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Tuesday
Nov032009

Candy Massacre: Leftover Halloween Candy Pie for Serious Eats

Leftover Halloween Candy Pie
Poor Halloween candy. Just a few days ago it was the star of the supermarket aisle, the festive treat on everyone's mind. But now, just two days later, these sweet treats are Halloween has-beens, relegated to sale bins, withering away in candy dishes.

But is there a way to breathe new life—to re-animate, if you will—this past its prime candy? I propose yes: by dumping it in a pie shell and melting it into one monstrous mash of a candy pie.
Leftover Halloween Candy Pie

This pie was the subject of my weekly sweet writeup over at Serious Eats--why not click over and check out the full post plus recipe?

Sunday
Nov012009

Pie Time: The Most Amazing Pumpkin Banana Cream Pie with Brandy Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart with homemade brandy whipped cream
There are pies--and then there are truly great pies. And it's my great pleasure to introduce you to one of the truly great ones: Pumpkin Banana Cream Pie with Brandy Whipped Cream. This triple-decker treat is a triple-threat of awesome, combining recipes by Ina Garten and Tom Douglas, with some added variations (like Brandy whipped cream) dreamed up by my friend Nurit, ace baker and writer of 1 family. friendly. food., with whom I baked this hunk of delicious the other day. But really, words are wasted when we could be talking about how to get on the express train to having this pie in your mouth:

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart with homemade brandy whipped cream
Pumpkin Banana Cream Pie with Brandy Whipped Cream

Nurit's Note: We used an 11-inch tart pan but you can use a regular pie pan. In any case, you probably will have some extra custard which you can layer and serve in pretty little bowls. (Check her site for her own posting about the pie, and check back soon for a separate post about this dessert!)

More notes:The pumpkin custard is based on Ina Garten’s Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart and the vanilla custard is based on Tom Douglas’s Coconut cream pie (but substituting banana for coconut). The dough was from a recipe of Nurit's, and the brandy whipped cream (ethereal!) was her brainchild as well.

For the dough:
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup banana chips, crushed in food processor

For the pastry cream:
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract plus 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (the original recipe called for 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1-2 bananas thinly sliced

For the pumpkin custard layer:
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
A pinch ground nutmeg
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 package (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 ripe banana, finely mashed
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice

For whipped cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy

Make the dough. 

  1. Pulse butter, sugar, and flour in a food processor, or do it with hands, until you get big crumbs. Add the yolks, pulse until the crumbs are moist. Press into a generously greased 11-inch tart pan. Press banana chips into dough. Refrigerate covered for 30 minutes or so. 
  2. Bake at 375 F for 20-25 minutes.

Make the pastry cream. 
  1. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan until it almost comes to a boil. Add the vanilla. (If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean and add both the seeds and pod to the milk mixture. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir occasionally.)
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour until well combined. Temper the eggs (to keep them from scrambling) by pouring about 1/3 cup of the scalded milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Then add the warmed egg mixture to the saucepan of milk. Whisk over medium-high heat until the pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes more.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the butter and whisk until it melts. (Remove and discard the vanilla pod.) Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and place it over a bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until it is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming and refrigerate until completely cold. The pastry cream will thicken as it cools.

Make the pumpkin custard layer.
  1. Heat the half and half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, ginger, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly (so the eggs to scramble) until it reaches 160 F degrees. Remove from the heat.
  2. Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup orange juice (or water). Add the dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to chill in the fridge or use the same ice bath as the vanilla cream.
Make the whipped cream.
  1. In an electric mixer with the whisk, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and brandy on medium-high speed until firm peaks form.
Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart with homemade brandy whipped creamGoodbye, pie
Assemble it all.
When the custards and dough are cooled, assemble the pie by layering the fresh bananas on top of the dough. Then spoon with vanilla cream on top, smoothing the surface. Next, add the pumpkin custard, and last spoon the whipped cream. Decorate with banana chips or fresh banana slices (add fresh banana only shortly before serving so they don’t brown). Let pie set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

Keep up with my friend Nurit by visiting her site and by following her on twitter!

Friday
Oct302009

Salty Sweet: Bacon Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

Chocolate Bacon Ice Cream
CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Cake Gumshoe Bonnie, a 25 year old graduate student who finds sanity in the kitchen. If it doesn't turn out the first time, try again, and add some cinnamon; it always spices things up. She's on twitter too! Take it away, Bonnie:

I know it sounds disgusting. But you have to get past it and think of it like a chef: the perfect combination of salty and sweet will keep your guests wanting more. Did you know that the Lays potato chip people have this mixture down to a science? Those chips aren't that good, they just keep you wanting more sugar or more salt so you reach in handful after handful. So think of this creation as that: a perfect blend of salt and sugar that really does leave you wanting more.

