Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Dahlia Lounge Coconut Cream Pie

I am definitely known for going a little too far – in pretty much every aspect of my life.  My husband has had to get used to it over the years, and now he just thinks it is funny.  His father and I have that in common – his motto in life is “If it is worth doing, it is worth over doing.”  I love it.

When we moved here, almost 18 years ago – I remember going downtown for a special dinner one night.  Tom Douglas was a Seattle icon, even back then, although he only had a couple of restaurants.  It is remarkable to me that I can still remember that dinner - particularly the dessert.  I remember seeing that Triple Coconut Cream Pie on the menu, and I had to get it.  I love coconut, and I have always had a little thing for cream pies.  This pie was over the top.  I wasn’t exactly sure why it was a triple coconut pie, but it didn’t matter – every bite had an overwhelmingly delicious coconut flavor.  That pie is now a Seattle icon - everyone knows about this famous pie, and for good reason.

Last year for my birthday, one of my very close friends surprised me with a very special gift – the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook - and of course the first recipe I turned to was this Triple Coconut Cream Pie.  I knew that I would make it eventually, but I had to wait for the right occasion.  A month of so ago another good friend asked if I would make a dessert for her daughter’s school auction.  It is our neighborhood school – that my kids also attended – so I quickly snatched up the opportunity.  She was the one that suggested this pie, and even though I looked to see if there was anything else I thought could be more special – I couldn’t come up with anything.  How could anything top this?

Well – unfortunately I didn’t get to eat it in it’s entirety – but I did take tastes along the way – just to make sure it was edible for the auction…  And yes, it was definitely edible – and again, over the top.  It is sweet as all can be, so be prepared, but it is completely worth it.  Sometimes you just have to go too far – and when it is allowed, there is no holding back.  I hope that whoever ends up with this pie enjoys it as much as I did making it!

Ingredients

Coconut pastry crust:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced thin and chilled
  • 1/3 cup ice water
Coconut pastry cream:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (I used full-fat)
  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
Whipped cream topping:
  • 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Garnish:
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened large-flake coconut or 2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • Chunk of good white chocolate to make 2 ounces of white chocolate curls

Preparation

Coconut pastry crust

In a food processor, combine flour, coconut, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add butter and pulse until butter and flour are combined and mixture resembles small peas.Slowly pour in ice water through the feed tube. Stop when dough is beginning to come together. Dough should hold together when you squeeze it, but should not be sticky. You may not need to use all of the water. Shape dough into a disk and chill at least 1 hour. When you’re ready to roll, roll out dough on a well-floured surface into a 12- to 13-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, being careful not to stretch the dough. Trim overhang to 1 inch, then fold onto rim and flute with fingers and thumb. Chill unbaked pie shell at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line shell with parchment paper and pie weights (beans or coins.)  Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes until rim is golden. Remove shell from oven. Remove parchment and weights, and bake an additional 10 to 12 minutes until bottom is golden-brown in spots.

Coconut pastry cream

In a heavy bottomed pot, combine milk, coconut milk, coconut shreds and vanilla bean seeds. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and flour until smooth and combined. Bring milk to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and whisk 1/3 cup of the mixture into the mixing bowl with the eggs to temper them. Pour egg mixture slowly into milk, whisking constantly. Return to a bubble and let simmer 5 minutes until very thick. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Put plastic wrap directly on surface of pastry cream and chill.

Whipped cream topping

Whip cream, sugar and vanilla until firm enough that peaks hold their shape.

Garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and gently toast coconut until edges are golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully and stir a few times. Use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate curls. When crust is cooled, fill with coconut pastry cream and smooth the top. Either pipe or decoratively spoon whipped cream topping on top, then garnish with toasted coconut flakes and white chocolate curls.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie

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Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie 2

My younger daughter is a super-smeller, like me.  We have a ridiculous sense of smell.  Now I am not sure I am a super-taster, but I swear she is probably the closest thing to a super-taster that I know.  This comes in handy when things spoil – particularly milk.  My older daughter is pretty good too, but not as good as her little sister.  Years ago we were visiting some friends – both of my kids love milk – but for some reason they just weren’t drinking their milk.  After the second day, I asked what was going on – and they quietly told me that the milk tasted funny.  They thought it was because we were not at home, and maybe our friends bought a different type of milk.  I tasted it – and there it was – the milk had gone sour.  Oops.

