#4: Apple Pie

WHY THIS PIE?

Apple pie, while iconic, can be one of the most disappointing of pies out there. Mushy (if not slimy) apples and thick, bland crust can really ruin the whole experience.  Amidst the sub-par pies of the world, there is Alton Brown’s “Super Apple Pie”.    This is one masterpiece of a pie.

This week’s recipe:  Super Apple Pie (Courtesy of Alton Brown, FoodNetwork.com)

Apple Pie Filling

how did it go?

Making this pie is a good half-day commitment.   It’s like making bread; it’s worth the wait.  For those of you cinnamon/nutmeg apple pie makers out there: Don’t modify this recipe.  Take the time to find the Grains of Paradise, and you will be pleasantly surprised.  When peeling the apples, if they seem a little on the extra juicy side, let them stay in the colander for a little longer.

the moment of truth

After waiting the grueling 4 hours (yes, you must wait!)… it is oh, so delicious.  The apples turn out almost “al dente”, and have no hint of sliminess whatsoever.  The Grains of Paradise add a flavor I’ve never before tasted, but so perfectly suited to this pie.  The Applejack in the crust adds a mouth watering fragrance to the whole experience. Oh, how I love thee,  AB’s Super Apple Pie.

Apple Pie, Fresh From The Oven

#3: Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie

why this pie?

This pumpkin pie recipe is one of my favorite pie recipes of all time.  I found it in the Seattle Times a few years ago.   This stellar recipe is a gift from Macrina Bakery, one of those places that makes me absolutely love Seattle.

Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie (Courtesy of “Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook” by Leslie Mackie with Andrew Cleary)

HOW DID IT GO?

I have an electric oven, and I’ve noticed that this recipe can *look* done on the outside while still being soft on the inside.   I suggest leaning toward the outer edge of the suggested baking time.

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie

This pie has completely spoiled me.  I will never enjoy another pie made of canned pumpkin and evaporated milk again.  The combination of canned and fresh pumpkin creates a fresh flavor and creamy texture.  And the brandy in the topping…  Mmm Mmm Mmm!

#2: Chocolate Habanero Cheesecake

why this pie?

Ok, so it’s not a “pie”.  But it is darn tasty.  The inspiration for this creation comes from a restaurant in Seattle called Sonrisa.  Sonrisa serves the most amazing Chocolate Habanero Ice Cream.  It’s simply incredible.  The creaminess of the chocolate ice cream and the spice of the habanero complement each other perfectly.  I highly recommend going there for a cockatil and some frozen goodness.  They have a good happy hour, too!

The recipe for this week’s pie comes from a combination of a couple different recipes.   For the chocolate cheescake base, I used Chocolate Cheesecake (Courtesy of Nigella Lawson, FoodNetwork.com).  A couple of modifications:

  • The recipe calls for custard powder.  Substituting with corn starch works just fine.
  • No need for a springform pan.  (unless you’ve got one collecting dust in the back of your cabinet)
  • Don’t bother with the sauce.  A dollop of freshly made whipped cream provides a nice finishing touch.

To incorporate the habanero, I borrowed a piece of the recipe Habanero Lime Cheesecake (Courtesy of Helen Cook, FoodNetwork.com).  One habanero pepper is plenty.

Turn on kitchen or stove exhaust fan. Skewer and roast the habanero over an open flame (gas burner is fine) and set them to steam under a towel. When they are cool enough to handle, put on plastic gloves if desired. Peel and deseed habaneros, then pound in a mortar with 2 tablespoons of sugar until a coarse paste results.

(If you don’t have a gas stove, use your grill.  If you have a gas grill, take the grate off the grill and roast directly over the open flame.)  Incorporate this habanero paste into the rest of the filling just before pouring it into the crust.

the moment of truth

My husband was worried that 1 habanero wouldn’t be enough.   After some of my co-workers abandoned their slices because it was too spicy, I was glad that we didn’t add any more than 1 pepper!   Overall, I received great reviews of this creation.  Even with the spice-o-phobes.  Next time, I might even consider adding a little orange zest as an homage to Sonrisa.

#1: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

WHY THIS PIE?

Admittedly, I was very closed minded about the idea of a Strawberry Rhubarb pie.  I’d never had one before, and well…rhubarb is not appealing, and who the heck puts strawberries in pie? Despite my silly assumptions, I am so glad that I got over myself and made this pie!  It’s delicious! The perfect balance of sweet and sour.

Here’s the recipe I used: Grandma’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (Courtesy of Valarie Enters, FoodNetwork.com)

HOW DID IT GO?

The recipe calls for fresh fruit, but I bought the rhubarb and strawberries frozen and pre-cut from a local fruit stand.   Also, be sure to let the pie cool a few hours before serving.  If you cut into the pie while still hot, it will be a runny mess inside and you’ll never get a decent slice out of the thing.

moment of truth

I was pleasantly surprised by this pie.  And I would totally make it again.