Cherry Pie for Pi Day

I decided to make a cherry pie this year for 3.14.

I’m being super lazy this year and using a Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust – buying a 2 crust box for the top and bottom and using a can of Duncan Hines Comestock Original Country Cherry Pie Filling.

I’m spending any creativity on the top crust. I decided to go with a mock lattice,  grate pattern. Instead of weaving strips, I sliced slits in the top dough and stretched it to open it up.

Here is what I did:

Adjust oven rack to lower-third of oven. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place bottom pie crust in bottom of 9-inch pie plate and flute the edges.

Unroll remaining dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Starting on right side, 2 inches from edge with a ruler held vertically, cut 2-inch slits with a paring knife into dough, spaced about 1 inch apart. Move ruler 1 inch to the left and continue making 2-inch slits, starting parallel to center of first set, so spaces alternate. Continue working across rest of dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Gently stretch dough horizontally to reveal grate pattern (if dough is too soft or breaking, refrigerate until pliable, about 10 minutes).

Pour cherry pie filling into bottom crust. Dot top with 2 tablespoons of butter pieces. Place top dough on pie, stretching slightly to open up the pattern. Crimp to seal the top dough to the bottom dough. If there is any leftover dough, cut into a Pi shape. Beat 1 egg with a teaspoon of water and brush over top dough. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar.

Place pie on baking sheet and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the pie is bubbling and crust is golden brown. Let cool 30 minutes before slicing.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Fudgy Nutella Sourdough Brownies

I was looking for alternatives to bread making to use some of my sourdough starter discard when I rediscovered a sourdough brownie recipe in my files. As I wanted to take it a step further, I decided to add some Nutella hazelnut spread to the batter.

It was a delicious idea. The hazelnut spread adds fudgy, nutty richness. The sourdough starter makes sure it isn’t too sweet.

Be sure and let the pan cool completely before cutting or you’ll be spooning out brownies (which isn’t a bad idea either).

Fudgy Nutella Sourdough Brownies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate baking bars (I use Ghirardelli), broken into pieces
½ cup Nutella hazelnut spread

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup sourdough starter discard
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and butter a square (8×8 or 9×9) baking pan.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate pieces and hazelnut spread. Stir the ingredients until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool down.

Stir the vanilla extract with the sourdough starter.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until well blended, at least 5 minutes. Add the sourdough starter and beat on low. Add the chocolate mixture to the bowl and beat on low until mixed. Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan after they come out of the oven.  Cut into squares.
Store in an airtight container or bag.

Oaty, Chocolately, Peanut Buttery Bars

I wanted to munch on something with chocolate and peanut butter but Dad is trying to eat healthy so I looked for a recipe that could qualify. These no-bake oat bars were just the ticket! Okay, so maybe they aren’t actually good for you on any measurable scale but they sure are rich and tasty.

You want to use quick cooking oats or the old fashioned that only need 5 minutes. This is not the recipe to try out steel cut or instant!

These are yummy with lots of chocolate – a great recipe with which to start the new year.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Oat Bars

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
½ cup brown sugar, packed
3 cups oats
1 cup bittersweet (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup bittersweet (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips

Butter an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking pan.

In a large saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar. Add oats. As these are no-bake bars, you need to soften the oats. Stir for the amount of time recommended on the container (1 to 5 minutes). Remove from heat.

Place two cups of the oat butter mixture into the prepared pan and use a piece of wax paper or a spatula to press down.

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter. Once melted, pour over oat layer and smooth out. By spoonfuls place the remaining oats on top. Place the saucepan back on the stove and melt remaining chocolate chips. Drizzle the chocolate over the top.

Place pan in refrigerator to solidify for at least 4 hours. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container.

Bars are best when brought back to room temperature before eating.

Lemon Creole Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I wanted to make a pound cake this week and, serendipitously, my parent’s next door neighbor offered to let me pick all the remaining lemons from his tree (Did you know lemon trees have thorns? I do now). Lemon pound cake it is.

Before I left New Orleans, I went to Dorignac’s Food Center to pick up some Creole Cream Cheese. This is a soft farmer’s cheese similar in texture to a mix of cottage cheese and sour cream that is both sweet and tart. Poppy Tooker has a recipe  (as does Edible New Orleans) to make your own batch. If you’re not in the area or not in the mood to make cheese, you can substitute softened cream cheese or sour cream in the recipe.

Lovely lemon flavor and scent, light texture and crumb and just the right amount of  tart to sweet. Perfect for holiday snacking with one to keep and one to give away!

