Monday, August 30, 2010

All It's Cracked Up to Be- Crack Pie

I have never eaten at any of the Momofuku restaurants in NYC, so I have not tasted first hand any of Christina Tosi's unusual sweets. I must admit that reading about her recipes recently in Bon Appetit did not make me want to jump up and bake. Most of the described desserts sound unappealing to me. I am sure they taste good, but the combination of ingredients makes me think of something we used to do at summer camp- mixing everything from the table into one disgusting mess and daring someone to taste it. However, she is the pastry chef of the Momofuku "empire" so she has to be doing something right.  I decided to try the Crack Pie- the ingredients are much more palatable- and the play on words reeled me in.   It is delicious- a little too sweet for me to get addicted, but I can understand the attraction.  The filling actually reminds me a little of shoo fly pie. Allow a good chunk of time to make this, including an overnight in the refrigerator.

Crack Pie
from Bon Appetit, September, 2010

Oat Cookie Crust
9 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
5 1/2 tablespoons packed golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Oat Cookie Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 13x9x2 inch metal baking pan with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down bowl, about 2 minutes.  Add egg, beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended,  about 1 minute.  Turn oat mixture out into prepared baking pan and press out evenly to the edges of the pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes.  Transfer pan to rack and cool completely.   When cool, using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl and add 3 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar.  Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together.  Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9 in diameter glass pie dish.  Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish on rimmed baking sheet.

Filling: Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Whisk both sugars, milk powder and salt in medium bowl to blend.  Add melted butter and whisk until blended.  Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until blended.  Pour filling into crust.  Bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble).  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.  Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around the edges, but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, 10-20 minutes.  Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack.  Chill uncovered overnight.  Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie.  Cut into wedges and serve cold.  ((post by Susan))

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cream in My Coffee-Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

Now that I have an ice cream maker, there is no going back. It is just so easy to make delicious homemade ice cream- only problem is what to do with it all.  Last week I made cappuccino ice cream from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook- but this blog is not about making ice cream- and I was trying to think what else I could do with it. I found this recipe for an ice cream sandwich which, of course, could be made with any flavor of ice cream, store bought or homemade.  It is a little time consuming with all the various steps, but not difficult.  I made one big sandwich and then used a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to make the perfect size, just a few bites.

German Chocolate Cake for Ice Cream Sandwiches
from Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

3/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon (1.15 oz or 33 grams) sifted before measuring unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup canola or safflower oil at room temperature
2 large eggs, separated plus 1 egg white at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour (2.6 oz or 75 grams) sifted before measuring
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 to 1/12 quarts ice cream of your choice

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F about 20 minutes before baking.  Coat the bottom of a 9x 2 inch round cake pan with shortening and top with a parchment round.  Encircle pan with a cake strip.
     In the bowl of a stand mixer by hand whisk the cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.  When cool, add the oil and yolks to the mixer bowl.  Using the whisk beater, start on low speed and gradually raise the speed to medium, beating for 1 minute until smooth and shiny and resembling a buttercream.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add vanilla and beat for a few seconds.
     In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift the flour mixture onto a large piece of parchment.  Add half of the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and repeat with the remaining flour mixture.  Raise the speed to medium and beat for one minute.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  On low speed add the egg whites.  Gradually raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes.  The batter will be like a thick soup.  Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake about 20 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.
     The cake must be unmolded as soon as they have baked.  Spray a wire rack with cooking spray.  Run a metal spatula between the side of the pan and the cake and invert onto the wire rack.  Remove the parchment and immediately reinvert onto a rack.  Cool completely.
      Slice the cake into two even layers.  Place the bottom layer on the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Remove the ice cream from the freezer to the refrigerator to soften to a spreadable consistency or soften in 4 second bursts in a microwave.  Spread the ice cream in an even layer over the cake layer.  Set the other cake layer on top of the ice cream.  Coat a piece of plastic wrap with non-stick cooking spray and
place it directly on top of the cake.  Cover the pan with another piece of plastic wrap and immediately set in the freezer for at least 8 hours.  To unmold, wipe the sides of the pan with a hot, damp towel and remove the sides.  Dust the top with cocoa.  Let it soften a little and cut into small rounds with 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter.  To store, wrap individually in plastic wrap and place in plastic bag. ((post by Susan))

