Pecan Pie

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Of course, the staple at  my house is pecan pie. This year, though, I wanted to try it with a bit of alcohol in the mix. Most of the recipes call for bourbon, but since no one drinks that at home, I used grappa and kaluah.It’s bound ot be an interesting flavor.

So, first, prepare the pie crust.

While that’s baking, start roasting the pecans, and heating up the caramel.

Then mix the cream, the eggs, the salt and the alcohol.

Add it to the caramel. Place the nuts at the bottom of the pie, then fill with the liquid. Bake!

Grand Marnier Pecan Pie (made 9" deep pie dish) 
Pie Crust
Ingredients
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
1 stick butter (113gram), chilled & cut into small pieces
1/4 cup tbsp. cold water
Flour for dusting

Method
1. Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a food mixer until well combined.
2. Add the butter and pulse on low speed until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
3. Add water slowly until it starts to clump together.
4. Place the dough on a clean flour dusted surface and roll it out into a disc big enough to cover a 9inch tin.
5. Carefully place the dough into the pie tin and form it.
6. Transfer to fridge and chill for at least half an hour.
7. Take it out and prick the pie base all over with a fork. Blind-bake (cover with foil and weight down with rice/beans) the crust at 180C for 15mins. Take it out, remove the foil and put it back in oven and baked for another 15 mins or until golden brown.
8. Set aside to cool.

Filling
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups pecans (200gr)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup (60gr) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp glucose
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
4 tbsp Grand Marnier (or any Bourbon/Rum)

Method
1. Heat sugar, honey, glucose and butter in a large saucepan until boiling, stirring constantly.
2. Roast the pecan on frying pan over medium heat, until is hot and just about to brown. Remove, set aside to cool.
3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
4. In the meantime, beat eggs, cream, Grand Marnier and salt in a separate bowl and add to caramel once cool.
5. Spread the pecans over the bottom of the pie crust, pour the liquid mixture into the pie crust.
6. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F (180C) until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes.
7. Take out and let it cools down before serving with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Apple Pie

I got a new pie pan a few days ago, and I just had to try it out. Then my mom came with a big bag of apples from the supermarket, so, yeah, I had to make apple pie.

First make the dough. Mix the flour, salt, butter, water.

 

 

Spread in pan and put in the fridge. Then start with filling. Mix the sugars, butter, cinnamon, water and flour over heat. Bring to a boil.

Set that aside, then peel the apples and arrange them on the prepared pan.

 

Pour the sugar mixture over it, an with the left over dough make the lattice decorations.

And bake!

 

 

Double Crust Pastry Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
6 tablespoons cold water
Directions:
1. In a bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until dough is crumbly. Add the cold water and mix until a ball is formed. Divide dough so that one half is bigger than the other.
2. Roll out the larger ball and transfer into a 9″ pie pan. Roll out the second ball and cut long vertical pieces to form the lattice cover.
3. Set in fridge while preparing the apple pie filling.
Filling Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt butter in saucepan and stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, cinnamon, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
2. Fill lined pastry pan with sliced apples. Pour sugar mixture over the top and cover with lattice pastry crust.
3. Bake 15 minutes in preheated oven. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.
 

Strawberry Pie

Yes, I know it’s not anywhere near summer, but I had a surplus of strawberries that needed to be used. I found this recipe at Mansurov Photography and it caught my attention.

The recipe calls for egg-separating, which is always a bit of a pain, but I managed.

Add the 3/4 cup sugar, butter, baking soda, vanilla extract, flour, salt.

Press dough into the pan and place the sliced the strawberries on top.

Whip the egg whites with the remaining sugar and carefully place on top of strawberries. Take the leftover dough and grate it on top until it covers the whole pie. Bake!

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 14 tbsp. of softened butter
  • 3/4 cups of sugar+1/2 cup
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 Tbsp of vanilla
  • 1/2 Teasp of baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  •  10-15 large strawberries

Directions:

Separate egg yolks from whites. Grind yolks with 3/4 cups of sugar. Add softened butter,
baking soda, vanilla, a pinch of salt and flour. Mix all of the ingredients by spoon and work the dough with your hands. The dough should be soft to the touch but not sticky.
Divide it into 2 portions, one portion should be a little bigger than the another one.
Place the bigger one evenly on the bottom of the baking dish. Put the smaller portion of the dough into the freezer to harden.
 