Now, I must say that if I did this again I would use full fat ice cream. It is much better to have one scoop of full fat ice cream that is mouth-waterinlg good and has natural ingredients than have two scoops of non-fat ice cream that is so-so in taste.

Also, per my friend Julia's suggestion, I would make the bacon bits larger. I was so nervous about having bacon in ice cream that I cut them very small. The truth is they were very good, and thus we learn a lesson: if you are going to do something, be bold about it, and do it with gumption. Anyway, here we have it:
Chocolate Bacon Ice Cream

Chocolate Bacon Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole milk (I used Organic Rice Milk, pick your variation, but the less fat, the less creamy)
  • 6 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt (I used Organic Greek Yogurt to make up for the thin Rice Milk)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (Organic)
  • 6 strips of organic bacon
  • 6 tablespoons organic brown sugar

Note: It's all about what you have. You don't have the exact ingredients? Make a variation. You don't want to use whole milk? Don't. Try it out and if you hate it, then you learned for the next batch. No harm done.


Directions:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side facing up. Place the bacon strips evenly on the cookie sheet and sprinkle about a tablespoon of brown sugar on the side facing up. Be generous, and if you need more, just use more. Don't be too uptight about measurements here.
  2. Once the oven is pre-heated, place the bacon inside the oven and set the timer for 12-14 minutes. Half way into the baking process, open to oven and use tongs to rub the bacon in the melted brown sugar and flip it over. This way, both sides are coated. Let it cook for the remaining time. You will know the bacon is ready because the brown sugar on and around the bacon will have turned a dark, maple brown. Remove from oven and set on a cooling rack to allow to cool. Once it has cooled, chop into small pieces, you can determine the size based on how prominent you want the bacon to be. Set aside.
  3. Now it's time for the ice cream/frozen yogurt part. Most ice cream makers call for the container to be frozen at least 24 hours before use, please check with the manual on this one. Combine the milk and chocolate in a blender or food processor, until smooth, about 20-30 seconds. Add the yogurt and sugar and process until smooth, about 15 seconds.
  4. Turn the Ice Cream machine ON and pour mixture into freezer bowl through the "pour spout" and let thicken which is about 25-35 minutes. You can watch the thickness here, and you can tell how it's turning out. In the last 5 minutes or so of mixing, pour the bacon into the mixture as it churns. Add the bacon in segments so that it gets all throughout the ice cream.
  5. Once the ice cream is all churned up, turn the machine to the OFF position and remove pouring spout and plastic "blade." Some ice cream will have stuck to the blade, just be patient and remove it with a spoon. Now you are ready to enjoy your treat. The freezer bowl should still be cold, so either scoop and enjoy immediately, or put into an air tight container and place into the freezer. If you are making the ice cream ahead of time, I would suggest the latter, and then placing it at room temp about 5-10 minutes before you are serving it. This will allow for it to soften just a bit.
  6. This dessert is so rich and flavorful, I would suggest serving as is. Some ice creams may need a bit of sauce or syrup, but that will overpower the flavor here, and take away from the combination of sweet and salty. Plus, the point is to taste the bacon. Oink, oink...enjoy!

 

Friday
Oct302009

Baker's Dozen: A Sweet Batch of Halloween Links!

Mellowcreme strikes back!
Trick or Sweet! Here is a batch of sweet Halloween links full of ideas ghoulishly delicious ideas and recipes, some from the CakeSpy archives and some from other sweet spots around the web:

Homemade Candy Corn

What happens to Halloween Candy when it dies?

Wicked Witch's hat: a super elaborate popcorn ball (and cute Halloween recipe!)

Candy Corn Nanaimo Bars

Putting the "fun" back in Fun-Size Candies!

Mellowcreme Strikes Back!

Quick and easy ghost cookies, using nutter butter cookies!

Sweet coconut-orange thumbprint cookies are delicious, and a perfect quick cookie for a Halloween party!

Ghoulish Halloween Cupcakes!

Cereal Killer: Reese's Puffs bars with buttercream frosting!

Sweet (and cute!) Dracula Cookies!

Oogly Butterfinger eyeballs!

It may not scream "Halloween"--but this four-layer pumpkin cake would make anyone's October 31 sweet.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday
Oct292009

Fresh Flours: Chocolate Pecan Creme Sandwich Cookies from Dahlia Bakery

Chocolate butter pecan sandwich cookie from Dahlia Bakery
Imagine a chocolate cookie, and then make it about five times more buttery than the one you were imagining--and add some pecans into the mix, too.