Lemon Creole Cream Cheese Pound Cake

3 cups cake flour, plus more for the pan
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
3 ½ cups granulated sugar
8 ounces Creole cream cheese (or use sour cream or softened cream cheese)
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
juice and zest from 3 lemons (about ½ cup fresh lemon juice), divided

1 ½ cups powdered, confectioners sugar

Butter and flour two loaf pans (three, if they’re small). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, corn starch, salt and baking powder. Use a mixer to cream sugar, butter and Creole cream cheese until light and fluffy. In another bowl, beat eggs until fluffy. Add eggs to creamed sugar and mix. Stir in vanilla and half of the lemon zest. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for an hour, until golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

Let cake cool about 10 minutes. Poke 10-15 holes evenly throughout cakes with a cake tester or toothpick. Pour ¼ cup lemon juice over the top of the cakes (works out to about 2 tablespoons per loaf pan). Let cool completely.

While waiting for the cakes to cool, make the glaze by stirring together the remaining ¼ cup lemon juice with the powdered sugar. Stir in the rest of the zest.

Remove cakes from pans once cool. Pour the lemon zest glaze over cakes, letting it fall down the sides. Let icing set for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Also good lightly toasted the next morning.

Wrap in plastic wrap to store. Wrap well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and then in a zip top bag to freeze.

Pecan Pie Brownies

As a Southerner, it is required to have pecan pie for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, it is so very sweet, I can only eat a small sliver at a time. Hardly my modus operandi when it comes to desserting, especially around the holidays. I’m always looking for ways to enjoy it more by adding things (see here, here and here) to reduce the cloying nature of it.

This year, I decided to add pecan pie as a topping to a decadent chocolate brownie recipe. The dark chocolate balances the sweet pecan layer and this will definitely be something I’ll make again.

I toast the pecans, as I believe it enhances their flavor and texture.

As far as pans go – don’t worry if you don’t have a 9×9. I ended up baking this in a 7×11 pan as I’m staying at a place without my usual assortment of pots and pans. It overflowed a little but I had placed it on a baking sheet so I didn’t make a mess in the oven. The smaller the pan, the thicker the layers.

Pecan Pie Brownies

Brownies:

1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pecan Pie Topping:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
½ cup Karo corn syrup
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups pecan halves, toasted
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 9-inch baking pan.

Sift together flour and cocoa powder.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or in the microwave until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla and mix well with a spatula. Add the sifted flour and cocoa mixture and stir to combine. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

While brownies are baking, in a medium saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in corn syrup, egg, vanilla extract, pecans and a pinch of salt. After the brownies have spent 15 minutes in the oven, spoon pecan pie filling over them in an even layer, then bake until topping is just set, about 30 minutes more.

Let cool to room temperature, then cut into squares to serve.

As it is Thanksgiving, I want to express my gratitude to all my readers. Thank you so much for tuning in and, especially, for letting me know when you used my recipe and any suggestions you had for improving them. Thank you all and I hope you have a safe and happy holiday.

Blueberry Pound Cake With Cinnamon Sugar Crust

My new next door neighbor was trimming his palm tree and noticed that the seed pods had filled my gutter. He cleaned the gutter for me, so I’m making a pound cake for him and his wife.

As this recipe makes two loaves, it is a treat for me, too!

As I didn’t have any buttermilk on hand and didn’t feel like running to the grocery store, I basically curdled milk to get the same effect. I had that cup of cream left over from the vanilla ice cream I made, so I just added to it the zest and a tablespoon of juice from a lemon and let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes. The other benefit of doing this substitution is it adds a light lemon flavor to the cake and that goes really well with blueberries.

I have a ton of frozen blueberries and they are just as good as fresh in this dish. Don’t thaw them as the juice will stain the batter too much. They’ll thaw in the cake while it cooks.

Whether you use fresh or frozen blueberries, you will want to toss them with flour (steal 2 teaspoons before you sift the flour so you don’t have too much extra flour in the final dish). This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the batter so they’ll stay distributed throughout the cake.

Just as lemon goes well with blueberries, so does cinnamon. Instead of flouring the pans, I’m dusting them lightly with cinnamon sugar and adding a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar to the top as well.

Blueberry Pound Cake with Cinnamon Sugar Crust

1 ½ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
3 cups all purpose flour, divided
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (or my substitute, see above)
3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter two loaf pans and, instead of flouring them, add a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar per pan to dust the interior with sugar. Focus on the sides. It will make for a sweet crust that enhances the flavor of the blueberries.

Take 2 teaspoons of flour and toss with the blueberries. Set aside.

Sift together the remaining flour, baking power, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

In another bowl and with clean beaters, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter. Gently stir in flour coated blueberries.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Lightly dust top of batter with remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake for 60 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

One of the best things about poundcake is that it can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil place it in heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

I’ve been craving ice cream to go with the jar of Hot Fudge Sauce I found hidden in the very back of the fridge. I decided instead of buying ready-made, I’d make my own.

Since I’m going to take advantage of the KitchenAid Mixer ice cream maker attachment, this recipe is for a quart. That maker can make up to two quarts at a time but I don’t need that sort of temptation in my life.

