November 27, 2010

Puffs & Pies

I love the holiday baking season!

I altered the Pumpkin Puffs recipe to a gluten-free alternative by adding an extra egg, 1/2 tsp of both soda and powder, and using GV flour. I also wanted it to be "old fashioned gingerbread"-like so I put all the batter on my pizza stone at once, slid it in the oven, and crossed my fingers that it would turn out like I expected....I took it to a LIFE group lunch and it was a hit! I added a layer of cream cheese frosting to the top and sprinkled with with pumpkin pie spice for appearance sake. I then cut it into squares and let people serve themselves straight off the stone. It worked really well.

This week for my husband's family's traditional, don't rock the boat, Thanksgiving dinner I made the Pear & Plum Pie. Usually when I serve them something non-traditional they take a small piece and I get, "mmm...that's good; it's really different" (which translates to: "that's too weird for me, don't make that again") I expected this with the pie, but it sounded really good, so I took it anyway. I followed the recipe as stated except for the cinnamon. My brother-in-law is allergic so I used just a bit of ginger and nutmeg. It turned out beautifully and I went home with an empty pie plate. Success! I loved the combination of flavors and will definitely make this one again!

November 18, 2010

November Recipes

Hello fellow bakers. I've been meaning to write this since the beginning of November, but life got in the way! Anyways, if you haven't already planned your Thanksgiving feast, and since Pie is an essential Thanksgiving dessert, I've added some pies for you to try. Some are fairly traditional in concept, but have a little twist or flair. I was inspired by my Better Homes and Garden magazine this month with recipes from a local bakery, Mission Beach Cafe, from pastry chef Alan Carter. I've included the recipes below, but feel free to use them as a base and create something fantastic. 

Dress up a store bought pie with Hazelnut cream! Or, if you're not into pie, share with us your favorite Thanksgiving dessert, or try the pudding recipe I added here! Can't wait to see what you all make.

Pear Plum Pie

2 rolled, refrigerated unbaked pie crusts
1 1/4 C sugar
1/4 C cornstarch
1 tsp lemon peel
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 C cored and coarsely chopped pears
2 C chopped plums
1 small quince, cored, sliced, and poached (or 1 C coarsely chopped pear)
2 T lemon juice
2 T port (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg beaten
1 T whipping cream

To prepare quince, simmer 5 minutes in water and drain. 

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Roll out pastry on floured board and place in a 9" pie plate without stretching the crust, trim pastry even with the rim of tin.

In a small bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, lemon peel, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. In a large bowl combine pears, plums, and quince. Add lemon juice, port, and vanilla. Add sugar mixture; toss to coat. Transfer to prepared pie tin. 

Roll remaining pastry portion into a 12 inch circle. Place on filling, gently molding over the fruit. Trim to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie tin. Fold top pastry under bottom pastry. Crimp edge as desired. Cut 4 small slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Combine egg and cream; brush on pastry. Pace pie on a foil lined baking sheet. 

Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes covering edge of crust with foil, if necessary, to prevent overbrowning. Cool on wire rack. Makes 10 servings.  

Hazelnut Mousse

1/4 C pasteurized egg whites
1/4 C water
1/2 C sugar
1 C whipping cream
1 8oz carton mascarpone cheese
2 T Frangelico or other Hazelnut liqueur (optional)
1/2 C toasted, peeled, and ground hazelnuts

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form (tips curl over when beaters are lifted). In a small saucepan combine water and sugar; cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and comes to a boil. Using a candy thermometer, cook at a steady boil over medium heat until mixture reaches 240˚F (about 5 minutes). 

Beat egg whites on high speed, slowly pouring in hot liquid mixture (pour against side of bowl and not beaters). When all the sugar mix is added, continue beating 5 minutes more to cool. 

IN a large bowl, whisk whipping cream and mascarpone; whisk in liqueur and 1/3 cup of hazelnuts. Whisk in cooled egg whites. Sprinkle with remaining hazelnuts. Serve with pumpkin pie. Makes 10 servings. 

Banana Pudding
Courtesy of Tyler Florence via Better Homes and Garden

2 C half and half
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
2 T unsalted butter
2 T vanilla extract

2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 C powdered (confectioner's) sugar
1/2 of a 12 oz box of vanilla wafers (about 44)
3 ripe bananas, sliced 1/4 inch thick

For the pudding, combine half and half and sugar in a stainless steel bowl or top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Whisk in flour and salt until combined, about 2 minutes; remove from heat. Place egg yolks in a separate bowl. Gradually add half of the hot cream mixture, stirring constantly to temper eggs. Whisk egg mixture into remaining hot cream and place back over simmering water. Cook whisking constantly until mixture has thickened to the consistency of pudding, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350˚F. For the meringue, beat egg whites in a bowl with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Add the cream of tartar, vanilla, and confectioner's sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until the whites form stiff peaks. 

To assemble, cover the bottom of a 2-quart square baking dish with half of the wafers. Top with half of the banana slices and half the pudding. Make a second layer, ending with pudding. With a spatula, spread meringue over entire banana pudding, forming attractive peaks. Place dish in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until mixture is golden brown on top. Makes 8-10 servings. 

For individual servings, layer pudding and wafers in serving dishes. Spread meringue on top and using a torch, brown meringue.