Slice strawberries and lay them on top of the dough.

Whisk egg whites with 1/2 cup of sugar until white peaks form. Using a spatula or a table spoon evenly spread the ready mixture on top of the fruits.

Take out the remaining dough from the freezer and using a grater top the fruits with it.

Bake for an hour at 350F and let it cool for at least another hour before you serve it.

Pecan and Orange Marmalade Pie

My mom’s birthday is tomorrow, so I’ve been scouring the different web pages searching for the perfect recipe. I think I found it. I mean, I hope so because it is already baking in the oven.  I adapted the recipe from Dolcetto Confections

Prepare the dough first. It’s a simple crostata dough so don’t freak out.  Flour, sugar, cinnamon, like so:

:

Add the butter and eggs. Knead it or whatever you want to do with the dough (nothing kinky, though) and if you want put it in the fridge to rest. I’m incredibly impatient so I wanted to bake it already.

Weigh the dough down. If you are lucky and have dried beans (I never do) use them, otherwise do like poor little old me and put a smaller pan wrapped in aluminum on top of the dough. It works like a charm.

Now you can toast the pecans.

Put them in the blender with the flour and grind them. Add them to the butter, the sugar, the eggs and the orange zest. Mix it well.

While I was doing all this, I had my snake Topkapi watching me from the kitchen table, wondering what the hell I was up to.

regardless of reptilian attitude, I pressed on, fearless in my effort. When the pie shell came out of the oven, after about 20 minutes, I prepared the layer of jam. I took the jam and a tbsp. of water and heated it up. When that was done I added a splash of rum, because, well, it’s alcohol.

And layer it on the half-baked pie.

Pour the pecan layer and place it to bake.

Ingredients
Pasta Frolla [Note: this recipe will yield enough dough for 2 8-inch tarts]
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of table salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
Pecan-Orange Frangipane
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Jam
1 cup orange marmalade
1 tbsp. rum

November’s Daring Baker’s Challenge: Crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Ok, formalities are done. This month’s challenge was quite easy for me. I bake pasta frolla nearly every month for my family, so I could probably get it together half-asleep.

For the challenge we HAD to use the recipes provided, so I did, although it was tempting to just use my time-tested one. It was interesting baking with the one provided, but I prefer mine, and will not be changing it up any time soon.

Here we go: gather all the ingredients together. I decided to use quince paste for the filling. It’s the one I usually use when I make the crostata and it creates a pretty cool visual with its jelly-red glossiness.

Mix, blend and stir per usual

And if you like, you can put the dough in the refrigerator so it’s more malleable. I never bother, just push it into the pan. Sorry dough.

Prepare the filling, in my case this only consisted in slicing up the quince. I’m choosing rather violent verbs today, aren’t I? Oh, well.

Throw it in the oven and wait. Until it looks like a variation of this:

Here is the recipe they provided (but I’ll post mine when I make pasta frolla again)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option, see Note 2)
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

Note 1: Superfine sugar is often also referred to as ultrafine, baker’s sugar or caster sugar. It’s available in most supermarkets. If you cannot find “superfine” sugar, you can make your own by putting some regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender and letting it run until the sugar is finely ground.

Note 2: There are different ways of making vanilla sugar. I keep vanilla beans in a jar half-filled with sugar until I need to use them, for example, to make vanilla ice cream. After I remove the split bean from the custard that will go into the ice cream maker, I rinse it, dry it and put it back in the jar with sugar.

Making pasta frolla by hand:

