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Entries in pies (58)

Friday
Feb112011

Better Together: Peanut Butter Cup Pocket Pies

True or False: 

  1. Everything's cuter in miniature form.
  2. Pie is so hot right now.
  3. Peanut butter cups are delicious.

Well, I think we all know the answer to all three, and it's certainly not "false". But when these three truths come together in one adorable pocket pie form, they go beyond TRUE to TRUE LOVE.

That's right: Peanut Butter Cup Pocket Pies!

These sweet morsels are the perfect two-bite treat, and tasty as can be with the can't-lose combo of peanut butter and chocolate, all blanketed between two discs of rich, buttery pie crust. 

They'd be cute as pops too, but I think I actually prefer the stick-less version, because they're easier to "pop" in your mouth. 

Here's how you make them.

Peanut Butter Cup Pocket Pies

Makes 12 2-inch pocket pies

 

  • 1 9-inch pie crust, unbaked
  • 12 teaspoons (approx.) creamy peanut butter
  • about 36-40 chocolate chips (milk, semisweet or dark chocolate, your choice)
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

You also need: a 2-inch (or so) round cookie cutter, small pastry brush

  1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment; set to the side. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Roll out your pie crust on a flat, floured surface.
  3. Using a 2-inch (or so) round cookie cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can. It's fine to use other shaped cookie cutters too, but keep it fairly simple (hearts, squares, flower shapes, etc) so that you'll be able to easily seal the pies later. Clump the remaining dough, re-roll, and try to get some more cutouts. If they're kind of ugly, it's ok--use these for the bottom layer of your pocket pies.
  4. Lay out half of the pies on your prepared baking sheet. Place a teaspoon of peanut butter in the center of each, leaving room on the perimeter so you can seal the second half of pie crust on top. Add 3-4 chocolate chips to each, pressing into the peanut butter. 
  5. Using a small pastry brush, brush a small amount of egg wash along the perimeter of each of the peanut butter-filled pie bottoms.
  6. Place the top cutouts on top of each of the peanut buttered and egg washed bottom pieces. Press gently down, and use the tines of a fork to "seal" the pies. I did not vent these on the top. If you want, egg wash the top of the pies too (I didn't, because I forgot. I will be honest.)
  7. Place in the preheated oven; bake for 8-12 minutes, or until golden. 
Tuesday
Feb082011

Gimme S'more: Brownie S'more Pie in a Graham Cracker Crust Recipe

Problem: you're looking a little thin these days.

Delicious solution: Brownie S'more Pie in a Graham Cracker Crust. Yeah, you heard me.

This baby has the better part of a batch of brownie batter baked inside of a buttery graham cracker crust, and is crowned with a big, fat swirl of deep, dark, rich cocoa buttercream and topped with yet more chocolate and more marshmallows for good measure. It weighs many pounds, and each one is a pound of awesome.

While topping it with Hershey's Kisses (inspired by my current reading material, The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars) and a heart design is timely, what with it getting dangerously close to Valentine's Day, it's a pretty sure thing that this is what love tastes like all year round.

Brownie S'more Pie in a Graham Cracker Crust

Ingredients

  • 1 9-inch graham cracker crust 
  • 1 batch your favorite brownie recipe
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
  • Hershey's Kisses plus more mini marshmallows, to garnish

For the cocoa buttercream

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons milk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 to 5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

Procedure

  1. Have your graham cracker crust ready: if you are making your own from scratch, no need to pre-bake. If you're using a store bought variety, just leave it off to the side for the moment.
  2. Prepare your brownie batter per the instructions in your favorite recipe, with one change: fold in the marshmallows once the batter is otherwise ready and mixed.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pie shell, filling it about 2/3 of the way full. You may have extra brownie batter; bake it up in cupcake cups, or, you know, lick the bowl clean.
  4. Place the pie plate on top of a cookie sheet (just because brownie recipes can vary, and I don't want it to drip over the pie plate into your oven!).
  5. Bake according to the brownie recipe instructions. Keep an eye on the bake time and check the pie about 5 minutes before the brownie bake time specifies, since you might be using slightly less batter. 
  6. The brownies are done when a toothpick comes out mostly clean -- I would always err on under, rather than over-baking them.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  8. While it is cooling, prepare the cocoa buttercream: in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter. With the machine set at its lowest speed, add the cocoa powder and mix well. Add the milk and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Slowly beat in the confectioners' sugar, starting with 4 cups and adding more until it has reached your desired spreading consistency. Spread the frosting on top of the brownie pie, leaving a little bit of the brownie showing along the edges (pretty!). Top with your extra chocolate and marshmallows.

