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Entries in pies (56)

Wednesday
Nov042009

Decadent Sweets Inspired by Dana Treat: Caramel Apple Pie Bar Recipe

Piggie loves Apple Pie Bars
It's not that I don't like apple pie. It's just that the parts I do like happen to be the ones that don't really involve apples: the buttery, rich crust, and the equally buttery, rich topping--which, if I have my say, is always some sort of brown sugar crumbled goodness. So when I saw a recipe for Apple Pie Bars on the Dana Treat website, I knew I had found the apple pie that my soul had always been searching for: i.e., mostly crust and topping, with a little filling sandwiched in between. I had to make these bars. I did make these bars, the very same day I found them--adding in a layer of caramel too for good measure. With a bar this rich, was that necessary? No. But it sure was good. In fact, the only mistake I made with these bars is that I halved the original recipe, which was a mistake because we ran out all too soon.

Apple Pie Bars
Caramel Apple Pie Bars
Adapted from Dana Treat
- Makes about 24 bars -

Notes: I made some changes to Dana's recipe. First, I halved her original recipe, instead making my batch in an 8x8-inch pan. This was probably a mistake as we definitely could have eaten more. I also added aforementioned caramel layer. Good decision.

For the crust
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling
(optional) 1/2 cup caramel sauce, such as Fran's Dessert Sauces (or if you're feeling saucy, you could make your own; or, you could just use a dozen or so caramel candies--choose your own adventure!)


3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 large Granny Smith apples, cut into thin slices (I didn't peel mine, and nobody judged me)
1 tablespoon cinnamon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For the topping
1/2 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 sticks salted butter (the original recipe calls for unsalted, but I like a really salty crumb, so I used salted), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled

Procedure
  1. Make the crust. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease an 8x8-inch pan thoroughly. In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan, leaving the edges slightly higher (but still even all around). Bake in the center of the oven for about 12-15 minutes, until the crust is golden and set. Let cool on a rack.
  2. While this is cooling, make the filling. In a large skillet, the butter and brown sugar. Add the apples to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir the cinnamon and nutmeg into the skillet, making sure it has evenly coated the apples. Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet, and if necessary add a small amount of water to the pan to prevent scorching (I didn't have to).
  3. Make the topping. Lightly toast the walnuts in the oven for about eight minutes; let cool, then coarsely chop them. In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and baking soda. Using a pastry blender or two knives (or your very clean hands!) cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the walnuts and press the mixture into clumps.
  4. Assemble and bake. Spread the 1/2 cup caramel sauce (or caramel candies) over the bottom layer, ensuring even coverage. Spread the apple filling directly on top of the caramel. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into bars.
Note: Dana says that these bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for a month, but I can't be sure as ours didn't last that long.

For more of Dana's sweet recipes, check out danatreat.com. You won't regret it.

Wednesday
Nov042009

Oh So Good: A New Take on Osgood Pie, for Serious Eats

What is Osgood Pie, anyway?
Have you ever heard of Osgood Pie? Didn't think so. Actually neither had I, until I discovered it via Not Martha!

While the pie, which is in the tradition of old-time vinegar and chess pies, doesn't necessarily sound like the most appetizing dessert--it's comprised of eggs, sugar, vinegar, and raisins--I was nonetheless intrigued, and I tried to modernize it a bit for my latest contribution to Serious Eats by swapping raisins for cherries and adding some almonds for an added texture and flavor contrast.

If I do say so myself, it turned out pretty tasty--once you've wrapped your mind around the vinegar pie idea, that is. You can check out the entire post and recipe, as well as more Osgood Pie lore, over at Serious Eats!

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?

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
Jul282009

Stick It: Amazing Pie Lollipops by Luxirare

A Discovery on Luxirare
(Photo via Luxirare)

Are you still eating your pie with a knife and fork, like a jerk?

 

Time to get with the program: discover Luxirare's Pie Lollipops.

When I recently came across these Pie Lollipops, it made me want to cry. Why so? First, because I hadn't thought of it myself. Second, because I can't believe I've lived so long without them.

These Pie Lollipops are bite-sized morsels of pie in various flavors, with crinkled edges to hold in the delicious fillings. They work on just so many levels: they capitalize on the fact that small things are adorable and desire-inducing; their small, accessible size makes it possible to sample a few bites of multiple flavors without feeling immense regret afterward; and, they just fuel my deep belief that food simply tastes better on a stick.

To see the step-by-step tutorial, visit luxirare.com.

