Pies and Tarts

Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey

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This recipe has been making the rounds on the food blogs so I thought I’d give it a try.  For those who don’t know the story, a fellow food blogger (In Jennie’s Kitchen) experienced a recent tragedy with the unexpected death of her husband Mikey.  The two of them have two young girls, ages 8 and 3.  This recipe was one of his favorites and she had been meaning to make it for him, but sadly she never got the chance.

In his honor, I made this.  But I didn’t make it just for him, but for the folks that I love too.  So the next chance that you get, tell those special people in your life that you love them.  As Jennie writes in her blog, “. . . hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

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Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

Serves 10 to 12

8 ounces chocolate cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs.  Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well.  Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.  Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar.  Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream).  Fold in the remaining whipped cream.  Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan.  Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Notes — I did follow an adaptation of this recipe that makes a 10″ pie.  I got that recipe from the blog The Shiksa in the Kitchen.

Peach Rhubarb Crostata

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So I just found out that this month is also National Peach Month or Peach Appreciation Month.  And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some peaches in the summer (or any time of year for that matter).  Now this recipe is the most thrown-together one that I’ve done recently.  No real exact measurements, just some rhubarb, some peaches, sugar, cinnamon, and flour.  But it’s a crostata so it’s supposed to be all rustic and wholesome and quaint.  So this fits the bill.  But I did add some crystallized ginger to this one to give it some added bite.

But then I started wondering, “Waterlily, what’s the difference between a galette and a crostata?”  Honestly, I have no clue.  From what I can gather, one is French and the other one is Italian.  Both are rustic and free-form.  Both involve a pie crust with some type of filling.  Both are types of pie.  Both can be savory.  I guess, given the regional differences, the filling would give you the clue as to what term to use.  For example, something with apples and figs would probably be a crostata (boy, does that sound good — new recipe ideas!) and something with cherries and frangipane (that sounds good too!) would probably be a galette.  I guess that could count as our cultural nugget for the day!  Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 pâte brisée recipe
  • 2 rhubarb stalks (mine were kinda small so I used three), cut into 1/2 in. pieces
  • 2 peaches, cut into slices (I cut them into quarters and then cut those pieces into thirds)
  • 2 T. crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • egg wash
  • sanding sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Roll your dough out into a round about 1/4 in. thick.  Pile the peaches and rhubarb in the middle, leaving a couple of inches around the edge for the crust.  Spread the ginger across the top.

2.  In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Sprinkle mixture over the top of the fruit.  Fold over and pleat the edges of the crust, pressing to seal.  Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sanding sugar.

3.  Bake in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, until nicely browned and the fruit has softened.  Let cool for about 5-10 minutes, and serve.

Dutch Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

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Now I will admit that pies have never been my thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love eating them, but I could never really get all that enthusiastic about making them.  I have this romanticized view of mom putting out the pies to cool on the window sill just as the men-folk are finishing up their chores in the hay field, whilst the kids are russelin’ up the horses before they eat all the cotton by the pumpkin patch near Farmer Jedidiah’s dairy coop.  I am almost 100% certain that the previous sentence makes no sense whatsoever to anyone who knows anything about farming or livestock.  What the hell do I know?  I grew up in Brooklyn.  The closest thing we had to anything rural like that was the pigeons flying by or going to Central Park.  The police did have horses though.  And there were those horse-drawn carriages that are so popular with tourists.  It’s still a far cry from a farm, even with those sheep-sized sewer rats.

We never really did “pie” in my family.  Maybe it’s a cultural thing.  We had cakes made with rice flour, flans, sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves, stuff with coconut and cassava, mangoes, ensaymada cakes. . . but no pies.  Plus, on your birthday, you get a birthday cake, not a birthday pie!  At least that was my experience.  But pies really evoke that whole down-home farmy goodness that is pure and incorruptible and wholesome.  Pies can’t be pretentious the way cakes can be.  Have you seen some of those things?  And I do like pretentious cakes; that is what my business is based on, after all!  Maybe I should change the name to “Pretentious Cakes”.  But I think that cakes are always involved with the celebration of some milestone or special occasion.  Pies, on the other hand, are a celebration of everyday life.

So now to the pie.  June 9th is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day all over this great land.  Rhubarb is actually a vegetable (kinda looks like red celery) so a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is one way to get your serving of fruit and veggies in one dish!  I may be alone here, but I wouldn’t start trying to put together other fruit and veggie combos together just to see what they would taste like.  Blueberry-Cauliflower Pie doesn’t sound all that appetizing, although peaches and beets might be delicious.  Hell, if you can have a carrot salad with pineapple and raisins, why can’t peaches and beets go together?.  But berries and rhubarb always seem to go hand-in-hand.  You get the sweetness from the berries plus that tartness of the rhubarb.  Wrap that all up in a nice buttery, flaky pastry and you get one of the classic pie recipes.