Note: Do make sure that the frosting is of an easily spreadable consistency. Because brownies have a flaky texture on top, you want to be sure that the frosting spreads with ease and won't bring up too many of the crumbs (that just looks messy!).

Monday
Feb072011

Sweet Nothings: Conversation Heart Cream Pie for Serious Eats

I'm pretty sure that I can count on on hand the number of people who genuinely love the taste of Conversation Hearts. And that's when I think really hard.

Conversation Heart Cream Pie, however, is a different story.

Believe it or not, letting those sugary-chalky lumps steep in milk before making a cream pie custard filling actually does yield a surprisingly toothsome (if slightly tooth-decaying) pastry product. No, it's not fine dining—it's best described as vanilla cream pudding pie punctuated with melty, pastel sugar cubes—but it goes down much easier than you'd think, especially when crowned with a cloud of freshly whipped cream.

For the full entry, recipe, and more pictures, visit Serious Eats!

Sunday
Jan232011

Crispy, Creamy, Gooey: Caramel Pudding Pie in a Rice Krispie Treat Crust

Guess what? Today is National Pie Day. Why today? I don't have a good answer for that, but when I have given you a perfectly good reason to eat pie, your follow-up question shouldn't be "why", but "why not?" and the only thing you should really be concerned with is how you'll celebrate.

Happily, in Seattle, there's an annual Pie Day Party in the Ballard neighborhood; however, even if you're nowhere near Seattle, you can still enjoy this extremely easy and incredibly delicious recipe for Pudding Pie in a Rice Krispie Treat Crust (which, incidentally, is what I will be bringing to the party). Though I used caramel pudding, you could use any flavor you like (vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch, or even pistachio sound good to me) -- either way, the resulting treat, which has a satisfying mix of crunchy, gooey, and creamy textures and flavors, is good to the last bite.

Pudding Pie in a Rice Krispie Treat Crust

Serves about 8

 Ingredients

  • 1 batch Rice Krispie Treat Batter
  • 1 batch instant pudding (3.3 ounce size box)
  • optional: mix-ins for your pudding (chocolate chips, caramel sauce, coconut flakes, etc)

 Procedure

  1. Prepare your pie plate by buttering it generously (the slices can be hard to remove if you don't).
  2. Make Rice Krispie treats as you usually would, in the microwave or on the stovetop; however, instead of pressing the mixture into a square pan as usual, press it into your pie plate, pressing the mixture down on the bottom and up the sides, holding a piece of waxed paper to press so the mixture doesn't stick to your hands. You might not use all of the treat batter; if not, press the remaining mixture into small ramekins or form into Krispie balls to enjoy later.
  3. Let the crust cool completely.
  4. Prepare your instant pudding (typically by whisking the pudding and 2 cups cold milk together until it starts to thicken); if desired, add a handful of chocolate chips, a swirl of caramel, or whatever mix-ins you'd like. Spoon the pudding into your pie crust and keep refrigerated until you're ready to serve it. Ideally, let the pie set for about an hour before serving so the pudding can completely thicken.
  5. Use a very sharp knife to slice, to ensure that you cut through the krispie treat crust; serve using a cake server.

 

 

Wednesday
Jan192011

When Pie Meets Bicycle: Street Food Profile on The Piecycle for Serious Eats

Photograph: Dawn WrightFact: food tastes better when it is made with love and delivered right to your doorstep.

But it gets even better when the food in question is freshly baked pie, and when the delivery mode is cute boy delivering it via bicycle. 

And in Seattle, that boy is Max Kraushaar, proprietor (and bike rider) of The Piecycle. It's exactly what it sounds like: pie, delivered by bike. By the slice, or by the pie--your choice.

I recently had the pleasure of profiling this sweet fella for Serious Eats--here's a sneak peek.

What's on the menu? It changes weekly. Whatever I feel like making. Recently it was Grandma's Lemon Meringue Pie and Vegan Choco-Peanut Butter (other flavors have included Vegan Apple Pie and Georgia Sweet Potato). I try to do at least one vegan flavor, and otherwise try to keep the flavors seasonal and if possible made using local ingredients. The cost is $3 per slice, or $20 for a full pie.

Hours and location? Anywhere in the University District of Seattle, Friday and Saturday evenings until 3 a.m., sometimes Sundays too. As for location, I come to you! It's delivery by the slice: I have my cell phone, and people text me requests. I have been called the "Jimmy John's of Pie."

