Mini Maple Pecan Pies

I’m from the Pacific Northwest, and pecan pies were just not a “thing”. At least, not in my family. In fact, desserts were not a thing. We had pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, cake for birthdays and Christmas, and that was pretty much it.

Somewhere along the line I was introduced to those cute little pecan tassies and fell in love, but still hadn’t tackled an actual pie until . . . well . . . a month ago. Don’t wait until you’re in your sixties to try one; think of all the sweet, gooey goodness you will have missed.

My first attempt was lovely. And runny! Not acceptable. But oh, did it taste good.

I switched to mini pies because I like to fuss, and that gave me more rolling, crimping, and decorating opportunities. My first batch was chewy! I mean, pull-out-your-teeth chewy. Once again, not acceptable. But yes, they tasted amazing.

I learned some lessons along the way. The most important? Don’t forget the butter, and do NOT overbake them. Here are a few other tips:

  • Though I love a flaky bottom crust as much as the next person, I decided the extra step of pre-baking the crusts wasn’t necessary. If you want to blind-bake your crusts, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t poke holes in the bottom. Just add pie weights and hope for the best. Pecan filling seeps down into those holes and turns to concrete on the bottom of your pans, especially if you overbake them. (Ask me how I know.) 10 minutes at 400 F was about right when I tried it. Meh . . . the pies I made without this step were just as good.
  • It may sound a little odd, and I’ll probably be lynched if any pastry chefs see this, but I tried putting balls of dough in a tortilla press, between generously floured pieces of parchment. Pressed once, flipped it over (making sure there was still enough flour to let the dough spread easily) and pressed again. Worked like a charm. You didn’t hear that from me!
  • The whiskey is completely optional. Just leave it out of the filling if you prefer.
  • Pecan halves are fine for large pies, but when you’re filling these small pie pans, chopped nuts work better. Decorate the top with pecan halves if you’d like.
  • Pie crust decorations can be added before baking or baked separately on a baking sheet at 425 F. Your choice. I kind of like to bake them separately; then I can place them where I want on each baked pie. Watch them closely; they go from raw to burnt very quickly. You can see that this batch of leaves was a little dark. Still yummy, though!

The next batch was beeeeautiful, if I do say so myself.

Mini Maple Pecan Pies
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Makes 8
Ingredients
  • PIE CRUST:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt (1¼ if using unsalted butter)
  • 1 cup chilled shortening
  • ½ cup cold butter, coarsely grated
  • 2 tablespoons maple whiskey (or use regular whiskey, vodka, or 1½ T vinegar)
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • PIE FILLING:
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup corn syrup (light)
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk (keep the white for brushing on the crusts)
  • 2 tablespoons maple whiskey (or regular whiskey)
  • 1 teaspoon maple flavoring
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 cups chopped pecans (plus pecan halves if you want to decorate the top)
Instructions
  1. CRUST:
  2. In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Cut in the shortening and butter until flour is blended in and no large lumps are visible.
  3. Combine the whiskey (or vinegar) with buttermilk. Drizzle into flour mixture while tossing with a fork. Stir just until combined. Dough should easily hold together when you squeeze it. If mixture is too dry, add more buttermilk, 1 teaspoon at a time.
  4. Either roll out half of the dough at a time between generously floured pieces of parchment OR separate the dough into 8 pieces and roll each between floured parchment. Either way, shape the dough into a ball, flatten with your hand, and roll out fairly thin, about ⅛-inch. Set mini pie pan (top inside dimension 4¼-inches) upside down on dough and circle about 1-inch larger than the pan all the way around. Cut out 8 circles, saving scraps to re-roll.
  5. Lift circles (use a dough scraper or large spatula if needed) and place in pans, easing them in to fit snugly. Fold the edges under and crimp or press with a fork.
  6. Brush the bottom of the crusts with whisked egg white, then move to the refrigerator while you make the filling.
  7. Heat oven to 350 F.
  8. FILLING:
  9. In a medium bowl combine maple syrup, corn syrup, white sugar, and brown sugar. Stir well.
  10. Add 3 eggs and one egg yolk, whiskey, maple flavoring, and salt. Stir.
  11. Add melted butter and pecans and stir well.
  12. Fill crusts with a generous ½ cup of filling - about ⅔ full, stirring the mixture in the bowl before you fill each crust, because the pecans will all float to the top.
  13. Place pies on baking sheets and bake approximately 30 minutes. Gently shake one of the pies. If there's a slight jiggle, that's okay, but if it's wiggly, let the pies cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the pies to cool completely on a rack.
  14. Serve, or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. They may be frozen, too.

Add fats to flour and salt and cut in with pastry blender or two knives until no large lumps remain. Give it a light stir – there should be no pockets of flour; it all should be attached to fats.

Add buttermilk and whiskey, stirring with a fork.

Give it a squeeze! It should hold together. If not, add a teeny tiny bit more buttermilk.

You can roll out the dough and then cut as many circles as possible out of it.

Or roll and cut out one at a time (my favorite method).

OR, if you’re feeling like a rebel, you can try pressing balls of dough in a tortilla press. (Use parchment and lots of flour.)

Place crust in pan and crimp edges. Brush lightly with whisked egg white.

If you want to blind bake the crust, fill with weights (I used a coffee filter and beans) and bake 10 minutes at 400 F. Don’t poke holes in crust!

Mix syrups and sugars together.

Stir in eggs, salt, maple whiskey (or regular whiskey) and maple flavoring.

Add pecans and melted butter and stir well.

Fill the crusts. Use a generous half cup of filling.

Ready for the oven.

Baked.

Mmmm.

In case you’re wondering, these work very well for tassies, too. The crust-to-filling ratio is different; you might want to cut the filling recipe in half. I’d test that theory, but I think I’ve had enough pecan pie to last me at least a week or two!

Lorinda

Ruffles & Roses Banana Cream Pie

Treat your Valentine to a very special pie this year. A thick, ruffled pastry surrounds the vanilla wafer bottom crust topped with velvety banana cream filling. Add whipped cream, a few pastry decorations, or even a drizzle of chocolate sauce to take this dessert to the next level.