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Variations on a Theme- Alternative Blondies

 Raspberry Almond and Pear, Pistachio and Ginger Blondies
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies

The traditional blondie with chocolate chips can stand just as it is- as far as I'm concerned they are perfect, chewy, butterscotch and chocolate flavors all combined- but in baking, as in life, sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone, and open yourself to new experiences. I decided to try these two blondie recipes from Martha Stewart's cookie book.  Neither of them have changed my mind about what would win in a taste test, but for the non-chocolate person, they are an alternative.  For the raspberry/almond blondie, I followed her recipe exactly and was a little disappointed.  They did not have that buttery, chewy texture of blondies.  The basic recipe was just not as good as the gingerbread-white chocolate blondies from her cookie book,  so I adapted that recipe for the pear, pistachio and ginger blondies with a much better result.  No verdict yet from my usual taste testers, but I am going to stick with the traditional.

2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1  1/4 teaspoons salt
10 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses

for the Raspberry-Almond Blondies
2 cups sliced toasted almonds
3 cups raspberries
1/4 teaspoons almond extract

for the Pear, Pistachio and Ginger Blondies
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped dried pears (about 6 ounces)
1 1 /4 cups shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped (about 5 ounces)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped candied ginger


     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 12x17 rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. Spray the parchment and set aside.
     Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars on medium high speed until creamy and pale, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary. Add vanilla and molasses (and almond extract for raspberry/almond) and mix on medium speed until combined. Add flour mixture on low speed until just combined.

For the Raspberry/Almond- Mix in almonds to the basic batter.  Place batter in prepared pan and spread evenly.  Scatter raspberries over top.  Bake until golden around the edges, about 25 minutes.  Let cool completely and cut into squares.

For the Pear, Pistachio and Ginger- Mix pears, pistachios and ginger into basic batter.  Spread batter in prepared pan and bake until golden around the edges, about 25 minutes.  Cool completely and cut into rectangles. ((post by Susan))

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Still Screaming for Ice Cream- Fresh Peach and Raspberry Ice Cream with Ginger Bits

 I finally broke down and decided to buy an ice cream maker- just too many recipes I want to try that require one.  Even though I am trying to simplify my kitchen, I managed to find room for it. This summer I have expanded my ice cream repertoire to include fresh fruit ice cream. Since this is peach season and the fresh peaches are so wonderful, I adapted a recipe for summer berry ice cream to include peaches.  It is incredibly easy to make ice cream with an electric ice cream maker- the only time consuming part is chilling the bowl and chilling the base mixture.  This ice cream is slightly tart because of the raspberries, but more sugar could be added if you like your ice cream a little sweeter- and it was very creamy.  It will be hard to go back to store bought ice cream.

Fresh Peach and Raspberry Ice Cream with Ginger Bits
adapted from Summer Berry Ice Cream (NY Times 8/4/2010)

4 large ripe peaches, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons as needed
1/2 cup candied ginger diced
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons amaretto

     Coarsely chop 2 peaches into chunks and put them in a small saucepan.  Add the honey and bring to a boil  Lower the heat and cook about 10 minutes until peaches are soft.  Place in food processor and puree.  Set aside.  Finely dice the remaining peaches and set aside.  Mash the raspberries with a fork or potato masher until just slightly chunky.
     In a saucepan over medium-low heat, bring cream to a simmer with 1/3 cup of sugar and the salt.  Taste berries and if they are very tart, add 2 additional tablespoons of sugar to the saucepan.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved.  Transfer to a bowl, add amaretto and peach puree and mix. Place in refrigerator and chill.
     When base mixture is chilled, pour mixture into the ice cream machine.  Add the raspberries and diced peaches and churn according to the manufacturer's directions.  Add diced ginger pieces about 5 minutes before the end of the churning cycle.  Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours.  Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before serving. ((post by Susan))