Yesterday was a nice day – it was a holiday, and I was fasting – but what do I do when I fast?  I bake.  My excuse was that we were having some friends come over for dessert after break-the-fast.  Truthfully, I have a much easier time fasting when I am in the kitchen.  Don’t ask me why – and since I do consider my kitchen to be my place of worship – I thought it was only fitting.  I had a great day reflecting, as I slowly made this Banana Cream Pie – a recipe that I found in Bon Appetit.  The only problem with baking while fasting, is I am not able to try things along the way.  At one point I asked my older daughter (who is not old enough yet to fast) to try the filling – just to make sure we were on the right track – and boy did she love it.

It was right before dinner when I decided to make the whipped cream topping for the pie.  I whipped up the cream, and spread it on the pie.  It looked amazing.  It looked so good that I decided to take pictures before the sun came down.  I got a few good shots and then stuck it back in the refrigerator to keep cool.  At this point I was knee-deep into preparing dinner, and I just left the bowl on the counter with a few streaks of whipped cream waiting for someone to take a lick.  I finished making dinner when my husband declared fasting was over. I went right over to that bowl with the whipped cream and scooped up a little of the leftover cream – wow, that was not good.  I tried it again, boy that tasted horrible – I ran over the refrigerator and grabbed the leftover cream in the carton and took a whiff…oh my goodness, the cream I had purchased that day (with an expiration date of October 20th) was completely rancid.  I couldn’t believe it.

I sat there for a second not knowing what to do.  I certainly couldn’t let this pie go to waste – but we couldn’t eat the cream either.  So, after dinner – my husband ran out to the store to get me another carton of cream (I instructed him to open it in the store to make sure it was good), and I scraped the cream off the top of the pie into the sink.  Banana Cream Pie – take 2.  Fortunately the next batch of whipped cream was delicious – and I spread it on top of the pie.  Amazingly it was all completed before our friends arrived.  The pie was delicious – particularly with that sweet cream on top.  The filling though was perfect – nice and creamy with chunks of banana.  Oh, and everyone loved the thin layer of chocolate between the crust and the filling.

There are lots of things I plan on doing differently this year, as always – but there was one thing I added later in the day.  From now on, I am always going to smell what is in that carton before doing anything more with it – whether it is fresh off the shelf or has been sitting in the refrigerator for weeks.  I definitely learned my lesson there.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • Prebaked 9″ pie crust
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 sliced bananas
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoons vanilla  extract

Preparation

Melt 2 ounces bittersweet  chocolate with 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and brush over a prebaked 9″ pie crust;  chill until set. Meanwhile, whisk 3 large egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, 3  tablespoons cornstarch, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan, off heat,  until smooth. Gradually whisk in 2 cups whole milk. Whisking constantly, bring  to a full boil over medium heat and boil until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove  from heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 2 teaspoons vanilla  extract. Fold in 3 sliced bananas and let cool slightly. Pour filling into  prepared pie crust, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until firm, at least 3  hours and up to 1 day. Beat 1 cup chilled heavy cream with 2 tablespoons sugar  and 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract until firm peaks form; spoon over pie and  swirl decoratively.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Banana Cream Pie

Mile-High Chocolate Pie

I basically broke all of the rules today.  There were so many, I am not sure where to start.  I am going to let you in on a few secrets…and I hope you don’t think poorly of me.  First of all, it was the end of Thanksgiving weekend – and tonight my daughter had her book club.  I really procrastinated badly with this month’s book – I started it last night at 8:30pm.  Good thing it was a quick read – and a really good book – so luckily I finished it easily.  I signed up to bring dessert – not really remembering that it was Thanksgiving weekend, but I knew I could rally.