You don’t have to have a pie-shaped pan (though this might be a good excuse to splurge on one), but you do need a deep-dish pie pan because this makes a generous amount of filling. It might be a good idea to be prepared with a few cupcake liners in case you have extra filling. Just layer a spoonful of cookie crust, a few banana slices, and a dollop of filling and put the mini desserts in the freezer for another time.

And . . . speaking of freezers, if you want neat, tidy slices of banana cream pie, I recommend freezing the pie and cutting it frozen. Add the little decorations and fresh banana slices before serving. If you’re using fresh whipped cream, add it after the frozen pie has been cut. If you’re using topping in a tub, it can be added before freezing.

ONLY cut as many pieces as you need, and return the remaining pie to the freezer immediately, because once it’s frozen it won’t look pretty when you take it out of the fridge the next day. 

You don’t have to freeze it, of course, but a cream pie is, by nature, soft . . . and it can get a little messy when serving. If you’re more about eating it than taking photos of it, then this won’t bother you one bit. And oh, my is it creamy. Mmmm.

I just have to tell you, as much as I love the soft, creamy pie, I really can’t resist it when it’s frozen. I may have added a little chocolate sauce, some peanuts, and a cherry to create my own “banana split pie”. The frozen filling is just like rich ice cream.

Ruffles & Roses Banana Cream Pie
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This is a generous recipe, enough for a large, deep-dish pie pan. You may want to reserve a little of the cookie crust. If you have extra filling, layer a few cupcake liners or ramekins with crumbs, banana slices, and filling. Wrap well and freeze for later!
Ingredients
  • PASTRY CRUST:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening, chilled
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vodka (or vinegar, if you prefer)
  • COOKIE CRUST:
  • 1 cup finely crushed vanilla wafers
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • FILLING:
  • 2 eggs, plus 2 yolks
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 4 large firm bananas (save one for garnish)
  • Whipped cream (or topping in a tub), banana slices, sprinkles, pastry garnishes, chocolate drizzle for decorating if desired
Instructions
  1. PASTRY:
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Work the cold shortening into flour until the size of peas.
  3. Combine the milk and vodka (or vinegar) and drizzle into flour mixture, tossing with a fork. Stir gently until it comes together.
  4. Working with half of the dough at a time, place between lightly floured pieces of parchment and roll until about ⅛-inch thick. Cut strips wide enough to reach from the bottom edge of your pie pan to about ½ inch over the top. Cut strips into manageable lengths (for me, this was about 6 -7 inches long) and, one at a time, lay them loosely along the side of your pie pan, gently pleating as you go to create ruffles. Each time you use a new piece, roll the end a little and nudge it up against the piece you just added, to hide the edge. Press the dough along the bottom edge of the pie pan as you go. (The cookie crust will fill the bottom later.) Gather dough scraps and reroll all at once if needed.
  5. Place a piece of foil along the bottom of the pie pan and fill with pie weights or beans. Any extra scraps may be cut into hearts or shaped into roses and leaves for decoration. Place those on the crust now, using a little milk to anchor them. Press firmly. Place crust in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (Small shapes - like hearts - can be baked on cookie sheet for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.)
  6. Heat oven to 375 F.
  7. Place pie pan on baking sheet for easy handling, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully lift out the foil and weights.
  8. COOKIE CRUST: Combine crushed vanilla wafers, brown sugar, and melted butter. Put in bottom of pie pan and press down firmly, using a measuring cup or your hand. Be careful, the pan will be hot!
  9. Return to oven for an additional 20 minutes, or until the pie crust is golden. Cool on a rack.
  10. FILLING:
  11. In a small bowl, whisk together the two eggs and 2 yolks and the lemon juice. Set aside.
  12. In a large pan, combine the sugar, salt, cornstarch, and milk. Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture is steamy and beginning to bubble. Reduce heat to low.
  13. Slowly add about 1 cup of the hot mixture into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan and stir well.
  14. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thick and begins to make big bubbles in the center, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Pour into a heat-proof bowl and cover. Chill for 1 hour.
  15. Slice 3 bananas. Pour half of the cream filling into the pie pan. Cover with all of the banana slices. Top with remaining filling (as much as your pie will hold.) Chill for at least 4 hours. Top with whipped cream (or topping in a tub) and decorate if desired.
  16. If you want frozen banana pie (yum!) lay a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the filling, wrap well, and freeze. When ready to serve, cut as many pieces as you need and then return remaining pie to the freezer; it will not hold well in the refrigerator once it has been frozen. Allow the pie slices to thaw slightly, top with whipped cream, and serve.

Cut wide strips of pie dough to create ruffles

Pleat the ruffles and press along the bottom edge of pie pan.

I used a silicone mold for the roses and a cutter for the leaves and hearts.

Add foil and weights (I have a bag o’ beans I use over and over) and any pastry decorations you’re using.

Bake 20 minutes, then press cookie crumbs into the bottom of the pie. Bake an additional 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cook filling until thick and bubbly, then whisk about a cup into the egg mixture and return all to the pan on low heat.

cook and stir on low heat until thick. It should be “blurping” big bubbles.

Add a layer of chilled filling, add sliced bananas, then top with more filling. Place plastic wrap right on top of the filling and chill for at least 4 hours

Add real whipped cream when ready to serve. (I made ruffles.) If you’re using tubbed topping, this can be done a couple of hours ahead. Decorate.

My apologies to Dean Martin, but I’m going to change his song just a bit:

“When the moon hits your eye like a big piece of pie, that’s amore”

Nothin’ says amore like a beautiful slice of pie, right?

Lorinda

Peanut Butter Pie Crust – and Chocolate Pie!

 

A peanut butter and banana sandwich is one of my very favorite comfort foods. And, of course, the combination of peanut butter and chocolate makes me very, very happy; my favorite candy bars fall in this category. So when The Man suggested I try adding peanut butter to my pie crust, it only took me seconds to get on board with that. Banana pie. Chocolate pie. A match made in heaven!

I had qualms about how the peanut butter would affect my crust, but my concerns about texture were unfounded. The pie crust, though slightly less flaky than my favorite recipe, didn’t turn out heavy or tough as I’d feared. It was actually, well, perfect. I don’t use that word lightly because I tend to tinker with things until I’m satisfied, but I wouldn’t change one thing about this crust – and was tickled with it on my very first attempt.