This makes a 9″ pie.  Here’s what you need:

For the topping:

  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. salt

Stir together the dry ingredients to combine.  Drizzle over the melted butter.  Mix until the ingredients form a crumbly texture.  Set aside.

For the pie:

  • 1/2 pate brisee recipe (remember I told you to make extra and put it in the freezer!  just check to earlier post for the recipe)
  • 4 c. rhubarb, chopped into about 1/2 ” pieces
  • 2 c. strawberries, sliced to about 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. galangal (it’s kinda like ginger, same family)
  • 1/4 t. salt

1.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the crust to line a 9″ pie plate.  Transfer to the pie plate, being careful not to stretch the dough.  Trim off the edges.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Place chopped rhubarb and sliced strawberries in a bowl.  Top with the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, galangal, and salt.  Toss to combine.  Fill the prepared pie shell with the fruit mixture.

3.  Sprinkle the topping over the fruit.  Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes on the bottom rack.  After the 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 325 and bake for another 35 – 45 minutes, until the filling is bubbly.  Allow to cool completely on a rack.

Notes — If the pie is browning too quickly, you can use some pie shields or cover the edges lightly with foil.

Scraps = Quick Mini Black Currant Walnut Galette

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Quick review — my last post was for a custard pie.  And if you remember, one of the steps involved trimming the edges of the crust to fit the pan.  If you’re like me, you don’t like to waste things, so hopefully you didn’t just toss the extra away.  Just take all the trimmings and reform them into a ball, refrigerate, and re-roll them out.  This is so quick and simple; honestly, this took me five minutes to do (not counting cooking time).  It’s the perfect little treat that you can have for yourself after a long day of toil and labor, or your honey when said honey comes home from work (if they are lucky enough to have a job cuz in this economy it seems like everyone is out of work).  Or this can be a treat for just one of those do-nothing days where changing your underwear can seem like a task!  But I digress. . . you really shouldn’t have to do any shopping for this one cuz all this stuff can come from your pantry.

Now I was on the fence with this one — sweet or savory?  I did have a jar of roasted peppers that I could have used and then crumbled some cheese on top.  I settled on being lazy (it is a galette, of course!) and went with the black currant galette.  For some reason, dealing with cheese was too labor intensive; keep in mind that I was dealing with that custard pie at the same time.  Plus it was getting late in the day and the dogs were wanting to go out for a little running around / bathroom time.  So lazy it is!

Here’s what you need:

  • trimmings from a pie crust gathered into a ball and chilled
  • flour for dusting
  • about 1/4 c. black currant jelly
  • 1 T. chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 T. shredded coconut

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Dust rolling surface with flour.  Roll out your trimmings into a round about 1/8 inch thick.  Transfer to a lined pan.

2.  Spread the black currant jelly over the round, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the edges.  Sprinkle the walnuts and coconut over the jelly.

3.  Fold the edges over, pleating as you go.  Bake in the oven until the filling is bubbly and the crust is slightly browned, about 20 – 30 minutes.  Let the galette cool before serving.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar if you wish.

Yolks, Yolks, and more Yolks. . . plus an Egg Custard and Nutmeg tart

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So I’ve been working on making some cupcakes for the past couple of days (maybe I’ll post something on that later).  What I originally planned to use with those cupcakes was a nice swiss meringue buttercream.  I was going to divide the basic batch in half or maybe thirds, and then tint and flavor them accordingly.  And since it’s a meringue, that meant just using the egg whites.

Fast forward to the part when you add the butter, and guess what happened next.  Well, the minute I added the butter, everything just deflated.  I thought, “That’s weird.  It’s not like I’ve never made this before.”  So fast forward to take two and lo and behold, the same thing happened.  That meant a change of plans.  It also meant that I had 26 egg yolks that were just kinda hanging out in the refrigerator (10 for each batch of buttercream, plus 6 from a batch of 7-minute frosting that I made as a replacement).

Now what do you do with that many egg yolks?  I didn’t have the foggiest idea.  The only thing that I could come up with was making maybe a gallon of lemon curd which wasn’t the best solution (in my opinion).  So after doing some searching, I came across a recipe for a Classic Egg Custard Pie with Lots of Nutmeg on Martha Stewart’s website.  It looks fairly simple, plus it uses 12 egg yolks!  Of course, I’ll still need to make a lemon curd anyway.  Or maybe a lime curd.

A couple of caveats — I didn’t have the correct pan so I had to improvise.  Since I didn’t have the correct pan, I had lots of extra filling.  So I just decided to have a couple of small baking dishes (which I use for baked eggs — I’ll post on that later) and an old ramekin act as stand-ins without crusts.  I also didn’t bother with the “sweet pastry dough” that was listed in the ingredient list.  I already had some pate brisee in the freezer so I just used that.  Plus, I didn’t have a vanilla bean hanging around, but I did have some vanilla extract. . .  Also, I didn’t have enough cream so I added a little roux to the mix.  Oh yeah, and some of the measurements could be a little off cuz some of the yolks had broken so there might be a little bit more in what I made.  Oops.  Wow — that’s lots of changes.  And I forgot; I don’t have arrowroot, so I used corn starch.

