Tag Archives: pie

Peanut Butter Cream Pie (Redux)

Peanut Butter Cream PieI’ve done a Peanut Butter Cream Pie in a previous blog post.  You can see it here.  Why do it again?  One:  it’s Peanut Butter Cream Pie.  The question is why not do it again.  The previous pie was a dense, sinful confection.  This version is whisper light and airy, but don’t be fooled.  This pie contains a whopping 4 cups of whipping cream.  You read that correctly.  2 cups in the pie, 2 cups on top.  YUM!  Add to that 8 ounces of cream cheese and some peanut butter and you have a calorie extravaganza.

On the plus side, making this pie is incredibly easy.  It’s seriously no bake, and it doesn’t have to sit in the fridge for hours.  The pie is perfect for a pot luck, or a thrown together dessert just because.  The recipe is very novice cook friendly, and definitely within the abilities of younger budding chefs, provided they can use a mixer safely.

I had this pie at one of Emeril Legasse’s restaurants in New Orleans.  Before he became a mega start and the BAM! guy,  I actually met him.  Granted, he was on Food Network, when they actually cooked on that network.  But, not many cable companies had the channel (mine didn’t!).  He very nicely came out to my table to autograph a cookbook my father and I bought for my mother.    The food was spectacular that night, but meeting and conversing with him was tremendous.  Despite the passage of time, the memories of the pie stuck with me.    Light, airy, yet rich and creamy all at the same time.  Truly the perfect ending to a summer cookout.  When I was recently invited to a cookout, I brought this pie.

I made just a few changes to this recipe in the margins, but there’s no denying my inspiration was Emeril’s pie.  For the original recipe, click here.  Some general notes, though. I love natural peanut butter because mostly I hate transfat.  However, you need the “no stir” natural peanut butter for this recipe to really work.  Also, I always use Philadelphia brand Cream Cheese.

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 cups (minus the two tablespoons used above) heavy cream, whipped until thick
1 Oreo Pie Crust (store bought, may use any crumb crust, though)
1/2 cup chocolate shavings

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar and peanut butter. Mix until light and creamy. Add the heavy cream and mix well. Fold in half of the whipped cream. Whip the ingredients together with whip attachment on the mixer to thoroughly combine.

Spread peanut butter mixture into pie shell. Refrigerate for at least an hour, until set. Top with remaining whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

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Peanut Butter Cream Pie

 

Pumpkin Cream Pie

Pumpkin Cream Pie

As I mentioned in my post on stuffing, I love Thanksgiving.  It’s a food extravaganza.  People aren’t shy about carbing it up.  Stuffings, breads, pies, and potatoes of all varieties grace the table.  Unfortunately, most of the time, pumpkin pies are either bought from the supermarket bakery or reheated from frozen.  Sad.  Why?  Because the hardest part of a pumpkin pie is deciding when it’s finished in the oven.  It’s a dump and bake proposition, otherwise.

Most people will make the Libby’s recipe for pumpkin pie on the back of the can of canned pumpkin.  While it’s perfectly fine, that’s kind of the problem, it’s fine.  I discovered this other pumpkin pie recipe several years ago and just found it to be so superior to the Libby’s version, I had to try it.  It’s from the New York Times Cookbook (the Craig Claiborne version). First, it had cream.  Real, heavy, cream.  NOT evaporated milk.  It had me at cream, really.  Then it had 3 cups of canned pumpkin, which is a LOT more than one 15 ounce can.  I was intrigued.  If you are familiar with the New York Times Cookbooks, there are no pictures, you are on your own.  I tried it and it changed our family’s pumpkin pies forever.  This is a rich pie with lots of creamy pumpkin flavor, not wan or thin.  It’s truly amazing.  Many people who didn’t like pumpkin pies, like this version.

This recipe just cannot be easier, for the amazing dessert you end up presenting.  Get a store bought crust (I prefer the frozen ones to the refrigerated roll out kind), and it’s super easy.  I like making my own crust, which presents a variety of challenges, all of which end up in deliciousness.

Now, the hard part:  when is the pie done.  Generally speaking, it’s done when the center jiggles just a little.  Helpful, no?  How much is a little?  When is a jiggle?  Why has my pie cracked open?  I avoid these issues with a low temperature baking.  This varies from Claiborne’s instructions.  If I follow his instructions, it comes out pretty cracked and sort of not done in the center.  Could be my oven.

Pumpkin Cream Pie
Serves: 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour and 15 minutes (approx.)

Pie Crust
3 cups canned pumpkin
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon powdered ginger (or 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

If using a homemade crust, roll out crust and place into pie dish. Prick holes in the crust all around with a fork to prevent bubbles. Add pie weights. Blind bake (bake with no batter) the crust for 10 minutes at 450. Remove the weights and reduce heat to 375 and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Blend well over medium speed. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell and place in the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Check crust for signs of browning, if brown, cover. Bake for 45-55 minutes more, or until the center is just slightly jiggles when the pie is slightly jostled. You may want to check often after the 40 minute mark, as oven temperatures vary.  Cool and serve.

Pumpkin Cream Pie

Pumpkin Cream Pie

Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Pie

Easy no bake chocolate hazelnut cream pie

My kids are with their aunt and grandparents this week.  Therefore, I have taken this rare opportunity to make things that have gotten the veto from the kids. Lemon Chicken was one. Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Pie was the other one. I’m not sure why the hate for this particular dish. I love the taste of hazelnut, but if you are thinking something will taste just like chocolate, hazelnut may not be a welcome flavor.

