I made that!

Oatmeal Creme Pies!

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Don't BUY it, MAKE it! by brandi on January 10, 2011

First, let me apologize for my absence. December was rough. Fun, but rough. But January is here and I am finally back in the kitchen.

Now, to business.

When I was itty bitty and carried a lunchbox to school, my mom used to pack it full of yumminess. Well, at the time I thought it was yummy. Though I remember being jealous of my friend Leia’s lunch, because she always had more homemade-type things. Years later she told me she was always jealous of my lunch because I had Little Debbie snacks. Today we both win! I’ve been wanting to recreate these cookies for years, but have been lacking what I thought was a great oatmeal cookie recipe. I wanted a thin cookie, one that was chewy enough to hold a soft fluffy filling. After some tweaking, I feel confident in saying that I’ve got it. In this batch I chopped up dates into my dough, but next time I’m thinking currants, because those dates are just too sweet for me!

I scooped the dough into little balls.

And smashed them down with the back of a wet spoon (wet is important if you don’t want them to stick). This might seem like a meaningless step, but it makes the cookies spread nice and thin.

While they were baking, I got to work on the filling. I first tried making a simple vanilla fluff, much like the original. My friend Olaiya happened to swing by at the exact moment I finished and confirmed for me that to make these little guys palatable to adults, I needed some acid. So I decided to go with a lemony filling, to balance out the sweetness of the cookie. I ground lemon zest and half of a vanilla bean into sugar in the food processor until it was nice and crumbly.

I mixed the lemon sugar with egg whites and heated the whole thing up before whipping it into a swiss meringue. Into the meringue I folded in some lemon juice. And then I hid it until the cookies were all ready for sandwiching, because nobody needs a giant batch of fluff within reach.

Once my cookies were cooled, I started stacking. It took me a few hours before I was ready to munch on them, because all the snacking during the testing phase kind of blew me out. When it was time though, oh boy was I happy. Little Debbie, you have been one-upped.

OATMEAL COOKIE RECIPE:

8 oz butter, RT

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, RT

1 egg white, RT

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup AP flour

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cinnamon

3 cups oats

6 oz chopped dates

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

– Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Add the chopped dates and rub to break up clumps. Add the oats. Set aside.

– Cream butter for 1 minute.

– Add the sugars and cream for 3 minutes.

– Add the egg and vanilla and cream for 2 minutes.

– Add the dry ingredients.

– Scoop onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Press flat with a wet spoon.

– Bake for 11 minutes.

LEMON FLUFF RECIPE:

6 oz egg whites

12 oz sugar

zest of 1 lemon

2 tsp lemon juice

– Combine sugar and lemon zest in food processor. Process for 1 minute.

– Combine with egg whites in a kitchen aid bowl. Whisk well.

– Heat over a water bath, whisking constantly until the egg whites reach 160 degrees.

– Remove from water bath and whip for several minutes, until cool and fluffy.

– Whisk in lemon juice.

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Fig Newtons!

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Don't BUY it, MAKE it! by brandi on November 22, 2010

Ummm… I know what you’re thinking. “Brandi: It’s November, Thanksgiving time. For crying out loud, it’s SNOWING in Seattle today, and you’re talking about figs.” It’s true, I’m terribly not of the season today. But you see, these figs — albeit from California — they were THERE. Left over from a fantastic dessert we were running at Delancey a few weeks ago, they were all lonely in the fridge, obviously uncomfortable sitting next to the pears and Meyer lemons, knowing their time was over. So I took them home to show them some respect. And by respect I mean I made fig newtons.

Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I went bonkers for fig newtons as a kid. The Nabisco kind were regular visitors in my lunch box and I was loyal to the fig flavor, even though I didn’t know what a fig was. As my palette grew up, the fig newtons were left behind. I tried them again a few years ago and had one of those “Have these gotten worse, or am I a complete food snob now” moments. I figured their time was finished and moved on. Until this summer when Pastry Studio (my pastry blog hero) wrote about them on her blog. I bookmarked it for a later date and promptly forgot. Until those lonely little figs called out to me.

