Saturday, 27 November 2010

Recipe 35 - Coconut Cream Pie

I found a recipe for Coconut Cream Pie on a website called Leite's Culinaria. The recipe came from the book Southern Pies by Nancie McDermott. It sounds delicious and it will be a nice treat to share with my grandpa. He just got home from a quick stay in the hospital and I know it will make him happy to eat this with me. He loves pie even more than I do!

Coconut Cream Pie


For the custard filling
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
2 1/4 cups milk, preferably whole milk
1 1/4 cups shredded or flaked coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the meringue
3 large egg whites
5 tablespoons granulated sugar


Make and blind bake a crust using a recipe of your choice.

Make the custard filling
1. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl. Use a fork or a whisk to mix them well. In another small bowl, beat the egg yolks.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk almost to a boil, stirring it as it begins to steam. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot milk with a measuring cup and pour it into the beaten egg yolks, stirring constantly as you pour. This warms up the eggs and discourages them from curdling. Pour the bowl of egg yolk-milk mixture into the milk in the pan over medium heat and stir well.
3. Add the sugar-cornstarch mixture to the warm egg-and-milk mixture and stir until dissolved. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard mixture becomes very smooth and has thickened to about the consistency of cream. Cook for about 1 minute more and then remove the pan from the heat.
4. Add 1 cup of the coconut, the butter, and vanilla to the custard in the pan. Stir to mix everything. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard and set it aside to cool to room temperature. When the custard has cooled down, remove the plastic wrap and pour it into the piecrust.

Make the meringue
1. Heat the oven to 350° F (176°C)
2. Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat the egg whites until they swell up into plump, shiny, soft clouds that hold firm, curly peaks.
3. Scoop the meringue on top of the cooled custard filling, spreading the meringue all the way to the crust and mounding the meringue up slightly in the center of the pie. Create swoops and swirls in the meringue for decorative effect and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of the coconut over the top of the meringue.
4. Place the coconut cream pie on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the meringue is a beautiful golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Place the pie on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature or, if desired, refrigerate and serve chilled.

Her results - Halfway Cookies

Last weekend we made some tasty cookie bars, and I'm going to go right ahead and admit that I think a good old fashioned chocolate chip cookie is simpler and just a good. That aside, these were fun to make and tasty to eat.

My iBook has quit working and my cordless phone battery only lasts five minutes, so I had to drag my ingredients to near the telephone base so we could chat on speakerphone while whipping everything up. My phone is on my desk in my bedroom, so what's where I worked. There's a first time for everything!

Here's a pictorial tour of the process:

I used three egg whites in the meringue, and next time I'd use less chocolate in the middle layer, but other than that the recipe felt quite reliable. I didn't apply the parchment paper very well, so it did more harm than good to the surface of the meringue. If you're going to apply the paper, follow the directions and press it smoothly and carefully onto the surface before baking. I think the paper might be altogether unnecessary, but then again I haven't tried it without...

These cookie bars were extra sugary sweet. They recalled to my mind some of the most sugary foods I know, such as a big glass of cherry Kool-aid. I think it would be the perfect pairing for this dessert. All or nothing!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

His results - Halfway Cookies

Oh man. Another killer week. It's going to take all the energy I have to type this.

A while back I bought a ton of 70% chocolate for a bargain price and I've been using it for ages. I was pretty excited to buy this stuff just because I love the packaging. I'd just about forgotten how much it increases the price of the ingredients though.

This was really easy I thought. The end product was slightly strange. I'm not sure the meringue really added anything but it was nice. Technically the recipe was good. The cookie layer was really tasty too. I'd recommend it just as a stand alone thing for sure.

These bars certianly looked good and they were tasty too. I'd just say the meringue was a little unnecessary.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Recipe 34 - Halfway Cookies

I have loads and loads of bookmarked recipes to choose from. My problem comes deciding which I fancy each week. I'm not in any particular mood right now so I opted for something which is neither one thing or another really. Hopefully whatever mood I'm in when we bake and eat this it will satisfy me.