Here’s you’ll need for my version (but check out Martha’s at the link I listed earlier):

  • all-purpose flour for dusting
  • 1/2 pate brisee recipe (check out my earlier post)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1 t. flour
  • 1 t. butter
  • 12 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • 1/4 t. ground nutmeg, plus more for dusting
  • confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1.   Preheat oven to 350.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about a 1/8 inch thick round.  Place in a 9″ tart pan that was lined with parchment on the bottom.  Trim off excess crust (save the trimmings — form them into a ball and put them in the fridge or freezer).  Blind bake for 12 minutes, remove pie weights (or rice or beans) and bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown.  Place pan on a wire rack to cool.

2.  In a medium sauce pan, melt the 1 t. of butter with the 1 t. of flour.  Cook for about a minutes on medium and gradually add the milk while stirring to combine.  Add the cream and vanilla and bring the mixture to a simmer.  Remove from heat, cover, and set aside for 10 minutes.

3.  Whisk together yolks and granulated sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick, about 2 minutes.  While still whisking, add warm cream mixture gradually.  Add the cornstarch and nutmeg and whisk until smooth.  Pour through a mesh strainer into the crust.

4.  Bake until edges of filling are set but center is still slightly wobbly, about 40 minutes.  Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight).  Before serving, unmold, sprinkle with nutmeg, and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Raspberry Rhubarb Galette

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So here’s one recipe where you can use the Pate Brisee.  Now remember, that recipe makes enough for a double crust pie, so all you will need is half of that for this one.  Or, you could make two different Galettes cuz they won’t last long 🙂

A “galette” might sound super fancy, but it’s really not.  Essentially, it’s pie for people who really don’t want to be bothered with making a pie.  You don’t even need a pie pan!  Just put in a mound of filling in the center and just fold up the edges to make the sides.  Very rustic.

So, this particular recipe is for a sweet free-form tart, but there are also savory types.  I do have a recipe for a Mushroom Galette using different types of wild mushrooms, a nice stilton, leeks, caramelized onions, and some thyme.  I’ll post that at a later date.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 Pate Brisee recipe
  • 1 pt. raspberries (I used 1/2 red and 1/2 golden)
  • 1 c. rhubarb, cut into about 1/2 in. pieces (about the size of the raspberries)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • egg wash (1 egg whisked with 2 T. milk or heavy cream)
  • sanding sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Place raspberries and rhubarb in a medium-sized bowl.  In a separate bowl, blend together the sugar, salt, and cornstarch.  Gently fold in the sugar mixture into the fruit.  Let stand for 15 – 20 minutes; if it sits too long, the rhubarb could get too mushy.

2.  Roll out the half of the Pate Brisee to about a 12-in round.  Pour the fruit into the center of the crust, leaving about 1 1/2 in border.  Gently fold up the sides to form pleats; you can pinch them to seal.  Brush the crust with the egg wash and dust with the sanding sugar.

3.  Bake for about 45 minutes, until the crust is golden.  Let cool slightly.  Slice and serve with maybe a slightly sweetened whipped cream with some lemon zest.  Vanilla ice cream is also a good accompaniment and maybe a sprig of mint.

Pate Brisee / Pie Crust

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I know I was planning on making some posts about mother’s day brunch ideas, but life happens.  So hopefully better late than never.  So this is a simple pate brisee recipe for both sweet and savory pies (I will be using this crust recipe for a Raspberry Rhubarb Tart that I will be making and posting later).  You can add maybe about 1 tablespoon of sugar to the dough for just a little added touch of sweetness if you are making a fruit tart or apple pie.  If you are making a more savory pie, just omit the sugar.

My recipe uses both butter and shortening to get that combination of flakiness and tenderness.  You can keep this in the refrigerator for a couple of days, or in the freezer for a month or two.  Since you can freeze it, you might as well make a couple of batches so you can whip up pies and tarts with no problem.  If you do freeze it, thaw it out in the refrigerator overnight to use the next day.  It’s important that all the ingredients are cold; you could even put the mixing bowl and processor blade in the freezer to chill them.  This should be enough for one 9-in double crust pie.  Here’s what you need:

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 T. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cubed
  • 4 T. shortening
  • 1/3 c. ice water, give or take a couple of tablespoons

1.  Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor (you can do this by hand if you wish).  Pulse for a couple of seconds to combine the dry ingredients.  Add the butter and shortening and pulse until mixture forms a course meal.

2.  While pulsing, drizzle water over the dough until it just comes together.  The dough must not be wet or sticky.  Press the dough out into a disk and wrap it in some plastic wrap or wax paper.  Let rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour so the dough can relax.