half of the flour and beat until it looks crumbly. Add the rest of the flour and the cream and beat gently until it sticks together.
4) Form the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic. Chill until it’s firm, about 2 hours.

As you can see, I made little tarts, but you could do larger ones, or even a full-sized tart. Just roll out the shells, chill them, and then fill to the top with the mincemeat. I baked mine at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.

Happy Christmas. All I’m really wishing for is a small Irish Terrier, 10 years and 8 months old, a little skinny, a little smelly, but a total sweetheart. I hope Santa delivers.

Week 17: I made mincemeat. Just mincemeat. Crust comes later.

Normally, at this time of year I’d be making my traditional marzipan fruit cake. It’s a Nigella recipe, from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, and I lurve it for all of its squidgy booziness. It’s reminiscent of this cake which also looks delightfully tempting (and so pretty with those toasty almonds on top). But since this year is the year of pie, I had to look for another equally festive and fruity baking option. I admit that I considered making pie and fruit cake, but that madness did not last long. Good thing too, because there has not been so much running these days. Unless you count running from store to store with my Xmas list.

Have you made mincemeat? Do you even like mincemeat? I think it’s one of those polarizing foods. It’s hard to grow up with a British parent and not be on the pro-mincemeat team. This is the first time I’ve made it, and I think I chose well in the recipe department. I also made my own candied peel which is something I usually do at this time of year. It’s not hard, and it is infinitely better than the waxy stuff you often find in the store. I always use Martha’s recipe for my peel, so I guess it’s no surprise that I also turned to her for a mincemeat recipe. This one has no suet (veggie version or otherwise) which means it’s good for anyone who finds the idea of suet a little yucky. Making mincemeat will fill your home with the cozy scent of spices and fruit and booze, a.k.a. Christmas. I’m planning on turning the filling into tarts this weekend. Here’s the recipe… Continue reading

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 10: Thanksgiving part two, in which we find a friend for our pumpkin pie

I didn’t want my pumpkin pie to be feeling all the pressure on our Thanksgiving table, so I did the only thing I could: I baked an apple pie too. I figured that my family of traditionalists would be satiated.

And so they were.

You know that saying, “we eat first with our eyes”? Well, this apple pie was something to behold:

Can’t you just feel the Thanksgiving love? (Don’t you wish your screen was scratch and sniff?)

I should have taken a side view shot, because the height of this pie really added to its promising, applause-worthy beauty. (Another reason I need to get myself more of these, I think). You can’t really see it in this picture, but this pie practically sparkled. All of the tiny grains of sugar sprinkled over the golden crust worked together to whisper at you, “Eat me! I am as tasty as I am beautiful!” This pie will make your loved ones be thankful that they have a pie maker in the family. Continue reading