Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mini Chocolate Cream Pies

I woke up this morning and decided to make miniature chocolate cream pies to take to church.  I volunteered to start making a little something for our churches coffee house service.  They're trying to go for a coffee shop feel with an acoustic set rather than the big band and we have tables set up and serve coffee and refreshments.  Last week I brought the pioneer woman's vanilla bean scones but this morning I woke up with chocolate cream pie on the brain....

After searching the kitchen I discovered I did have all the ingredients I needed...surprisingly the recipe I have for cream pies does not contain any cream at all.  I wonder if instead it should be called a chocolate meringue pie.

I've been hearing all about personal pies and pies-in-a-jar and pie pops.  I actually looked at how one lady is making the pie pops yesterday, but other then that I'm not sure what others are doing for small pies but here's how I did mine.

I made my new favorite crust which is 3 cups flour, 2 sticks butter, 1T sugar, 1t salt and enough iced water to make it feel the way its supposed to feel.  I stuck the dough in the freezer for a little while, but I don't really think it's necessary for these little guys.  There is way too much going on in such a tiny little specimen for you to really discern whether the crust is perfectly flaky or not.

Roll out the crust as you would normally but use a circular cutter to cut it for your personal sized pies.  I used the bowl off this chopper thing I have which is about 3" diameter.  Don't worry if you can't find the perfect sized cutter, you can always use an under sized one, you just make your crust a little too thick, then cut, then roll it out which makes your circle bigger.

Plop the crust into your muffin pan and work it to the bottom with the excess coming up the sides.  If you want deep dish crust then just use a bigger cutter.  *You need to remember to poke holes in the bottom of your crusts to keep them from bubbling....Mine still bubbled a bit but not as bad as they would have, I just pushed the bubbles back in while it was still hot.

These little guys get baked at 450F for about 12 minutes.

Go ahead and make all your little crusts before you start on the pie filling, otherwise it's a juggling act trying to do it all at once.  The recipe I used gave me enough filling for 24 pies and a sandwich.  Fortunately I managed to squeeze out 24 crusts so it worked rather well.

I used the filling recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cook book, but it whatever filling you choose should be just fine.  If making in bulk you might even cheat and use some instant pudding.

Spoon the filling into the crust and top with meringue, then bake at 350F for about 12 minutes (until the meringue starts to brown).

 And then  with your leftover pie filling you make a peanut butter and chocolate sandwich!!!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate

I have to say I am a bit disappointed in the laziness of the baking bloggers.  If you google cheesecake stuffed strawberries you will find that everybody out there is whipping together some cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla.  Then they stuff that into a 'wallered' out strawberry and roll it around in some graham cracker crumbs.....

Now I don't have pictures of my creation, so I will just have to make them again, but here's how I do stuffed strawberries:

I bake a cheesecake using my 3-2-1 recipe but don't put a crust.  I just dump it straight into a pan and bake it like usual, worrying even less than I already don't about appearance because it's about to be stuffed into a strawberry.

After it has baked and chilled, I spoon it into the strawberries then dip them into some chocolate on the open end to seal it all in.  Perhaps some crumbled graham crackers sprinkled onto the chocolate before it sets would be a nice touch, but that my friend is a cheesecake stuffed strawberry!

Soon, I will make my version and the other version and see which prevails in a church-wide taste test.....the anticipation is killing me!  Soon might come sooner than expected!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Candy Apple Pie

This one is the first of many to come in my candy apple pie series.  It is a relatively simple concept based on the candy apple we all remember lusting after as children.  Like I mentioned earlier this week, I've been inspired by Marie over at the Calendar restaurant to make fresh fruit pies.  She makes hers with strawberries and different kinds of berries but I see no apple.  Nope, all the apple pies in the world today are based on the cinnamon apple combo.  Which is great, it's all-American for crying out loud, but I just want to try something different.  So I looked to the apple on a stick for guidance and this is what I came to.

It is a crust painted with hot fudge sauce (left over from my strawberry pie the other day) topped with caramel coated apples with chocolate and caramel drizzled on top and graham cracker crumbs sprinkled on top.  The crust is cooked, but the rest not.  The apples leak so you don't want to throw this all together too early before you plan on serving.  I will work on the apple leak problem, but for now it just gets thrown together on the way out the door.
My absolute favorite pie ever...but I'm going back to butter for the crust, maybe it's all in my head but it tastes like a pig to me!

Crumble Top apple Pie

 Anybody who knows my wife probably knows she doesn't really like sweets all that much.  She doesn't like chocolate much, and hates cheesecakes, but the one thing she absolutely loves the most is Crumble Top apple Pie.  (I refuse to capitalize the word apple since my phone believes it to be a proper phone is android based)  The only problem with this is that in 3 years of trying, I have never made one to her liking. I have tried and tried, but no matter what I just can't please my wife in the kitchen.  She isn't the food junkie that I am.  She doesn't eat just anything like I will and she is very picky in what she likes and doesn't like.  Most of her meals are centered around chicken in some shape, form, or fashion.  Don't get me wrong, I like chicken, but I also like every other furry little creature that runs, swims, or flies around.  Never ate a slither-er so I don't know about that but I like food.  So back to the pie...I've never made one that meets her fancy so to speak but I have kept trying.  Today I have made another attempt.  I found a website that offered some tips to a better crumble top, mine are always soggy.  So I have slaved away over a hot oven and this is what I came up with.

