Pies Recipes

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Okay, okay. I know this post is much overdue. But I have a good excuse! I was getting ready for Norooz and couldn’t post this… for three months. Sorry!

Now that I’m here and posting and all, I will tell you that you will not be disappointed. This is a foolproof dessert, one that I have made over and over with a variety of cream cheeses and fruits… and all of which turned out splendidly. I can, in all confidence, guarantee that yours will too!

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The above picture shows two batches of this “salad”. One with pomegranates in a 9″ x 13″ pan, and the other with mandarin oranges in a 9″ pie dish. I’ll list both the original recipe meant for the 9″ by 13″ with the adjusted recipe meant for the pie dish for your baking pleasures.

Fabulous Pretzel Salad

9″ x 13″ version:
1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
4 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) regular salted butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
2 (8 oz)  packages cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz) container whipped topping, thawed
1 (6 oz) package flavored Jell-O (I like to match the flavor to the fruit I’m using)
2 cups boiling water
About 1 1/2 cups fruit of your choosing

9″ pie dish version:
1 cup crushed pretzels
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1  stick) regular salted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 (8 oz)  packages cream cheese
2/3 of an 8 oz container whipped topping, thawed
1/2 of a 6 oz package flavored Jell-O (I just make a full package and just pour the leftovers into another bowl and eat it later)
1 cup boiling water
About 1 cup fruit of your choosing

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a good handful of pretzels into a ziplock baggy.

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2. Crush ’em. Crush ’em good.

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3. Now, take the pretzels you’ve so painstakingly crushed and throw ’em in a bowl.

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4. To the crushed pretzely goodness, add in your sugar and stir around to incorporate evenly. This is going to help caramelize the outsides of the pretzels and get that wonderfully toasty taste.

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5. To your wonderful pretzel-sugar combo, add in your melted butter. Yes, all of it. Don’t be shy. You need every drop! Stir to coat all the pretzels evenly.

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6. Now, dump the whole thing out into your dish. This time, I’m using my trusty 9″x13″. Who knows what I’ll do next time. I live on the edge like that.

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7. Now, using your fingers or the bottom of a cup, press down the pretzel mixture firmly to form an even crust. This will ensure that your crust will be more crust-y and won’t fall apart as easily when you cut into it later.

Also, lose a diamond off your ring and have to send it in for repairs so that, for a month, you get to feel awesome in just your wedding band. Go ahead, all the cool kids are doing it.

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8. ta-da! Your crust should be nice and smooth. Place that sucker into the oven for 10-15 minutes. I like to leave it in for 15 to get a nice toasty taste, but 10 minutes will do the trick in not having it fall apart.

Once you remove it from the oven, let it cool COMPLETELY. I stick it in the freezer because I’m impatient as I assemble the rest.

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9.  Take out your two softened packages of cream cheese and place them in a bowl.

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10. To that, add in your sugar. I promise you, despite what you may be thinking,  this dessert isn’t that sweet. I’ve used full fat cream cheese as well as the low fat stuff. It doesn’t make a difference in the end.

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11. Mix those two until smooth.

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12. To the cream cheese mixture, add in your whipped cream. I’ve used homemade whipped cream and regular whipped topping from a container and I can honestly say that  the difference was negligible. Do what feels right.

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13. Spread the cream cheese mixture over your totally cooled crust. Then place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour to set.

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14. Prepare your Jell-O according to the package instructions. I know I wrote 2 cups of boiling water, but I always use 1/2 cup boiling and 1 1/2 cups cold water to make mine since the Jell-O sets a whole lot quicker that way. Place in the freezer to quicken the solidifying while you chop up your fruit.

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15. Today, I am using strawberries to place on top of my pretzel salad. You could just as easily use any other fruit. Just cut them up to your desired thickness.

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16. Take your Jell-O out of the freezer and drop in your fruit. You may need to set it back into the freezer to let it set a bit more. Just don’t let it set all the way. You want it cool but still runny for easy spreading.

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17. Spread the Jell-O right over the cream cheese mixture and try to get them as evenly dispersed as possible. Put it in the fridge and let the gelatin set all the way and the instant that happens, remove and enjoy!

Happy eating!

