Friday, December 30, 2011

Perfect Pecan Pie

As much baking as I've done over the past couple of weeks, I should have been blogging twice a day! I thought about doing a Christmas cookie series of posts, but I might wait till next year since it's almost January now.

For one of the Christmas dinners that we had, I made a pecan pie from this old cookbook that I found when I helped one of my SC friends clean out a trailer full of junk. It's Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Cookbook, published in 1961.

My favorite thing about the book is the introduction. Mrs. Vanderbilt talks about how cooking and housekeeping are the best feminine virtues. The only place for a man in the kitchen is in buying and carving meats. Men are best suited to changing fuses and chopping wood. The whole thing is hilarious.

Despite the rampant sexism and condescension, this was probably the best pecan pie I've ever had. Ever. You should probably make it for the next party you're invited to... or just to eat yourself. It's full of pecans... it's totally healthy....

Pecan Pie

Prepared 9" pie crust
3 eggs - lightly beaten
1/2 C. heavy cream
1/2 C. dark corn syrup
1/8 tsp. salt
1 C. white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 1/2 C. pecan pieces

-Prepare the crust in a 9" pie plate. Trim and flute the edges.
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
-Combine eggs, heavy cream, dark corn syrup, salt, sugar, vanilla, butter, and pecan pieces in a mixing bowl and mix until everything is incorporated. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
-Bake pie for 35-40 minutes, until crust is browned and the filling is puffed up. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Let me give you a few notes from my experience. This is the first pecan pie I've ever made. I didn't know that the center never gets firm while baking. As it cools, it gets less puffy and firmer. So don't wait for it to stop jiggling to take it out! As long as the filling is puffy and brown and the crust is done, the pie is done.

Another thing is the pecans. The original recipe says to use whole pecans and put all of the filling ingredients into a blender to break them up. Well, it's not 1961 anymore, and you can buy pecan pieces. If you do use whole pecans, just run them through a chopper before adding them to the bowl with the other ingredients.

Other than those little notes, it's an amazing recipe! There's another recipe in there for a "Georgia Pecan Pie" with molasses and coffee in it. I'm anxious to try it!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chocolate-Eggnog Swirl Pie

So. much. baking. I finally got my wish to bake more... gotta love the holidays! I've been making something or other pretty much every night for over a week now. Parties at my mom's work, cookies for gifts, cookies for us, goodies for my mom's students.... Now Christmas dinners are coming up and I will be dessert man. I'm pretty much in heaven, to be honest. I also have lots of recipes for my blog, so I think this is officially a cooking blog... with some life drama and theatre thrown in.

I finished up my Christmas cookies last night! We now have Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs, Lemon Creme Sandwich Cookies, White Chocolate-Cherry Shortbread, Brown Sugar Cookies, Peanut Butter Bites, and a few Chocolate-Covered Oreos. I also did some Cinnamon-Sugar Glazed Almonds, and Irish Cream Truffles. (Well... the truffles still need rolled and coated, but the hard part is done!)

Let's talk about this Chocolate-Eggnog Swirl Pie.

I made it for my mom to take to a work party. The same party that she took the Glazed Doughnut Bread Pudding to. I totally spoil those teachers.

There was one slice left when she came home, so I got to try it. It was pretty delicious. I think the crust was the best part, really. It's nutty and chocolatey and crunchy. Mmm. The filling was amazing, too, but that crust was life-changing. (Ok, probably not really, but it was darn good.)

Chocolate-Eggnog Swirl Pie


1 C. flour
3/4 C. finely chopped walnuts
1/4 C. packed brown sugar
1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, grated
1/3 C. butter, melted
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (like Knox)
1/4 C. cold water
1/2 C. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 C. dairy eggnog
1 1/2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
2 Tbsp. clear rum
1 C. whipping cream, whipped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For the crust, combine flour, nuts, brown sugar, and grated chocolate in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter. Press into a 9" pie plate. Bake for 12 minutes. (Do not overbake!) Cool completely.

For the filling, stir gelatin into the cold water and set aside. In a saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and cornstarch. (Make sure the cornstarch is incorporated into the sugar, or you will get lumps!) Stir in the eggnog. Cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly, then continue to cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Remove from heat.

Divide the filling into two equal portions. To one portion, add the melted chocolate and mix well. To the second portion, add the rum and mix well. Cover surfaces of both portions with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap is flat against the surface. (This prevents a skin forming on the top as it cools.) Allow filling to cool for two hours.

After two hours, fold the whipped cream into the filling portion with rum. Spoon into the crust. Spoon the chocolate portion on top and swirl the two portions together with a knife. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight before serving.

Now, some notes on the one that I made. First of all, you can tell I was kind of bad at the swirling thing. The picture with the original recipe was much prettier. I think it just takes practice. The other thing is, make sure you mix your cornstarch in with the sugar before adding the eggnog. I had a million little lumps in my filling that I couldn't get out!