So I’ll just amuse myself by considering all of the possibilities this crust offers. And believe me, I have a whole list of interesting recipes waiting for their turn in the limelight. For now, I’ll concentrate on pies. Specifically, chocolate cream pie. In this post, I’ll give you the recipe I used for my chocolate pie, and in a future post you’ll get this:

Coming soon: Banana Cream Pie with Peanut Butter Crust

The pie crust itself is very easy to work with. I had no problem at all fashioning some of it into roses, leaves, hearts, stars, and even holly. With a cookie cutter or press, you can easily customize for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Valentine’s Day.

Peanut Butter Pie Crust - and Chocolate Pie!
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This pie crust recipe makes enough for two deep-dish crusts or 1 generous crust and enough left to use for designing pie decorations. The dough can be frozen for later use.
Ingredients
  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter, chilled (not old-fashioned)
  • ½ cup shortening, chilled
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vodka or vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped chocolate, or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Finely chopped peanuts (optional)
  • FILLING:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon powdered espresso
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup butter
  • Decorations (optional): whipped cream, chopped peanuts, shaved chocolate, pastry crust cutouts.
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Make crust: In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and brown sugar.
  3. With a pastry blender, work the peanut butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until well combined. There should be no large lumps.
  4. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk and vodka (or vinegar). Pour into dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Dough should not be too crumbly. If it is, drizzle in a tiny bit of water and combine.
  5. Divide dough into two pieces. One will be for the pie crust and the other will be for cut-out decorations if desired. (Hint: for ease of rolling, make the piece you will use for crust a little larger than the one for decorating.) If you don’t want to make decorations, divide into two equal pieces and freeze the other half for another time.
  6. Dust one piece of dough lightly with flour, place between two pieces of parchment, and roll out evenly until larger than the diameter of your pie pan, all the way around. Remove the top piece of parchment, place the pie pan upside down on the dough, and cut a circle at least 1 inch bigger than the pan, all the way around Remove scraps.
  7. Slide a flat baking sheet or large piece of cardboard under the bottom parchment and flip the pan, dough, and parchment over in one movement. Remove baking sheet and carefully remove parchment. Ease the dough into the pie pan, roll edges under, and crimp the edges.
  8. Line with foil and fill half way with dry beans, pie weights, or sugar. Bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Take crust from oven and gently remove foil and weights. Poke crust all over with a fork and return to oven. Turn heat down to 350 F. and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
  10. Remove crust from oven and place on cooling rack. Sprinkle with ¼ cup chopped chocolate and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, melting the chocolate. Spread over bottom of the crust and sprinkle with nuts if desired.
  11. Remaining dough can be used to make cutout designs for the pie or can be wrapped well and frozen.
  12. Make filling: In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks. Set aside.
  13. In a large saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, espresso powder, milk, and unsweetened chocolate.Cook at medium-high heat, stirring constantly until mixture begins to boil.
  14. Turn heat down to medium and continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Adjust heat as necessary to keep the mixture at a low boil.
  15. Add about ½ cup of the mixture into egg yolks and whisk together. Pour egg mixture into the pan, stir well, and return to low boil. Continue to stir and cook for 2 additional minutes. Remove from heat.
  16. Stir in vanilla and butter until the filling is smooth. Pour into the pie shell and let the pie cool. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 4-6 hours.
  17. Serve with whipped cream, a sprinkle of chopped peanuts, and shaved chocolate if desired.

Of course, you could also make an easy chocolate pudding filling. It’s not quite as good, but in all honesty, this recipe is all about the crust!

Work peanut butter and shortening into dry ingredients with pastry blender

Add liquids and stir just until dough holds together.

Roll out between pieces of parchment

Place dough in pan and flute edges. (Or use a pan that does it for you!)

Bake 20 minutes. Remove pie weights and poke holes with fork. Back in the oven!

Bake 15 more minutes. Move to rack. Add chocolate (chopped or chips) and let it melt.

Spread.

Sprinkle with chopped peanuts if desired.

Whisk eggs, set aside. Cook filling.

Pour a small amount of hot filling into egg yolks. Whisk and return to the pan.

Stir in butter and vanilla, then pour into crust and cool. Refrigerate 4-6 hours

Jazz the pie up however you wish, right before serving.

I suggest you make extra crust and freeze it, because I have some fun ideas coming your way!

Lorinda

Mint Chocolate Chip Pie

If you ask me what my favorite ice cream is, the answer will always be mint chocolate chip. It’s getting harder and harder to find the good stuff though; I’ve turned my nose up at brands with waxy chocolate and too much mint or coloring. It has to be just right!

For a fun twist on my favorite dessert, I created this refreshing Mint Chocolate Chip Pie. It’s soft and fluffy, lightly flavored, and laced with mini chocolate chips. (If you’re a purist you can substitute good quality dark chocolate instead.)

This pie would be wonderful for Christmas – or any time. But since I was making this for St. Patrick’s Day, I melted a few green candy melts, poured the candy into small heart molds, and then connected three of them with a dot of green chocolate and added a stem to create a shamrock. Several of those on top of the pie definitely added an Irish flair!

I’m one of those people who prefer the crust of a pie over the filling. In this case, the filling is delightful . . . but I’m still all about that crust! The thicker the better. This recipe will make two thin crusts, but I like rolling out a crust without worrying about getting the shape perfect, knowing that it will be big enough to cut out a perfect circle. You can make yours thinner if you prefer. Either way, you’ll still have some leftover crust. You could cut out shamrock shapes to decorate your pie, or just bake strips of crust, dusted with cinnamon sugar, for a treat. (C’mon – guilty pleasures are the best!)

