Archive for the ‘Pies’ Category
Plums are a delicious fruit to bake with because their sweet flavor only intensifies in the oven. It is often used in fruit cobblers, but I like to put it in pie fillings as well. A plum pie has a lovely jammy quality to it, as well as a beautiful color. These Plum Hand Pies are single serving pies that are just one more way to enjoy plums.
One thing that puts people off of baking with plums is that it can be difficult to remove their skins. You can do this by peeling them or by cutting a small x in the bottom and blanching them in hot water for a few seconds. I like to leave the peels on because that is where most of the color of the fruit comes in and the filling of your pies will be deeper and more vibrant if you cut up the fruit without peeling it first. Those tiny pieces of peel don’t detract from the fruit filling one bit. The filling for these pies is rich and juicy, with a wonderfully sweet-tart plum flavor. If your plums are a little on the tart side, you might want to add in an extra tablespoon or two of sugar.
Hand pies have a great crust-to-filling ratio and it is worth taking the time to make pie crust from scratch for a batch of them. The flaky, buttery crust is great with any kind of filling, and this plum filling is no exception. I like to brush my crusts with a little bit of milk or cream before baking, which helps them brown in the oven and also helps a generous sprinkling of coarse sugar to stick in place to finish off the pies.
I made these hand pies a little bit bigger than my apple hand pies, since the pieces of plum are a bit larger. I found that I got a more satisfying pie with a little more filling. So, I make a double batch of the pie crust and make twice as many pies, making each of them a little bigger than I normally would. You could easily cut this recipe in half to make only 5 or 6 hand pies if you prefer a smaller batch, but these keep quite well and are still tasty after a day or two, so there is no harm in having leftovers.
Cannoli are a classic Italian dessert. A basic cannoli is a tube-shaped, deep fried pastry shell that is filled with a sweetened ricotta cheese mixture. They have a great combination of flavors and crisp and creamy textures. They originated in Sicily, but have a huge fan base in Italian communities all over the world. The problem with cannoli is that it can be difficult to find them if you don’t live in an area where you can easily find Italian specialty bakeries – and they tend to not be very good when you buy them from places that don’t specialize in them. They can also be a bit of a pain to make at home, since you need to do a little deep frying to get them started. I like cannoli but wanted to capture their flavor in a different format, so instead of making pastries, I made pie.
This Cannoli Pie captures the essence of all the flavors in a cannoli without the frying. The pie starts with a slightly crisp, cinnamon-kissed shortbread crust. It is filled with a mixture of ricotta cheese, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon. The filling is extremely easy to make but it tastes fantastic when it has baked. It is almost like cheesecake, but with a little more texture to it because it uses ricotta instead of cream cheese. The vanilla and cinnamon really compliment the ricotta and pick up on the hint of cinnamon that is also in the shortbread crust. Even though it comes together easily, this pie tastes like you spent a long time putting it together.
I added mini chocolate chips to my pie because most of the cannolis I encounter have their open ends dipped in mini chocolate chips or chopped pistachios. Chocolate goes very well with this filling, so I sprinkled the mini chips on top of the pie. I wanted them to be visible, like the ones that garnish regular cannoli. A few will sink to the bottom even if you sprinkle them on top of the custard before baking, however they will all sink to the bottom if you try to stir them in to the filling.
I’ve had many cannolis that have a touch of lemon in the filling. I, personally, prefer them without the lemon, but I included a suggestion in the recipe for adding a hint of citrus to the filling of your pie if that suits your tastes. I’ll stick with the vanilla, cinnamon and a little chocolate for mine. If you want to streamline the recipe a little bit, you can use a premade graham cracker or shortbread crust instead of my homemade crust recipe, or you can use a blind-baked pastry crust instead.
Once the pie has been baked and cooled, the leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator. Since the filling for this pie is a custard, the crust will start to soften slightly once it has been refrigerated, so it will loose a little of its crisp cannoli shell-like quality. Fortunately, it still tastes great and the edges of the crust should stay crispy even if you end up storing leftovers for a couple of days.
I’m probably not the only person guilty of trying to eat a slice of regular pie by picking it up after slicing it and holding it like a slice of pizza rather than getting a plate. If you have tried this a time or two, you also know that it isn’t the neatest way to eat a piece of pie even if it does leave you with fewer dishes to wash. A better option is to simply make hand pies if you want to avoid doing the dishes. Hand pies are small pies that are supposed to be picked up easily and eaten right out of your hand – no plates necessary. The pies are small and perfect for a single serving. They can also be packed up easily as a snack.