First I made a food processor dough with some whole wheat flour in the mix, as well as some milk.

I let the dough chill while I got to work chopping up those figs.

I cooked the figs into a jam flavored with vanilla bean, honey and lemon.

Then several days later I finally got back around to assembling the little guys. I rolled out the dough into a long rectangle and smeared on some of the jam.

I folded in the edges to enclose the jam.

And sliced it into little newtons.

I baked them with a little sugar on top until they were nice and golden.

And then I stacked them up and took pretty pictures with Molly’s camera (thanks Molly!), because I accidentally left mine in San Francisco. Her lens is much better than mine and I now have camera envy. But back to the fig newtons. Oh. My. They were perfect. And that dough! Pastry studio, you just rocked my dough world.

FIG NEWTONS RECIPE, inspired by Pastry Studio:

Yield: 24 cookies

Dough:

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup AP flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 TBSP brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

6oz cold butter

1/4 cup whole milk

Filling:

1 lb 2 oz figs

3 TBSP water

1/4 cup honey

3 TBSP sugar

1/4 vanilla bean

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp lemon juice

– Place the flours, sugars and salt in a food processor and process to combine. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse the mixture until the butter is in very small pieces. Add the milk and pulse until the mixture begins to look more like dough and less like sand.

– Shape the dough into a rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least an hour.

– Slice open the vanilla bean and rub the seeds into the sugar. Cut the stems off the figs and chop into small chunks. Place them in a saucepan with the water, honey, vanilla sugar, vanilla bean pod, salt and lemon zest. Cook on medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Lower the heat and cook the fruit slowly and gently for about 15-20 minutes or until the fruit is jammy, stirring every few minutes and adding a bit more water if necessary to prevent scorching. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Remove the vanilla bean pods and use an immersion blender to pulse a few times to smooth out large pieces of fig. Store in the refrigerator until completely chilled.

– When everything is chilled, remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured board. Slice lengthwise into 3 strips. Rewrap 2 of the strips and place back in the fridge. Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour and roll out to a rectangle measuring 12” x 4”. Work quickly, running an offset spatula under the dough to make sure it isn’t sticking to the board and dusting lightly with flour whenever necessary. When you have the finished rectangle, place the dough onto a parchment lined baking tray in the fridge. Repeat with the other 2 pieces of dough. Chill the rolled dough in the fridge for another 10 minutes.

– Remove one rectangle from the fridge and lay back on the floured board. Spread some of the fig jam lengthwise along the center of the dough. Gently lift the dough sides over the fruit. Cinch the edges together to completely seal the jam. Use your hands to press down slightly on the dough to smooth out the jam within. It’s ok if some oozes out the ends. Cut into slices and place on a parchment lines sheet pan. Chill in the fridge while you repeat with the other 2 strips of dough. Once finished, chill for another 30 minutes.

– Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle the bars with sugar and bake for about 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake until nicely browned, about 20 more minutes.

– Remove from the oven and cool completely.


Nutter Butter Cookies

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Don't BUY it, MAKE it! by brandi on September 29, 2010

Give me a recipe that starts with cooking oats in butter and vanilla bean and you’ve stolen my heart. Throw in some peanut butter and you’ve convinced me to make cookies, something I rarely feel inclined to do.

It had been a while since I made a Nancy Silverton recipe, and now I feel the need to pull all her books off of my shelves and hit the kitchen with a vengeance. Seriously, she might be my pastry hero. Top 5 at LEAST. This cookie recipe came from her Sandwich book, a book I might never have paid attention to had it not been for her take on Nutter Butters.

As mentioned above, I started by toasting oats with butter and a vanilla bean.

I mixed those into a pretty straight-forward peanut butter cookie dough.

I rolled and stamped out little discs that I popped into the fridge to chill before baking.

While those were baking I made the filling, a salty, buttery, peanut fluff.