How long have you been street-fooding? Since fall of 2010.

Why mobile over brick and mortar? I like riding my bike, and I don't have the capital to own a brick and mortar location. Plus, pie is better enjoyed in the comfort of your home or wherever you choose.

Describe a typical piecycle evening. I bake my pies in advance, then people will text me and I will bring them pie. I'm currently selling five to seven pies per weekend on average.

What do you do the rest of the time? School for theater and art, so I paint and act. I just got three paintings into the Jacob Lawrence Gallery. Art, theatre, and pies.

For the rest of the profile, check out Serious Eats!

Sunday
Jan092011

Batter Chatter: Interview with Esa Yonn-Brown of Butter Love Bake Shop

Sometimes you discover great bakers in the most unexpected places. For instance: recently I got to talking to Liz, violinist in Mr. CakeSpy's band Exohxo, and she casually mentions that her childhood pen pal Esa Yonn-Brown not only makes the most amazing baked goods, but she owns a Butter Love Bakeshop (best name ever!), a pie-making business in San Francisco, featuring such alluring pies as the Pear Crisp Pie, "One Bite Wonder" mini pies, Irish Coffee Cream Pie, and a signature "Butter Pie". Well, I demanded an introduction on the spot, and thanks to the magic of Facebook, it happened soon after. Want to know more of Esa's story? Here you go:

CakeSpy: Tell me your first pie memory.

Esa Yonn-Brown: I don't recall the day that the photo was taken that appears on the front of my website (picture left) but as you can see I grew up around pie from the time I could wield a butter knife, so pie it's self is embedded in many of my memories. The most comforting memory I have that surrounds pie is that of my mom in the kitchen in the very early morning singing while I still lay in my bed before school. She would sing while she rolled out the butter studded dough and filled rounds with potatoes, meat and vegetables. I remember her telling me as I got on the school bus to hold my lunch bag opened on my lap until my empanadas cooled or they would steam up and get soggy. I also remember all the kids on the bus asking me what I had because that buttery smell filled the cabin of the stale smelling bus.

CS: What do you think are some contributing factors to the current "pie renaissance"?

EYB: I think people are looking for comfort these days and pie, to many people, is the essence of comfort. Pie evokes memories of moms in the kitchen, something homemade and simple, and is warm and full of love. It is not pretentious but can be elegant in it's core which is appealing in a time that is so full of unknowns.

CS: Please, tell me more about your signature "Butter Pie". What is it, where did it come from, why should we love it?

EYB: The Butter Pie is a take on the traditional Canadian Butter Tart. I was trying to think of a signature pie when I was getting started that was both unique, butter related, and addictivly good. This pie ended up fitting the bill. Plus I wanted the signature pie to be something I could make year round so it would not rely on seasonality.

CS: A lot of people are VERY scared of pie crust. Any tips or suggested tools to make it slightly less scary?

EYB: Practice and cold butter. There are all sort of tricks out there but really if you want to make a truly good all butter crust it is difficult and requires practice. Once you get it it is not hard to do at all, but it is a delicate balance between cold ingredients, not over working the dough, and making sure not to add too much water which will all result in a tough crust. People should not be scared to try to make an all butter crust, the flavor will be there no matter what and after a few tries they will figure out the balance involved.

CS: Also RE: pie crust--butter, shortening, lard, or a mixture?

EYB: Butter all the way! Shortening has no flavor at all, but is much easier to work with. I have not tried lard and would be interested to experiment but I love the flavor that butter provides. Butter also offers a tenderness that is not achievable with shortening, and if you master it can have the crisp flaky texture that shortening provides.

CS: What is your favorite type of holiday pie?

EYB: It may be boring to some but I really think a traditional apple pie still slightly warm with some vanilla ice cream or generous helping of just whipped above weeping cream, with a touch of vanilla and lightly sweetened couldn't be better for the holidays.

CS: New Year's Eve is over, but next time I'm celebrating, what kind of pie do you think would go well with champagne?

EYB: I personally love champagne and think pear pie would be lovely as well as a rich chocolate tart.

Discover Butter Love Bakeshop via Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or learn more at butterlovebakeshop.com.

Friday
Jan072011

Sweet Excess: The Exquisite Pleasure of Eating the Pumpple from Flying Monkey Patisserie, Philadelphia

Pie? Cake? Why decide, when you can eat two kinds of each, plus a 3-inch slab of buttercream frosting, all at once?

