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Star-of-the-Show Apple Pie

November 15, 2018 Leave your thoughts Print this page

The holiday season is just around the corner, and you know what that means: time to roll out the fancy desserts!

Last Sunday, my best friend Ali put in a request for apple pie for our weekly get-together. “Apple pie,” I thought. “That’s so boring.” I needed to find a way to keep the dessert close to its classic roots, all while flexing my creativity-loving cooking muscles.

The solution: a fun, funky topping composed of pie crust stars!

You of course don’t have to use stars. You can use hearts, flowers, leaves, whatever floats your boat. I have a Pusheen-shaped cookie cutter myself — maybe I’ll make a cat-shaped pie topper next time. 😉

A lot of people get intimidated by pie crust and opt for store-bought. That’s fine, I guess, but it’s not how I roll. Pinky promise that pie crust is very easy to make, and only requires a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand.

As for the apples, I personally love baking with Granny Smiths, since they’re never too sweet and hold up well in the oven. That being said, I also threw in a Honeycrisp and a Fuji into this pie — simply because all of my Granny Smiths were tiny and I got really, really sick of peeling them. Use whatever apple you’d like, but I’d caution you against using Red Delicious. Those guys are the worst.

This pie is obviously a natural choice for Thanksgiving. Please try and eat it the day you make it, as it didn’t hold up as well as I hoped in the fridge. If you have leftovers, try eating them for breakfast with some yogurt. I mean, pie is basically granola, which is basically a health food…right? (I’m kidding, of course.)

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Star-of-the-Show Apple Pie

Looking for a simple, yet show-stopping Thanksgiving dessert? Try this apple pie topped with pie crust stars. A creative twist on a classic favorite.

Adapted from NY Times Cooking

Ingredients

Prep Time 3 hr
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 4 hr
Yield 1 pie (about 8-12 servings)

FOR THE CRUST:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Generous pinch of sea salt

2 1/2 sticks of cold unsalted butter, cubed

1/4 cup ice water (you may need a little more)

FOR THE FILLING:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunky wedges (I used Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or a generous pinch of allspice, cloves and nutmeg)

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 egg, beaten

Directions

FOR THE CRUST:

In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until it’s the size of small peas. Drizzle in the water, a tablespoon at a time, until a firm (but not sticky) dough forms.

Dump the dough and any floury remnants onto a well-floured work space. Gently form into a smooth ball of dough, being careful not to overwork. Cut the dough ball in half and chill for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, roll out one piece of dough on a well-floured work space. You want the dough to be an inch to an inch and a half bigger than your pie tin. For example, I used a 9 inch tin, so I rolled my dough to a little more than 10 inches in diameter. Make sure you continuously flip and flour the dough so it doesn’t stick to your rolling pin or work surface.

Carefully pick up your dough and press it into your pie tin. Using a fork, prick several holes in the crust to get out all the air bubbles. Trim the overhang, crimp or style as you desire, and put the pie crust in the freezer to chill for at least half an hour.

FOR THE FILLING:

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the apples and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the spices, sugar and salt and cook until the apples just begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour and cornstarch over the apples and quickly stir to incorporate. Cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the apple cider vinegar, and allow to cool to room temperature. (You can put it in the fridge to speed the process up.)

TO ASSEMBLE:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once the apples have cooled, gently spoon them into your pie crust, making sure the top is even. Set aside.

Roll out your other piece of dough on a well-floured workspace until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Using a floured star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out pieces of dough and gently place them atop the pie. Once you’ve worked your way through the dough, squish it back together and roll out another piece. (Don’t do this too many times, otherwise the pie crust will be tough!)

Place the pie on a baking sheet and brush the top with the egg. Place in the oven on a medium rack and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 and cook until bubbling and golden-brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature (at least an hour if you can stand it), then cut and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Best eaten day of!


Here’s to some happy holiday baking. Let me know if you give this pie a try!

Also, just a note about my baking. Over the course of the past few years, I’ve steered away from Paleo/gluten-free desserts. This is because of a lot of reasons: completely restricting certain foods wasn’t good for my mental health, I don’t have gastrointestinal distress when eating wheat or dairy, and environmental sustainability are among them. And normal desserts just taste better. There, I said it.