And then it was the best assembly line one can imagine. The funny thing is, these cookies actually get BETTER as they age. The first night I had them after a Monday night family dinner, with some ice cream. They seemed rich and intense, almost to the point of turning me off. I couldn’t eat a whole one and considered sending them away with my friends just to get them out of my house. The next day though, either I was hungrier or they mellowed out because I devoured one in 15 seconds flat. And they were so much more tender. So from now on, I’m making these little ones the day before I actually need them. And I’ll definitely keep them oreo sized next time.

NUTTER BUTTER COOKIES RECIPE (by Nancy Silverton)

Yield: 36 cookies

Cookies:

12oz unsalted butter, cool

1 vanilla bean

2 cups quick cooking rolled oats

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup chunky peanut butter, I prefer JIF

2 ¼ cups AP flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

– In a medium sized skillet, melt 4oz of butter over medium heat. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Toss the seeds and the pod into the butter along with the oats. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly, until the oats are lightly toasted and golden brown. Transfer the oat mixture to a bowl, discarding the vanilla bean pod, and chill in the fridge.

– Place the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

– In a stand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for a minute with the paddle attachment. Slowly pour in the sugars and continue creaming until the mixture is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the peanut butter and mix just until combined. Lower the speed and add the chilled oats, mixing until just combined.Turn off the mixer and add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together in a ball.

– Roll the dough into 2″ balls, or use a scooper to scoop out individual portions and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Slightly flatten each cookie and use a knife to score each cookie with criss-cross patterns. Chill the dough for about 15 minutes.

– Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. They should be lightly browned. Cool completely.

Filling:

3oz butter, cool

1½ tsp salt

6 TBSP powdered sugar

1 cup + 2 TBSP natural chunky peanut butter

– In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and salt on medium speed for about a minute, until the butter is softened.

– Add the sugar and peanut butter and mix another minute to combine.

– Assemble and Enjoy!

Grape Jelly

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Yes We Can! by brandi on September 18, 2010

Every now and then a fruit just makes you stop and take notice. Such was the case with these grapes. Blueberry grapes they’re called, and they literally taste like bubblicious grape bubble gum. Popping one into my mouth for a taste in the grocry store actually had me giggling, they’re THAT good. I bought a few pounds immediatly and ran home to make jelly.

It was my first time making jelly, and I was super excited. Not because I am particularly fond of jelly, but just because I had never made it. And grape jelly, well that’s just as classic as it comes. I started by cooking the grapes down with a bit of water, while smooshing them with a potato masher. Then I poured that hot mess into a strainer lined with one of John’s old t-shirts. It drained for about 10 hours.

I then boiled the liquid with lemon juice and pectin until I had a nice set.

And it worked! It’s translucent and jiggly and perfect! I’ve been eating grape jelly and peanut butter sandwiches like they are going out of style and I suspect I’ll be buying more of these magical blueberry grapes….

GRAPE JELLY RECIPE:

1x (2 quarts)

2 1/4 lb grapes

2/3 cup water

1 lb 4oz caster sugar

3 TBSP lemon juice

3 oz liquid pectin

– Put the grapes and water in a saucepan and smash them with a potato masher. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. The grapes should be very soft. Smash the grapes some more.

– Pour the mixture into a strainer lined with thin fabric (I used a worn t shirt) and allow to drip for 8-12 hours. Do not press the mixture or the jelly will be cloudy.

– Pour the drained liquid into a saucepan and add the caster sugar and lemon juice. Heat over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, add the pectin and cook over medium high heat for a 3-5 minutes, until the jelly has set.

– Ladle into hot sterilize jars and seal.

Lemon Fluff for Miles

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on September 8, 2010

Disclaimer: These photos blow. The recipe however, quite spectacular. After weeks of thinking the photos too ugly for the blog, I relented, after requests were made for the recipe. Because seriously, this cake is worth sharing, ugly photos and all.

