Chocolate Pecan Pie

I’ve been in a chocolate mood lately. It’s not all bad. 😉 Lately I’ve been baking a few repeats, such as mint brownies, but Saturday night I made this chocolate pecan pie. It wasn’t as popular with the Tartlets as the apple pie, but that’s not all bad, either! I’ve made this before and added a few tablespoons of Grand Marnier or Cointreau to the batter and that’s a very good variation.

Fudgy Pecan Pie

9-inch pie pastry, I used my usual recipe

1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. cocoa

2/3 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 c. light corn syrup

1 c. chopped pecans

1 c. pecan halves

Prepare pastry shell. Set aside. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium saucepan over low heat melt butter, add cocoa and stir until mixture is smooth. Then remove from heat. Cool slightly. Stir in sugar, salt, eggs and corn syrup. Blend thoroughly. Stir in chopped nuts.

Pour into pastry shell. Place pecan halves on top. Bake 40-45 minutes. Cool. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired. Serves 8.

Daring Little Tart

It’s that time again! Today Lemon Meringue Pies will be sprouting up all over the blogosphere because that was the Daring Baker Challenge selected for us by our host for the month, Jen of Canadian Baker. It also happens to be one of The Husband’s most favorite pies and I have *never* made one for him until now. That’s right, never.

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The first time around, the crust was a little too thick and a tad underdone, the curd was perfect, and I had a little trouble with the oven temp (again!, argh!) so my meringue peaks were burnt in less than half the suggested baking time. He was scarfing down the last piece from that pie as he looked over my shoulder at the computer while I made disgusted sounds over my photos — taken with the fluorescent light (under the cabinet) on one side and blue/white lights (above the stove) on the other side of the pie, making it a strange sea of greens, browns, and purples. “Mmmmm, yeah, I can see this is a definite do-over. You can’t possibly put those pictures on your blog. Mmmm hmmm, yep. I think you might need to make this every day this month, just to make sure you get a good data set.”

I think I’ve been conned. But one of the suggestions for this challenge was to make free form tarts and I really wanted to try that, so I knew I’d be making it at least one more time. Also, I kept imagining it with my homemade blueberry syrup.

For the mini tarts, rather than bake flat disks as suggested, I cut out shapes and then used a piece of foil under it and folded the corners over the top into the shell as the ‘pan’ and then fluted the edges a little with my fingers. Then I folded another piece of foil and tucked it into the center. I don’t have any pie weights and didn’t have beans on hand so some of them puffed up a little in baking, but it wasn’t bad. I baked them for about 20 minutes and then pulled out the center piece of foil and let it bake for another 5 minutes or so, before removing them to cool.

big, hairy deal

The curd and meringue went together beautifully again and this time I played around with the meringue a little, making the tartlets a little different. The oven was a little cooler this time so they didn’t burn but they gently browned. I plated it with a little blueberry syrup with white chocolate piped on top.

But this one, after I took a few pictures, I decided to try with extra blueberry syrup (with whole blueberries in it) scooped on top. Oh, yeah! That is just soooo good! This probably isn’t something I would make for me, but I can see The Husband requesting it again, and again, and again! Thanks, Jen!


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Recipe after the jump. Continue reading

Enjoying the Holiday

I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. We had a good family day, overall. I don’t like turkey very much so I bought a frozen turkey breast and cooked it so we could have it sliced for sandwiches for simple meals this weekend, but for our family Thanksgiving meal I made a small ham, mashed potatoes, peas, and gravy — not all the extras of a traditional feast, but ham and mashed potatoes are special enough. For dessert we had French apple pie. I don’t know what supposedly makes it ‘French’; we always called it ‘crumb top pie’. It’s probably my very most favoritest pie. I had really nice Braeburn apples for it, too.

On Thursday, we did a little yard work, had our dinner, and went out to our property to have a bonfire with another family. It was cold and windy but The Husband had quite a fire going so we were able to last a couple of hours before our napless wonders started to reach meltdown stage. We had taken separate cars and the truck so the kids and I took off and left The Husband to tend the fire. A couple of hours later, as I was putting the kiddos in bed, I got a call from The Husband. Could I come pick him up? He had a flat tire and was walking home. So, I gathered up the kids and we drove out to pick up The Husband.

Friday, I actually got up at 3:47 AM to go to the Kohl’s sale (starting at 4 AM). I missed out on the comforter I was hoping to get, but did get a couple of other things. I got home around 7:30 AM (I also had to go to Meijer and get dishwasher detergent — who runs out of dishwasher detergent on Thanksgiving? Me!) and The Husband went out for his own Black Friday experience — he got himself two new pairs of shoes! We went out to change the tire on the truck and checked the mileage — The Husband had walked about 5 miles before he found a house with lights on Thursday night.

