Pies, Pies, Pies

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I'm feeling rebellious, y'all.

And because this is my blog and I can, more or less and within reason, do what I want with it, we're going to deviate a bit from our regular programing, but don't worry — the deviation includes both full recipes (no clicking links!) and pie. Three of them, in fact.

In April, Vanessa of V's Gourmet to Go offered a pie-making class at her shop. I would have expected at least one or two people to sign up, but as it turned out, I was the only one who showed interest. Instead of just canceling it, Vanessa suggested she hold a pie-making class just for me. How do you say no to that?

The pies we decided on were key lime (so perfect for spring), French apple tart (perfect for fall) and a chocolate truffle tart (perfect for always). We started with the key lime. This one was the simplest and probably the quickest one to make.


Ingredients:


CRUST
• 1 and 1/2 cups (150g) graham cracker crumbs
(about 10 full sheet graham crackers)
• 6 Tablespoons (87g) unsalted butter, melted
• 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar

FILLING
• 2 cans of condensed milk
• 5 egg yolks
• 1 cup of fresh squeezed key limes


Start with your graham cracker crumbs and mix with melted butter and sugar until it looks like thick, coarse, wet sand. Press this into a dish or pan and slightly up the sides, just like a cheesecake crust. This recipe will fit a standard, 9- or 10-inch pan. Vanessa then took the bottom of a flat measuring cup to make sure the crumbles are tight and compact.

    Then, it's time for the filling, which is probably the easiest of all if you're pretty good at separating egg yolks from whites (if you're not, this gets messy). Vanessa pours the egg into her hands, allowing the white to drain into a bowl placed beneath them. Because I have an aversion to getting slimy stuff all over my hands (or gooey stuff or sticky stuff or … yes, I know, I'm a prissy mess and it's not unusual to see me wearing gloves when I do things like this), I usually stick with swapping the egg yolk back and forth between halves of a cracked egg shell until the white falls away. You can use the empty plastic bottle trick or one of those kitchen do-dahs that drains the white from the yolk, but no matter how you separate the yolk from the white, combine five egg yolks (save the whites for a meringue or something) with two cans of condensed milk and one cup of fresh-squeezed key lime juice.

     Mix these three ingredients until blended and pour over the crust. Simply bake at 350ºF for 16 minutes and chill completely. (Also: I'm so sorry about the Ina Garton meme — I couldn't resist.)



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The next pie we worked on was the French apple tart. Vanessa had made one of these for the Awareness Washington County Chili Cook-Off, but left the apple peel on the sliced apples, which looked gorgeous! It was entered into the cake walk and instead of waiting for someone to pick it before he had a chance, I heard someone just paid $25 for it and, having seen it, it was worth every penny. For this tart, she elected to use peeled apples, but it really comes down to preference.

Ingredients:

CRUST:
• 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 large egg, at room temperature

APRICOT GLAZE:
• 1/2 cup (120 ml) (150 grams) apricot preserves
• 1 tablespoon Water or Grand Marnier, Cognac, Calvados, or Rum

APPLE FILLING:
• 3 apples, diced
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 2-4 tablespoons granulated white sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

TOP FILLING:
• 12 apples, peeled and sliced
• 3 tbsp. butter at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 tbsp. cinnamon

     We started with the crust, which was easier than I've heard people who talk about pie crust make it sound. At least it sounded easier. I haven't tried to make this myself yet. Sift the flour, sugar and salt and mix well. Add cubes of unsalted butter and mix until the texture is a bit sandy, then add eggs and work into a dough. If needed, add cold water until it becomes workable.

      <— It will look like this.


Flatten the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and pop it into the refrigerator for about an hour or until it's firm. Roll into a 10- or 12-inch pan before moving on to a sweet apricot glaze.

In a small saucepan, heat apricot preserves until it just starts to boil and remove from heat. Add your booze or water and set aside.

Now, it's apple time! Peel and cut your three apples into small dices and slice the rest thinly. Melt your butter in a large skillet over medium heat and stir in the sugar and ground cinnamon. Add the diced apples and sauté until they just begin to soften (3 to 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let them cool slightly. Reserve the liquid.

While they're cooling, peel (if desired) and slice your 12 apples thinly (about a quarter of an inch thick or less) and combine with the three tablespoons of room-temperature butter, sugar and cinnamon until well-coated.

Add the diced apple mixture to the bottom of the pie crust and spread until it covers the bottom evenly. Then, start stacking the sliced apples in concentric circles on top of that until you fill the pie crust. Then brush the top of that with the liquid you set aside from the diced apples mixed with the apricot glaze.

Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes. Once it's cooled, feel free to dust the top of the tart with powdered sugar (and why wouldn't you? It's like fairy dust and it isn't like this is a diet food anyway).

 

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It's a tough call which is healthier — the whole wheat/pecan crust in this chocolate truffle tart or the apple one because fruit. I'm not sure it matters because, again, we're not eating pie as a form of exercise.


Ingredients

CRUST:
•1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1/4 cup pecan flour (DIY directions below
•1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 6 tablespoons ice water

APRICOT JAM:
Enough apricot jam to line the bottom of your baking dish

GANACHE:
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream
• 3 cups chocolate of your choice (*cough cough* dark chocolate *cough cough*)

To make your pecan flour, throw 1/2 cup of pecans into a blender and pulverize until it has the texture of coarse breadcrumbs.

In a medium bowl, whisk wheat flour, sugar, pecan flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. If you have one, place this mixture in a food processor and add the butter and lemon zest (get a short arm workout otherwise). Mix until the butter and zest begin to make the mixture crumbly. Drizzle in your water while you pulse the dough (stir after each tablespoon if you aren't using a processor) until it starts to pull away from the side of the bowl.

Press this mixture into a flattened circle and then press it into your 10- to 12-inch baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes at 375ºF and let it cool.

Spoon the apricot jam over the crust and then make your ganache. Heat the cream in a saucepan until it just starts to simmer, then remove from the heat and our over your chocolate mix and stir until the chocolate melts into a thick chocolate sauce. Pour this over the apricot jam and chill the tart, preferably overnight, but it should set within a few hours if you really just can't wait (no judgement!).


Along with her menu, and drool-worthy pictures of what's available for the day (and it's always changing), Vanessa posts upcoming events she hosts, including other cooking and painting classes, on the V's Gourmet to Go Facebook page, so be sure to follow her page and stay up-to-date on cooking classes that might pique your interest!

Thanks to Vanessa for allowing me to look over your shoulder (sometimes literally) and letting me share these delicious recipes with SalemLeader.com readers!

 

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