The cake I speak of is the Lemon Icebox Cake. In some circles (like my grandmother’s) it’s a classic that makes people get all misty-eyed. In my circle, it’s more of a novelty, as in “What’s an icebox?”, “Is the cake made of ice?”, that sort of thing.

Meredith, my friend of many months in Seattle, was leaving us. After a year of lawyering it up in the soggy Pacific Northwest, she had a job back in San Francisco waiting for her. I was sad, as she got me through many a rainy day while we were still learning our way around. It’s the rare person that is up for anything (hike? bike ride? lake swimming? bike ride to a hike that ends in lake swimming?). But mostly I just fed her. So for her last meal I wanted something special.

She’s mildly obsessed with lemons, so I considered recreating one of my first desserts at Delancey: Meyer lemon budino with anise caramel syrup, candied pistachios and shortbread. It made sense to end an era with the dessert that started it. But then I remembered this article in Fine Cooking magazine. It was one of those articles where two chefs classically recreate or reinvent a recipe. This had Rose Levy Beranbaum recreating a classic lemon icebox cake. It literally had me drooling. And it looked long and complex, two words that occasionally make my ears perk up in a recipe. So it was decided. Meredith’s last meal (with me) in Seattle would end with a lemon icebox cake.

There were a lot of eggs involved.

First I made an angel food cake, another food item I’ve been hoping to scratch off my list. I’ve heard stories that they were difficult, that the cakes sunk into nothing. I do love a good cake challenge. I started with a fluffy white meringue.

Into that I folded the tiniest amount of flour possible. I spread the batter into an angel food pan (courtesy of Molly, because I have limits to my cake pan collection).

It baked until it was golden and splitting. I pulled it from the oven and hung it upside down to cool. I know. Upside down. I suspect this is what keeps it from sinking, since it’s pretty well adhered to the pan.

Then I made some lemon “fluff”. That involved making a lemon curd that I then folded with whipped cream, that I then folded with gelatin laced meringue.

By the time that was ready my cake had cooled and was ready to be de-panned. I trimmed off the top and sliced it into four discs.

Then back into the angel food cake pan they went, layered with the lemon fluff. From there it was 12 hours of chilling in the fridge while I nervously fretted about how the hell I was going to get it out.

Somehow, it came out. That somehow involved propping it on a wine bottle and flipping everything onto a serving tray. It was a bit theatrical. But it was worth it for sure. Walking out to the table in the backyard carrying this gigantic jiggling mound of yellow fluff I felt like some kind of cake goddess. And it only took me about 16 hours.

LEMON ICEBOX CAKE RECIPE:

here.

The only change I made was to not grease the pan before baking the angel food cake. Multiple sources confirmed that greasing the pan was a no-no.

The Best Shredded Dessert There Ever Was.

Posted in All Sugar All The Time by brandi on August 31, 2010

Years ago, while in architecture school, I had a roommate named Mimi. Well, actually her name was Omelmominin, but we called her Mimi. She was from Oman, and I have her to thank for introducing me to Middle Eastern desserts. Mimi didn’t cook much, but her mom did. And when her mom decided to spend a summer with us, I was ecstatic. I can still remember clearly the day I came home from work and started grinning ear to ear when I opened the door and smelled deliciousness being made in the kitchen. I almost lost it when I actually got into the kitchen in time to see Mimi’s mom pulling a pan of steaming hot baklava out of the oven. Having only ever seen it in restaurants and grocery stores, it never occurred to me that an actual person could make it for themselves (I was so young then…).

The real surprise though, came next. Because after she sat down the baklava, she pulled out a pan of what looked to me like cooked noodles. It was called konafa, and this my friends, is what I am here to talk about. That dessert stuck with me. It’s a rare one to find outside of the middle east, and even rarer to find one that tastes good. When done right, it is pure creamy bliss. Unfortunately there’s not much of a Middle Eastern population in Seattle, making it even harder to find than in San Francisco. It is meant to be eaten fresh from the oven, so really, I just had to make it for myself.