That's right: it's time for me to tell you about the exquisite pleasure that was ordering and eating the Pumpple, by far and away the single most calorie-dense offering at Philadelphia's Flying Monkey Patisserie.

But first, a 411. Per this article on MSNBC:

While the turducken, a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey, once seemed over-the-top, the pumpple cake is even more decadent. One Philadelphia bakery dreamed up this ultimate fall dessert: pumpkin and apple pies baked in chocolate and vanilla cake, fused together and surrounded by buttercream icing.

This oversize creation weighs in at a whopping 15 pounds and measures more than a foot tall. And at 1,800 calories a slice, it's not for the faint of heart.

And when a couple of spies--a buddy and myself--found ourselves wandering around Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market a week or so ago, you'd better believe we made a beeline to Flying Monkey for a slice of this sweet manna.

Now, this cake is not cheap. It's $8 a slice. But the purchase price is practically worth it for the pomp and circumstance of serving a slice all alone. Here's what you can expect if you decide to make the investment:

The first thing you'll notice as you come up to the bakery case is that this cake is huge. It's over a foot tall--just think about that. This means that if you were standing next to it, it would probably come closer to the height of your knee than the height of your ankle. 

The next thing is that it's heavy. This was clear by the way the employee braced herself to hoist the cake up to the counter to cut and serve. Over 15 pounds--that's a lot of cake, friends.

Once sitting at counter level, a big knife-slash-mini machete will be taken out to cut your slice. First, they will score the cake into marked-out slices.

Since the cake is kept cold (they recommend letting it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before eating), they will run a mini blowtorch over the knife (the kind used for creme brulee) to warm it so that it can cleanly and smoothly cut through the mass of cake.

They will repeat the torching to cut the other side of your wedge, and then they will delicately extract it and place it in a box, if you're taking it to go. This takeaway box is about the size of one that you'd get for an entire Chinese takeaway meal, by the way.

Now, you could wait half an hour to dig in, as they suggest. But when faced with the heady scent of buttercream, our resistance was futile--we grabbed some forks right away for a taste.

Sometimes, when a dessert like this exists, it's more for the shock value, and can disappoint in the taste department. But not this cake.

Every element could have stood on its own--moist, rich, flavorful cakes giving decadent, buttery pies a bear hug, and every last inch of it enveloped in a buttery frosting swaddling. 

After our few initial bites, we hit the road, walking around Philadelphia clutching our takeaway container with the care that one might assign a newborn baby...a newborn baby that you occasionally pause to take bites of, that is.

Furtive forkfuls were eaten at random all around town, and somehow, by the next morning, waking up in our hotel, this is all that was left. Now, this cake was advertised as serving four per slice, so I suppose I'm equal parts ashamed and proud to show you this.

In the morning light, it seemed like it could have been a mistake. But oh, it felt so right the night before.

Want a slice of this pie-and-cake mashup? You can get it at Philadelphia's Flying Monkey Patisserie; find them online here, and check 'em out on Twitter here.

Tuesday
Jan042011

Slice of Life: Bob Andy Pie Recipe from Dangerously Delicious Pies

Recently, when leafing through the amazing book Killer Pies: Delicious Recipes from North America's Favorite Restaurants, a conflict presented itself: which recipe to try first?

Happily, the answer presented itself quickly enough, when I found the entry for Dangerously Delicious Pies in Baltimore, Maryland. 

The pie in question? The "Bob Andy". 

What's a Bob Andy Pie, you ask? Well, according to proprietor (part time baker, part time rock musician) Rodney Henry, this pie is "really awesome...I call it 'White Trash Creme Brulee.'" I didn't need any more backstory beyond that: I was already headed to the kitchen.

Happily, the Bob Andy is what is considered a "staple" pie, meaning it contains the basic ingredients most people have in their pantry at any given time. 

Unhappily, it just so happened that just returning from a trip, my pantry was somewhat empty, and I found myself with roughly half of the milk and butter called for in the original recipe. But it occurred to me: is it possible to half a pie recipe? After all, I had split a pie in three parts before, why not just create a foil barrier and bake it as a half-pie?

So I gave it a try, and amazingly, it worked. I had a little extra filling, which I simply baked up as custards in cupcake-cups. I can't say it would work for every type of pie, but I was happy with the result.

Bob Andy Pie, Halved

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 unbaked round of pie dough (enough for a 9-inch pie), cut into 60/40 portions, of which you'll use the 60 part (use the rest for pie fries!)