Sunday, August 8, 2010

More Pie Please- Fresh Peach and Apricot Salted Caramel Pie

Time to make another pie. The farmer's market had wonderful looking peaches, and I found some sweet fresh apricots at the grocery store. I have been intrigued by a Salted Caramel Apple Pie I saw on the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Bakery (Brooklyn, NY) website but I wanted to use peaches, so I decided to put together my own pie from a hodgepodge of recipes. Of course, I had a mini disaster.  I partially bake the bottom crust of my fruit pies so  they don't get so soggy from the fruit juices. I didn't pay attention to the recipe and put the pie pan on a baking sheet so while baking pieces of the edge fell off to the bottom of the oven. Then the domino effect - the pieces burned, set off the smoke alarm which made my dog crazy until i could rip it from the ceiling to turn it off and by then the kitchen was about 400 degrees.  But all's well that ends well- the pie is delicious, and the slight tartness of the fruit is offset by the caramel. It turned out to be a very good combination. Now the trick is to give it away before I eat the whole thing.

Peach/Apricot Salted Caramel Pie

Crust: Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough from Baking by Dorie Greenspan
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
10 ounces very cold unsalted butter cut into tablespoon size pieces
1/3 cup very cold or frozen vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
About 1/2 cup ice water
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
    Place flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse to just combine ingredients. Drop in butter and shortening and pulse until they are cut into the flour.  Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 6 tablespoons of ice water. Add a little water, pulse once, add some more water and pulse again.  Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour.  The dough should stick together when pinched. If not, add a little more water.  Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a work surface. Divide the dough in half, gather each half into a ball, flatten each ball into a disk and wrap each half in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out (I recommend at least two hours as dough is a soft dough).
     When rolling out the dough have a buttered 9 inch pie plate near by.  Roll out one half of the dough and chill for about 20 minutes to firm up.  While chilling, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Fit the circle of dough into the pie plate, allowing the excess to hang over.  Trim to 1/8-1/4 inch overhang.  Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust, and fill with dried beans or pie weights.  Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove the foil  and bake about 8 minutes more until the crust is lightly colored.  Remove from
oven.

Filling: adapted from Summer Peach Pie with Vanilla and Cardamon (Bon Appetit, July, 2007
3 pounds ripe peaches, peeled and cut into thin slices
6-7 ripe apricots, cut into thin slices
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
Salted Caramel Sauce
     Place sliced peaches and apricots in a bowl. Mix with flour, sugar and spices.  Stir in caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Sauce: adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2-3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel
    Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir just to combine. Heat over medium high heat without stirring (if the mixture is coloring unevenly, swirl the pan as needed to blend), until the caramel turns deep amber, 5 to 10 minutes.  As the sugar is caramelizing, wipe down any splatters on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.  Lower the heat, stand back from the saucepan because the caramel with bubble and splatter- and add the cream and butter.  When the splatters are less vehement, stir to smooth.  Add the fleur de sel to taste.  Remove the pan from the heat.

To Complete the Pie:
Stir the caramel sauce into the fruit mixture. You probably will not need to use all the caramel sauce- 1/2 to 3/4 cup should be sufficient.  Pour the filling into the partially baked pie crust.  Roll out the other half of the dough into a large enough circle to fit over the filling. Center to top crust over the filling and press it against the bottom crust. Trim the overhang so it extends about 1/4 inch over the bottom crust.  Tuck the excess top crust under the bottom crust and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge.  Cut out a small circle of dough in the center of the pie to let steam escape.   Brush heavy cream over the top of the crust and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar.  Place pie on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool until warm.
Bake 1 hour- 1 hour and 15 minutes at 400 degrees