My philosophy when it comes to sweets is to make them yourself and share with others. Have a reasonable portion, enjoy it, and pass on the rest or save it for later. That’s at least what’s worked for me as a foodie and dessert lover. That being said, if you have a food sensitivity or subscribe to a certain diet, I have oodles of gluten-free/dairy-free/vegan dessert recipes in my archives. And, if you leave me a comment, I’d be happy to suggest a recipe adaptation to accommodate your dietary needs!


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Star-of-the-Show Apple Pie

November 15, 2018 Print this page

Looking for a simple, yet show-stopping Thanksgiving dessert? Try this apple pie topped with pie crust stars. A creative twist on a classic favorite.

Adapted from NY Times Cooking

Ingredients

Prep Time 3 hr
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 4 hr
Yield 1 pie (about 8-12 servings)

FOR THE CRUST:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Generous pinch of sea salt

2 1/2 sticks of cold unsalted butter, cubed

1/4 cup ice water (you may need a little more)

FOR THE FILLING:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunky wedges (I used Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or a generous pinch of allspice, cloves and nutmeg)

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 egg, beaten

Directions

FOR THE CRUST:

In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until it’s the size of small peas. Drizzle in the water, a tablespoon at a time, until a firm (but not sticky) dough forms.

Dump the dough and any floury remnants onto a well-floured work space. Gently form into a smooth ball of dough, being careful not to overwork. Cut the dough ball in half and chill for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, roll out one piece of dough on a well-floured work space. You want the dough to be an inch to an inch and a half bigger than your pie tin. For example, I used a 9 inch tin, so I rolled my dough to a little more than 10 inches in diameter. Make sure you continuously flip and flour the dough so it doesn’t stick to your rolling pin or work surface.

Carefully pick up your dough and press it into your pie tin. Using a fork, prick several holes in the crust to get out all the air bubbles. Trim the overhang, crimp or style as you desire, and put the pie crust in the freezer to chill for at least half an hour.

FOR THE FILLING:

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the apples and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the spices, sugar and salt and cook until the apples just begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour and cornstarch over the apples and quickly stir to incorporate. Cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the apple cider vinegar, and allow to cool to room temperature. (You can put it in the fridge to speed the process up.)

TO ASSEMBLE:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once the apples have cooled, gently spoon them into your pie crust, making sure the top is even. Set aside.

Roll out your other piece of dough on a well-floured workspace until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Using a floured star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out pieces of dough and gently place them atop the pie. Once you’ve worked your way through the dough, squish it back together and roll out another piece. (Don’t do this too many times, otherwise the pie crust will be tough!)

Place the pie on a baking sheet and brush the top with the egg. Place in the oven on a medium rack and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 and cook until bubbling and golden-brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature (at least an hour if you can stand it), then cut and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Best eaten day of!


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Mississippi Mud Pies

April 28, 2014 Print this page

When I was younger, my parents and I would often go out to dinner at a restaurant called the Ash Creek Saloon. It was kinda a cheesy place with wood everything and lots of cowboy hats, but as I recall, the food was pretty good.  The restaurant is gone now, but the one thing I still have a concrete memory of was the Mississippi Mud Pie. I only have flashes of Oreo cookie crumbs and sticky chocolate syrup, but I remember that it was really, really good. This is a healthier and more sophisticated version.

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time
Total Time 4 hr
Yield 3 good-sized mud pies

FOR THE CRUST:

2 cups of walnuts

1/2 cup of cocoa powder

A pinch of salt

2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or coconut nectar)

FOR THE COFFEE CREAM:

1 cup of cashews, soaked overnight

1/2 cup of strongly-brewed coffee (preferably decaf)

2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or coconut nectar)

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

A pinch of salt

FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER:

The coconut cream from 2 cans of coconut milk (put them in the fridge overnight, tip upside down, and pour out the “water” on the bottom)

1/2 cup of cocoa powder

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or coconut nectar)

A pinch of salt

FOR THE CHOCOLATE SHELL:

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

3 tablespoons of cocoa powder

Directions

FOR THE CRUST:

Pour the walnuts, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Process until the walnuts are finely ground but nowhere near turning buttery, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or coconut nectar, if you prefer) and process for another 30 seconds until everything sticks together in a nice, firm dough.

If you find your crust is too liquid-y, add in more walnuts. If you find it is too dry, add more maple syrup.

Line 3 mini spring-form pans (or ramekins if you don’t have them) with a circle of parchment paper. Using your fingers, squish 1/6 of the crust into each of the pans, using up only half of your total crust. Spread it out so there are no holes and everything is in one uniform layer.