Then, sandwich two of them together with a smear of buttery frosting.

You are now beginning to get the idea behind the Chocolate Pecan Creme Sandwich Cookie from Seattle's Dahlia Bakery. This cookie is small--not the typical gargantuan bakery or coffee shop cookie, here--but extremely mighty. I picked one up after a serious lunch at Serious Pie just around the corner, and all I can say is that it was a double whammy of Tom Douglas deliciousness.  The cookie had been suggested by a friend, and while it probably wouldn't have been my first choice purely based on visual appeal, it was definitely a delightful taste surprise. Every bite was rich with chocolate, pecan, and butter--in that order.

This is all to say, if you see this cookie when you visit Dahlia--get one. Or two. Don't forget the coconut cream pie, either.

Dahlia Lounge and Dahlia Bakery are located side by side at 2001 4th Ave., Seattle; check them (and Tom Douglas' other restaurants) out at tomdouglas.com.

Wednesday
Oct282009

Sweet Tart: Cranberry Bourbon Pecan Pie

Cranberry Bourbon Pecan Pie
Emily Post is probably frowning at me (tastefully, unobtrusively) from the great beyond for mentioning a holiday pie before Halloween is even over, but trust me: this one is worth the breach in etiquette.

The backstory? Not long ago, I sampled an absolutely delicious walnut-caramel-cranberry bar cookie in Chicago, and instantly I knew I had found a hit: the sweetness of the sugary nut mixture was perfectly paired by the tart cranberries. I had a feeling that it would translate beautifully to Pecan Pie.

So when I encountered the Bourbon Pecan Pie in the brand new (and so worth buying!) Grand Central Baking Book by local legend Grand Central Bakery (remember my adventure with early morning baking there?), I knew I had found the ideal recipe for my cranberry hypothesis.

Well, this spy is happy to report that it worked beautifully. Adding a generous handful of tart cranberries (I know! Fruit!) to the Bourbon Pecan Pie worked on two levels: first, it tempered the extreme sweetness of the pecan-sugar-corn syrup mixture; second, it added a refreshing tang to the fiery, warming bourbon.

Want some for yourself? Here's the recipe.
Cranberry Bourbon Pecan Pie
Bourbon Pecan Pie with Cranberries
-adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book-

 

  • 1 single pie crust, blind baked (ingredients below) 
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, lightly toasted
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (I used apple juice-sweetened; if possible, use the least sweet version you can!)


Rather Thick Single Pie Crust (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbsp. pcs., very cold
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cold water

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the pie crust. Put the flour, salt and sugar into a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter and process until the mixture looks grainy. Then slowly, while pulsing, add the water until you can form the dough by pressing it between your fingers. Note: this can be done by hand as well. Decant the loose dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Using the wrap, fold the loose dough towards the middle and press with the back of your hands to form dough. Wrap and chill for at least 4 hours before using. Dough can be made ahead for up to one week. Before you're ready to bake this pie, blind-bake the pie crust for about 10-15 minutes at 325 degrees F.
  2. Ready to make the pie? Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F., baby!
  3. When you're ready to Prepare the filling. Put the corn syrup and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add the butter, bourbon and vanilla. Let the mixture cool, and then add the eggs and whisk until smooth (don't add the eggs while the mixture is still very hot, otherwise you'll have scrambled eggs!).
  4. Fill and bake the pie. Arrange the pecans and cranberries on the bottom of the crust. Carefully pour the filling over them (some will rise to the top, like magic!). Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the filling is set; rotate the pan halfway through baking time. This pie allegedly serves about 8--however, what the recipe does not mention is that the 8 servings may be the same 2 people four times in one day.

 

Tuesday
Oct272009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Angela of Your Veganesse, Charlotte NC

Fruit Tart Pic, image c/o Your Veganesse
CakeSpy: First off, an important question: what was the last baked good you ate?
Your Veganesse: A carrot cake. I am in the process of experimenting with different ingredients and carrot/flour ratios to get a cake that is very carrot-y. I also am trying to use more healthy sweeteners like raisins, dates, fruit juices, and molasses to replace the sugar altogether.

CS: You've been veganizing desserts since the age of nine! Please, tell us more about how that got going.
YV: I always thought I'd be a chemist growing up. I was always experimenting with baking soda, vinegar, agar and other food reactants, that when I wanted to cut out non vegan ingredients because of animal cruelty issues, things just fit.
Fruit Tart, Fruit Tart Pic, image c/o Your Veganesse

CS: Is there anything you haven't been able to veganize? Or, is there any dessert in particular which is really difficult to veganize?
YV: Tiramisu. Marscarpone cheese is so hard to replicate.