The recipe for these halfway cookies came from the kitchn.

I won't type out the method, you can find that through the link but here are the ingedients in metric:

240g flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
110g unsalted butter, softened
100g granulated sugar
270g brown sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
300g semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks

Her results - Chocolate Ganache Custard Tart

Another David Lebovitz prizewinner! I really enjoyed this tart and its crust. I failed to get many pictures and I apologize for that, but I can give you a little commentary.

Making the crust was very simple and stress free. I'll eventually be able to roll out and transfer thin dough to a dish, but until that happens I'm glad that I've found a recipe for a crust that can be pressed into the pan. I will definitely add this one to my repertoire. The uncooked dough resembeles choux paste but the baked crust is quite different and tastes flaky and buttery.

Whipping up the filling was also incredibly easy. I was loading up my shopping cart with expensive chocolate bars when I realized I could just use chocolate chips. So I bought a bag of Whole Foods' semi-sweet chips for much less than the price of three nice chocolate bars. It worked great. After adding some half-and-half and eggs, I had a lovely batter. I filled up my tart crust and had enough left to fill a ramekin. I ate the latter as a very unhealthy breakfast one morning. It was worth it!

The tart came out nice:

And then I dropped a box of ziplock bags onto it:

I'm getting more like that Julie and Julia moron every day. Somebody shoot me!

At any rate I thought it tasted great and my co-workers liked it, too. It is a nice simple, elegant dessert. It packs a big punch. It might be fun to try using some milk chocolate in it someday. It would also be fun to make mini-tarts in the little pans I bought for the strawberry meringue tartlets we made a while back.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

His results - Chocolate Ganache Custard Tart

I'm incredibly, bone crushingly tired but the blogging must be done. I'll not write much though. The pastry was good and I'd make it again when a fairly neutral tasting, crispy and light seeming crust is required. How was it overall? One of the guys at work said this is the best of all of the things I've taken to this new job. Nuff said.

I'm going to go crash. I'll probably dream there was one last slice left in the tub for me to eat...

Friday, 12 November 2010

Recipe 33 - Chocolate Ganache Custard Tart

It's been a rough week. I've decided that there's a pie-sized hole in my soul that needs filling. Okay, I admit that eating a whole pie may not make me feel better, so I will need to share...

You know who's never let me down? David Lebovitz. On top of occasionally reading his blog, I also follow him via his Facebook site where this week he posted a picture of a "Chocolate Tart (from Ready for Dessert)." It's not exactly pie, but it is precisely what I need!

My boyfriend tells me that David is protective of his recipes, and seeing that it's how he makes his living, I understand. As such, I'm going to attempt to put the recipe from his AMAZING book Ready for Dessert into my own words. I am a very lazy person at 10:30pm, so this is going to be rough. To cut corners, I'm going to roll with this recipe for an atypical but authentic French tart shell. One must prepare the tart shell before proceeding to the recipe below.

Chocolate Ganache Custard Tart
Makes one 9" tart, 8-10 servings

280g roughly chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
250ml (1c) heavy cream or half-and-half
1 lg egg
1 egg yolk
2t Cognac

Preheat the oven to 350F/gas mark 4.

Put a pan of water on the stove to simmer, and grab a heatproof bowl. In that bowl, combine the chocolate and cream. Set the bowl into the simmering water and stir occasionally into the chocolate is melted and you have a smooth mixture. Remove the bowl from the heat.

Whisk the cognac, egg and egg yolk into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mixture into your prebaked tart shell, and jiggle and tilt the unbaked tart to create an even surface.

It's time to bake it! Set your tart onto a baking sheet and slide it into the oven. It will be ready in about 20 minutes. It should look nearly set but still quiver when jiggled. Be careful not to overbake your tart.

Let the tart cool completely before removing the tart pan from the crust. David gives tips for removing the pan in his excellent book, which you need to buy! Excellent Christmas present, guys and gals!