The inspiration for this dish came from my peanut butter cream pie experience. I thought, if a pie can be this awesome with peanut butter, what would it be like with Nutella? Also, I wanted to take the opportunity to say “Really!?!?” to those who sued Nutella because they were allegedly “deceived” by the commercials that said Nutella was healthy. Check out the news coverage here.

Let me start by saying the first ingredient is sugar. Yes, sugar. Read a label, people. Commercials make their products sound better than they are. Shocking, I know.

It was a small rant, but important one.

So, this pie is light and cold and completely easy. My elementary school kids made it easy. Great for summer entertaining or potluck!

Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Pie
Serves 8

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (Philadelphia brand tastes best)
1 cup Nutella
2 cups heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
1 chocolate wafer pie crust

Combine cream cheese and nutella in a mixing bowl and whip until well combined and fluffy. Fold in whipped cream one third at a time, until thoroughly combined. Pour mixture into pie crust. Cover in plastic wrap and freeze until solid. Remove from freezer about 10 minutes prior to serving. Melt a small amount of nutella to drizzle on top for “flair”.

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Pie or Pastry Crust

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Behold my flaky layers!

There’s nothing that seems to scare the crap out of people more than flour, salt, solid fat (butter, lard, shortening), and cold water.  In other words, pastry.   When I bring pies to places people cannot believe I have made my own pie crust.  It’s like a bucket list item:  Climbed Everest, Visited Easter Island, made own Pie Crust.  Done.

The Food Industrial Complex has made people so complacent that most don’t see the need to make their own crust.  Just unroll the crust from the refrigerated section of your grocery store and BAM! pie crust.  But is it really?  Gummy, lacking any snap or palpable flakey layers, is it really pie crust?  Or something lesser.  Let’s look at the competition.

Pillsbury Rolled Pie Crust ingredient list:

Wheat Starch, Lard Partially Hydrogenated, with BHA and, BHT To Protect Flavor, Wheat Flour Bleached, Water, Sugar, Rice Flour, Salt, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate Preservative, Sodium Propionate Preservative, Citric Acid, Color(s), with Yellow 5 and, Red 40

My ingredients?  Seriously: flour, sugar, butter, lard, salt and cold water.  No competition.  I’m not even sure what Wheat Starch is and why it is the largest ingredient on the list.  Flour is a distant third.  What’s wrong with their ingredients that they need to add food coloring?  Oh, that’s right, there’s no butter to give the “pie crust” a warm golden color.

The competition is rather sad.  A pale imitation of real pie crust.  In The 1892 Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Farmer (yes, she was a real person), there is an entire chapter dedicated to pastry.   In this chapter Fannie Farmer divides pastry by duty.  Puff pastry was suitable for rims and upper crusts of pies, vol-au-vents, patties, rissoles, bouchees, cheese straws, and tarts.  But is never for lower crusts!!  Puff pastry is made exclusively with butter, according to Mrs. Farmer.   Plain paste, with a mix of lard and butter, was more suitable for lower crusts.  James Beard detailed various pastry in 9 pages of his American Cookery published in 1972.    Today, sadly, most people don’t make pies much less pie crust.   After reading these books, it is easy to see why.  The first few sentences of Mr. Beard’s introduction are flat out intimidating:

Flaky, tender pie crust must have a delicate balance of fat and flour and not too much liquid.  For this reason, measure the ingredients carefully. Too much flour can make a tough crust; too much fat, a greasy crumbly crust; and too much liquid will in turn require more flour and result in a tough crust.

But persevere!  Look at the Pillsbury ingredients.  There are no liquids.  What do you think you have there?  A tough, non-flaky mess.  That is your competition.   If your dough is “tough”, seriously, who’s going to know?  Few people expect a flaky crust anymore because most are used to the industrial stuff.  That’s the worse that happens.  You make a crust with no preservatives that is still better than what you can roll out of a package.  Fear not!

The recipe is super easy and if you have a food processor, it’s laughably easy.  You will scoff at yourself for ever being too intimidated to try.

My goal here is to get you to make a great crust.  Give it a go, so to speak.  You don’t have the time?   Is 10 minutes too long?  If you take out the time it takes to assemble the ingredients, it takes 2 minutes, tops to actually “make” the crust.  Then it rests.  Then you roll it out.  Done.  I make mine the day before I need to make the pie.

This recipe is adapted from Paula Deen’s Perfect Pie Crust.  It is a sweet, but not too sweet crust and very aptly named.

Perfect Pie Crust

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/4 cup lard, very cold (may substitute vegetable shortening)
12 tablespoons butter, very cold and cubed
1/4-1/2 cup ice water

Hand mixing directions:

Sift the flour, salt and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Work the lard into the flour mixture with your hands. Work quickly so that the lard doesn’t get too warm. Add the cold butter and quickly work into the mixture until the flour is crumbly, like coarse cornmeal. Add the ice water slowly until the mixture comes together, forming a dough. Gently shape the dough into a ball. Divide the ball into two, shape into disks, wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes prior to use.

Food processor directions:

Place the flour, salt and sugar in the processing bowl, pulse until combined and aerated. Add the lard in pieces and pulse until incorporated. Add the cubes of butter a few at a time, pulsing between additions until the additions are incorporated. Slowly drizzle the water into the bowl and pulse. Stop adding water when the dough comes together in the bowl. Turn the dough out on a floured surface, gently shape into a ball, and divide the ball into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to use.

It’s really that easy.  Use for almost any recipe that requires a crust.  This recipe makes two 9 inch pie crusts.

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Not the course meal like texture already developing.

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