Pop those guys in the freezer while you make the coffee cream layer.

FOR THE COFFEE CREAM:

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the cashews with the coffee, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and a pinch of salt. Blend until homogeneous and creamy, about 1 minute.

Take the spring form pans out of the freezer and evenly divide the cashew mixture among the three of them. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth them out, then pop them back into the freezer for at least 3 hours to firm up. This is crucial!

After your spring form pans have been in the freezer for 3 hours with the cashew base, take them out and evenly divide the rest of the crust mixture among the pans.

Applying very gentle pressure, spread the crust out so it completely covers the layer of cashew cream. If you press too hard, you’ll have a mess–so be very, very careful.

Pop those bad boys back in the freezer while you make the light, fluffy chocolate layer.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER:

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the coconut cream with 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and a pinch of salt. Blend just to combine (only about 15-20 seconds), then taste and adjust if necessary.

Take the spring form pans out of the freezer (again) and divide the fluffy chocolate layer evenly among the three pans. Pop in the freezer for at least another hour.

Take the pans out of the freezer after the hour has elapsed. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of coconut oil with 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, then pour 1/3 of it over the top of each pie, using a fork or spoon to spread it out.

Put back in the freezer overnight. The next day, de-mold the Mississippi Mud Pies and store in the fridge for a softer dessert or freezer for a firmer sweet treat.

Enjoy!


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Mississippi Mud Pies (gluten-free + vegan)

April 28, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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For the first photo, I could have picked one of my pictures of the dessert in its whole, unbroken form. I thought that the ones with a bite taken out were prettier, though. They look happier, don’t you think?

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In case you didn’t see the title, I should probably tell you what these are.

They’re MISSISSIPPI MUD PIES.

Oh yeah, baby.

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You see all of those shades of brown in there? That’s because there are FIVE layers of deliciousness: a cookie crust, a coffee cream, another layer of cookie crust, a light, fluffy chocolate mousse, and a chocolate shell on the top.

Did I mention that it’s completely gluten-free, grain-free, and vegan, too?

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I’m salivating just thinking about it.

I call this dish a “Mississippi Mud Pie,” but it actually isn’t very much like the original, which is VERY dense, VERY sweet, and VERY chocolaty. I wanted to take my version to the next level, so I lightened up the creamier layers with cashews and coconut milk, significantly decreased the sugar content, and balanced out the chocolate with the wonderful flavor of coffee.

I think it’s way more sophisticated, too.

When I was younger, my parents and I would often go out to dinner at a restaurant called the Ash Creek Saloon. It was kinda a cheesy place with wood everything and lots of cowboy hats, but as I recall, the food was pretty good. There was barbecued chicken, pulled pork, and ribs galore, with cornbread, coleslaw, and very salty fries to go along with them.

The restaurant is gone now, but the one thing I still have a concrete memory of was the Mississippi Mud Pie. I don’t really remember what they put in there or how it was presented–I only have flashes of Oreo cookie crumbs and sticky chocolate syrup–but I remember that it was really, really good.

Years later, I was eating at a much finer dining establishment (namely Brown’s Beach House, which I mentioned in my Hawaii post) and had an incredible Mississippi Mud Pie ice cream cake that I think was about the size of my head. But I still ate the entire thing and licked the plate because, you know, I didn’t want to be rude or anything.

Not. It was super-duper stellarly amazing.

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Anyway, this dessert is a tribute to two Mississippi Mud Pies that have shaped my life, and I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I (and my teachers and friends) did.

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Let’s get started.

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Pour 2 cups of walnuts, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder (the good stuff, please), and a pinch of salt into the bowl of a food processor. Process until the walnuts are finely ground but nowhere near turning buttery, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or coconut nectar, if you prefer) and process for another 30 seconds until everything sticks together in a nice, firm dough. It’ll look like this:

010

If you find your crust is too liquid-y, add in more walnuts. If you find it is too dry, add more maple syrup.

Line 3 mini spring-form pans (or ramekins if you don’t have them) with a circle of parchment paper. Using your fingers, squish 1/6 of the crust into each of the pans, using up only half of your total crust. Spread it out so there are no holes and everything is in one uniform layer.

015

Pop those guys in the freezer while you make the coffee cream layer.