I’d cut the recipe in half when using my smaller Donvier ice cream maker. If you don’t want to use half a vanilla bean, get some vanilla paste for the pretty seeds and flavor instead. It is my usual substitute when recipes call for whole vanilla pods.

After churning, be sure and freeze the ice cream to make it nice and scoopable. Of course, if you like soft serve, go ahead and eat some right away.

My house is a little warm, so my sundae began melting immediately. No problem as I just drank the creamy liquid down after I ate the ice cream.

Rich ice cream with a lovely perfume and flavor of vanilla. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find vanilla boring at all!

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out with the tip of a sharp knife
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt, more to taste

In a saucepan combine cream, milk and vanilla bean and seeds and vanilla extract. Bring mixture to a simmer. Add sugar and salt and mix until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Taste and add more sugar and salt as needed to balance the flavors. The mixture should taste slightly too sweet when warm; the sweetness will be muted when the ice cream is frozen.

Strain mixture into a container. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.

Churn mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and let freeze until hard.

 

 

Vanilla Half Pound Cake

I’ve been craving vanilla. Maybe it is because of the quarantining that I haven’t been anywhere to wear perfume – my favorite scent is Vanille from Bourbon French Parfums in the French Quarter. So delicious and perfect for a cooking butch like me.

As it is in the time of Coronavirus, I’m not making the full pound cake (with a pound of butter, etc) because it will mainly be me eating it.

This cake doesn’t have leavenings so you need to make sure you beat lots of air into the sugar and butter and when adding the eggs to give it all the lift it gets.

If you don’t have vanilla bean paste, use 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract. The paste gives you intense vanilla flavor plus the flecks of vanilla beans. I use it for cocktails, ice cream and cakes like this where vanilla flavor is the star of the show.

Beautiful cake and it tastes amazing.

Vanilla Half Pound Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and flour a loaf pan.

Sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy – at least 5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat well. Mix in the milk and vanillas. Slowly add the flour and salt mixture and beat until just combined. Don’t over mix at the end or the cake will end up dense.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with fresh berries or toast slices lightly for a wonderful accompaniment to your morning’s tea/coffee.

Meyer Lemon Pie

I’ve had a craving for lemons lately. I made a big pitcher of lemonade the other day but that just wasn’t enough. My dad was eating a slice of key lime pie from the icebox and the light bulb went off – lemon pie!

I really like the sweeter, mellow lemon flavor of Meyer lemons, so I was happy to see them in the grocery store.

I used the America’s Test Kitchen crust. The saltine crackers are a good alternative to a graham cracker crust.

The result is light and not too sweet, not too tart – Goldilocks would love this pie!

While you can top with the whipped egg whites or whipped cream, I usually don’t bother. I don’t want anything to distract from the lemons.

Meyer Lemon Pie

53 saltine crackers, about a sleeve and half
1/8 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup light corn syrup
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, crush saltines and salt. This takes about 15 pulses. Add in butter and corn syrup. Pulse until it looks like coarse sand, about 15 pulses.

Press into a 9 inch pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

In a bowl, use a whisk to mix sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, milk and zest. Whisk in salt and lemon juice. Pour into still warm pie crust and return to oven for 15-18 minutes. It should only have a slight jiggle.

Cool on the counter for 15 minutes before transferring the refrigerator overnight (at least 4 hours). The pie needs to be completely chilled before slicing.

 

Darkly Chocolate Sheet Cake with Fudge Frosting

I had the end of a bag of powdered sugar and a little less than a cup of buttermilk. All I could think of to use them both was frosting but what to frost? I didn’t want to fuss with cake pans or layers so I went with a super easy chocolate sheet pan recipe.

The coffee makes it seem even more chocolately. By adding a full cup, the cake is super moist and tender.

The creme de cacao reduces the sweetness of the frosting. Be sure and add it after you’ve pulled the frosting from the heat as you don’t want to burn it all off.

An easy and delicious cake recipe. I definitely recommend it!

Darkly Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter
½ cup Dutch process or natural unsweetened cocoa
1 cup hot coffee
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Melt the butter in a double boiler. Stir in the cocoa and hot coffee.

Sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Place in the bowl of stand mixer with the sugar.

Pour the cocoa butter mixture over the dry ingredients. Mix on low until combined. Beat in the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 30 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick. When done, the cake will begin to pull away from the edge of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it on a rack.

I use a tall sided pan for baking the cake so that when I pour over the warm frosting, it doesn’t make a mess.

Fudge Frosting

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup Dutch process or natural unsweetened cocoa
6 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
3 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon creme de cacoa

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in the cocoa and buttermilk.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat and mix in the confectioners’ sugar and creme de cacoa, beating until smooth.

Pour the frosting over the cake while the frosting is still warm. Serve the cake right from the pan.