These Apple Butter Hand Pies are perfect for apple pie lovers. They have a sweet apple filling and a great filling-to-crust ratio. They also take a lot less time to put together than a full sized apple pie, so you get to satisfy a pie craving a whole lot faster with a batch of these. My filling is made with finely chopped apple, apple butter, brown sugar and spices. Large pieces of apple don’t fit easily inside of a hand pie, and they can simply take too long to cook, so I find that dicing the apple in small pieces gives me a good texture but allows the apples to cook completely in the oven. I add apple butter to my filling because it has an intense apple flavor and gives the filling a great consistency. A little sugar and a little spice round things out. Apple butter is an amazing fruit preserve that you can find at many grocery stores, and you can also make it yourself with some fresh apples.
The trick to a good hand pie is to put the right amount of filling inside. A filling that is too runny will ooze out, and overloading the pie will cause the same problem. You need to place your filling in the center of the pie and leave enough room to seal the crust up before baking. A good rule of thumb is to leave about a 1/4 inch, or a little more, around the filling so you have room to make a good seal. To seal the pies, simply dab the bottom crust with a little bit of water before folding over the top crust. Press the edges firmly with a fork to keep them tightly together.
The number of pies that you get will depend on how big you make your pies. Making 4-inch rounds out dough and folding them in half to form my pies, I will get about 8 pies out of one piece of pie dough. If I roll the dough into a large square and cut 4 x 2.5-in rectangular pieces (rectangles are sandwiched, not folded over), I can get the same number of rectangular pies. You don’t want to try to re-roll the dough if you can avoid it, so try to get the most pies out of one rolling.
A chess pie is a classic southern recipe. The basic pie has a simple filling of eggs, sugar, butter and flour or cornmeal, and it is often flavored with a little lemon or vanilla. The origin of the name is a bit muddled, and the most cited story is that “chess” is derived from “cheese” because this pie has a texture similar to cheesecake – minus the cheese. Personally, I don’t buy that story because this pie is really nothing like a cheesecake. It is, however, unique and delicious – and definitely seems like the kind of thing that my grandma would have liked to serve, even though she wasn’t from the South.
This Lemon Chess Pie is a straightforward recipe that stays true to the roots of a classic chess pie. The filling is made with eggs, milk, butter and plenty of sugar. There is a little bit of yellow cornmeal added, which gives the custardy pie a hint of texture. I also added lemon zest and fresh lemon juice for flavor. The filling has a nice, creamy texture to it, but has some substance to it that allows the pie to be sliced and served easily. The sugar forms a nice, crisp crust on the top of the custard while the pie bakes, which is a great color contrast for the finished pie. The lemon flavor is pronounced, but it isn’t as tart as you would find in a lemon meringue pie.
I like to think of chess pie as an all purpose pie. It is easy to make and you really need very few ingredients to put one together. I know that I always have all of the filling ingredients on hand. You can use a homemade pie crust or can opt for a premade pie crust, if you want to save time. I really recommend using fresh lemon for the best flavor in this pie, as that zest puts this pie over the top makes it memorable.
I often pair pumpkin with maple when I’m making slightly savory dishes. For instance, I’ll drizzle some pumpkin with maple syrup when I am roasting it to highlight the natural sweetness of the squash, and I’ll add a splash to pumpkin soup for the same reason. The combination works well in sweet applications, of course, and provides a nice change of pace from some other pumpkin desserts. This Maple Pumpkin Pie is one that is a current favorite of mine and it is definitely a pie that I always take a second slice of. The blend of spices, pumpkin and maple in it is addictive and satisfying – and a beautiful, but simple, twist on a basic pumpkin pie.
This pie uses a combination of maple syrup and brown sugar to give the pie a rich maple flavor to the pumpkin filling. Dark brown sugar helps to emphasize some of the darker sugar notes in the syrup in this recipe, so I found I got the best results when I used a combination of the two sweeteners. The added bonus of this is also that it keeps the cost of baking this pie down, since pure maple syrup can be fairly expensive and you definitely want to use the best stuff you can find for the best results in this pie! Dark maple syrup, also known as Grade B maple syrup, has the strongest flavor and is going to give you the best results in this pie, so I highly recommend that you opt for that over a lighter syrup.
This recipe will make enough filling for a fairly deep pie plate, so if you are using a shallow pie plate or a store-bought graham cracker crust instead of a homemade one, you might find that you have a little bit of filling leftover. Don’t worry if this is the case, but if it is, simply fill your crust up to the top and discard any excess filling. The pie will be ready to slice as soon as it comes down to room temperature, but it is excellent when chilled so it can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, drizzle each piece with a little extra maple syrup (whipped cream is optional) to highlight that maple flavor.