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine 1 cup of cashews (SOAKED OVERNIGHT!!!) with 1/2 cup of strongly-brewed coffee (preferably decaf, because me + caffeine = everybody leaves), 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and a pinch of salt. Blend until homogeneous and creamy, about 1 minute.

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Take the spring form pans out of the freezer and evenly divide the cashew mixture among the three of them. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth them out…

025

…then pop them back into the freezer for at least 3 hours to firm up. This is crucial! You’ll see why in a second.

Remember the second half of the crust you didn’t use earlier? Yeah, now’s the time. After your spring form pans have been in the freezer for 3 hours with the cashew base, take them out and evenly divide the rest of the crust mixture among the pans.

Applying very gentle pressure, spread the crust out so it completely covers the layer of cashew cream. If you press too hard, you’ll have a mess–so be very, very careful.

Pop those bad boys back in the freezer while you make the light, fluffy chocolate layer.

035

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the coconut cream from 2 cans of coconut milk (put them in the fridge overnight, tip upside down, and pour out the “water” on the bottom) with 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and a pinch of salt. Blend just to combine (only about 15-20 seconds), then taste and adjust if necessary.

Take the spring form pans out of the freezer (again) and divide the fluffy chocolate layer evenly among the three pans. Pop in the freezer for at least another hour.

Take the pans out of the freezer after the hour has elapsed. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of coconut oil with 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, then pour 1/3 of it over the top of each pie, using a fork or spoon to spread it out.

Put back in the freezer overnight. The next day, de-mold the Mississippi Mud Pies and store in the fridge for a softer dessert or freezer for a firmer sweet treat.

Enjoy!

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Are you a chocolate purist, or do you like it with other things? (OR BOTH?!) Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

March 13, 2014 Print this page

A pie celebrating the marriage of two of my favorite ingredients: chocolate and peanut butter. It’s like a party in your mouth, and indulgence was certainly invited.

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time
Total Time 6 hr 15 min
Yield 1 9-inch pie (about 10-12 servings)

FOR THE CRUST:

1 1/2 cups of gluten-free rolled oats (substitute almonds/walnuts/buckwheat for grain-free)

1 1/2 cups of pitted dates

1/4 cup of smooth peanut butter (substitute sunflower seed butter for paleo)

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

A pinch of salt

FOR THE FILLING:

2 cups of whole, raw cashews

1/4 cup of smooth peanut butter (substitute sunflower seed butter for paleo)

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/2 of a large avocado

2 cups of soft pitted dates

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

1/3 cup of water, plus more if needed

1/2 cup of good-quality cacao powder

FOR THE DRIZZLE:

1 tablespoon of coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons of smooth peanut butter (substitute sunflower seed butter for paleo)

Cacao nibs or dark chocolate curls, to garnish

Directions

Soak the cashews with enough warm water to cover them completely for at least 3 hours and up to 6. If you soak the cashews for too long, they’ll be slimy and gross; if you don’t soak them for long enough, your blender or food processor will make so much noise your cats will run for cover. Moral of the story: soak wisely.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the oats, dates, smooth peanut butter, cinnamon, and salt until the texture of coarse sand. The ingredients should hold together very easily when touched, and no crumbs should flake off; when in doubt, add another date or two or another tablespoon of peanut butter.

Press into the bottom of a spring form pan and refrigerate for an hour.

Drain the cashews and discard the soaking water. Give them a gentle rinse over, and throw into the blender or food processor with the peanut butter, coconut oil, avocado, dates, maple syrup, and water. Process or blend until smooth.

Pour in the cacao powder and process or blend until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the blender or food processor bowl if necessary.

Now, it’s time to examine the texture. If it’s like a thick pudding, you’re good to go. If it’s more like raw cookie dough, keep adding water–a little bit at a time–to get it smoother and creamier. If it’s too liquid-y, add more peanut butter or dates.

Once your desired texture has been reached, take the crust out of the fridge and pour the filling on top, taking care to scrape the bowl’s sides. Put back in the fridge overnight, or freeze for at least four hours.

When ready to serve, combine the coconut oil with the peanut butter, and stir to combine. Using the stirring spoon, drizzle the peanut butter-and-oil mixture all over the top of the pie. Because the pie will be cold, the drizzle will solidify almost immediately, creating a cool pattern.

To enhance the prettiness factor, sprinkle the top with cacao nibs or dark chocolate curls, if you’re feeling fancy. Serve cold.


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