This morning, I took out some recipes, and gave my daughter 4 options which to choose from.  She narrowed it down to two, then I chose the winner – a Mile-High Chocolate Pie.  The picture in Bon Appetit said it all – it looked amazing.  I read through the recipe, and realized it had to chill for 4 hours, so I could not do my usual and procrastinate baking – I had to get to work.  I decided to make my life just a little simpler – and buy a prepared pie crust (rule #1).  The last time I did that I swore I would never do it again.  And after that amazing pie crust on made on Thanksgiving – I was really surprised by this decision – but it was a desperate situation.  It was 11am, and we still hadn’t gone to the supermarket for the ingredients.  I decided to buy a different prepared crust at Whole Foods - and when I went to check out – I saw the checker looking strangely at the crust.  I told her that usually I make my own, but we were in a bit of a time crunch today, so I went with a prepared crust.  She was awesome – she told me she wouldn’t charge me for it – just in case it didn’t work out.  Wow.

We started baking at about 1:30pm – not too bad, but yes, cutting it very close.  In order to cut corners again, I decided to go with semi-sweet chocolate chips, instead of using good chocolate and chopping it up (rule #2).  Bad decision.  The melted chocolate was a mess, and it never actually melted, it just got gritty  - I had to throw it away and go with the good chocolate.  Much better – so please, use good chocolate if you make this – it makes all the difference.  Also – the egg white mixture never really tripled in size – but that made no difference what-so-ever.  There was so much filling, this would have been called a Fourteener Chocolate Pie, had I not decided to stop mounding (rule #3), and fill some ramekins with the extra chocolate mixture.

The pie came out perfect – it looked beautiful, it had just enough time to chill – and it tasted amazing.  In fact – it was so good – that I couldn’t wait to post it (rule #4).  Normally I cannot get my act together to bake, photograph, write and post – all in the same day.  In fact – the Spinach Puffs post was the first time I had done that in months – maybe even years – and it was because I took the day off from work.  For those of you that actually think I can come home from working 10 hours in the office, cook a delicious meal for my family – take pictures and then write something about what I made – all in the same day – that is crazy talk.  I really would be superwoman.  But today – I did it – I had to, I couldn’t wait to share this pie – good thing it was a Sunday after having 4 other days off.  So yes, I broke a lot of rules today – but I think these types of rules are meant to be broken.  Now excuse me while I run to the kitchen and have another bite of pie – yes, I can do that when I post the same day I bake…

Ingredients

  • 1  pie crust, home made or store-bought
  • 4  large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 71% cacao), chopped, plus more shaved with a vegetable peeler for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 cup coarsely crushed chocolate wafer cookies (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers), divided
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Line pie dish with crust; crimp edges  decoratively. Fully bake pie crust according to instructions in recipe or on  box. Let cool completely.

Whisk egg whites and sugar in a medium heatproof bowl set over  a medium saucepan of simmering water until sugar dissolves and egg whites are  warm but not hot, 3–4 minutes. Remove from heat. Using an electric mixer, beat  on medium-high speed until cool, tripled in volume, and stiff peaks form (the  tips of the peaks won’t fall over when beaters are lifted from bowl and turned  upright), about 6 minutes.

Stir chopped chocolate and butter in a large bowl set over  same saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth, 4–5 minutes; set  aside.

Beat 2 cups cream in another medium bowl until medium peaks  form (cream should be soft and pillowy), 5-6 minutes.

Gently fold egg whites into warm chocolate mixture until fully  incorporated (work quickly to prevent chocolate from turning gritty). Gently  fold in whipped cream just until no white streaks remain; do not overmix or  mixture will deflate. Spoon ½ cup chocolate mousse into bottom of prepared pie  crust; spread evenly over bottom of crust. Sprinkle 3/4 cup plus  2 Tbsp.  crushed chocolate wafers over mousse. Top with remaining mousse, mounding in the  center to create a dome. (The point is to add height, not to spread out evenly  to edges.) Chill pie.