Mint Chocolate Chip Pie
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Ingredients
  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cold butter
  • ½ cup cold shortening
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vodka (or vinegar)
  • FILLING:
  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream (divided)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • green food color
  • ¾ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered (plus 2 tablespoons) sugar, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon unflavored gelatin (optional, to stabilize the whipping cream)
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. CRUST: In medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut butter into small cubes. Add butter and shortening and use pastry blender or fingers to combine. Mixture should have small lumps of fats visible - no larger than peas.
  2. In a small measuring cup, combine buttermilk and vodka (or vinegar). Add all at once to dry ingredients and toss/stir just until combined.
  3. Place dough on generously floured surface. Sprinkle flour over the top and roll out to a thickness between ⅛-inch and ¼-inch, depending on preference. Place pie pan upside down on dough and cut circle about 1 inch larger all around than the pan.
  4. Slide flat baking sheet or cutting sheet under the dough and flip the pan and dough over. Gently ease the dough into the pan and fold excess over to make the dough come to just above the top edge of the pan. Flute the edge with your fingers. Chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Heat oven to 350 F.
  6. With a fork, poke holes in the sides and bottom of the crust. Carefully line with foil, allowing the foil to cover the top edge of the dough. Fill with pie weights (or beans, rice, or sugar) and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove foil and weights and allow pie to cool completely.
  7. FILLING: in a small saucepan on lowest heat (or in the microwave using 15 second increments) heat ½ cup cream and white chocolate chips until chips are melted.Add a few drops of green food coloring and peppermint extract and stir well. Allow to cool.
  8. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth. Add white chocolate mixture and beat until incorporated. .
  9. In a medium bowl, beat remaining 1½ cups cream until soft peaks form.
  10. In a small cup in the microwave, or a small metal measuring cup or pan on the stove, heat the gelatin and water until gelatin is dissolved (this should happen very quickly...just 5-10 seconds in the microwave) and drizzle over the whipped cream while mixing on high speed. Add 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
  11. Fold approximately ⅔ of the whipped cream into the filling, fold in chocolate chips, and spoon into the cooled crust. Pipe or spread the remaining cream onto the top of the pie. Chill for several hours (or overnight) before serving.

Cut circle of dough larger than pie pan. Slide a flat sheet under dough and flip.

Ease dough into pan and flute. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Line crust with foil and fill with weights, beans, rice, or sugar. Bake.

Filling ingredients

Add green chocolate mixture to the cream cheese mixture.

Fold whipped cream into the filling

Fold in the chocolate chips.

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
a full moon on a dark night,
and the road downhill all the way to your door.

Lorinda

Chocolate Cherry Tart

Oh, heavens! This cherry tart has a rich chocolate crust that lies somewhere between a cookie and a pie crust, and filling that’s spiked with cherry brandy. (Totally optional.) Oh, and did I mention that I used canned cherry pie filling? I know that’s not my usual modus operandi, but I’m afraid my cherry tree is buried under a few feet of snow, and besides…I’m making you create the crust from scratch, which is probably enough of a challenge, right?

I had to do some experimenting to come up with a crust that didn’t turn soggy on the bottom, but I’m happy to say that if you follow my baking instructions, your tart will be tender (but definitely not gummy) on the bottom, and crunchy on the sides. Yum yum yum!

Tips:

  • If you don’t want booze in yours (eyeroll), you can skip the whole “cook the filling, lime juice, and cornstarch” step and just dump the cans of filling into the chilled tart crust. I wouldn’t even bother with the lime, (though it does add a nice flavor) because that would mean you’d have to dump the filling into a bowl, and…well…one more bowl to wash!
  • If you do use the brandy, be sure the cooked mixture is cool before putting it in the crust.
  • It’s critical to keep your dough chilled, and that egg white wash is a must! This will help keep the cherry mixture from seeping into your bottom crust.
  • Use whatever method works best for you when you move the crust to your tart pan. It’s thicker than a pie crust, but you can still roll it gently onto a rolling pin to transfer it. I like to roll mine out on parchment, center the tart pan upside down on the dough, slide one cookie sheet under the parchment and lay one gently on top of the dough, then flip. Whatever works best for you!
  • After you’ve eased your dough into the pan, turn the excess inward and press firmly against the inside edge. Trim off any dough that sticks over the edge of the pan.
  • Put a baking sheet in the oven while it preheats, then slide the chilled tart onto the hot sheet. This blast of heat from below will also help your crust to cook through. Be careful when you do this; you don’t want it to slide right into the back of the oven!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Filling ingredients.

Crust ingredients. (Whoops. And an egg white!)

Chocolate Cherry Tart
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Makes one 11-inch tart.
Ingredients
  • FILLING: (If not using alcohol, just use canned filling and skip the other ingredients)
  • 2 cans cherry pie filling
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime (or lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup cherry brandy
  • CRUST:
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup cold butter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 egg white, whisked
  • ***
  • Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.
Instructions
  1. FILLING:
  2. In a large pot on medium heat, combine two cans of cherry pie filling, lime, and cornstarch. Cook and stir until mixture bubbles and turns clear (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the cherry brandy. Set aside to cool.
  3. CRUST:
  4. In a medium pot over medium heat, bring water, sugar, and salt to a boil.
  5. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips, whisking until smooth. Allow mixture to cool completely before moving to the next step!
  6. In a medium bowl, grate the butter using a grater with large holes. Add flour and stir until all of the butter is coated.
  7. Add the cool chocolate mixture and stir until mostly combined, then dump out onto lightly floured surface and knead gently just until it comes together into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. (No longer - the chocolate will harden and make it difficult to roll out.)
  8. Lightly spray an 11-inch tart pan with cooking spray. I like to use a flour and oil mixture, like Baker's Joy.
  9. Roll out dough to make a circle about an inch bigger than your tart pan, all the way around. (Your pan should be 11 inches, so the circle would measure approximately 13 inches in all directions.)
  10. Gently ease the dough into the pan. Roll any excess at the top towards the inside of the pan, pressing firmly against the sides. If any dough sticks up past the edge, trim it off.
  11. With a pastry brush, cover the bottom of the crust with egg white. Freeze for 15 minutes (or refrigerate for 30).
  12. Preheat oven to 400 F. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack while preheating.
  13. Place tart pan onto a flat baking sheet or cutting board. Spoon filling into crust and slide it from the flat sheet onto the hot baking sheet in the oven.
  14. Bake for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven, turn the heat to 350 F and bake an additional 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. When tart is barely warm, slide onto your hand, letting the ring fall down your arm. You may either leave the tart on the metal bottom or use a thin spatula to slide it from the base to a serving platter.
  15. Decorate with whipped cream if desired, or serve with ice cream.

Add lime (or lemon) juice and cornstarch. It will look cloudy – that’s okay.

Cook it until it’s bubbly and fairly clear.

Add flour to grated butter and stir to coat.

Stir chocolate mixture into butter and flour. Make sure the chocolate isn’t warm!

Knead gently until it forms a ball, flatten into disk, wrap and chill. (You should see little bits of butter throughout.)