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Peanut Butter and Nutella pie

I really like pretzels. Neil doesn’t really like them as I do. However, we both got along just fine with this pie because we both love peanut butter and Nutella. Oh the joys.

I’m a ginormous fan of cold pies. They’re so simple to put together and the only hard part is waiting for the pie to chill enough to eat.

Here’s what you need:

Peanut Butter and Nutella Pie

For the crust:

1 1/4 cup finely crushed pretzels. I used these lovely Honey Wheat ones but really, any ol’ pretzel would work.
2 tbsp brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp butter, melted

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I absolutely love the honey wheat pretzels. They’re sweet but still pretzel-y enough to fill my pretzel needs.

Random fact: the SAT prep place that I went to for 2 years of my life provided these buckets of pretzels for the students. I now associate learning weird vocabulary with eating pretzels.

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Getting back to what we’re all really here for,

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush your pretzels until you have 1 1/4 cups worth. I had just enough. Whew.

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2. Add in your brown sugar and pulse a few times until well combined.

3. Pour out into a bowl and add in the melted butter. Stir until all the crumbs are coated.

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4. Pour the whole thing out into your 8″ pie dish and press down with the bottom of a measuring cup until you have a tight crust. Set in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes.

Now, as the crust sets, work on the filling.

For the Peanut Butter Nutella filling:

1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup milk
About 1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup Nutella

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1. Combine the cream cheese with the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

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Oh girl, it’s lovely.

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2. Mix the peanut butter right in as well. Add in the milk after the peanut butter’s well combined and beat until totally smooth.

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3. In a separate bowl, Combine the whipping cream with the vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.

4. Fold in the whipped cream into the peanut butter filling until all the ingredients are well combined.

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5. Now drop in your Nutella in one dollop.

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6. Stir carefully just to get lovely ribbons of Nutella throughout. You don’t want it totally mixed in.

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7. Spread over your pretzel pie crust and set in the refrigerator for about an hour to set and chill.

The end result is a very light-tasting peanut butter pie with lots of lovely Nutella flavors throughout. Enjoy!

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Boston Cream Pie

As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve never had real Boston Cream Pie. So making a Boston Cream Pie on Boston Cream Pie Day was a bit of a challenge.

However, who better to tell me how to make such an involved dish than Irma Rombauer, author of The Joy of Cooking?

I used her very detailed (and very tedious) directions to the T, and voila!

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Now it’s my turn to share this with you.

Here goes.

Boston Cream Pie

For the Pastry Cream:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp all purpose flour
Scant (slightly less than) 3 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

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1. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar.

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2. Sift the flour and the cornstarch together and add to the yolk mixture. The end result you’re looking for is a smooth, paste-like batter.

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It’ll look something like this. With less of a mess if you’re not me. Set that aside.

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3. In a saucepan, bring the milk to an almost-boil. What’s an almost-boil? It’s when the milk gets all foamy but hasn’t yet started to rumble. It’ll look something like that. Remove from heat.

4. Now, slowly add the milk to the egg yolk mixture. Do this slowly because you don’t want to cook the egg like that and get scrambled eggs in your cream.

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5. Put the whole shabang back into the saucepan. Over medium heat, you want to cook the mixture, whisking quite frequently. You want it as smooth as possible, but don’t stress over the itty bumps that’ll appear. Bring to a slow boil and remove from heat. Set in a clean bowl and refrigerate until assembly time.

Onto the sponge cake.

For the Sponge Cake:

5 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour two 8″ cake pans. Separate three eggs. In the bowl to the left are my 3 egg whites. In the bowl to the right are 3 egg yolks PLUS the two other full eggs. Set them aside until they reach room temperature (about 30 minutes).

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2. I don’t ever have cake flour on hand so here’s what you can do. Place the 1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup of all purpose flour. Remove 1 tablespoon of that flour and replace it with cornstarch. Now add in the baking powder and salt.

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3. Drop in 6 tablespoons of your sugar into the egg yolk bowl and beat until light in color and the mixture has thickened. Then, add in the vanilla.

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4. Wash the beaters on your mixer and then go to the bowl with the egg whites in it. Add in the cream of tartar and beat it until it’s starting to get very very foamy but hasn’t thickened yet. At that point, add in the rest of your sugar until you get “moist peaks”. I guessed that when I got the result in the above picture, I’d achieved those “moist peaks”.