I started with the pastry, called konafa or kadaif. It can be hard to come by, you’ll probably have to get it from a Middle Eastern grocery store. Since it’s sold frozen, it will require some advance preparation so it can defrost in the fridge for 24 hours beforehand. The first step is to spread it out and unstick the strands that are all mashed together. I found this part to be particularly fun. Afterwards, I set the pastry back in the fridge.

Then I made the cream filling and the syrup that would be poured over the baked konafa. For the filling I cooked milk with rice flour and sugar, straining it afterwards to remove the lumps. The only change I made from the recipe from Claudia Roden was to use rose water in place of the orange blossom water. This was what Mimi’s mom used and I was going straight for nostalgia.

Then I spread half of the pastry (that I had tossed in melted butter) in the bottom of 2 pie pans.

On top of that I spread the chilled cream filling. I topped it with the other half of the pastry.

And then I baked the konafa until golden brown. I poured the cold syrup all over it and sprinkled on some pistachios.

And me and my friends dug in. It’s an odd flavor at first, but after a few bites something happens to the taste. I found that it got sweeter (though not too sweet) and the rosewater started to mellow. It was exactly how I remembered it. Mimi has been back in Oman for several years now, but I like to think that she and her mom would be proud.

KONAFA RECIPE (Claudia Roden):

Syrup:

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups water

2 TBSP lemon juice

2 TBSP rosewater or orange blossom water

– Bring the sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil for about 8 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in the rosewater. Leave to cool, then chill in the fridge.

Cream filling:

2/3 cup rice flour

5 cups milk

1/4 cup sugar

2/3 cup heavy cream

– Mix the rice flour with some of the milk to make a smooth paste. Bring the rest of the milk to a boil, then add the rice flour paste, whisking the milk as you do so to minimize clumping. Immediately turn the heat to very low and let the mixture thicken for about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally without scraping the bottom of the pan so as not to pick up any burnt bits.

– Add the sugar and stir well. If lumpy, strain. Leave to cool, then add the cream and mix well. Chill in the fridge.

Pastry:

1 lb konafa (also called kadaif) pastry

8oz butter, melted

2/3 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped

– Place the pastry in a large bowl and separate the strands as much as possible. Pour the melted butter over the pastry and, with your fingers, work it in very thoroughly, pulling out and separating the strands so that they don’t stick together and are coated with butter.

– Preheat the oven to 350.

– Spread half the pastry at the bottom of a two 8″ round pie pans. Spread the cream filling over and cover with the rest of the pastry.

– Bake for about 45 minutes, then raise the temperature to 425F and bake for another 15 minutes, until the pastry starts to brown. Remove from the oven. Immediately pour the cold syrup over the hot konafa and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios.

– Before serving, run a knife around the pie to loosen the sides. Slice it up and enjoy!

Blueberries!

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Don't BUY it, MAKE it!, Yes We Can! by brandi on July 21, 2010

They’re here!

Have I mentioned lately that I have a thing for blueberries?  Beautiful, blue, bloomy blueberries…

This time of year I turn into a bit of a berry monster. The first couple weeks of berry season I tend to gorge on berries until I just can’t take any more. Then I stop just long enough to panic about their eventual disappearance. In response, I make jam. Lots of jam. I’ll make so much jam that I panic again and start giving it away. Then as I work my way through a couple of jars, I’ll start wishing I hadn’t given so much away. I’ll panic yet again, and if there are still berries around at this point, I’ll probably make more jam. You know, just in case I run out in January. So far this summer I’ve made a sun-cooked strawberry rhubarb jam, a black raspberry jam, and now, this absolutely perfect blueberry jam. It’s so straightforward that it seems silly to even share the recipe. But that’s its genius. Beneath all that obviousness is a jam that is so perfectly spreadable and so… blue. I’ve already eaten it on toast, biscuits, crepes and pound cake. And it’s only been 4 days.