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Prepare your pie dough. Roll it out, and place it in your pie plate. Using a piece of foil, form a barrier in half of the tin, and shape your dough up the side of it, so that you have a sort of makeshift pie semicircle in which to pour your filling.
  3. Mix all of the filling ingredients except for the egg whites together to make a custard.
  4. With a hand mixer, beat the whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fold the whites into the custard and pour into the pie shell. Bake for 1 hour. 
  5. Remove when it's browned on top, and when (owner's words) "everything moves together. It shouldn't be jiggly like milk."

 

Monday
Jan032011

The Long and Winding Nesselrode: Pecan Nesselrode Pie for Serious Eats

What makes a dessert "lost"?

Well, in the case of Nesselrode Pie, a chestnut cream pie, it could simply be that the ingredients are too hard to find.

But wait: this pie is worth seeking out. Like its namesake pudding, it is inspired by Count Karl Nesselrode, a Russian diplomat and noted gourmand of the 19th century. According to The Food Maven, this pie enjoyed a bit of a heyday in the 1950s as an indulgent after-dinner treat—there was even a product called Nesselro which made preparing the filling a snap.

However, as I found recently, it's just as delicious when substituted with much easier-to-obtain pecan puree and pieces used in the place of chestnut. While the pie itself is served chilled, don't worry about catching cold: this pie is so rich and decadent that it is bound to keep you warm during the dull days of January.

Read the full entry and find a recipe on Serious Eats!

Sunday
Jan022011

Live and Let Pie: But Please Don't Let the Cupcake Die

Poor cupcakes. They've been the subject of so much foodie scorn lately: from NPR's battle cry of "Cupcakes are Dead, Long Live the Pie" to the New York Times' headline "Pie To Cupcake: Time's Up" to the derision on the Serious Eats forum about best and worst food trends of 2010. The message is clear: if you're a cupcake, you've gone the way of Von Dutch Caps, Ugg boots, and gaucho pants. You're out. The truly fashion-forward would never indulge (at least publicly).

And I can see the point. It does seem like new cupcake shops are cropping up at a rate not unlike re-animated brooms in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. And with cupcakes being offered at mass-market eateries such as Red Robin, Cinnabon, and Au Bon Pain, it's hard not to look at the cupcake without having "jumped the shark" type thoughts. 

And undoubtedly, the ubiquity of cupcakes will falter. Like the cookie shop fad that started with Mrs. Fields in the 1970s but began to fizzle with the recession of the 80's, this cupcake shop phenomenon is bound to have an arc. The weak will not survive, but maybe we don't want them to (because there's no bigger bummer than a bad cupcake).

But here's the thing. Cupcakes are cake, and that will never go out of style.

Let me tell you a brief story to illustrate my point.

One ill-fated year, before cupcakes or pie were trends, before Magnolia Bakery was an institution, I unwittingly made what turned out to be a major life decision: I decided to have banana cream pie instead of cake or cupcakes for my birthday party. What can I say? I was going through a phase.

The reaction from the party-goers was swift, and fierce.

"What the hell is this?" said one wide-eyed child (really).

"Where's the cake?" asked a confused parent.

"Is this to go with the cake?" said another child, hopeful, but with a slight tinge of panic in his voice.

Unfortunately, no, there was not a cake to go with that pie. And although the pie was perfectly serviceable--even better than good, as I recall--somehow, the experience left a bad taste in my mouth. And it wasn't forgotten by my so-called friends, who were quick to inquire the next year: "will there be cake this time?". Every now and again it would come up in conversation, too: "remember that year you had pie instead of cake for your birthday? What was up with that?". It was the biggest birthday shame I ever suffered. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I love pie. I love it enough to have had it for my birthday one year, and enough that I was even hired as pie recipe consultant for a newly opened Seattle bakery. I love it on a plate, in a cake, in a shake, on a stick. I, like, totally embrace pie.

But I'm not convinced it takes the cake.

Here's an idea: why don't we just let pie and cake get along? Pie on some days, cake on others? Or embrace diversity by combining them, as in the case of the Pumpple Cake or the Pake?

Or maybe we should just skip right to the good part and combine all of the "next big thing" desserts, mixing up a slurry of macaron-cupcake-artisan-ice-cream-whoopie-pie-salted-caramel-bacon-chocolate...and baking it up in a pie shell?

Come to think of it, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

But before I busy myself in the kitchen on that task, let me conclude: Cupcakes=good. Pie=also good. But all the same, please don't call me PieSpy.

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