CS: Your dessert roster is rather eclectic, with recipes taking inspiration from different world cuisines and flavors. So where do you get your recipes?
YV: A lot of recipes are healthier veganized versions of the American comforts I remembered growing up. Some, like the Chinese sponge cake and fruit tarts, are influences from my mother's Asian culture.
Chinese Sponge Cake, Fruit Tart Pic, image c/o Your Veganesse
CS: You're based in Charlotte, NC. What is the food scene like for vegans there?
YV: There's a lot of options if you're willing to eat in a place that cooks meat and veggies side by side. You just have to hope when your plate comes out, that there was no touching between the two. There are currently 3 eateries in Charlotte I know of that are completely vegetarian. A lot of the people here are interested in healthy food, so finding vegan options or substitutions is becoming very easy.

CS: A lot of vegan desserts are actually not much of a step up healthwise from their nonvegan counterparts, but you are committed to using quality natural ingredients. How does this affect the final result?
YV: The worst part of a lot of the commercial vegan desserts is the trans fats and hydrogenated oils (a.k.a. margarine) that they contain. This is easily replaced with canola oil or safflower oil and gives a cleaner, less waxy taste. The other worst part is the refined white sugar or high fructose corn syrup content. Even when replacing it with healthier sweeteners, I still keep away from over-sweetening (like in many store-bought desserts) so that it does not dominate over the pineapple, or berry, or carrot or chocolate, or whatever natural flavor that I want to shine most in the dessert. Overall, the ultimate effect is that you get to have a delicious and decadent-seeming dessert without having any repercussions.

CS: Have you ever "fooled" any nonvegans with your desserts?
YV: The cakes are definitely most like the nonvegan versions. The eggs are the main ingredient to replace, which is more of a binder and leavener and not for taste purposes. When I tell the person while they're eating, that it's actually vegan and thus, cholesterol-free and naturally low in fat, they usually eat the whole thing and grab another slice.
Raspberry-Lemon Swirl Cake / cream cheeze icing and raspberry preserves, Fruit Tart Pic, image c/o Your Veganesse
CS: What is your personal favorite item on your menu?
YV: I really love the Raspberry-Lemon Swirl cake. It's a cake that turns into an art form (which I hate covering up with frosting) and is the lightest and most moist of all my cakes.

CS: What is your biggest veganized dessert success?
YV: Making vegan frosting is definitely my biggest success-- particularly the chocolate frosting. It's tofu-based! Absolutely no one can tell what it's made of; all they can taste is the whipped chocolate texture.

CS: Finish this sentence. When I'm baking, I couldn't survive without my...
YV: Whisk.

CS: What's next for your business?
YV: I want to hold a grand-tasting party soon to test out some new dessert ideas and also some old favorites.

Curious? If you're in the Charlotte area, hire Angela to make your next special-occasion dessert; even if you're not in the area, you can enjoy the menu and pictures at  yourveganesse.com.

Tuesday
Oct272009

Sweet Art: Cuppie Goes to Art School

Art School Cuppies
Sometimes Cupcakes feel funny on the first day of life drawing.

Monday
Oct262009

Apple of My Pie: A Field Guide to the Best Apples for Baking, from Pillsbury

Apples Vs Pie
Apple pie is pretty delicious most of the time, no doubt about it. But in the fall, when apples are in season, it gets heightened to a new level of awesome. But which apples are best suited for baking?

Thankfully, the kind people at Pillsbury, who currently have a "Love the Pie" campaign going on to promote making, eating, and sharing pie recipes (love it!) were kind enough to make a field guide detailing which kind of apples are best suited to baking, snacking, freezing, cooking, and so on. It's a keeper!

You can find more pie ideas (including recipes, contests, and general pie deliciousness) at the Pillsbury Pie page.
Love the Pie Apple guide from Pillsbury

Monday
Oct262009

Trick or Sweet: Candy Corn Nanaimo Bars for Serious Eats

Halloween Treats!
What do Nanaimo Bars wear for Halloween?

Candy corn topping, of course.

For this week's entry on Serious Eats, I decked out the decadent Canadian treat with a sweet Halloween topping, swapping out the typical chocolate topping for melted candy corn. The result is a treat that is unforgivingly sweet and unabashedly rich: that is to say, completely awesome.
Halloween Treats!

You can find the recipe for Candy Corn Nanaimo Bars here; for the classic Nanaimo Bar recipe (as well as some lore!), you can visit this previous CakeSpy feature!

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