  1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
  3. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
  4. Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
  5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
  6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
  7. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.
  8. Heat the oven to 375ºF [190ºC/gas mark 5].
  9. Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut away ¼ of the dough. Reserve this dough to make the lattice top of the crostata. Refrigerate this dough while you work on the tart base.
  10. To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in. This can help rolling the dough and can also help when transferring the dough to your pan. You can also use parchment paper for this. However, you can also roll the dough directly on a work surface if you prefer.
  11. Lightly dust the top of the dough and your work surface (if you’re rolling directly on a work surface) with flour. Keep some flour handy to dust the dough as you go along.
  12. If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin’s width each time; turn the dough 180 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.
  13. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch (3 mm) thick.
  14. If you used the plastic wrap or parchment paper as rolling surface, flip dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap.
  15. Trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thickness all the way around.
  16. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.
  17. Take out of the fridge the reserved pasta frolla you had cut away earlier. Roll it with your pin and cut into strips or use cookie cutters to make small shapes (this is not traditional, but it looks cute); or roll with your hands into ropes.
  18. Spread the jam or fruit preserves evenly over the bottom of the crostata.
  19. Use the prepared strips or rolls of dough to make a lattice over the surface, or decorate with the cut shapes. (Note: You can use dough scraps to make cookies: see the Additional Information section for some pointers)
  20. Brush the border and strips of dough with the reserved beaten eggs. You can add a drop or two of water to the beaten eggs if you don’t have enough liquid.
  21. Put the tart in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  22. After 25 minutes, check the tart and continue baking until the tart is of a nice golden hue. (Note: Every oven is different. In my oven it took 34 minutes to bake the tart until golden.)
  23. When done, remove the tart from the oven and let cool. If you have used a tart pan with a removable bottom, then release the tart base from the fluted tart ring. Make sure the tart is completely cool before slicing and serving.

As you can see, this version is much more complicated than it needs to be.  With Italian food, simplicity is best.

On the eve of Thanksgiving.

I had a monster baking marathon today. For days I’ve been eyeing my oven, missing the scents that usually come out of it. I’ve been saving my energies for today: the eve of Thanksgiving. So first things first, the main dessert for tomorrow, Sweet potato Pie. I wanted to try something a bit new, not the old, albeit delicious, pumpkin or pecan pies.

I found a wonderful-sounding recipe online at She Simmers, but I’ll add it at the bottom of the page for convenience.

So boil the sweet potatoes. The recipe calls for two large ones, but I did three, just in case. But really, two is plenty.

While they boil, start the dough for the pie crust. Chop your pecans, add your flour, salt, spices, butter, etc. Make a nice mess.

Place it on your pie pan, in my case cheap aluminum ones, since my ridged plate broke long, long ago.

Stick it in the fridge for a bit and then bake it at 375 for about 15 minutes. Make sure you prick the dough before or put some dried beans on it so it doesn’t rise.

By now, the sweet potatoes should be done boiling. Carefully take them out of the pot and let them cool, or if you are reckless and impatient like I am, burn your hands lobster red.

Mix in all the ingredients for the filling. Add the butter last.

And bake!

Here she is, right out of the oven. She looks delicious.

By the way, I had tons of leftover filling, so I decided to share:

Well, the next item on my list was a rosemary herb bread. This is not finished yet, since I am letting it rise overnight and baking it fresh tomorrow morning, but I’ll put up the recipe and what I have so far.

Well, you know the deal with yeasted breads. Warm water, a bit of oil, pour the package of yeast in and let it rest. Then slowly add the sugar, salt, flour, and herbs.  When you have a consistency you like, start kneading.

Let it rise!

Doesn’t mine look adorable, like a baby swaddled up?

For the bread that’s it for today.

But on to the cookies. So, my mom saw these cookies in the last edition of Coastal Living and she HAD to have them, like, NOW. Two batches. Lots and lots of butter.

Mix butter, cream cheese, sugar.

Add flour and salt. Coconut extract, a touch of brandy (this was not in the original recipe, but why not?). Then chop the nuts, the recipe calls for macadamia, but my supermarket apparently has never heard of such a nut, so pecans it is!

Put the dough in the fridge for a bit, and then start placing the cookies on the baking sheets you have prepared.

And bake!

Here are all the recipes:

Sweet potato Pie

Crust:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup finely-chopped pecans

1/2 cup cold butter (the original recipe calls for vegetable shortening)

1/4 cups ice-cold water, or as needed

In a food processor, pulse together all the dry ingredients and the butter into short bursts until the mixture forms pea-sized lumps. Add the water through the feed chute as you pulse until the mixture forms a stiff dough and pulls away from the sides of the food processor bowl. Form the dough into a 6-inch disk and wrap it in plastic; chill for one hour. The dough can be made in advance. It can be kept refrigerated for several days and even frozen.