Beat remaining 2 cups cream, crème fraîche, and salt until  medium-stiff peaks form (when the beaters are lifted from the cream, the peaks  will hold their shape but the tips will fall over). Top chocolate mousse with  whipped-cream mixture, following the same rounded dome shape. Chill pie for at  least 4 hours or, covered, for up to 3 days. (It will slice best if chilled  overnight, allowing mousse to set properly.)

Garnish pie with 2 Tbsp. chocolate wafers and chocolate  shavings. Slice pie using a clean, dry knife; wipe between slices to ensure  clean, elegant pieces.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Mile-High Chocolate Pie

Peanut Butter Honeycomb Pie

Where did this week go?  All of a sudden it was Saturday, and I realized I never posted anything this week.  Sorry about that.  I was talking to one of my very close friends today, who by the way, I never have time to talk to anymore…and we were venting about the end of the school year.  She calls it the “100 days of May” – I think that’s it anyway, and has to do the fact that there are a million things to do before school is over.  We are cut from the same cloth - there is no resting – and she has three kids.  The only difference is that I work full-time, and she works part-time – but that doesn’t mean she has free time.  She fills it up just like I would with school activities, volunteering, and anything else she can get her hands on.  We used to joke that we would buy houses next door to each other and she would take care of my kids.  She knew I would never stop working, and she is Super Mom.  Too bad that never came true – we are at least in the same time zone, but an airplane ride away.  Well – her kids get out of school in just a couple of weeks, I told her she was in the home stretch…and I am just a week after that.  Soon summer will be here, and we will be dealing with a whole different set of chaos!

So, I am sure you are all wondering what I did with that delicious honeycomb I made.  The wait is over!  Now, unfortunately I never got to eat the entire pie put together – because this was a dessert I made for my younger daughter’s school auction…but I am telling you, that I sampled every bit of the way, and this is a winning recipe.  The peanut butter center was so creamy and amazing, I swear I liked the bowl clean.  I changed the recipe slightly from the Bon Appetit version, because I really thought it needed a chocolate cookie crust.  I think it really cut the sweetness of the filling.  Some friends of mine ended up with the pie that night, and they were pretty pleased.  One of them asked my husband how he stays so thin…the secret is in the stress.  Did you know that stress actually melts the pounds away?  Well I wouldn’t recommend it for a diet, but it seems to work in our house.

So – on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend (yes, it is sunny and 75 degrees here!!), sit back and relax – after you make this pie that is…I am heading to the kitchen now and toast to my friend Marti.  I am ready for summer!

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 box of chocolate wafer cookies
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, melted

Filling

  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 12 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Topping

  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Honeycomb
  • 1/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts

Preparation

Crust

Preheat oven to 325°. Finely grind cookies in a food processor.Transfer crumb mixture to a medium bowl. Add butter and stir to blend. Use bottom and sides of a measuring cup to pack crumbs onto bottom and up sides of 9″ glass or metal pie or tart pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Filling

Mix yolks and 6 Tbsp. sugar in the bowl of a stand mixers fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat at high-speed until ribbons form, stopping once to scrape down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes.

Combine milk and remaining 6 Tbsp. sugar in a large saucepan; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add bean. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove bean. With mixer running, gradually add hot milk mixture to yolk mixture. Scrape mixture back into pan. Clean bowl. Whisking constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove pan from heat; whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Return custard to mixing bowl, beat on high-speed until cool, about 4 minutes. Mix in butter on Tbsp. at a time. Add peanut butter, powdered sugar, and salt; beat to blend. Scrape filling into cooled crust; smooth top. Chill until set, 2-3 hours.

Topping

Stir chocolate and butter in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth.

Drizzle some of the chocolate glaze over the peanut butter filling, making a circle in the middle of the pie and leaving a 1″-2″ plain border. Pile pieces of honeycomb and salted peanuts on top, then drizzle remaining chocolate glaze over.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Peanut Butter Honeycomb Pie

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Crack Pie

A few years ago, the Momofuku Milk Bar craze began.  It wasn’t until I actually visited it myself in New York City did I really understand why.  This place was too much.  The desserts in the case were incredible, the cookies outrageous, and the cereal milk ice-cream…let’s just say, I am hooked for life.  It was really quite a experience, and that was before I tried the Crack Pie.  So, what kind of pie is called Crack Pie?  A pie that is so irresistibly delicious, you just can’t stop.  The name captures it perfectly.