My favorite method to transfer dough to pan. Center pan upside down on dough, slide baking sheet under parchment, one on toop of dough, and flip.

Brush bottom of crust with egg white and chill. Add filling and bake!

I used stabilized whipped cream on this tart. To stabilize cream, I beat 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form, add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and beat until combined. Then I heat about 1/2 teaspoon Knox gelatin in 1/2 teaspoon water until it’s melted and drizzle a little in the cream while mixing on high. I don’t use it all…maybe half, but it’s too hard to melt a smaller amount!

For the tart at the beginning of the post, I beat 4 ounces of room temperature cream cheese, added 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1 cup of heavy cream and beat until it was thick and fluffy. I think I like the piped hearts better because the cherries still show.

Or…you could just eat it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Disclaimer: My husband preferred the tart without alcohol; he didn’t like the smell of cherry brandy. It MAY be because I had already spent a fortune at the liquor store picking up other booze for Valentine’s Day baking and went cheap on the brandy, but I liked it. A lot. I’ve never tried Kirsch, but that might be a good alternative if you have some.

Ready, set, GO!

So…onward. There are lots of ideas swirling around in my head; as soon as I corral them into something resembling recipes, you’ll be seeing lots of chocolate, cherries, raspberries, and sprinkles.

Feelin’ the love…

Lorinda

Flags and Flowers Pie Crust

 

Flags and Flowers Cherry Pie - The Rowdy BakerPick a filling, any filling! Cherry, apple…whatever says “Memorial Day” to you. What people will remember is the crust – flaky and delicious, and decorated with flags and flowers, with a star in the center to let steam out.

To have a generous portion of pie crust to work with (think thick, rustic crust and lots of dough to make shapes out of) I doubled my usual recipe.

Flags and Flowers Pie Crust
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Author:
A double recipe of pie crust will give you nice thick deep dish crusts, and plenty of extra dough for decorating..
Ingredients
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups shortening (chilled)
  • ½ cup cold milk
  • 2 tablespoons vodka (or vinegar, if you prefer)
Instructions
  1. Prepare your pie filling of choice.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.
  3. Cut shortening into the mixture (using a pastry blender or your fingertips) until there are no lumps bigger than a pea.
  4. Combine milk and vodka and add to the dry ingredients all at once.
  5. Use a fork or rubber spatula to lightly combine. Separate into two balls..
  6. Between two sheets of floured parchment, flatten one of the balls of dough and roll out to a size at least 2 inches bigger all the way around than your pie pan. Add a little flour as needed to keep it from sticking to the parchment. Remove top parchment and, using your pie pan as a guide, cut out a circle approximately 1 inch bigger around than the pie pan. Set aside the scraps for decorations.
  7. Slide a flat baking sheet under the bottom parchment and place your pie pan upside down in the center of the dough. With one hand under the baking sheet and one on the top of the pie pan, flip it over. Remove the baking sheet and gently peel back the parchment. Ease dough into the pan. Place in the refrigerator.
  8. Roll the second ball of dough the same size as the first, between sheets of floured parchment. Remove the top parchment and cut the circle of dough, saving the scraps, Using a cookie cutter, cut a star shape out of the middle. Slide a baking sheet under the bottom parchment and refrigerate while you work on the decorations.
  9. Combine all scraps and roll out thinly between parchment.
  10. Cut out 8 rectangles for flags. With a toothpick make guidelines for stripes and a large square in the upper left hand corner, poked with the toothpick for "stars". With a large sharp knife, cut thin strips to make stripes. Lay them on the rectangles, letting them fall over the edge, and press gently. Trim the excess dough from the sides.
  11. Make roses: Roll a small strip of dough to make the center. Cut round circles and overlap them around the center, pinching the outer edges to make them thin so they'll curl down a bit. Shape with your fingers. Holding the flower right below the petals, pinch off the excess dough from the bottom so the flowers will set neatly on the crust. Make 8 roses.
  12. Heat oven to 375 F.
  13. Remove crusts from the refrigerator.
  14. Fill the bottom crust and cover with the top, keeping the star centered. Crimp the edges.
  15. Arrange flags and roses around the outer edge.
  16. Place a baking sheet under the pie and bake approximately 40 minutes, or until the top crust is a rich golden brown.

Mark lines with toothpick. Add thin strips of dough - let it fall of the sides for now. And crumbly areas can be cleaned with toothpick.

Mark lines with toothpick. Add thin strips of dough – let it fall of the sides for now.

Trim the edges.

Trim the edges.

I neglected to get rose-in-progress photos. But it’s easy, honest! Just roll a little strip of dough for a center. Cut small circles and overlap – pinching the dough on the top to thin it and make it curl nicely. Use your inner artist! Hold the rose loosely in one hand with fingers under the blossom, and pinch off the extra dough so it will sit pretty.

Arrange flags and flowers.

Arrange flags and flowers.

At this point, you could brush the pie with an egg wash, or sprinkle it with sugar – or even colored sugar. You could even paint the stars and stripes with food color. I wanted rustic, so I left it alone.

BAKE!

Flags and Flowers Piecrust from The Rowdy Baker

And of course, you are the kitchen artist here. Make all stars, one large flag, or sculpt an eagle. Use canned pie filling or make your own. Whatever you do, it will be wonderful! Have a good Memorial Day.

Lorinda

“In the Garden” Triple Berry Pie

Triple Berry Pie from The Rowdy BakerMother’s Day is next month, and I was trying to come up with a motherly theme for a pie crust. If my daughter was making this for me, she’d probably put a wine glass on the crust…but I went with a more traditional garden theme. Figured it was a little more classy.

Playing with dough is my favorite thing to do. The pie crust recipe I use is SO forgiving. You can re-roll it, form little shapes with your fingers, let it stand at room temperature (within reason), and abuse it thoroughly….and it stays flaky. Good stuff!

I will admit that the details on the crust took me a while, so the crust got a little too warm. If I’d thought to chill the pie for a little bit before baking it, the pretty fluted edges would probably have stayed perky, instead of bailing on me. Meh.