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5. Gently fold in some of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk batter to lighten it up a bit. Then, sift half of the flour mixture and add it to the egg yolk batter. Fold in the rest of the egg whites and fold the whole thing together until most of the flour has disappeared.

6. Sift in the rest of the flour mixture and fold the entire batter until the flour has disappeared. Do NOT overmix!!!

7. Divide the batter between the two pans and set on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove and let cool.

Chocolate Glaze:

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp unsalted butter

*Start on this step when you’re ready to assemble the entire cake. The glaze will thicken considerably as it sits and it won’t be that spreadable if you make it too far in advance!

1. Over medium heat, heat the heavy cream and butter until boiling.

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2. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate pieces. Let it sit for about a minute.

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3. Mix the glaze until all the pieces have melted and the mixture has thickened. Set aside.

Assembly!

Invert one of the layers onto your “platter”. In my case, plate. All casual like. We’re all friends here.

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Cover with the chilled pastry cream. Spread as evenly as you can.

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Now bring on the other layer!

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Set the layer on top of the cream and then, starting in the center, pour the entire glaze out. Start spreading the glaze from the middle out to the edges allowing it to drip down the sides for more drama.

We love us some drama. Melodrama. Mama drama. Obama mama drama. I’m getting carried away here.

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Let the whole thing chillax for a bit in the fridge. 20-30 minutes should do it.

Then, you’ll have a fabulously glossy topped Boston Cream Pie! Congratulations and Happy Boston Cream Pie Day!

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Cranberry Apple Pie

This recipe manifested itself into an actual pie after a co-worker of mine specially requested it to be made. I made it pretty early in the morning, hence the lack of full step-by-step photos. Please try to find a place in your heart to forgive me.

Truth be told, I do not like apple pie. Shocking, I know. The texture of baked apples is not pleasing to my palate. Therefore, I didn’t eat this pie. However, I was told it turned out deliciously by apple pie eatin’ folk.  So take that how you may.

Here’s what you need:

Flaky Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) frozen butter, broken into small pieces
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons cold milk

1. Combine all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder).

2. Work in the frozen butter pieces and cream cheese into the flour mixture with either your hands or a pastry blender. I’ve taken quite a liking to my pastry blender to tell you the truth. It’s nifty for these kinda tasks.

3. Mix the milk with the oil and add the whole mess to the flour and butter mixture. Work it all in together.

4. Take your dough ball (or pieces really) and place in a 9″ pie dish. Spread to an even thickness. Now you’re ready to make the filling!

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Apple Cranberry Pie Filling

2 lbs “baking apples”- I had no idea what this meant. I used honey crisp apples and they worked splendidly.
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Core and peel the apples and slice into 1/2″ slices. That might seem a big thick but it’s quite necessary to prevent your pie filling from getting smooshy during the baking process.

2. Throw in the apples with the lemon juice. Make sure it coats all your apples.

3. Sprinkle in your sugars and the flour. Mix it all up until all the apples are coated.

4. Pour in all the apples into the crust. Evenly distribute the cranberries on top.

5. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. At that point remove the pie, cover up the crust so it doesn’t brown too much. Lower the temperature to 375 and set it in there for another 35-40 minutes. Remove and let it cool for about an hour and then enjoy!

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Chocolate Pie

Yes, I’ve had a chocolate itch for about a week. It goes well with my “Wicked” itch.

I watched Giada make this on one of her episodes, this cross between fudge and a brownie. With some ice cream, it is simply divine.

mmmmm

Here’s how I do it:

Chocolate Pie

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2-3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup hot water
4 eggs
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
2 tsp vanilla
Optional: 1 cup pecans or walnuts

So much chocolate!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your chocolate by combining the powdered cocoa with the confectioner’s sugar.

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2. Add the flour and regular granulated sugar and mix.

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3. Melt butter and add. Then add the hot water and roughly combine.

Eggs galore

4. Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat until mixed thoroughly.

Throw in the nuts

If you take the nutty option, fold them into the batter at the very end.

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5. Place in hot oven for 35 minutes.

Shiny top

Remove and enjoy with several scoops of ice cream!

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