Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Almond Pumpkin Pie






I just came back from a long weekend at my family's cottage up on Georgian Bay where we celebrated Thanksgiving - again - because my cousin missed it the first time 'round.

So naturally, I couldn't pass up the chance to make one of my favourite desserts ever: Pumpkin pie.



I'm not sure why I love the taste of pumpkin so much or why the squash makes some of the best desserts (see: muffins, tarts, bread, cheesecake) but its combination with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and sometimes mace makes for a delicious yet not-too-sweet dessert.

I think it's precisely the not sweet part that I really enjoy. The pumpkin is more earthy compared to many other desserts and though it's creamy, it's not super rich (unless, of course, you add tons of whipped cream to it).

My aunt made an incredible pumpkin pie the previous weekend and added almonds to her recipe, so I decided to do the same.



And, just for fun, I made an apple crumble pie too, but that recipe is coming up in the next post.

So here's to the wonderful pumpkin pie! Nom noms!

Almond Pumpkin Pie (adapted from Wanda's Pie in the Sky cookbook)

For 10-inch pie pan.

Ingredients for crust pastry:

- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/3 cup shortening, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and frozen for 15 minutes
- 1/4 cup cold water

Make sure all the ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a pasty cutter or food processor and a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, butter and shortening.

Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with the water, let rest for 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut with about 15 strokes of the pasty cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly at room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board, roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut a circle about 1 1/2 inches larger than the pie plate. Transfer the pastry to the plate by folding it in half or rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs about 1/2 inch over the plate.



Ingredients for filling:

- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 medium sized pack of half almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs lightly. Add the remaining pie ingredients and whisk thoroughly. Pout into the prepared crust. Lightly sprinkle filling with almonds.
Bake for 55-65 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is just set and no longer liquid in the centre. Cool thoroughly before serving.



Ingredients for topping:

- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar

Using an electric mixer, beat all the ingredients until soft peaks form. Serve with the chilled pie.

Store the pie in fridge for up to three days.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Butter Tarts







It's been a pretty good month so far what with Thanksgiving and all the pumpkin pie and squash and mashed potatoes and juicy turkey and did I mention pumpkin pie?

Besides all the gluttony I got to partake in, I also got accepted into the Humber School for Writers for their correspondence program! What that means is that by the end of the program, I will have finished the first draft of the novel I've been working on for the past while. Exciting!



It's also a good month because next week I'm going up to my cottage for a long weekend and having a third Thanksgiving dinner with my cousin who couldn't make it to the family jam, which means there will be loads more turkey and pie and I'm thinking of making a pumpkin cheesecake for the occasion (look out for that blog post in the future).



I didn't make pumpkin pie for the family dinner because my aunt Ruthie is the Pie Queen and she made two delicious pumpkin pecan pies while I contributed butter tarts to the mix.

I used to be really intimidated by pie crust; so much can go wrong! But this butter tart recipe makes it really easy to put the crust together and it doesn't have to sit in the freezer for hours. (Unless I'm making a recipe from Julia Child's cookbook, I want to be finished in an hour tops.)



The first time I made them, I didn't add any nuts to the mix (and don't even talk to me about raisins, they are the devil's food) but this time, my boyfriend suggested adding walnuts and damnit he was right because they made the tarts so much better.

Mmmm buttery tart goodness.



Butter Tarts (makes 12)

Pastry:

- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, ver cold and cut into small cubes
- 3 to 5 tbsp of ice water

Filling:

- 1/3 cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup light cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- pinch salt
- two handfuls of walnuts



To make the pastry:

Place the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix with a handmixer for a few seconds until combined. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse meal or breadcrumbs. As you're mixing, pour the water in a steady stream just until the dough holds together when pinched. You may not need all the water, but if necessary, add a bit more. Don't overprocess the dough.

Turn the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten it into a disk. Cover it well with the wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to four days. The dough can also be frozen at this point for future use.

When ready to use, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes to warm up before rolling out on a floured surface. Cut the dough into 12 4-inch rounds and gently place the rounds into a 12 cup muffin tin. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up the dough.



To make the filling:

In a medium-sized bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract, salt, vinegar and cream. Beat until the mixture looks smooth and silky.

Place a spoonful of walnuts in the bottom of each tart shell and then spoon the filling on top, filling them to just under the rim - if you fill the cups too full, the mixture will bubble out and over the tops during baking.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the pastry has nicely browned and the filling is set. Cool the muffin tin on a wire wrack for 10 to 15 minutes before gently removing the tarts. Serve warm.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pumpkin muffins





I love the fall. Not just because the leaves turn colour and I have an excuse to buy new clothes (although that's a big part of it) but because I love the foods that get consumed during these months leading up to winter.



Fall means it's almost Thanksgiving which means lots of pumpkin pie and squash and turkey and ham and stuffing and mashed potatoes and bottles of red wine.

But this post is all about the famous orange gourd, which can be made into any dessert imaginable from pies and cheesecakes, cookies and brownies, puddings and fudge. And I want to make and eat them all.



I wanted to start off the beginning of October with something that's simple to make but yields a lot of flavour so I turned to my mom for her pumpkin muffins recipe which she always used when I was a kid. The best part about this recipe is that it uses a lot of spices which packs a lot of punch but complements the pumpkin. Plus, no other dessert can rival this recipe's batter. Mmmm. Batter.



Pumpkin Muffins

Yields about 28 muffins.

Ingredients:


- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup oil
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder and soda
- Cloves (I threw a bunch in)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp mace
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp ginger
- 2 cups canned pumpkin
- Muffin pan



Directions:

Set oven to 350 degrees celsius.


Beat together sugar and oil until completely mixed.  Add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly.  Combine dry ingredients.  Add pumpkin to moist ingredients, followed by dry mixture.
Fill greased muffin tins two-thirds of the way full and bake  for 25 min.