Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rhubarb Pie

Looks like a celery pie, right? Rhubarb is a strange creature. I've somehow managed to avoid it my entire life until now, thinking it would be gross. I was so wrong. I still think it's a weird fruit (?) vegetable (?). What is it anyway? And do people ever do anything with it other than make pie? Seriously, I'm asking.

Thing is, most of the time when you encounter rhubarb in a pie, it's paired with strawberry. I don't like baked strawberries. I just don't. Baking takes all of the love out of them and they become these shriveled up tiny things. So, I've never been tempted at all to try that combination. Shriveled strawberries and some sort of weird pink celery baked together in a pie? Mmm, no thanks.

But rhubarb on its own, I thought that sounded appealing. And it's kind of pretty, isn't it?

What I didn't expect was the flavor. I tried a little piece of it raw just to see what it tastes like. I would recommend NOT trying that yourself. Any moisture that has ever been or will ever be in my body was immediately obliterated by that thing. But, baked? In a pie? With sugar and lemon zest? A whole different story. It's a little tart, a little sweet. Tastes like something lemony and refreshing and summery. I loved it. I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe from my new Pie and Pastry Bible. Lovely. Easy and perfect. Here's a link where someone else posted the recipe, and BONUS, directions for how to make a lattice crust, which I opted not to do this time.

And, I'm happy to report that even though I vowed not to make another pie until we were well and truly into Autumn, my pie crust mojo is back.

Beautiful. Tender and flaky. I'm working on spending more time with my crust edges. Making sure they look beautiful, but also have the right thickness. I still have some work to do on that but I'm getting there. And I am discovering that refrigerating the pie for at least 30 minutes once it's ready to go in the oven really does prevent the shrinkage problem. *crossing fingers* At least so far. Incidentally, in the Beranbaum book, she has several different pie crust recipes using different kinds of fat, including duck fat. I might have to give some of those a try.

TGIP Rating--Rhubarb Pie--KEEPER. Rhubarb, I'm your newest fan. And maybe now that I'm no longer afraid of you I'll try a cherry rhubarb pie.

Next up: Pumpkin Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Hazelnuts--if I can get my friend Jonny to come bake with me. Time for Fall baking!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

S'mores Bars

Yum. But we're not there yet. Closer. Much closer than this. But not quite there. Here's the recipe. You will no doubt be surprised to hear that my problem with this recipe was the dark chocolate.

It was too much. Were you suprised? It was delicious, no question, but I felt like it overpowered the toasty marshmallow flavor. I worked hard with my little kitchen torch to get each and every marshmallow perfectly toasted.

So to have that flavor completely masked by the dark chocolate was a little disappointing.

Other than that small problem, these are lovely. The graham cracker layer is the perfect thickness. The cocoa krispies add a crunchiness that is sort of hard to place, but just right. And the marshmallows. You know, they're marshmallows, what could possibly be bad about them?

I actually ended up using a whole bag of mini marshmallows, not just 4 cups. I used 2 cups in the chocolate mixture and the rest of the bag on top. Otherwise it would have been pretty sparse up there.

I can't help but wonder if it's possible to get that real s'mores flavor with anything other than a real s'more. A friend sent me this link with lots of other possibilities to explore. Try them and let me know what you think. Or perhaps I'll just bookmark it and try one of those recipes next summer when I do my (apparently) annual "I didn't have time for enough campfires this summer!" post.

TGIP Rating--S'mores Bars--KEEPER. Next time I'll try it with milk chocolate. I know. But that's what a s'more tastes like to me--plain old Hershey's Milk Chocolate bars.

Next up: Rhubarb found. Pie imminent.