A good friend of mine in Seattle is a huge fan as well – in fact, she lived in NYC and frequented the Milk Bar often before moving out west.  She is a huge Momofuku fan.  We had been talking about having a Momofuku dinner for a while – she would make the main dishes, I would make the dessert.  Since Crack Pie was printed in Bon Appetit a couple of years ago, I was all set.  We finally put a date on the calendar to have our special meal, and since the pie had to chill overnight, I put a note for myself on the counter on Friday night to remind myself to make it on Saturday (our dinner was Sunday).  We had some friends over on Friday night for cocktails – unfortunately I still had a ton of work to do – so after everyone left  – I went to the computer to tackle my emails.  A couple of hours later – I went back to the kitchen to look at my list for the next day – and mind you, I could barely keep my eyes open I was so tired.  I saw the pie, then brownies and cookies.  I thought I only had to make a pie?  Why do I have to make Pot Brownies and Cocaine Cookies?  I burst out laughing.  Obviously my friends were as well – as I figured out exactly what happened.  When I spoke to them the next day, we all had a good laugh about it.  No, their friend had not turned into a dug addict…just a pie addict.

Ingredients

Oat Cookie Crust

  • Nonstick vegetable oil  spray
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1  tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons (packed)  golden brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons  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 (generous)  salt

Filling

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown  sugar
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk  powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted  butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping  cream
  • 4 large egg  yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  extract
  • Powdered sugar (for  dusting)

Preparation

Oat Cookie Crust

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with  parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4  tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using electric  mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of  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 onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges  of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to  rack and cool cookie completely.

Using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; 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-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto  bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking  sheet.

Filling

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°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  well blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to  bubble). Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Continue to bake pie until filling is  brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie  dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on  rack. Chill uncovered overnight.

DO AHEAD Can be made 2  days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.

Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into  wedges and serve cold.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Crack Pie

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Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

About a month ago, I was really excited to tell you that I had taken a food photography class.  The woman who taught the class was amazing.  As I mentioned before, not only is she an incredible photographer, she makes everything from scratch, I mean everything – and she has three kids.  Unbelievable.  When I found out who was going to be teaching the class, I spent some time looking at her phenomenal blog, and there was one post that really struck me – it was a Peanut Butter Pie

A few weeks earlier when we were back east in New York City, I remember looking at two of my favorite food blogger sites – foodgawker and tastespotting - and there were a ridiculous number of Peanut Butter Pies posted.  Now, that is not completely unusual, because when there is a Daring Baker challenge, I often see many of the same dishes posted – but this was different, and it went on for days.  When I saw the Peanut Butter Pie posted on Not Without Salt, I decided to read the post to see what was going on.  A well-known blogger from NYC lost her husband.  It was a sudden tragedy, just like what happened to a good friend of mine that I wrote about here.  It brought me back to that place, that helpless place of not being able to do anything to help.  Peanut Butter Pie was his favorite dessert – and not even days after he passed away, she made a Peanut Butter Pie in his memory.  I had to do the same.

This recipe comes from my Aunt Marilyn, who is no longer with us.  She was a very good cook, and my grandmother often used her recipes – such as this one.  What I love about this recipe, is you can use all light ingredients, and you would never know – it is amazing.  The added bonus is that it makes two.  So, you can enjoy one right away, and freeze the other for a different occasion.  I was happy to solve the Peanut Butter Pie mystery, until I figured out what actually happened – my heart goes out to her and her children.

