Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thanksgiving 2012 Desserts - Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie, Peanut Butter Cup Pie and Lemon Curd Tart with Olive Oil

This post is almost ridiculously overdue.  But I forgot my camera at home when I went down to Maryland for Thanksgiving so I had my father take pictures of our dinner.  He helpfully uploaded all of the pictures to my trusty external hard drive, which I then promptly forgot to bring back to NYC with me.  So the pictures languished in Maryland until Dad came up to visit for Christmas and brought my hard drive with him.  Yay!  So I am finally ready to post about the dishes we made for Thanksgiving this year.  Better late than never, right?  And I guess that having a picture of at least one of the items, is better than not having any pictures at all.  Oops.

This salted chocolate pecan pie was my first attempt at making my own pie crust and I think that I really should have added a little more water to make it hold together.  My pie crust needs a little work.  I need to practice making the crust itself and then folding the edges so they are pretty.  For the record, the pie crust looked a little better before we packed it in the car for the drive down to Maryland and Alex squished it with his laptop bag.  Twice.  The filling was really tasty (and rich, which pecan pie should be), although I didn't really get the salt as much as I wish I had.  Also, the pie never really set up.  We baked it for the recommended time and then added a tiny bit more time, but when we cut into it that evening there was some serious oozing.  As for the peanut butter cup pie, I don't think I have ever served a richer dessert.  If you think pecan pie is rich, you have never experienced this peanut butter cup pie.  It was good but it was really sweet and really really rich.  The crust also didn't hold together as well as I would have liked - perhaps I need more butter if I ever make it again?  The lemon curd tart was perhaps my favorite of the desserts.  The lemon curd filling was lovely and I loved the flavor of the olive oil in the dessert.  I thought it was a really nice touch.  But if you are looking at the recipe and thinking about using a 10-inch tart pan instead of a 9-inch tart pan, don't do it.  We unwittingly made that mistake and then had to double the filling because the amount the recipe produced just wasn't going to cut it.  And then our crust was too thin.  Of the three recipes I would be most likely to make the lemon curd tart again (and make it exactly as written).  If I were to make the salted chocolate pecan pie again it would take some additional cooking time and perhaps a different crust...  If I am being entirely honest, I probably wouldn't make the peanut butter cup pie again.  I just think there are better peanut butter pie recipes out there.

Recipes after the jump!

Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie
Available at Serious Eats

One half recipe Easy Pie Dough, shaped and chilled in a pie plate
4 eggs, lightly beaten
14 ounces (about 1 2/3 cups) light corn syrup
3 1/2 ounces (about 1/3 cup) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 ounces pecan pieces (or whole pecans, roughly chopped, about 2 cups)
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped into 1/4 inch pieces, (about 1 cup) divided
Sprinkle of Maldon sea salt crystals or other coarse salt

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. When oven is ready, line chilled pie shell with foil or parchment paper and fill with weights (I reuse dried beans for this), and bake for 15 minutes. Remove weights and liner, rotate pie, and bake until the bottom crust is a golden brown (or slightly lighter, if you prefer that style), about 10 minutes. Remove pie shell from oven and allow to cool completely. Meanwhile, adjust the over rack to the lowest position and reduce heat to 350°F.

In a medium sized bowl, gently whisk the eggs enough to beat them up without making them frothy. Add the corn syrup and whisk immediately to combine. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla to whisk to combine. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the pecans and half the chocolate. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie shell and sprinkle the remaining chocolate over the top. Bake until the filling puffs from the edges to the center, about 45 minutes (don't worry, it will deflate when cooling). Cool completely on a wire rack before serving. This pie can be made up to two days in advance and held in the fridge, but is really best when baked the day you'll serve it. Sprinkle with sea salt before serving.

Easy Pie Dough
Available at Serious Eats

12.5 ounces all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pats
6 tablespoons cold water

Combine 2/3rds of flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to incorporate. Spread butter chunks evenly over surface. Pulse until no dry flour remains and dough just begins to collect in clumps, about 25 short pulses. Use a rubber spatula to spread the dough evenly around the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle with remaining flour and pulse until dough is just barely broken up, about 5 short pulses. Transfer dough to a large bowl.

Sprinkle with water then using a rubber spatula, fold and press dough until it comes together into a ball. Divide ball in half. Form each half into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and baking.

Note: This makes enough for two single-crust pies or one double crust pie. For a slightly more tender crust, replace up to 6 tablespoons of butter with vegetable shortening. Pie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator before rolling and baking.

Peanut Butter Cup Pie
Available at Serious Eats

9 ounces chocolate wafer cookies
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
10 ounces heavy cream, divided
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 ounces confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces creamy peanut butter (do not use "natural" peanut butter that requires mixing before use)
5 ounces dark chocolate (58 - 66% works best), chopped into fine pieces

Place the chocolate wafers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the cookies are pulverized into uniform crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse for 15 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and pulse for an additional 5 seconds, until the crumbs are evenly coated with butter. Pour the mixture into the pie plate and press the crumbs to form an even crust along the bottom and sides of the plate. Chill for at least 20 minutes.

Whip half of heavy cream to soft peaks and reserve in the refrigerator. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, and salt and whisk until smooth (you will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a number of times to get out the lumps). Add the peanut butter and whisk until the mixture is completely combined and smooth (it will be very thick). Add 5 ounces of the whipped cream and whisk to completely combine (it will still be thick, just slightly less so). Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and smooth the top flat with an offset spatula. Chill for 30 minutes.

Place the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring the remaining 5 ounces of cream to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 2 minutes, then stir the mixture until the chocolate is smooth and shiny. Pour the chocolate over the top of the peanut butter filling and smooth with an offset spatula. Chill until the ganache has set, at least 10 minutes. The pie will keep in the fridge for one day.

Lemon Curd Tart with Olive Oil 
Adapted from Gourmet
May 2008

For tart shell:
2 tablespoons almonds with skins, toasted and cooled
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
3 1/2 tablespoons fruity olive oil (preferably French)
For lemon curd:

3 large lemons
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 whole large eggs plus 2 large yolks
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons fruity olive oil (preferably French)

a 9-inch round tart pan with removable side

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. 

Pulse almonds with flour, sugar, and sea salt to a fine powder in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add yolk and oil and pulse until just incorporated and a very soft dough has formed. Spread dough evenly over bottom and up side of pan with your hands. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Cover tart shell with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (I reuse dried beans for this).  Bake shell for 10 minutes, then remove foil and pie weights and bake an additional 3 minutes, until golden brown all over. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Grate enough zest from lemons to measure 1 tablespoon, then squeeze 3/4 cup juice from lemons.  Whisk together lemon zest and juice, sugar, cornstarch, whole eggs, and yolks in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil, whisking, 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in butter and oil until smooth.

Pour lemon curd into cooled shell and chill until set, at least 2 hours.

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