The crust is simple: 3cups flour, 1 cup lard (and yeah I actually used lard this time,but never again cuz it tastes like a pig)  a tsp of salt, a tbsp of sugar and enough ice water to make it feel right.

I peeled my granny smith's almost perfectly, 2 outta 3 I peeled it in one long strip without it breaking...just a little skill I possess.  Then I sliced them up and threw in my sugar and spice mixture.  I used 1/4 tsp apple pie spice, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 Tbs flour, 1 Tbs vinegar.  I let all that sit for a while.  As it sits the apples start to leak, so when it came time to put the apples into the crust I scooped them out, trying not to get the leakage into my crust...remember I was going for perfect crumble top here so I tried to eliminate any stray moisture.

I baked the pie for 40 mins at 400.  Then threw on my crumble top which was 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup white sugar, 1 1/4 flour, 7-8 Tbsp butter melted. Baked that for another 20 mins and then removed to a cooling rack where it has sat waiting for my wife to give it a try.

******And the vote is in, "it's the closest to perfect you've ever come!"  If I were a woman I might try to analyze that to death and infer that it wasn't good enough, but I will take it like a man and say "hell yeah, I did it!"

Peaches 'N Cream Pie

This one is a winner!!!!!

Mine kinda sucks but the recipe I put at the bottom should fix it.  Mine is way too runny not quite the cream pie I was looking for but still tastes amazing.

As I laid in bed yesterday morning, awake at 5:00 a.m. for some reason, my mind drifted toward peaches.  I have no idea why peaches were on the brain but they were.  I thought about the fact that I had a pie crust sitting in the freezer just waiting to be filled, and peaches seemed like just the way to go.

I started by baking the crust.  While that was going on I sliced and peeled 5 or 6 peaches, I forgot to pay attention, but the more the merrier.  As you can tell from the picture mine could have used some more.

I should have done all this in a different order but hindsight is 20/20, so next I made a glaze/goop/sweet slimy concoction.  I used 2tbsp of corn starch and a cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water (it needs more corn starch).  Boiled for a little while until it was thick, but I threw in some of the peach skins to give it a nice peach flavor.  I deleted this step in my recipe below because following that recipe the peaches will not be peeled yet and you're about to dump this stuff over the peach slices anyway so I don't know there is a point.

Like I said, next dump the goopy stuff on the peach slices and throw it in the refrigerator until it is well chilled.  We went to our residents association meeting, then went and bought a car, watched half the movie Losers and then came home to finish the pie.  By this point the peaches were nice and glazed, and the glaze goopy slimy stuff had really absorbed the peach flavor nicely.

I made some whipped cream real quick and added the goop.  Here's an important note.  This pie is supposed to be a thick creamy pie, not a runny snotty looking mess.  It is important that when you are making the peach slime that you add enough corn starch and cook long enough to get it quite thick, but don't burn it.  When you pour the glaze off the peaches into the whipped cream try and get all of it, maybe even use a strainer if you have one, I don't.

Turn on the mixer with the whisk attachment and whip the cream and slime until fluffy.  Smear this creamy concoction into the bottom of the pie crust, then dump the peaches on top.  Again, try and drain them as well as you can, otherwise you will get some runny mess.

That's it, throw that baby in the fridge and let it sit for a while so it will set nicely.

1 Baked pie crust
1 cup sugar
5-7 peaches, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup whipping cream (I prefer heavy)

Dump the sugar in with the sliced peaches and stir until sugar is evenly distributed.

Refrigerate peaches for 1-4 hours.

After peaches have chilled, the sugar should have dissolved and you should have a sweet, peach flavored nectar at the bottom of the bowl.  Drain the peaches, capturing ¼ cup of the liquid to use in whipped cream.

Using whisk attachment on mixer, beat whipping cream and peach juice until stiff peaks form. 

Spoon whipped cream into the bottom of the cooked/cooled pie crust and smooth evenly.

Dump peaches on top of the cream.  Refrigerate  a couple hours or overnight.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Strawberry Pie meet Chocolate Cream Pie...ish

Yesterday I was bored.  I don't have any work right now so usually when I'm bored at home I get new baking ideas...that's how this blog got started in the first place.  My other blog is full of insight and wisdom, it might someday help somebody, maybe change somebody's life.....this one, on the other hand, is gonna change your life today.  Ya wanna know why?????????   PIE is the answer.

So back to the boredom...I was sitting at home thinking of things I could do to occupy my time and I noticed my wife had bought a crapload of strawberries(very technical measurement).  Fearing they would be molded by the end of the day, as seems the trend around my house, I decided to make a pie.  I actually had just read about a pie lady who said her recipe is just 3 cups of flour and 1 cup of fat, so simple I just had to try.  Of course I added a tsp of salt and a tbsp of sugar because you just have to in order to make a good crust, and the iced water too.