Ingredients

  • 1 box of chocolate teddy grahams
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2-1/2 C creamy peanut butter (not natural)
  • 8 oz. light cream cheese, softened
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1-1/2 cups low-fat milk
  • 20 oz. light frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed
  • Hot fudge sauce or Nutella

Preparation

To make the crust, grind the teddy grahams in a food processor until fine.  Transfer to a bowl and mix in melted butter.  Press crust into 2 – 9″ glass pie plates, pressing up the sides.  Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes.  Let the crust cool completely.

In a bowl, combine peanut butter, cream cheese & vanilla; beat until smooth.  In a separate bowl, whisk milk & sugar until smooth, then gradually add to peanut butter mixture, & blend until smooth.  Fold in whipped topping.

Pour a layer or fudge on topped of cooled crust, then spoon peanut butter filling into crust, mounding as necessary.  Freeze. Serve frozen or thaw 10 minutes ONLY.  Pie is better when it is VERY cold.

Makes 2 - 9″ pies, with some leftovers to put in ramekins.

For a printer-friendly version of the recipe, please click here:  Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

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Blueberry Crumble Pie

I have been longing to make a homemade crust lately.  The last time I used a prepared crust, I just wasn’t happy with how it turned out – yes, it significantly cut down on the amount of time to make the pie, but it just wasn’t that good.  Also – I found a new gadget that I just love, and it makes rolling out pie crust so easy, you almost want to make one from scratch, just so you can use this thing.  I found it at Whole Foods one day, and decided that for $6, I have nothing to lose.  A prepared pie crust can cost up to that, so I figured I would be getting my money’s worth.

I tried it out for the first time during Thanksgiving – and it was awesome.  It made the most consistent homemade pie crust I have ever made, and it was so easy to get it into the pan.  No more worrying about folding it over, or rolling it, – I just unzipped the thing, and flipped it over on top of the plate.  This was my second or third time using it, and it worked like a charm.  When I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, I decided it was time to make another crust.  Then I remembered my new gadget, and I was all over it.  This pie was excellent – not too sweet, not too tart, just perfect – and the crumble on the top was such a nice change from another pie crust.  So – no need to be afraid of pie crusts any longer – just get yourself a pie crust bag, and you will be making perfect pie crusts in an instant!  And no, I swear they are not paying me to say this…

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for  surface
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut  into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher  salt

Filling and Topping

  • 2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons  sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 2  tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 5 cups (1 pound 10 ounces) fresh  blueberries
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose  flour
  • 3 tablespoons (packed) light brown  sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted,  cooled slightly

Special Equipment: Use a 9″-9 1/2″-diameter glass or metal pie dish. You will  need pie weights or dried beans to bake the crust.

Preparation

Crust

Pulse 1 1/4 cups flour, butter, and salt in a food processor  until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces remaining. Drizzle  3 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Pulse until moist clumps form, adding more  water by teaspoonfuls if mixture is dry. Transfer dough to a lightly floured  work surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, use  the heel of your hand to smear each portion of dough twice in a forward motion  to distribute butter. Gather all 4 dough pieces into a ball. Flatten into a  disk, wrap in plastic, and chill dough until firm, at least 1 hour. DO  AHEAD Dough can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13″ round.  Transfer to pie dish, gently pressing dough onto bottom and up sides of dish.  Fold overhang under and crimp edges decoratively. Pierce bottom of crust in  several places with a fork, then chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Line a large baking sheet with foil and place on a rack in  middle of oven; preheat to 375°. Line crust with parchment paper or foil and  fill with pie weights. Bake until crust is set, about 20 minutes. Carefully  remove parchment and pie weights. Bake until crust is pale golden, about 12  minutes longer. Transfer crust to a wire rack; let cool.

Filling and Topping

Whisk 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest in a large  bowl. Add blueberries and lemon juice; toss gently to coat and evenly  distribute. Let filling stand, tossing occasionally, until berries release their  juices, 20-30 minutes.

Whisk flour, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar,  light brown  sugar, cinnamon, and salt in  a medium bowl. Add melted butter; mix topping with  fingertips to blend.