Note on blueberries: With all jams, it is super important to get the best fruit possible. If you don’t want to smash your face into a pile of it, then it’s probably not jam worthy. Yes, it should be that good. I used Billy’s blueberries, arguably the best blueberries in the Puget Sound area.

BLUEBERRY JAM RECIPE:

2 lb 8oz (6 baskets) blueberries

2/3 cup water

2 lb sugar

juice of 3 lemons

1 package of Certo liquid pectin

– Put the blueberries and water in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. The fruit should be quite soft.

– Lower the heat and add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil for 5 minutes.

– Add the pectin and boil for another minute or 2, until it has set. I test for set by spooning the jam onto a plate that has ben stored in the freezer. I place it back in the freezer for 10 seconds and then press my finger to it. If it wrinkles, the jam is done.

-Ladle into hot sterilized jars and seal. If you’re storing it at room temperature, it’s a good idea to process them. It’s ready to eat the next day.

The First Fruit Pie of Summer

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Certified Pie Ninja by brandi on June 14, 2010

And so it begins. I know, we’re a bit late, but fruit has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest. Every year I await with relish the first bloodbath of cherry pitting. Somehow I always forget just how messy it gets and stain everyone and everything within arm’s length of the kitchen. But having my kitchen look like a killing floor is a small price to pay when you’re fruit-starved in June. A visit to the Ballard farmer’s market left me carrying 3 lbs of local cherries (along with some of the teeny-tiniest sweetest little strawberries!) and I was determined to make pie. Because, well, it has just been too long.

As with any pie, I started with my dough. I wanted to make a lattice top, so I decided to use the smear technique (more detailed instruction here) for my pâte brisée dough. This dough gives plenty of flake without all the puffing up of a laminated dough.

I was pleasantly surprised at how quick pie-making has become for me. I have faint memories of spending all day on one pie and feeling it was too prized to eat. Now I can dig in knowing that if I run out, I can just make another!

Since cherry and almond are like peanut butter and jelly (and Pantea’s favorite, this pie is for you!) I whipped up some frangipane to spread on the bottom crust.

Then I loaded her up with cherries.

And got to work on some strips for the top.

It was my first time making a lattice top and now I can’t imagine what took me so long to try. So much pretty for such little effort!

I want so badly to have a beautiful picture of a perfectly baked cherry pie. Unfortunately we tore into this pie so fast I forgot to document! It was a lovely first pie: flaky crust, yummy almond undertones. My only complaint would be that the cherries were just not quite there. Hopefully they’ll sweeten up in the next few weeks. Rumor has it that all the fruit west of the Cascades is waterlogged this year, so it’s going to be a hunt for the good stuff. If anyone can recommend great cherry farms, please share! In the meantime, I’ll be gorging on those teeny tiny strawberries.

Rhubarb. My new favorite.

Posted in All Sugar All The Time by brandi on May 20, 2010

I just can’t hold this one back anymore. I decided months ago that I wanted to make rhubarb shortcakes for Delancey’s dessert menu. I had a decent recipe for rhubarb compote from my old job, but I knew I could make it better. Me and Molly compared our favorite compote recipes and came up with an ingredients list that was pretty killer. Think vanilla bean. Sugar. Orange liquor. Butter. You toss all these things together and let them sit and get all juicy.

Then you roast them until they soft and bright.

And this is where the magic happens. Strain out the liquid from the rhubarb and set the chunks aside. Then reduce that liquid into a nice syrup. This concentrates the flavor to the point of extreme rhubarb deliciousness. As my friend Meredith at Delancey said “It’s more rhubarb-y than rhubarb.” And that my friends, is what I’m talking about.

We serve it with flakey shortcakes and mascarpone cream.

At home I eat it with buttermilk souffle cakes. The world is your base to put rhubarb on.

RHUBARB COMPOTE:

4 lb rhubarb, diced

2 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean

½ cup grand marnier

4oz butter

– Slice open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the sugar to break up clumps.

