Friday, February 12, 2010

Who Put the Pie in Piefurcation? Who? Who?

Yeah. That's right. Pie. Three pies to be exact. Let's get to it, shall we?

Pumpkin pie
Not quite a disaster, but not quite Thee pie if you know what I mean. I decided to go easy and just mix up a pie from a Whole Foods brand pumpkin pie mix. Learn from my mistake. This is the first time I've made a pie from a mix - seriously I can't even remember the last time I made a pie from a mix. So my perspective might be a tad biased but: go the extra mile and make a homemade pie. Sacrifice a pumpkin, bake it and scoop out the pulp. Really it's not that much extra time and the effort is worth it. Here's one of my favorites: Pie Ranch Pumpkin Pie (note: you do not have to use goat milk if you don't want to. I don't.)

My theory behind using the mix was that a) I'd save time and b) I was more interested in the pie crust. I tried a new recipe that involves 1/4 cup of cold 80 proof Vodka. Needless to say, I was intrigued. The idea is that the vodka keeps gluten from forming and thus you end up with a nice and tender crust. That's the idea at any rate. The results weren't that impressive. But maybe it's my bias against the entire pie that prevents me from being objective about it. It's definitely a recipe I'll try again. *

Persimmon-Apple Tart
Oh. This pie was good. Except by the time I finally made it, the lovely persimmons I had bought from the cheery kid selling them on the street outside his house and the free one given me by the guy promoting his CSA outside the library had gone bad and I feel guilty that I let them go so long (it's the little things I tell you).

The crust came from the 80 proof/fool-proof pie crust recipe. And it was in the freezer for a week and then thawed in the refrigerator, rolled out and put into the tart pan and I was all "come on over and have some Apple-Persimmon Tart and I've even put some Proseco in the fridge for when those unexpected holiday guests pop in" and then we all came down with Swine Flu. And so it sat. When I finally got back to it, there were sad persimmons that were just a tad too soft, but still an abundance of little yellow apples from our CSA basket and so I peeled as many as there were and cut them up and then a friend called and while we talked on the phone I arranged them in pretty little circles like I never do. And then it sat in the fridge for two days until I made the ginger snap streusel (from ground Newman's ginger creme cookies left over from a failed cookie attempt) and baked it late on a Saturday night and OMFG, no hyperbole, it was one of the best pies (tarts) I've ever made. The recipe is here.

Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie
This was a request pie and the recipe came from this nifty book called Killer Pies by Stephanie Anderson who compiled pie recipes from some of the top restaurants in North America (like where is that?) If the rest of the pies in the book turn out as good as this one, this little gem will more than have lived up to it's name. Mexican Chocolate Pie is a specialty of Border Grill in Santa Monica, CA whose chef, Susan Feniger, competes in the upcoming season of Top Chef Masters.

Meringue Shell
3 large egg whites
1/2 t. cream of tartar
3/4 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides (not the rim) of a 9" glass pie plate. I used my trusty Fire-King plate. Put egg whites in a large bowl and set it over a pan of hot water. Stir until the whites slightly warm. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. If you want to know what soft peaks mean, take a look at this video (which also features a little tour of Maker's Mark distillery). Beat in cream of tartar, then add sugar in a slow, steady stream. Beat continually for 15 - 20 more minutes or until the mixture is stiff and glossy. My mixer made short work of this task and it didn't take quite as long. To form the pie shell, spread meringue over the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake until slightly crisp and dry, about 15 minutes. Again. You have to watch it because oven temps vary. Cool shell on a wire rack.


7 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 c. cold heavy cream
1/3 c. confectioner's sugar
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1/2 slivered almonds, toasted and cooled

Melt the semisweet and unsweetened chocolates in a bowl over simmering water, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature.

Combine heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl. Beat on medium speed until very soft peaks form, 2 - 3 minutes. Stir one third of the whipped cream mixture into the melted chocolate. Fold remaining whipped cream until incorporated.

Scatter with toasted almonds over the shell then top with the chocolate filling, smoothing the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Grate or shave bittersweet chocolate over top for decoration. I need to work on my chocolate curl technique as you can see I eventually opted for grated chocolate which was just fine.

I suggest sharing this pie with other people. So that it isn't sitting in your fridge for days. The meringue gets soggy after awhile and I'd like to say that this diminishes the goodness of the pie, but that would be a lie.

Up next. Shaker Lemon Pie. I'm going to get the lemons tonight! I know, it's Friday night and I'm excited about lemons. I never thought it would come to this.

*In the future I promise to photograph my pie failures. Things were just too busy on Thanksgiving day to whip out the camera for a photo shoot.

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