As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve got pecans falling out of my freezer every time I open the door. Since I need some of that space back, it’s time to start making some pecan pie. I have a special place in my stomach for pecan pie. So overwhelmingly sweet, not really high up on the culinary ladder, but still…there’s just something about it that makes me so happy. Then again, not to toot my own horn, I make a mean pie crust.
I already had some dough left over from Thanksgiving in the freezer (it’s like a clearance sale in there!), which really simplified the whole pie making experience. I have kind of a laborious dough making process (I’ll share another time, though if you’re a friend I’m sure I’ve already forced you to listen to me explain in great detail) and just THAT part can take me all day. But back to here and now…
I roll it out and shape it into a fluted quiche tin (a Tartine move that I’m especially into right now). I send it on a gluten vacation in the freezer for a bit and then bake it for always seems like forever. And then I stare. And stare. I think pie dough is the only thing that I stare at longer than meringue.
I know what you’re thinking: “Brandi, where the f*ck is the pecan pie filling?”. In due time my little pie-lings. A soggy crust makes me weep, and the only way to avoid that is to crisp that dough beforehand. So while it cools I make my filling. I like a browned butter and maple filling, because…well, because that’s what I like. I fill it up and bake it until it’s set.
And then I stare some more.
Now I go to the beach to keep from tearing into it before it’s had time to cool and finish setting. To be continued around 3pm.
It was so worth the wait. Thank you Jennifer, Kevin, Mindy & Nir for coming over and helping me eat it. I wouldn’t still be thin without you.
BROWNED BUTTER PECAN PIE RECIPE:
1 single crust pie pastry
4 oz unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
- Roll out pastry into a 12-13 inch circle, transfer and center into 9 inch pie pan. Place in freezer for 20 minutes.
- Line with foil, fill with weights (dried beans) and then bake in 400 degrees oven for about 20 minutes, or until beginning to brown and look set. Lower temperature to 350 and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans and continue baking for another 10-20 minutes, until fully baked. Set on wire rack to cool.
- Using a shiny skillet or saucepan to melt the butter over medium heat. Stir butter and keep an eye on it as you wait for it to brown. You want the butter to be a good dark brown, but you need to catch it before it burns. Use your nose as your guide, it well smell nutty as it begins to brown. Once browned, transfer butter to a bowl to let cool slightly.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use fingers to rub seeds from vanilla bean into brown sugar, breaking up any clumps. Combine eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Whisk well to blend. Add the browned butter and whisk again until evenly combined.
- Place the nuts in the cooled pie shell and pour in the filling.
- Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake until the filling, including the center, is set, 35 to 40 minutes. Rotate pie 180 degrees about halfway through. When done, the pie will have puffed slightly and developed cracks around the perimeter.
- Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool thoroughly.
Sunday is John’s birthday, and we’re having some friends over for pizza and poker. When I hear pizza, all I can think is: I get to make mozzarella! I’ve tried making mozzarella once before, but didn’t get curds strong enough to stretch. I was using Strauss Creamery milk, which is unhomogenized and not pastuerized at high temps like some conventional milks, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that. I blame my “vegetarian” rennet. I just ordered some real rennet from a cheesemaking supply website last week, so it is ON!
First I combined my milk with some citric acid, and heated it up a little to start the curd-making. Then I added my new and improved rennet and continued heating it.
Once I could see the whey go clear, it was ready to be stretched. I drained out the whey and popped the curds in the microwave to get them all melty. Then I started kneading and stretching until it looked like this:
It’s so nice when things do what they are supposed to do! That’s Bean in the lower right of the photo. She doesn’t like to be left out of ANYTHING. Since I’m not gonna be eating it now, I put it in some cold water to cool it off and keep it moist until pizza time.
I know, they look like little brain balls. I’m not sure how to make them round and smooth. Next time I’ll just do one of those twisty shapes. but anyways – Yay! Cheese! Stay tuned for pizza…
It’s starting to wear on me. Maybe I don’t wanna be a girl scout. I probably would have been a better boy scout anyways.
Today I move on to the samoas, the more complex cookie in the girl scout arsenal.
I rolled out my dough and stamped out little donut shapes. I don’t think the originals have fluted edges, but for some reason that’s the only kind of cookie cutters I own.
I made me some caramel candy. Then I mixed that with some shredded coconut that I had toasted.
Then I tried to smear the caramel + coconut mixture (which was like a quick drying spackle) onto my cookies without crushing them. Probably the more torturous portion of the whole process.
I dipped their cute little bottoms in some melted chocolate and then drizzled some more on top and I’m done!
What I learned today was this: In life there are fun things. Things like kittens named Bean and rope swings and BBQs in Dolores Park. Making girl scout cookies is not on that list for me. Kind of tedious, and while they are certainly more healthy and “natural” than the boxed kind, in the end I spent 2 days making…cookies. And I don’t even really like making cookies.
But these ones are awfully pretty and shiny. In a short bus kinda way.
For some unknown reason my mom wouldn’t let me be a girl scout. She probably knew I was gonna grow up to be a misanthrope with a particular distate for hydrogenated oils. But today, I am a girl scout! One box of thin mints coming up!
First a little cookie dough action.
I rolled my dough into a log. I then let it spend a few hours in the freezer and it slices beautifully. The architect in me fights the urge to use a ruler.
It’s true: they’re not exactly perfect circles. But what can i say? I’m not made of magic and rainbows…
A little dip in the ol’ chocolate bowl and I’ve made thin mint cookies!
Now I think these guys have a little time to kill in the freezer, getting all nice and chilly for me.
from Baking Bites blog: http://bakingbites.com/2005/10/thin-minties/
Note: If you are using a quality chocolate (like what Scharfenberger used to be), I would go with a milk chocolate, or at least their mildest dark chocolate. I found that the mint was fighting with the intense chocolate flavor and not necessarily winning.
After burning the granola at work today, I decided to come home and make some more. Kind of a hodgepodge of whatever I had in the pantry: oats, walnuts, pistachios, currants, brown sugar, coconut, maple syrup and some zest and spices. And butter, duh.
Before the oven…
and after the oven…
MAPLE GRANOLA RECIPE:
1 lb rolled oats
3.25oz brown sugar
4oz whole almonds
4oz whole cashews
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 oz flax seed
1 TBSP salt
4oz butter (it’s ok to replace up to half with oil)
3.5oz maple syrup
4 oz dried fruit