It was a super-delicious pie, though, and perfect for the holidays!!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Moving Up?

This will be a short post, and no, I'm not posting a recipe. I have a potential life-development that I want to mull over.

I have a phone interview tomorrow afternoon with a theatre in Wisconsin. It's the American Players Theatre. They're pretty legit, but it would only be for 5 months since it's a partially-outdoor theatre in Wisconsin... can't really act in 20 feet of snow. It's a great opportunity to get some experience, boost my resume, make some contacts, and have an adventure!

But. If I get the job, I'd be leaving at the end of April and would get done mid-October. My only reservations about it are all the things I would miss. My friends are having a baby that would come right in the middle of my being away. I would also miss out on my annual beach trip to the Outer Banks. (I'm more sad about missing OBX than missing the baby, honestly. Sorry, Josh. :-P) I wouldn't get to hang out with my mom, go on family trips, have pool parties with my friends....

I mean, if they offer me the job and I like the answers to all of my questions, I will more than likely take it. I'm pretty much just using this post as a diary entry. I want to see all of my feelings and apprehensions written down so I can deal with them. I think I've just gotten spoiled living at home, being a mama's boy, and only working a few hours a week. It's probably time to grow up, man up, and get some work done. In Wisconsin.

5 months of making new friends, immersing myself in technical theatre, and exploring a new state can't be all bad! Right?!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gorgeous Glazed Doughnut Bread Pudding

I just made what may possibly be one of the unhealthiest things I've ever baked. Paula Deen's Glazed Doughnut Bread Pudding. It's sooo pretty, though.

I made it for Mom to take to a work party tomorrow, but I managed to sneak an inconspicuous bite... and proceeded to die a little. It may have been the minor heart attack, but it was probably from the DELICIOUS.

Without further ado, here's the recipe so you can make a heart-attack-in-a-pan of your own!

Glazed Doughnut Bread Pudding

2 doz. Glazed Yeast Doughnuts
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 15oz. can Fruit Cocktail - undrained
2 Eggs - beaten
1 1/2 C. Raisins
Dash of Salt
2 tsp. Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Tear doughnuts into bite-sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and fold together, blending well. Let sit 5-10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a greased 9x13" pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until the center is firm. Remove from oven.

As a kind of an afterthought, I made a vanilla sauce for on top.

Vanilla Sauce

1/2 stick of Butter or Margarine
1 1/3 C. Powdered Sugar
3-4 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract

Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Heat to boiling. Pour over bread pudding immediately. (You could use 4 Tbsp. of rum instead of vanilla to make it a rum sauce!)

I think it adds a little something.

(Yes, I know we still have a fall tablecloth and yes, that is candy corn in the background. I'm still in denial that it's less than 2 weeks till Christmas.)

Go forth, make fattening, artery-clogging goodness! Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Time Flies

I can. not. believe it's December already. There are only 16 days left until Christmas. 16 days. How did that happen?! It totally doesn't feel like the holidays. I think it's mostly the weather. Other than a few hours of slush falling from the sky the other night, it's been way too gorgeous out to be Christmastime. It's finally gotten colder, but even now it's gorgeous and sunny; not a flake of snow on the ground. Not that I'm complaining about no snow... I pretty much hate snow... but it still feels like fall. Just sayin'.

Not to psych 101 myself, but I think I'm just in denial that it's almost mid-December. That means I've been largely unemployed and living at home for over 4 months now. Oof. I kind of took a break from sending out applications and resumes for awhile, mostly out of frustration... a little out of laziness. I'm back at it now, and have high hopes that I might be able to start somewhere full-time and find my own place not too far into the new year. In the meantime, I will try to get more into the Christmas spirit.

I'm totally going to post a recipe since that's pretty much what I do with my blog nowadays, but before I do, I have to point out some changes to the page layout. Over on the side, I made a list of past recipes that I've posted. I decided to do that instead of the list of labels. The labels were just clunky and messy. Plus, this way it's kind of like my own little cookbook. Whenever you want to make something that I've made and posted about, you can just scroll down to the little recipe index and find it! I've also added the option to follow my blog by e-mail. Over there under my "about me" section... see it? Good. You can sign up for an e-mail notification whenever I post something new!

Now onto what I really wanted to talk about. Harry Potter. Well, kind of. I made "Butterbeer Cupcakes". I got the recipe from The Pastry Affair. She actually did a whole series of Harry Potter desserts. The cupcakes were delicious and extremely butterscotch-y. They take awhile to make since there are several components, but they're pretty easy and totally gratifying.

I won't re-post the recipe here since it would take forever to re-type, and I don't want to copy and paste because plagiarism is wrong. :-P

You can get the recipe on her site, here. Check out her other Harry Potter desserts and treats, too!