If you’d like a similar idea that is less work, here’s a pie I made with just a trellis on it. I made little flowers using gum paste cutters, but you could create them with a sharp knife too.Trellis on pie crust

Use whatever combination of berries you have, fresh or frozen. (Don’t use frozen berries packed in juice or sauce, though!) I had lots of frozen raspberries, maybe a cup of sliced strawberries, and a two cups of frozen blueberries. The combination of flavors is amazing!

Triple Berry Pie - The Rowdy Baker

I like to use instant tapioca as a thickener. It’s clear, tasteless, and never fails me. I grind mine in a clean coffee grinder to avoid chewy spots in the pie. tapiocaThe recipe below has enough dough for a normal two-crust pie. If you plan on adding decorations, double the recipe. (Any extra can be baked and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar…mmmmmm.) I often double the recipe anyhow, since I like a fairly thick crust and find it a lot more manageable than paper-thin pastry. I’m also fairly casual about discarding decorations that don’t please me, so a generous amount of dough is a good thing in my kitchen.

Ready to make some pie? I’ll show you how to make a Triple Berry Pie, then add photos of the decorations, if you’re interested.

Triple Berry Pie
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Author:
This recipe is for a two-crust deep dish pie. If you plan to create pie art, you'll need to double the crust recipe for a generous amount of dough. (You can always freeze some if you don't use it all.)
Ingredients
  • FILLING:
  • 5 cups mixed berries - fresh or frozen (I used raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup instant tapioca, ground finely if possible
  • PIE CRUST:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chilled shortening
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vodka (or you may use vinegar)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 F
  2. FILLING:
  3. In a large bowl, combine the berries, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and tapioca. Stir well and allow mixture to sit while you work on the crust. This will give the tapioca time to soften.
  4. CRUST:
  5. In large bowl, combine flour and salt. Work in shortening with fingers or a pastry blender until there are no large lumps. (Anything the size of a pea or smaller is fine.)
  6. Combine milk and vodka and pour into flour mixture all at once.
  7. Toss the mixture with fork or fingers until it holds together.
  8. Divide into two pieces, with one piece a little bit larger than the other.
  9. Put the larger ball of dough on a floured piece of parchment and flatten into a disk. Dust with flour and lay a second piece of parchment over the dough. Roll out until large enough to cut a circle that is at least 1 inch larger than your pie pan. Remove top parchment and cut dough into circle.
  10. Slide a flat baking sheet under the bottom parchment. Put your pie pan upside down in the center of the dough circle. With one hand under the baking sheet and one hand on the pie pan, flip both over. Remove baking sheet and carefully peel back parchment. Ease dough into the pan.
  11. Fill the pie crust with filling.
  12. Roll out the smaller piece and cut a circle a little bigger than the pie pan. Gently roll onto a rolling pin and lay over the filling. Press the edges together, fold them under, and flute the edges.
  13. Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, then - without opening the oven door - turn the temperature down to 350 F. Bake for additional 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
  14. Move pie to a rack and allow it to cool. If served warm, it will be a little runny. If cooled (or chilled) it will hold its shape when cut.
  15. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Roll between parchment. See how smooth it is when you pull the paper back?

Roll between parchment. See how smooth it is when you pull the paper back?

Cut first crust at least 1 inch larger than the pie pan

Cut first crust at least 1 inch larger than the pie pan

Slide a flat baking sheet under parchment. Center upside down pie pan on dough.

Slide a flat baking sheet under parchment. Center upside down pie pan on dough.

With one hand under baking sheet and one on the pie pan...flip!

With one hand under baking sheet and one on the pie pan (don’t press too hard)…flip!

Without stretching, ease dough into pan.

Without stretching, ease dough into pan.

filling

Add filling

Cut top crust a little bigger than the pie pan. Lift with rolling pin and place over filling. Crimp edges and bake.

Cut top crust a little bigger than the pie pan. Lift with rolling pin and place over filling. Crimp edges and bake.

AND NOW…

If you’re in the mood to play with pie crust, here are a few photos of the construction of the garden crust. Press each piece of dough down lightly as you work. You don’t need liquid – they’ll pretty much stay put. Well, except for the fence rails. I kept bumping the darn things.

Also, don’t get too close to the edge. In retrospect, I should have given myself a little more space for fluting the edge of the pie.

Set your top crust on a generously floured baking sheet or piece of parchment. You will need to slide it off onto the pie when it’s finished. If it gets too soft and warm and won’t slide, pop it in the freezer for a couple of minutes and try again, or if you’re coordinated, slip your hands underneath the crust and move it quickly.

Make the fence. Cut a strip, divide it into "slats", and trim each to a point.

Make the fence. Cut a strip, divide it into “slats”, and trim each to a point.

Birdbath: I cut a shapely pedestal, then two identical ovals.

Birdbath: I cut a shapely pedestal, then two identical ovals.

Lay one oval down, cut center out of second oval, and lay the "rim" over the oval to give it depth.

Lay one oval down, cut center out of second oval, and lay the “rim” over the oval to give it depth.

I added a bird, made by pressing and shaping the dough like clay. Mine may look more like a small turkey…hopefully you have more artistic skills!

I added an arbor, then some thin pieces of dough for vines, and little leaves.

I added an arbor, then some thin pieces of dough for vines, and little leaves.

A toothpick is your friend. It will make a nice crease in the leaves, and help place them.

At this point, I stopped taking photos while I struggled with the teeny tiny roses. I finally just took narrow strips of thin dough about an inch long and rolled them up. Good enough!

Add details. A tree on the right, then I added some clouds in the upper left (use your thumb to press all over so they aren't flat)

Add details. A tree on the right, a birdhouse, then I added some clouds in the upper left (use your thumb to press all over so they aren’t flat)

Use a thin spatula or knife to chop up some grass. It looks best if you place it in little "bunches".

Use a thin spatula or knife to chop up some grass. It looks best if you place it in little “bunches”.

Make little balls of dough and then press down with fingers to flatten them.

Make little balls of dough and then press down with fingers to flatten them.

Lay top crust on filling. Pinch layers together and flute the edges.

Lay top crust on filling. Pinch layers together and flute the edges.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Triple Berry Pie -The Rowdy Baker

 

I know it will hurt to actually take a knife and STAB your masterpiece, but remember: there’s no crying in pie art! It’s just a beginning – there will be many more dough canvases in your future. Think of all the scenic pies you can make for holidays throughout the year.

Have fun with this!

