Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Making mud pie

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas! I’m enjoying a stay-cation this week, catching up on sleep and attempting to do my part in eliminating the sugary treats that have taken up residence in our house over the holiday.

This chocolate pie recipe has been sitting in my recipe book for a couple years now, and I’ve been looking for a reason to make it. With texture that’s a cross between a chocolate-bottomed pie and a moist chocolate cake, Mississippi Mud Pie starts with a chocolate pastry dough. The filling includes whipped egg whites and chocolate that bakes to a thin crispy top layer with a moist cake-like center. It may not be the most beautiful looking pie on the planet, but it is appropriately named for its textural similarity to the rich, gooey mud found along one of America’s greatest rivers. And, it tastes way better than any mud pie I’ve ever made!




Mississippi Mud Pie

1 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 Teaspoon salt
2 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 Tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 Cup ice water

3 Tablespoons butter
1/3 Cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 Teaspoon vanilla
4 large egg whites
1 Cup sugar
3/4 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 Cup Dutch process cocoa
1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt

To prepare the crust, combine 1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor; pulse 2 times or until blended. Add shortening and chilled butter; pulse 6 more time or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With the processor on, slowly pour ice water through the food chute, processing just until blended (don’t allow the dough to form a ball); remove from bowl. Gently press mixture into a 4-inch circle; warp in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Unwrap and place chilled dough on a floured surface. Roll into a 10-inch circle and press into a 9-inch pie plate. Fold edges over and flute.

To prepare the filling, place 3 tablespoons butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds or until butter and chocolate melt. Stir to combine. Place vanilla and egg whites in the bowl of a mixer and beat at medium speed until foamy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar; beat until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gently fold in melted chocolate and butter mixture.

Combine 3/4 cup flour, 1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and a dash of salt in a small bowl. Fold flour mixture into egg white mixture. Pour filling into the prepared crust. Bake at 350°F. for 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pecan Tassies

What’s a tassie? It’s a small tart. These tiny tarts are created with a golden, flaky cream cheese pastry that cradles sweet, gooey pecan filling. They are mini pecan pies you can eat in one to three fabulous bites!

I like these tasty treats because they are the perfect desserts for eating with your fingers, and you can make them ahead and pop them in the freezer before the holidays... what’s not to like?


Pecan Tassies

Cream together and chill for 2 hours or overnight: 
8 oz. regular cream cheese
1 Cup unsalted butter
2 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Form chilled dough into walnut sized balls and press into lightly buttered mini muffin tins.

2 eggs
1 1/2 Cups brown sugar
1/8 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 Cup chopped pecans
Beat eggs well. Add remaining ingredients. Fill pastry lined pans and bake at 350°F. for about 12-15 minutes. Remove tassies and let them cool on a wire rack. If you don’t plan to serve them within the next day or two, pop them into freezer-safe containers and freeze while they’re fresh. 

Makes about 4 dozen tassies



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Cookies

Gather your butter! It’s time to make cookies. First up... butter cookies. I like to make the decorated cut-out, butter cookies first. They can be sealed in airtight containers and wait patiently in the freezer for weeks before the holidays, then thawed and decorated days before they’re eaten.


I love this recipe, cause it’s versatile. You can add a little flavoring, put the dough through a cookie press, or give it a different shape, and voila! A new cookie is born from the same dough!



Get creative when decorating. I like to cover the cookies with a layer of frosting, let it set for several hours, pipe on a design and sprinkle with sanding sugar. That way the sugar sparkles stick to the piped on frosting and your design really stands out.


Butter Cookie Dough
This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies
Two dozen snowflakes, two dozen spritz

2 Cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 Cups sugar
2 Large eggs
2 Tablespoons vanilla
2 Teaspoons salt 
5 Cups all-purpose flour

Cream the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and salt. Mix on medium speed until they’re combined. With the mixer on low speed, add flour in two batches, and mix until it’s mixed well. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Place each section on a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or up to a week.

When you are ready to bake:
Snowflakes - Preheat oven to 350°. Roll out one or two disks of dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Using your choice of snowflake cookie cutter (I like the 3-inch one), cut out shapes and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Gather scraps together, and continue to roll out more cookies. Chill for about 10-15 minutes. Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes, until they are golden brown around the edges. Let cool on baking sheets for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. You can then store them in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for several months.

Spritz - Preheat oven to 350°. To the basic sugar dough add a Tablespoon of orange zest. Transfer dough to a cookie press and pipe shapes onto greased baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with sanding sugar(s). Chill for about 10-15 minutes. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until edges are light brown.

These recipes make enough to frost two dozen cookies, or half of the above recipe. (Remember, you’re going to sprinkle the Spritz cookies with Sanding sugar)


For spreading:
In a bowl, stir until smooth:
3 Cups powdered sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1/4 Cup water
To tint, stir in food coloring, a teeny tiny bit at a time. A little goes a long way.

For piping:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 Tablespoons water
Tint with a little food coloring. The icing needs to be stiff enough to hold a line when piped through a pastry bag fitted with an 1/8-inch tip. If it’s too thick, add a little water; if it’s too thin, add a little powdered sugar.