 

 

Sunday
Jan202008

Pie in the Sky: Demystifying Sweet Pies (With Help from the Mini Pie Revolution)

 

Someone had to be the first

What is pie, really? According to the dictionary, "a baked food having a filling of fruit, meat, pudding, etc., prepared in a pastry-lined pan or dish and often topped with a pastry crust." Well, to put it simply, it's a very open-ended food; one of those unique and versatile dishes that can go sweet as easily as it does savory. But even focusing on just the sweet pies, there's still an overwhelming amount of variety as to what a pie can be; from lemon meringue to Chess Pie to classic apple a la mode, it's enough to make one's head spin. Recently, we got a little help from Ann and Karyn, some of the masterminds behind the Mini Pie Revolution (take that, cupcakes!) in decoding the pie family genus. Here's how Karyn explained the differences between the primary types of sweet pies (sorted alphabetically):


Cream Pies: Where eggs are used with heavy cream to make a silky, thick base. These are a subset of custard pies, and the boundaries between them often blur. If you're going to throw a pie at someone, cream pies are the obvious choice. I
think cream pies are a bit more, should I say democratic?, than fruit pies. You can make many using nothing more than pantry staples. '50s housewives loved them. Photo left: Banana Cream pie from Billy's Bakery, NYC.

Custard Pies:
Any pie where eggs are used to set a liquid. Pumpkin pie's a good example. I would suggest that lemon and lime pies fall into this category as well, along with pudding pies and most chocolate pies. Cakespy Note: another one which has fascinated us in the past is the Hoosier Pie, a kind of sugar-custard pie which seems to be big in the American mid-west. Photo left: Pumpkin pie from the North Hill Bakery, Seattle. 
Fruit Pies: I would suggest that the fruit pie family includes any pie where whole fruit or chopped fruit combines with a thickener to create a filling. I confess, I love fruit pies, especially those combination-berry pies that balance sweet and tart flavors. I love them too because they can be so intensely regional and seasonal. In the summer, I love blackberry and blueberry pie topped with vanilla ice cream. In New England, apple pies with cheddar cheese are the norm, while the best cherry pies (in my experience) hail from Michigan. Strawberry-rhubarb pies for the spring fling, pumpkin pies for Turkey Day. Fruit pies are cultural pies, family pies; traditional pies. There's not much new-fangled about them (though there always could be) and I think people like that. 

Mousse Pies and Chiffon Pies: Egg whites are the major player here, though many recipes call for gelatin as well.

 

Nut Pies: I lump all pies requiring nuts set with corn syrup in this category (including peanut pie, though peanuts are legumes, not nuts); Walnut pie, Kentucky Derby pie, Pecan pie . . . while some of the recipes contain eggs, the eggs don't set a liquid, which is what I think separates nut pies from custard and cream pies. I might lump in sweet bean-based pies, too, since the beans were used when people didn't have nuts.

Whew! Glad we got all that figured out. Of course, we won't even get into the poetry and lore of pie crust; however, may we suggest this great post on Smitten Kitchen? Also, if you haven't already read it, there is a wonderful essay on the quest for the perfect crust in Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything.

 

But now, to answer the pressing pie questions:


What is the difference between a tart and a pie?
No, tarts aren't just pretentious pies. A tart is always uncovered, and generally made in special, delicately shaped tins. So by this logic a tart is a pie, while a pie is not necessarily a tart. However, the general connotation is that a pie is more rustic, peasant fare, where a tart is more refined. Also, pastry chef Chris Jarchow (who, incidentally, made the tart pictured to the left) points out that tarts are generally defined further by the use of Pâte Sucrée (sweetened crust) as opposed to Pâte Brisée (unsweetened crust), which is what you'd see on say, an apple pie.
Are pies an aphrodisiac?: Yes--according to a study in which (we want to be paid to do studies like this), men's "vital statistics" were measured based on certain smells, pumpkin pie elicited the biggest response. When approached for fact-checking, a cute male couldn't say that pumpkin pie would be his first choice though.
Why do they call it a pizza "pie"? Well, "pizza" literally translates to "pie" or "torte" (thus really rendering "pizza pie" a bit redundant). While pizza does share general traits with a savory pie, the major difference is usually that its crust contains yeast (more bread-y), and so is not quite a  pastry crust. According to the dictionary this makes it technically not a pie--but really, we'd just as soon eat some rather than argue over the details.

Is Boston Cream Pie really a pie? Tasty as it is, this sponge cake, chocolate and custard confection is technically this is not a pie--check out this article for the explanation of why "pie" may have gotten into its name. Other tasty treats that are not actually pies include the
Moon Pie and the Whoopie Pie. Some versions of the Mississippi Mud Pie are really more like cakes, although some do have a decidedly pie-like cookie crust.
Is pie the new cake? Well, some may say so, but the choice--pie, cake, other--is really up to you. However, we must say that at Cakespy, we think these adorable mini pie - cupcake hybrids cropping up recently are awfully cute.
Cakespy Note: Thank you to our sources for this writeup, including Ann and Karyn of the Mini Pie Revolution, Pastry chef Chris Jarchow, the following books: Everything You Pretend to Know about Food (And Are Afraid Someone Will Ask) by Nancy Rommelmann, James McNair's Pie Book, and Joy of Cooking's All About Pies and Tarts; online we got some help from American Heritage, What's Cooking America and Joy of Baking.

 

 

 

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