Lorinda

Corned Beef Pot Pie

 

March Madness is here! Six of us bloggers are posting our favorite recipes to brighten up a gloomy month. I brought comfort food, but if you scroll down to the bottom (after you’ve read my post of course) you’ll find the links to the rest of the sweet, delicious desserts.11059508_921719024545139_911407867225079426_n

 



Corned Beef Pie and plate editedWe never, EVER have enough corned beef left after indulging in our St. Patrick’s Day feast. We love to nibble on it, make huge sandwiches, cook corned beef hash, and (provided I was smart and cooked two pieces) we adore Corned Beef Pot Pie. I’m guessing you will too, so hit those sales after St. Patrick’s Day and put a couple of extra packages of corned beef in your freezer!

Logic would tell you that a beef pie needs beef gravy, but corned beef is different – definitely not your traditional beef flavor. So I use chicken broth in my white sauce, which is delicate enough to allow the amazing flavor of the corned beef shine through.

If you have lots of leftover carrots and potatoes from your dinner, you could certainly use those instead of cooking more; they’d add even more flavor. Aim for 4 cups of veggies, and don’t worry about getting even amounts of each.

For this recipe, I’ll assume you only have leftover corned beef. Need a pie crust recipe? Here’s my favorite:

Never Fail Pie Crust
(makes 2 crusts)

1 cup chilled shortening
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vodka (or vinegar)
1/4 cup milk

  1. Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in the shortening until it looks like coarse crumbs.
  2. Mix vodka (or vinegar) into milk. Combine all at once into flour mixture.
  3. This can be rolled into crusts immediately, or flattened into disks and placed between sheets of plastic wrap and chilled first in the refrigerator.

Since I like big, thick top crusts, I usually double the recipe and freeze leftover dough. Just sayin’.

Corned Beef Pot Pie
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups carrots, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups cubed potatoes
  • 2 cups (or whatever you can spare) cooked corn beef, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage
  • 2 thin slices onion, chopped finely
  • 1 small can mushrooms (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth (I use low sodium)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup milk (more if necessary)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • pepper and garlic salt to taste
  • Pastry for 2 crust pie
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a large pot, boil carrots for 4 minutes
  3. Add potatoes and boil for an additional 5 minutes
  4. Strain carrots and potatoes and put in a large bowl.
  5. Stir in corned beef, cabbage, onions and mushrooms (if using).
  6. In a large pot on medium heat, melt the butter.
  7. Gradually whisk in the flour, and continue to whisk and heat for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Slowly add the chicken broth, and then the cream, whisking continuously.
  9. Add the sugar, pepper, and garlic salt.
  10. Bring to a simmer and gradually add milk until the mixture is thick but pourable.
  11. Turn to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Mixture may thicken...add more milk as needed.
  12. Pour into bowl with the meat and vegetables, and stir to coat.
  13. Place pie crust into a deep pie pan and fill with the mixture, pressing down firmly.
  14. Place a top crust over the filling. Crimp the edges and cut vents in the crust.
  15. Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the crust is a rich golden brown.

 

Adding the cream sauce to the meat and veggies.

Adding the cream sauce to the meat and veggies.

Fill and top with upper crust.

Fill and top with upper crust.

Bake it until it's rich golden brown

Bake it until it’s rich golden brown



and....eat!

and….eat!

This rich pie will serve six people easily. If you let it sit for twenty to thirty minutes after it comes out of the oven, it will be easier to serve, and won’t burn any tongues. (Ahem.)

After the pie you’ll be ready for dessert, and there are some lovely choices in the links below!
Lorinda

From Tampa Cake Girl: Going Ape Over Banana Pudding Cake

From Hun, What’s For Dinner?: Chocolate Mousse Cake

From Crumbs in my Mustachio: Chocolate Raspberry Roll

From Cooking from a SAHM: Lemon Blueberry Puffs with Lemon Whipped Cream

From Moore or Less Cooking Blog: Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Cloud Nine Berry Pie



CLOUD NINE BERRY PIE horiz2 watermarkedWe picked 8 pounds of raspberries yesterday from our garden, and there is no end in sight. This isn’t a complaint, of course…just an observation. The grandkids picked last week – even the baby! Daisy our black lab even learned to pick them. And yet they are getting ahead of me, and the bees are beginning to take more than their share.

Child labor.

Child labor.

So…a raspberry dessert was just what I needed to make for the blog. I played around with a meringue crust, and it was a huge hit here in my home. You could put the filling in a pre-baked pie crust too, of course, but we all loved the melty, crunchy, slightly-chewy-on-the-bottom crust.

The meringue piecrust can be made a day ahead if you’d like, stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Add the filling and give the pie an hour in the fridge to set up nicely before serving. The pie filling is very light and mousse-like, so cut generous portions! The meringue won’t be crispy after a night in the fridge, so you might as well eat it while it’s in its prime.

Baked meringue crusts. Don't worry about cracks - they just add to the charm.

Baked meringue crusts. Don’t worry about cracks – they just add to the charm.

I doubled the recipe and tried a couple of different pans. Here’s what I learned:

  • You must spray the pie pans with a non-stick spray! (Next time I might try greasing the pan and lining it with parchment.) Mine stuck a bit and was difficult to cut into neat pieces. But even if the meringue is a little crumbly, it’s delicious and you can just heap little pieces on each spoonful on its way to your mouth!
  • Don’t try to rush the crusts. They need to dry out slowly and completely in the oven.
  • Use clean utensils when making meringue, and be careful not to get any egg yolk in with the whites.

