9/27/16

Caramel Custard Apple Pie


Oh hey there, you happy internet people.

I don't know about you, but I love apple recipes. Apple tarts, apple pies, apple turnovers, apple cake, apple butter; you can't really go wrong, right? So I wanted to incorporate apples with something really different than what I've made before. I thought,you know what would be freakin' delicious? Cinnamon custard, with apple and caramel, and something crunchy on top!


And it was so! A chic little pie with all the caramel and apple flavors I could dream of. Each element is worth making on its own, but all together, it's amazing. Creamy, sweet, and super rich. The caramel sauce and praline topping can be made and stored in the refrigerator for later use (or over ice cream!). That being said...


.. it's oh-so chic and elegant on the table...


...and super sloppy on the plate. Like come on, pie, get yourself together.


But honestly, this has to be one of the trickiest pies to scoop out. I couldn't get a neat slice onto a plate.


But then it got me thinking about the caramel sauce my mom would buy in fall. The big tub we would dunk slices of apples into...


... oh my god. It's a dip pie!

What's a dip pie? Well, I just made it up. It's a pie whose filling can be dipped into, either with apples, Nilla wafers, pretzels, or the crust itself. Voila! Magic.


It also has like a million ingredients. And for that I am so sorry. But they are very basic ingredients, just repeated a couple times over.

Total Time: 3 hours
Bake Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients


1 pre-baked, 8-inch pie crust
For the apple filling:
2 apples, skinned and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
For the custard:
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
For the caramel sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 stick butter, cubed
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For the praline topping:
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted

Preparation

  1. Bake or purchase a pre-made pie crust. A good recipe for it is here! Allow the crust to cool. 
  2. In a medium sauce pan, toss the apple slices, sugar, and cinnamon until well-coated. Saute the apples on medium heat until just soft. Place in the bottom of the pie crust.
  3. In a large sauce pan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and milk. Cook on medium-high heat, whisking continuously for 7-10 minutes. When the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 
  4. Gently press the custard through a fine sieve and into a heat proof-bowl, to remove any lumps. Then pour directly on top of the apples. Allow to set for 1 hour in the fridge.
  5. To make the caramel sauce, it's good to get all of the ingredients out and ready before hand. Place the sugar and water in a sauce pan and cook on medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and begins to bubble. Do not stir, but swirl occasionally. When the mixture has turned a gold brown, add the butter. Whisk very quickly, until the butter is completely incorporated. Then add the cream, and again whisk very quickly until completely incorporated. Take off the heat, and add salt. All the caramel to coo briefly, before pouring over set custard pie.
  6. To make the topping, place the butter and brown sugar in a medium sauce pan. Cook on medium heat, and allow to melt. Then pour in the pecans and mix until completely covered. Stir continuously, while cooking for another 3-4 minutes. The mixture will darken. Place on a place covered in wax paper, and allow to cool. When cool, crack with a large knife or your hands into small peices. Arrange on the pie as desired.

Happy baking!

9/24/16

Banana & Bacon Pancakes with Brown Sugar Sauce

Good morning! Afternoon? It's the weekend so noon gets pushed back a few hours, right?


Happy Saturday, ya'll. Here are some super-stuffed brown sugar, banana, bacon, and chocolate chip pancakes to fill your weekend brunch needs. The best part about these is that I made them all from left-overs, from things I had in my pantry and fridge.

Today I had one of those horrible moments when you want pancakes/waffles/ french toast, but you have nothing to put on them. No syrup in sight. But this brown sugar sauce is buttery and lightly sweet, and simple to make (no tricky caramelization for this one). You can make it while the coffee is still kicking in. It tastes like butter and syrup  when they melt together in the ridges of a waffle. Yeah, it's like that. 


Makes: 10-12 pancakes
Sauce for 2 servings
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Pancakes
Bisquik shaker mix
Brown Sugar Sauce
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ripe bananas
8 slices of bacon

Preparation

  1. Make the pancakes as instructed. I'm sorry I know this is super unhelpful! (#foodbloggerfails) But that's what I used. I like to make pancakes from the Bisquik Shaker mixes because they're consistent and quick. Here's a recipe that works well, with no buttermilk required. Sprinkle with chocolate chips on the first flip. 
  2. For the brown sugar sauce, melt the brown sugar in a medium sauce pan on medium heat. When the sugar has completely melted, drop the heat to low and stir in the butter and cream. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
  3. Slice the bananas thinly, and gently stir until well covered in the sauce. Let cook for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. Place bacon slices on 2 paper towels over a microwaveable plate. Cover with another paper towel, and microwave on high 1 minute, turn, then microwave again till desired crispiness.
  5. Stack up the pancakes, bananas, and bacon, and spoon on some of the hot brown sugar sauce. And enjoy!