Filling:

2 large sweet potatoes (about 1.5 lbs total), peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cup condensed milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon melted butter

Pecan halves for decoration

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Roll the chilled pie dough into a 12-inch round and press into a 9-inch pie pan. Flute the edges. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is set and beginning to brown slightly. Remove the pie pan from the oven and let it cool.
  3. Put the sweet potatoes into a medium pot and cover them with water by an inch. Bring to a boil. Boil slowly until the potatoes are tender with no absolutely no resistance at the center when pieced with a fork.
  4. Drain off the water and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Do not use a potato ricer or food processor.
  5. As you mash the potatoes, add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg; then whisk in the eggs, milk, and vanilla. The butter goes in last.
  6. Once the filling is well-mixed, pour it into the baked pie crust. Arrange pecan halves around the outside edges and sprinkle the top of the pie with more ground cinnamon. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is set and the edges of the crust have browned.
  7. Serve the pie warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

 

Herb Bread:

1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons oil
3 1/2 cups flour
1 package dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon thyme (or herbs of your choice)

Heat water and oil to 120 F.
In a small bowl combine 1 yeast, salt and sugar.
Allow yeast to proof.
Add half of the flour and mix.
Gradually add remaining flour to form a stiff dough.
Knead until smooth about 5 minutes.
Place dough into a greased bowl, cover allow to rise for about 1 hour.
Punch down and reshape, allow dough to double in size.
Place on a baking sheet. Slash the top several times. Cover and allow to rise until double. Bake in preheated 375 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake for 20-25 more minutes.

And finally the cookies:

  • 1  cup  butter, softened
  • 4  ounces  cream cheese
  • 1  cup  sugar
  • 1  egg yolk
  • 1/2  teaspoon  coconut extract
  • 2 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  cup  finely chopped toasted macadamia nuts
  • 1  tablespoon  lemon zest
  • 1 1/2  cups  powdered sugar

Preparation

1. Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk, and beat until smooth. Stir in coconut extract.

2. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended. Stir in macadamia nuts and lemon zest.

3. Chill dough 30 minutes. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and bake, in batches, at 350° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on bottoms. Transfer to wire racks; let cool 2 minutes.

4. Place 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a bowl, and toss cookies to coat. Let cookies cool completely on wire racks. Toss in powdered sugar again, coating well.

Nettle Spinner’s Mini Chocolate Tarts

Ok, so I lied.

This is the first official post and it comes days early. The reason, well, I sold some baked items through my Etsy shop and I wanted to share the recipe and the whole process. The full recipe is at the bottom of the page.

So, here we go:

That is my poor tattered recipe notebook. As you can see it is well used, which I think inspires confidence.

I mixed the cream cheese together, gave it a good whirl

While I was doing this and sifting the flour and sugar, my Rottweiler’s nose led him to the kitchen.  No, Chaos this is most definitely not for you. I MIGHT let you lick the spoon. Not promising anything.

After adding the flour and sugar and stirring it thoroughly, it goes in the fridge.

Jaws Theme

Yeah, a bit dramatic, but it’s my party.

Leave it in the fridge for at least an hour so it’s easier to handle. IN the meantime, put the butter in a pan with the chocolate (or be lazy like I am and place it in the microwave stirring it every 15 seconds)

Let it cool and add the vanilla flavor and egg yolk.  Add sugar and flour. Chop the nuts, I used pecans this time and add it all together. Stir the pot!

Set that aside and coat the mini muffin pans.

Ta dah!

Aren’t they gorgeous? They’re tasty too.

And now to be wrapped up, ready for shipment

Official Recipe:

Crust-

1/2 cup cream cheese

1/2 cup butter

1 tbsp. sugar

1 cup flour

Filling-

2 tbsp. butter

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

2 tbsp. sugar

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. flour

4 tbsp. walnuts, chopped

For the crust: Beat cream cheese and butter. Add sugar and flour. Chill at least an hour. Preheat oven to 350 F.

For filling: mix butter and chocolate in pan. Over low heat, stir until melted. Take it off the heat and add sugar. Let cool then add egg yolk and vanilla extract, flour and walnuts.

Grease the mini muffin pans, press a tbsp. of dough inside, spread out. Place a tsp. of filling inside. bake 18-20 minutes.

By the way, this is the address to my Etsy shop:  Carabosse’s Bakeshop