– Combine all ingredients, including vanilla bean pod, in a baking pan. Stir well and let sit for 30 minutes.

– Divide into 2 batches and cover pans with aluminum foil. Bake at 325 for 30-40 minutes. You want to cook it long enough for the fruit to still hold it’s shape, but to start to break up as you stir it. At this point remove one pan from the oven and set aside to cool.

– Continue cooking the other pan for 10-15 more minutes, until the fruit turns a brighter shade of red and breaks down more easily. Remove the 2nd pan from the oven and set aside to cool.

– Strain out liquid from both pans into a saucepan. Place rhubarb chunks into a large bowl and set aside.

– Boil rhubarb juice over high heat until it is reduced to a syrup. Be careful not to burn.

– Mix syrup back into rhubarb chunks.

– Is best eaten at room temperature, but store in fridge.

well, it’s about time.

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Certified Pie Ninja by brandi on May 3, 2010

I know, there’s no excuse. The sad thing is that I actually have a stack (if digital files could stack) of photos from my meals this past month. I just haven’t found the motivation to park myself in front of the computer and look at them. Or write about them. There’s been delicious pasta, a rhubarb compote that feels like there’s a rhubarb party in your mouth, an all roasted Easter dinner. I’ve even been maniacally documenting my garden, to explain my away time. But none has made it to the interweb. Until now anyways. My friend Justin was in town from Ecuador for his birthday. Recently he asked if I would someday make him a key lime pie, so me and his girlfriend Meredith decided a surprise pie was in order. Since I like to make my life more complicated whenever possible, I opted for a pie vs. cake challenge. Forever the defender of birthday cakes, I decided this was my chance to convince the world of cake’s subtle awesomeness. Unfortunately my key lime coconut cake kinda blew (shocking, I know!), so I’m only going to share with you the pie. And what a pie it was. Key lime pie with coconut graham crust and a coconut whipped cream on top. Makes me miss living farther south where the key limes are actually green.

As with anything citrus related, there was a lot of squeezing.

Now as far as desserts go, the key lime pie is definitely in the easy category. So easy I even considered not sharing with you. And graham cracker crusts? I admit that I tend to snub my nose at them. But I had this vision of chunky coconut and graham goodness cradling that creamy tartness and I just had to go with it. Let me tell you, this pie, well, it won me over. Big time. There were people at the birthday party thanking me for letting them taste this. LETTING THEM! Ha! So. The crust. it involved toasting some shredded coconut.

And mixing that coconut in with brown sugar, melted butter and ground up graham crackers (I know, I should have made my own).

I pressed that into the pie plate and let it chill in the fridge before baking it.

Then I whipped up the classic key lime filling: egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and key lime juice. I poured that into the cooled pie crust and baked in on low until it set up.

After the pie chilled for an hour or so, I whipped up some cream that I had earlier steeped with coconut flakes. I spread the coconut cream on top and sprinkled on some toasted coconut flakes. And it was promptly devoured at the party.

KEY LIME PIE RECIPE:

COCONUT GRAHAM CRUST:

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

3 TBSP light brown sugar

5oz unsalted butter, melted

pinch of salt

– Toast the coconut until lightly browned.

– Cool and add to the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well, until everything is moist.

– Press into a buttered pie pan and chill for 15 minutes.

– Bake in a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes.

– Cool completely.

FILLING:

2 14oz cans sweetened condensed milk

6 large egg yolks

1 cup of freshly squeezed key lime juice

– In the bowl of a kitchenaid mixer, with the whip the egg yolks until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and beat until light and fluffy, 3 more minutes.

– Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the lime juice.

– Pour the filling into the crust and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the filling is set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

– Once cooled, place in the fridge until serving time. Just before serving whip the coconut cream.

COCONUT CREAM (Claudia Fleming):

3 cups heavy cream

6 TBSP sugar

1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

– Place cream and sugar in pot and bring just to boil.

– Pour in coconut and cover. Let steep for 1 hour.

– Strain out coconut and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

– Whip until thickened.