This recipe would work very well with other juicy berries too, like blackberries or huckleberries. A lemon curd layer on top would be heavenly – a little tartness to cut the sweet filling. But this has become my husband’s new favorite pie, so I won’t mess with a good thing!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need. (Remember, I made 2 pies…you won’t need as many eggs, berries, etc.)Cloud Nine Berry Pie ingredients

Cloud Nine Berry Pie
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Author:
Serves 8
Ingredients
  • MERINGUE:
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • grated peel of one small lemon
  • a few drops of lemon extract (optional)
  • PIE FILLING:
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries (plus a few for decorating, if desired)
  • juice from one small lemon
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, divided
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 250 F.
  2. In a small bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle with cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
  3. Add 1 cup of superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well between each addition. When all sugar has been added, beat until stiff peaks form.
  4. Gently fold in the grated lemon peel and extract.
  5. Spray a deep-dish pie pan with non-stick spray. Spread (or pipe) the meringue evenly over entire inside surface.
  6. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the pie crust in the oven until it cools (or at least 1 hour).
  7. While the crust is baking, begin cooking the berry portion of the filling: Place berries into a small saucepan with the lemon juice. Cover and cook on medium-low for about ½ hour, stirring occasionally.
  8. Place the cooked berries in a fine strainer over a small bowl and press the juice out, discarding the seeds and pulp. You should have about ½ cup of juice. If necessary, add a little water.
  9. Put the juice back in the small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  10. Combine ¼ cup sugar and cornstarch and whisk into boiling juice. Turn down to medium-low, cooking and stirring for 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. If you are in a hurry, the pan can be set into a cold water bath to cool.
  11. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1½ cups powdered sugar together well, until creamy.
  12. Add half of the berry mixture (reserving the rest for drizzling over the dessert) and mix until combined.
  13. In a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream until thickened. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold into cream cheese mixture.
  14. Spoon the filling into cooled meringue crust. Chill for 1 hour. Decorate with whipped cream and raspberries and serve.
  15. Store in refrigerator. The meringue crust will soften during refrigeration, but the flavor will still be amazing.

 

Fold lemon zest in gently to avoid deflating those pretty stiff peaks.

Fold lemon zest in gently to avoid deflating those pretty stiff peaks.

 

Spread (or pipe) meringue in pan

Spread (or pipe) meringue in pan

Pour cooked berries into strainer and press out juice.

Pour cooked berries into strainer and press out juice.

Folding whipped cream into cream cheese/berry mixture

Folding whipped cream into cream cheese/berry mixture

Add filling and chill for 1 hour.

Add filling and chill for 1 hour.

CLOUD NINE BERRY PIE heart shape watermark

CLOUD NINE BERRY PIE vertical watermarked

Cool and sweet, light and creamy. How perfect is this for a summer treat? The meringue crust has given me so many ideas. One will involve pumpkin…but I’m not quite ready to go THERE yet. For now, I’m on a mission to use up some berries. If you come my way this summer, bring your bucket!

Lorinda

Chicken Pot Pie

 

Chicken Pot Pie!

Chicken Pot Pie!

We’re at that awkward time between winter and spring, where I don’t know whether to cook hearty meals or start pretending the weather is nice and the green foods I find at the grocery store are fresh and wholesome. A hearty meal won today!

I’ve given you a link to one of my pot pie recipes before, but I changed it up a little (I try never to use canned soup now) and like this version much, much more. Hope you’ll agree.

If you’ve followed any of my posts, you know that my unofficial motto is: “If it’s worth making, it’s worth doubling.” Seriously – if it’s worth the time to make something, make a LOT of it and freeze it. You’ll be glad when you’re caught with unexpected company or just don’t feel like entering your kitchen.

This pot pie recipe makes two generous pies. Freeze one and inhale the other! Click on this link for my favorite pie crust recipe. You’ll have to double it, of course.

One to eat...

One to eat…

and one for the freezer!

and one for the freezer!

Here’s my version, but as always, feel free to customize it to your tastes. Add mushrooms, celery, herbs, bacon, broccoli, green beans, cheese…well, you get the idea. Anything goes!

Chicken Pot Pie
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Author:
Serves: 6
A rich chicken pot pie with a flaky crust - a hearty meal that is good enough to serve to company!
Ingredients
  • 4 large chicken breast halves (about 5 pounds)
  • 3 cups sliced carrots
  • 3 cups cubed potatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup chicken grease
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅔ cup flour
  • 1½ cup chicken broth
  • 2½ cups milk
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • Pie crust - enough for 2 deep-dish shells and 2 top crusts
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place chicken breasts in baking dish and bake until done - about 1 hour. Remove from heat and reserve ½ cup of the grease.
  3. While chicken cools, peel carrots and slice. Peel potatoes and cut into small cubes. Cover potatoes with cold water until ready to use.
  4. In large saucepan or deep fry pan on high heat, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the carrots. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Drain the potatoes and add them to the carrots. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 3 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped onions and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  7. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, combine the chicken grease, butter, and garlic. Stir until butter melts and the mixture is bubbly.
  8. Add the flour gradually, stirring constantly. It will turn into a thick ball of dough. Stir and cook for one minute, turning heat down a little if it begins to brown.
  9. Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring well. You may want to switch to a whisk here.
  10. Add the milk gradually, Whisk continuously! The mixture should slowly thicken.
  11. Reduce heat to low and allow the mixture to cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The goal is to make a design on the top of the sauce with the whisk or spoon, and watch it disappear quickly. In other words, not too thick, not too thin. Add more liquid if it's too thick. You may use cream if you want a richer sauce.
  12. Remove sauce from heat and set aside.
  13. Heat oven to 400 F.
  14. Remove the meat from the chicken and chop into generous bite-size pieces.
  15. Drain the cooked vegetables and add the chicken. Add the frozen peas and stir to combine.
  16. Divide between the two pie crusts, just to the top of the pan. Refrigerate any extra filling for another use.
  17. Pour half of the sauce over the filling in each pie.
  18. Cover with top crust. Cut vent holes in the top crust.
  19. Bake at 400 F. for 45 minutes, or until the crust is a rich light brown.
  20. Allow the pie to sit for 15 minutes before cutting.

 

Pot pie ingredients. Um...except I forgot garlic, chicken broth, and peas :)

Pot pie ingredients. Um…except I forgot garlic, chicken broth, and peas 🙂

Cook carrots 3 minutes (they take longer than potatoes) then add 'taters.

Cook carrots 3 minutes (they take longer than potatoes) then add ‘taters.

Cooking the fats and flour.

Cooking the fats and flour.

Pour sauce over meat and veggies.

Pour sauce over meat and veggies.

Dig in!

Dig in!

This is the ultimate comfort food. I remember loving those nasty little frozen pot pies from the grocery store, even though they always were so hot they burned my mouth and accidentally finding meat in them was a real bonus. This pie…THIS PIE…is so much better than those. It’s packed full of chunks of chicken and vegetables that are easily identifiable. No comparison! Make a couple of them this weekend and you will never even pause in the freezer section again.