A testament that lazy baking can still be delicious and beautiful.

Happy baking!

9/22/16

Good pie, Great British Bake Off. It's bun great.


If you didn't know: now you know.

Sorry.

Over the past few weeks, we've mentally grappled with both the departure of  Mel and Sue from the show, as well as its place in the BBC spotlight. We tried reasoning: perhaps the show will balance out into a new chapter? Like the next generation of a soap opera taking the reins of the show. But now that the new network has spurred Mary Berry to say her farewells I must declare the show is over.

I cannot claim, by any means, to be an authority on this show. (I'm an American for chrissake.) But for me, personally, in my own way, that's the case. And I think that's how a lot of people may feel.

The Great British Bake Off was never meant to be a big show. At the core of its being, it was a little bubble of passionate weirdos doing what they love. I understand its wide-spread appeal; feel good television with a competitive edge, delicious food, and a beautiful repertoire of  punny jokes. I fell hard for it from day one. Heck, I even loved the historical blurbs.

However, as an anomaly on television, one that I hope inspires similar models in different TV genres, it grew out of itself. It was never meant to be this popular or this lucrative. So it's changing into something else. Right now I'm not sure what that is, but it will no longer be the GBBO we've known and loved.

What has remained consistent in its seven-series run? The passion of the contestants. The winner of Series One, Edd, wanted the title as badly as last year's winner, Nadia. It isn't the promise of fame or career launch that drives the bakers, it's the acknowledgment of supreme talent and a job well-done. This has lead to shaky fingers, wobbly-lipped tears, heartfelt speeches, and lots of Mel-Sue sandwiches.

I just hope to the baking god's that this drive, above all else, remains.

9/19/16

Free-Form Apple Galette


I love apples. Especially during that magical period when apples become perfect and cheap: apple season! And while I've baked apple pie a few times, I've never tried it as a free-form galette.


Free-form just means without a tin, where the crust holds the gooey center all on its own. This means a crust that's more firm than usual, and a pie filling with a little less moisture (due to the open top).





Total Time: 2 1/2 hours
Bake Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

For the crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks butter, cold and cubed
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup ice water
1 egg white

For the filling:
4 medium apples, skinned, cored, and sliced thinly
1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preparation


  1. In a large bowl, stir the flour, sugar, and salt until thoroughly combined. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is the texture of wet sand, with lumps no bigger than a pea.
  2. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together as a firm dough. You may not need to use all of the water. Combine into a ball, and knead gently 5-10 times. Pat into a disk 1-inch thick and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in fridge for at least 1 hour.
  3. Prep the apples and toss with lemon juice, 1/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. After the dough is thoroughly chilled, preheat the oven to 400 F. 
  5. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface, into a 17-inch circle. Trim the edges to 16-inches. Brush with egg wash.
  6. Place the apples in the center, either in decorative concentric circles or as one mass, leaving 3-4 inches around the sides.
  7. Lift the sides up, folding them over the outer apples, and pat down. Brush the top with egg white and sprinkle with extra sugar.
  8. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and apple are soft.
  9. Enjoy!

9/13/16

James and the Giant Peach Pops

"My dear young fellow," the Old-Green-Grass-Hopper said gently, "There are a whole lot of things in this world we haven't even started wondering about yet."
Image result for james and the giant peach

September is a banner month for writer's birthdays. We're not even half-way through and already we've had Leo Tolstoy, Richard Wright, and now Roald Dahl. In fact, today marks the beloved novelist/short-story writer/poet's 100th birthday.

\

Dahl created some of the most sensational and food-themed worlds. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, BFG, Matilda, the Witches, the list goes on and on. But I thought I would use one of my favorites: James and the Giant Peach. 

While utterly terrified by this story as a child, James' overseas adventure is one of my favorites as an adult. He's just a boy dreaming of New York, floating on a giant fruit with a band of life-sized insects, being chased by great white sharks and two evil aunts. Random and delightful, no?


I've never made popsicles before, and I was amazed how simple they were to make. Three ingredients people! I  purchased my molds on Amazon, but you can use anything from ice cube trays to paper cups to make yours. While these are terribly normal-sized popsicles, maybe with a touch of magic they'll grow in my freezer.