Serve with whipped cream, caramel ice cream or orange caramel sauce.

Serve the tart the same day it is made, at room temperature.

Dang, I always try to pick recipes that keep well until at least the next day. I didn't notice that this one should be consumed ASAP. Pie-shaped hole, prepare to be filled!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

His results - Pan de Muerto

This started off fairly promisingly. The dough came together alright and I left it to sit and rise. Which it barely did. It took nearly 24 hours for the dough to double in size. Regardless I ploughed on and shaped them. Then, left them for and hour or so and into the oven they went.

Suddenly they decided they want to expand! They grew massively and the tops cracked. What a shame. Still the decoration managed to hide it a little.

They tasted pretty good. Not too sweet, fairly rich. They were a bit dense though I'd say. Certainly a whole one as shown above was a bit too much. I gave away a bunch to people at work but still had a few left which I turned into bread pudding. That was a real triumph!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Her results - Pan de Muerto

My friend Maggie took me to my first panaderia about six years ago. I was so excited when I was instructed to pick up a big silver tray and tongs and to wander cabinet to cabinet scooping up ridiculously cheap treats. I don't remember what I tried that day, but since then (partially thanks to moving to Houston) I've learned a thing or two about tasty Mexican baked goods. Before last weekend I'd still never tried Pan de Muerto, and I was excited to discover if it was similar to the other items I've sampled. I was also really excited to shape and decorate the dough.

He had told me that I’d have some prep work to do the day before. It turned out that I had to completely make the dough, which left only the shaping, baking and decoration for our Sunday baking session. The dough-making process was pretty straightforward. I used my food processor to cut the flour into my dough, mainly because I didn't want to wait for the butter to come to room temperature. I used my hand mixer to blend in the eggs. It was the craziest dough I'd ever dealt with! It kept creeping up my beaters to the mixer itself. And it was SO thick that it was hard for my mixer to cope, and the poor little machine started smoking. I uplugged it, let it cool, and threw it in the garbage! I'll have to grab a new one. At any rate, after adding the eggs, I had to add quite a bit of flour (maybe about a cup?) to get the dough even remotely thick and un-sticky enough to handle. It seemed unreasonable to add more, so I finally gave up and decided, "It is what it is!"

I set my timer for two hours, and when time was up I found that the dough you see above had morphed into the dough you see below.

I decided it hadn't doubled in size, so I set the timer for two more hours. Then I fell asleep for 8+ hours! When I woke up, it looked like this:

Quadrupled in size? Yeah, maybe! Heh. I hoped it might contract a little during its two hours in the fridge, but it did not. Thankfully I don't think the recipe suffered because of my slip.

Forming the loaves was really fun. I had to oil my hands several times to keep the dough from sticking to me, but it wasn't annoyingly sticky so long as I kept that up. I didn't do the best job making my Friedas, but they came out pretty cool though somewhat bug eyed. Haha.

They puffed up a LOT while baking. They only took about 15 minutes to be almost overdone. As I often say, my oven is extra speedy. I really need to get one of those oven thermometers!

I forgot to snap a picture before decorating, but here's the finished product:

As you can see, I brushed on a simple orange glaze before decorating. I'm happy I did! My puffy, light Pan de Muerto had a nice bready taste with notes of cinnamon and citrus. They begged for a cup of coffee or tea. This recipe would make for a fun and tasty yearly tradition. I bet I'd eventually be a real artist! I'd like to make loaves that look like my wonderful grandfather, great aunts and uncles, and friends who have passed away. They were awesome people and they deserve to be remembered and celebrated.

I think that my Pan de Muerto was a success. Personally, I was just really happy they came out light and airy. A while back I got a bread baking book for Christmas. I took the advice of the author, and I tried making a simple loaf first. It came out like a brick. The next two batches of the same recipe came out terribly, too, so I quit trying to bake bread. I gave up too quickly, and I’ve been carrying around the burden of worrying that I can’t bake bread. So it was very nice to get this minor success under my belt.
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