Put the spare tire (which had been handily stored in the shed at home — with the jack!) on the truck and . . . guess what? It was flat too!! Seriously. So we went back to town and bought a tire. Fortunately, there are no long lines at the tire store on Black Friday! 😉

We also bought a cell phone. We are renouncing our Luddite ways and entering at least the latter part of the 20th century, if not quite embracing the 21st yet. I still don’t know the cell phone number, though! It’s really meant to be more of an emergency usage thing than everyday, so don’t expect a call soon. It’s turned off.

A is for Apples and Alcohol

I think I’ve mentioned here at an earlier time that in grad school one of my guilty pleasures was a glass of Camas Winery Palouse Gold Mead and a sliced apple. It was a perfect dessert, so I completely understand why our wonderful host for Sugar High Friday, Andrew of Spittoon Extra, chose a theme of apples and alcohol. I was fairly certain, however, that I wasn’t going to get by with a simple fresh apple and mead pairing! 😉

A week or so ago I was making cider slushes for the kids — just drop some ice cubes in the blender with some apple cider and zap it until it’s thick and smooth. As I was serving the drinks, it occurred to me that a little cointreau added would make a tasty drink. Not for the 3 – 10 yr old crowd I was serving, of course, but something to make later for The Husband and I.

It does, in fact, make a tasty drink. I added 2 oz of Cointreau to ice and cider to make about 3 cups of drink. Of course, the alcohol doesn’t freeze like the rest so you taste Cointreau right away, but it’s a nice drink.

Still, I was fairly certain our host was looking more for something to be baked. Since I was out of town and without a car this weekend, I ended up making my concoction at the last minute but I’ve been planning it for some time.

I only wanted a small dessert, so I made it in a disposable 4″ pie shell.

Apple Mead Pie

pastry:
scant 1/2 c. flour
2 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1 + Tbsp. half and half

Cut butter into flour. Add just enough half and half to form a ball. Divide into two slightly uneven balls. Roll out, using the larger one for the base.

filling:
1 Honeycrisp apple, sliced
1 scant Tbsp. flour
1/4 t. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. mead
1/2 t. brown sugar

Stir together apple, flour, cinnamon, and mead. Layer neatly in the pastry lined pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Cover with top layer of pastry.

Bake at 375 F about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

PS. Andrew has the roundup posted. The variety in desserts and alcohols is amazing! Go check it out.

Taste of Spring

Blogging events are highly addictive, but it really helps to post once you’ve made the recipe! 😛 You need to see Meeta’s blog, “What’s for lunch, Honey?” and experience a little virtual dining. She’s hosting a ‘monthly mingle’ and this month’s theme was a taste of spring.

The Husband and I are both from rural backgrounds so, technically speaking, my recipe isn’t a spring recipe in our area b/c strawberries and rhubarb won’t be ready for a month or more. But since much of our produce comes from warmer climes shipped to my Grocery store, somewhere it’s already spring and strawberries and rhubarb are indeed showing up in a presentable fashion on the shelves.

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When the Husband and I first hooked up, the man ate meat and potatoes. He would eat dessert too; he was a starving grad student. But if you placed a banana and a piece of chocolate cake in front of him and asked him to choose one, he’d pick the banana — unless he was really hungry, in which case he’d just eat both. This behavior was alien to me. In my family you ate dinner b/c that’s what came before dessert. He *did* eat most of what I made and he really liked my apple cobblers, but he was hooked when I made his absolute favorite pie — strawberry rhubarb.

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This is ‘farm food’. It isn’t fancy gourmet stuff. This is the simple, rustic, real thing. Maybe it will be called ‘retro’ soon.  😉  But one thing is certain — our entire family loves this. Thing 4 (2 yr old) kept saying over and over tonight, “Mmmm, Mom, this is really good. This is *good* pie. I LIKE this pie!” It was a great dessert for our dinner tonight — pasta with shrimp, broccoli, asparagus and carrots.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

6-8 stalks rhubarb, sliced and blanched
1.5 qts strawberries, sliced
1 – 1.5 c. sugar (depending on your preferred sweetness level)
squirt of lemon juice
1 egg
1.5 Tbsp cornstarch

if desired, add zest of orange and juice of 1/2 orange (I didn’t add those this time, but Grandmother Alexander always made hers that way)

The pie crust is my same old favorite recipe.

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Hopefully we get another day cool enough for baking soon, b/c I think the whole family would like to see this repeated in the near future.