Assembly

Preheat oven to 375°. Spoon blueberry filling into crust, then  sprinkle topping over. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and topping is golden,  about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cover with foil after 30 minutes if browning too fast.

Let pie cool on a wire rack.

DO AHEAD Can be made 8  hours ahead. Let stand at room  temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Blueberry Crumble Pie

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Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie

I have to wonder what is with the cream pies lately – first coconut, now chocolate, am I suddenly becoming obsessed with cream pies?  No, don’t worry – I think after this one I am done for a while, but I have to admit, they are pretty amazing.  So, I have been putting off writing about this for a while…but I don’t think I can hold it in any longer.  My husband is allergic to dairy products – not just lactose, but dairy.  I still am not sure I have completely grasped it – but maybe writing this will help it sink in.  So what exactly does this mean?  It means that I am going to start making more sorbet, and more deserts without dairy.  It doesn’t mean that I am going to stop baking with butter though…I can’t, and my girls would be very upset if I did.  So – from now on, there will be certain deserts that he can enjoy, and certain ones that I will enjoy with the girls.  I have already starting cooking without dairy – using a lot of coconut milk, and even coconut yogurt – and for the most part it has worked pretty well.  Stay tuned…but again, if you are not interested in dairy-free cooking, you will still enjoy my blog, I am definitely not giving it up.  I am completely crazy about all things dairy…and that will not change.

So back to this pie – this has dairy written all over it (I of course used real whipped cream instead of the non-dairy whipped topping the recipe called for) - and I didn’t even try to substitute.  I brought this over to a friend’s house, so I didn’t have to consume the entire pie myself with a little help from my very slender daughters.  The pie (from Cooking Light) was outstanding – the chocolate had a hint of cinnamon (thus calling it “mexican”) and the graham cracker crust was amazing.  It was probably the last chocolate cream pie I will enjoy for a little while, I am just really glad it was so delicious…always nice to end on a high note.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 cookie sheets), divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons egg white
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 3/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

To prepare the crust, reserve 1 tablespoon crumbs for topping. Combine the remaining crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring well. Stir in egg white and butter. Press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 9 minutes or until lightly toasted; cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, combine 1/2 cup sugar and the next 7 ingredients (through egg yolk) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Place the milk in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until milk reaches 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Gradually add hot milk to egg mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan; cook over medium heat 10 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until smooth.

Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 10 minutes or until mixture cools, stirring occasionally. Spoon filling into crust, and cover surface of filling with plastic wrap. Chill for 3 hours or until set; remove plastic wrap. Spread the whipped topping over filling; sprinkle with reserved cracker crumbs.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie

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Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut cream pie has always been one of those desserts I have held in very high regard.  It is a multi-step process, that if done right, is completely outrageous.  I remember growing up my grandmother used to make a lemon merengue pie - and every time she served it I secretly hoped that she decided against the lemon flavor and went with a coconut filling.  No such luck.  Her lemon merengue pie was outstanding, but lemon desserts were not my thing growing up.  When I finally got my first taste of coconut cream pie, I was hooked.  It was amazing – the best diner food ever.  After that, whenever I would see it on a menu, I had to go for it.  I have had a lot of different kinds over the years, but have never attempted to make one myself….until now.

There is a bakery in downtown Seattle that serves the most amazing coconut cream pie – they use real whipped cream as the topping with big pieces of shredded coconut.  The problem is that it is almost too rich for me.  A few bites is all I really need to feel satisfied that I had an amazing dessert.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light - and what appealed to me the most was the fact that the topping was merengue instead of whipped cream!  It reminded me of my grandmother’s pie – the way I longed for it – with coconut cream in the middle instead of lemon.  This pie was incredible.  You would never know it was a light recipe – it tasted just as rich and creamy as you would want your coconut cream pie – but the merengue offered it a lighter balance.  Both girls went nuts over the pie – especially my younger one, who seems to take after me when it comes to sweets.  She ate it nice and slow – to savor every bite.  I loved watching her eat it.

So, give this a try – perfect for an afternoon BBQ or a fancy dinner party – just so versatile, and your guests will be very impressed – and happy that you saved them a few calories in the process…

Ingredients

  • 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°.

Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under; flute. Line dough with foil; arrange pie weights or dried beans on foil. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes; remove weights and foil, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Combine milk and half-and-half in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 cups coconut. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; stir seeds and pod into milk mixture. Bring milk mixture to a simmer; immediately remove from heat. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl. Gather edges of cheesecloth; squeeze over bowl to release moisture. Discard solids.

Combine 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add milk mixture to egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Return milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter; whisk until smooth. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 6 minutes, stirring to cool. Pour into prepared crust. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Place 3 egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high-speed until soft peaks form. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 250°. Pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, beating at high-speed until thick. Spread meringue over pie. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Top with toasted coconut before serving.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Coconut Cream Pie

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Mississippi Mud Pie

I was in the kitchen making dinner, and my younger daughter comes in and asks, “Mommy, what are we having for dessert?”  I replied with, “Mississippi Mud Pie.”  She says, “Oh, but it doesn’t really have mud in it, right?”

When I studied in France, I lived with a french family.  She was a very interesting woman, and only had americans live with them for the status.  It was bizarre, but yes, it was very prestigious to have an american student living with you.  I have a seafood allergy, which I told her about immediately (since the first day I was there, I had a reaction to something I had eaten…and was not doing well).  The problem was I had to say this in french, and couldn’t understand a word she said to me for the first few weeks.  I just hoped she had understood what I said to her.

A couple of months later, a new student arrived – and I could tell that Madame was not too fond of her.  She came from Stanford, and I had to admit, spoke beautiful french.  One evening before calling her down for dinner, Madame said that we were going to play a little trick on her.  She was serving crab for dinner (which she knew I could not eat), but wanted me to play along that we were eating cat for dinner – and it was a delicacy.    Since I had already had it for dinner a month ago, I didn’t get any that evening.  Madame tried to pull this off, but you don’t get in for Stanford without being extremely bright, and she knew exactly what was going on.

Ok, so what does this have to do with Mud Pie?  I didn’t even both to try to fool my daughter and tell her that there was mud in it – although it would have been fun.  She is definitely at the age where she may have just believed it.

This recipe from Cooking Light wasn’t at all what I expected – it was more like a brownie – with a very crispy top – like merengue.  I served it warm, and the center was nice and moist, and very soft.  If you like undercooked brownies, this is the recipe for you.  The top – very crispy – it was hard to cut.  The crust really didn’t do much for me – it didn’t have a ton of flavor.  If I make it again, I will make it crustless – although it sure does like nice around the edge. 

Ingredients

Crust

  • 4.5  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
  • 2  tablespoons  sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 2 1/2  tablespoons  vegetable shortening
  • 2  tablespoons  chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4  cup  ice water
  • Cooking spray

Filling

  • 3  tablespoons  butter
  • 1  ounce  semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 4  large egg whites
  • 1  cup  sugar
  • 3.4  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/3  cup  Dutch process cocoa
  • 1/2  teaspoon  baking powder
  • Dash of salt

Preparation

To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces (about 1 cup) flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 4.5 ounces flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor; pulse 2 times or until blended. Add shortening and chilled butter; pulse 6 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly pour ice water through food chute, processing just until blended (do not allow dough to form a ball); remove from bowl. Gently press mixture into a 4-inch circle; wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Unwrap and place chilled dough on plastic wrap. Lightly sprinkle dough with flour; roll to a 10-inch circle. Fit dough, plastic wrap side up, into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Remove remaining plastic wrap. Fold edges under, and flute.

To prepare filling, place 3 tablespoons butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 30 seconds or until butter and chocolate melt, stirring well to combine. Place vanilla and egg whites in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until foamy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar; beat until soft peaks form (about 2 minutes). Gently fold melted chocolate mixture into egg white mixture.

Weigh or lightly spoon 3.4 ounces flour and 1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and dash of salt in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Fold flour mixture into egg white mixture. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Serves 10

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Mississippi Mud Pie

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