Peach Pops

Ingredients

2 cups low-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
or 2 cups fresh orange juice
2 peaches, or 3/4 cup frozen peaches, diced

Preparation

1. Stir the honey and yogurt together until it is completely incorporated. Dice the peaches into half-inch cubes.
2. Fill your popsicle molds to 1/4 inch to the top, making sure to press the yogurt to the very bottom and that there are no air bubbles. Dip wooden popsicle sticks half way. For orange pops, place the peache cubes to the top of the molds, then fill in with orange juice.
3. Freeze for 4 hours-over night. It's also a good idea to put a plate in the freezer, to have something cold to set them on after you de-mold the popsicles.
4. To remove the popsicles- dip the molds in warm (not hot!) water for 3-5 seconds. Gently pull on the wooden sticks until they slide out smoothly and with little resistance. Continue to dip in the warm water until they do. Place on your cold plate and serve, or place back in the freezer to set. 

Enjoy!


Happy baking!

9/8/16

Salted Caramel Brownies


It might not feel like it, but it's September. And you know what that means?

Fall. It's here. School is back in session. The temperatures drop (eventually). And baking no longer turns your kitchen into the surface of the sun.


Fall is a very divisive season. Either you absolutely love it, busting out your plaid shirts, leather boots, apple-picking knits to go get your pumpkin spiced latte as soon as the heat breaks. Or you are in full denial and can't wait for winter to show up to save us from the hay-ride crazies.

Regardless of which side you owe fealty to, you can't deny Fall has some delicious flavors. Cinnamon, apple, pumpkin, caramel. I love to bake, but I have zero energy after work. That's why I love box mixes when my schedule gets busy.


Like these brownies! I made them using Ghirardelli's box mix, which makes delicious brownies simply and easily. I also added a quick caramel sauce. Super delicious and cozy, batch bakes like these are what makes me excited for the changing season.

Caramel sauce is a little tricky  to make, and can take some practice. The key is to watch the sugar carefully. Take the sugar off the heat just before it turns the desired amber color, because it will continue to cook in the hot pan.


Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes: 1 cup sauce
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

Preparation

  1. In small sauce pan, warm the cream.
  2. In another pan, heat the sugar and cold water over medium heat. Do not stir, but swirl occasionally. Cook until the syrup has caramelized and turned golden brown.
  3. Slowly pour the warm cream into the sugar, and whisk quickly to blend. Leave on the heat for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the butter and stir. Pour over brownies.

Make a cup of tea, get snuggly, and enjoy! After school/work snack anyone?




Happy baking!

9/5/16

S'mores Meringue Pie


Happy Labor Day, ya'll. I don't know about you, but I'm really not ready for the summer to end. 
But on the bright side, fall baking is approaching! (Cue the pumpkin spice-induced cackles.)



Consider this my good-bye to summer. My ode to campfires and barbecues. My give-me-S'more pie with layers of rich chocolate, creamy Swiss meringue, and sprinkles of graham crackers. While this pie requires a few quick bakes and cools, I made it in less than an hour! It's messy like a s'more, with six alternating layers of chocolate, marshmallow, meringue, Nutella, and graham. I love it. 




Ingredients

1 1/4 cup graham crackers, crushed finely
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 bars of Hersey's milk chocolate
10-12 marshmallows
1 tablespoon coffee
1/2 cup Nutella
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix 1 cup of the graham crackers crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a bowl. Firmly pat into a 8-inch spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes, until slightly browned. Place in freezer to cool. Leave the oven on.
  2. Meanwhile place coffee and chocolate bars in a microwave safe bowl. Melt chocolate mixture for 15 seconds, and stir until smooth. When the crust has cooled completely, evenly pipe or spread the chocolate over the top.
  3. With a sharp knife, cut the marshmallows in half. Tightly fit them over the chocolate, sliced sides down. Place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until the marshmallows have completely melted and merged together.
  4. Allow the marshmallows to cool once more, meanwhile make the swiss meringue. 
  5. Whisk the egg whites and sugar in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture has reached 180 F. Whisk in a stand-mixer or with a hand-mixer until cooled, fluffy, and shiny.
  6. Spread the Nutella over the marshmallow layer, then sprinkle 1/4 cup graham crackers over the chocolate. Pour the meringue over the crumb layer, and carefully spread evenly to the sides. 
  7. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour to set completely.
  8. With a blow torch: Lightly toast the top. With a broiler: Set oven to 500 F, and roast for 5-7 minutes until lightly brown.


And enjoy! Gooey, crunchy, and chocolatey goodness. Summer, I'm gonna miss you.

 

Happy baking!

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