So I had a crust and I had some strawberries...what next?  I spent a while looking around at different strawberry pie recipes when I saw the black bottom recipe from pilsbury.  The idea of adding hot fudge sauce to a strawberry pie is absolute genius.  I wish I had thought of it, but I didn' I did the next best thing, I stoled their idea.  And like a dumby I didn't take pictures of the process so this is nowhere near as exciting as pioneer woman's tales but oh well.  You're here for the story not the pictures, cuz after all my blog is called the Ugly Cheesecake for a reason.

Marie Calendars always has their fresh fruit pies that are piled high with shiny fruit, but I never really thought they would be that great so I've never tried one.  I mean what's the point?  There's a bunch of shiny strawberries stacked up way high in a pie shell...I'm not sure I get it.  But a cream pie, now we're talking.  I had a strawberry cream pie from Marie once that changed my life forever.  I have tried numerous times to recreate it, but it was seasonal and I haven't seen it since.  However, since the huge-pile-of-whole-strawberries pie seems to be a big hit for her, I decided to combine the two and place that on top of the black bottom pie I stole from pilsbury.  Yesterday was all about thievery i guess.....the result?

Freakin Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It was like a chocolate covered strawberry explosion of awesome in your mouth.  And here is the recipe just for you.....

I didn't just have hot fudge topping laying around the house, but coincidentally I did have all the ingredients to make it so I found this recipe and made that:

Hot Fudge Sauce

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 2/3 cups evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1.      In a large saucepan, combine the chocolate chips and butter. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.
2.      Gradually mix in the sugar and milk. Increase heat to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, for 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and then stir in vanilla and salt. Serve warm. Store in refrigerator.

Pie Ingredients:
1    Pie crust
2/3 cup hot fudge topping

Cream Filling
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed fresh strawberries
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Strawberry Glaze
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs corn starch
½ cup water
4-6 cups fresh strawberries

Cream Filling
1.      In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the strawberries.
2.      In another small mixing bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken.Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
3.     Fold whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

Strawberry Glaze
Combine corn starch and sugar in a saucepan.  Stir in water and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Continue to simmer/boil for about 8 minutes or until thickened, if extra corn starch is needed to thicken, mix additional corn starch with cold water first then add to mixture.  Once thickened remove from heat and cool.  Once at room temperature add strawberries and put in the refrigerator for about an hour or until cooled completely.

Bake the pie crust till golden brown.  Approximately 10 minutes at 450 F. Let cool.
Dump hot fudge sauce into crust and spread evenly.
Add cream filling on top of chocolate and smooth evenly.
Add glazed strawberries.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Not Exactly Cheesecake, but oh well

I have had a pork loin frozen for a couple of months now just waiting for the right occasion to break it out and fire up the grill....well, that occasion still hasn't come so I thawed it out last night anyway.  This morning I have been in a bit of a cooking mood so I decided to figure out the perfect way to cook my piggy-back, ha ha cuz it's the backstrap. Ok, never mind.

The stupid thing is still frozen and my wife already has plans for dinner tonight so I decided to make a marinade and I'll cook it tomorrow, so I went rummaging through the pantry and fridge and this is what I came up with:

6 cloves of garlic
6 cherry tomatoes
1/2 of a big onion
6 baby carrots
1/4 cup of vinegar
1 cup mandarin oranges w/juice
1/4 cup sugar

I threw all that into the blender to see what would was a tear-jerking smoothie from hell.  I was afraid to even taste it to see what else it needs so I threw it in  a saucepan and went for a boil.  Once boiling I reduced to medium heat and started browsing the pantry again, and added the following just to see what it would do:

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil ( I walked outside and picked it)
1/2 can chicken broth
1/4 cup water
1 tsp Lemon juice

still too sweet but thickening up nicely

3 slices of bacon chopped into small pieces
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder

Overall it simmered for about 25-30 minutes and reduces to a nice thick gravy like consistency.  The taste was amazing once I got everything in that is listed here.  So after thinking a bit I decided it's a little to thick for a marinade but it is perfect for a glaze/sauce.  So I spooned out half into a bowl, otherwise you end up with all the big stuff in the saucepan still.  I'm saving that for a glaze and made a marinade from the rest.  I  pulled out a Shiner Bock and started adding to the half remaining in the saucepan.  I eventually ended up with the whole 12 ounces in there minus about 3 small gulps.  Let it come to a boil and the poured over my pig in a bowl I thought I had a lid for but now can't find.  Once that cools I will stick it in the fridge overnight and grill it tomorrow, or possibly crock pot since we got church.

****Cooked the pig on the grill.  The marinade gave it great flavor but I just did a poor job of cooking.  I put the pig and marinade into a foil pan and covered with foil and cooked at about 300degrees for a couple of hours, then I removed and sliced and put the slices directly onto the grill to get some smoke flavor but that dried them out too much.  I should have thrown the whole pan back on the grill uncovered to let the meat soak in some smoke while still in the marinade.  Also next time the marinade needs a stick of butter added i think.  But even dry, with the sauce to put on top it was delicious!