Friday, February 24, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie (at last!)

Here it finally is! This was a delicious labor of love. The first try was a little...thick (?)...tasting. It needed something to cut through all of the coconut and cream. So, the second try included lime custard at the bottom, but I used organic cornstarch and I think that's why I had some texture problems. Third time was the charm. The coconut flavor runs through every element of the pie (except the lime curd) and comes from different sources; toasted coconut, coconut milk, coconut rum, coconut extract, so it's deep and complex. And the lime custard just gives all of that flavor a tangy little boost. So yummy. Perfect for a tropical getaway from a gray and brown winter.

Coconut Cream Pie
*click here for printable version*
Makes 1 9-inch pie

Toasted Coconut

1 c. sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 325.

Spread the coconut evenly onto a baking sheet and toast until lightly golden brown, stirring once, 8-10 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the coconut sit in the oven until very dry and crunchy, up to 15 minutes longer (check frequently, it may take as little as 5 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Coconut Pie Pastry (makes 1 9” crust)

1-3/4 c. + 2 T flour
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c. (12 T) fats*

Mix together with pastry cutter, fork, or fingers until crumbly.

¼ c. coconut rum

Pour gradually into crust, mixing as you go. Use only enough to make dough stick together.

On floured surface, roll the crust out to about 1/8 in. thick and transfer to pie pan.

Prebake the crust: poke holes in bottom and sides with a fork, line with foil, and pour in pie weights, making sure they cover bottom all the way to the sides. Bake at 425 for 15 min., then remove foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes (or until crust has color you prefer). Cool completely.

Lime Custard

3 large egg yolks
6 T sugar
3 T fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp grated lime peel

Whisk all ingredients in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until custard thickens and boils for 30 seconds, about 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally (mixture will thicken). Spread in bottom of pie crust (it will just make a thin layer).

Coconut Custard

1 c. whole milk
1-1/2 c. unsweetened coconut milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
8 large egg yolks
2/3 c. granulated sugar
6 Tbls. (packed) cornstarch
4 tsp. coconut rum
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut extract

Combine the milks and vanilla bean seeds in a medium, nonreactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.

Whisk together the yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Slowly whisk the warm milk into the egg mixture, then return the mixture to the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until thickened. Remove pan from heat and whisk in the rum and both extracts. Let cool to room temperature (make sure to cover with plastic wrap--pressed onto the custard so it doesn’t form a skin), then spread in pie crust and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours (cover with plastic wrap as before).

Coconut Whipped Cream

1-1/2 c. very cold heavy cream
1 tsp. coconut extract
3 tsp. nonfat dry milk (optional, to stabilize cream)

Combine all ingredients, whip to stiff peaks and spread over top of cooled coconut custard.

Sprinkle toasted coconut over top.

*Re: fats--for a particularly flaky crust (and if you're not vegetarian), use lard for 2 T of your fats. The other 10 T of fats can be a combination of salted and unsalted butter: 8 T salted, 2 T unsalted.

I should mention, this version of my pie crust doesn't have any egg white, so it's a little more fragile than the normal crust. Be patient and careful and you will be so so happy with the results. It's super tender and flaky.

TGIP Rating--Coconut Cream Pie--KEEPER. Make and love. Even if you're not a big coconut fan.

Next up: Hmm...some kind of oatmeal cookie...chock full of goodies.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

TGIP Field Trip: Tulie Bakery

So, we needed some Valentine's Day goodies, but had no time for baking. Solution: a bakery I haven't tried before, Tulie. I had heard rumblings about them being good, but needed to check for myself. The rumblings were correct. There is so much more to try, but what we tried was good enough that I will definitely go back for more.

Heart-shaped sugar cookie. Probably the best sugar cookie I've ever tried (I only got a nibble). Crispy on the outside, perfectly soft (but not crumbly) on the inside. The frosting was soft and sweet and buttery. Perfection.

Banana cream tart. Very rich and banana-y. With dark chocolate on the bottom and a tender crust. Delicious.

Raspberry macaron. Super tender and crunchy (like a meringue) on the outside, chewy and scrumptious on the inside. I don't know much about macarons, but I understand this is how they're supposed to be. Also, Tulie's are ENORMOUS. Are macarons normally this big? I need more experience in the world of macarons.

Chocolate macaron. Hard to believe a light cookie can also be rich, but it is. Lovely chocolate flavor. Perfect texture, just like the raspberry.

TGIP Rating--Tulie Bakery--DELICIOUS. And I need to go back to try more items. They even had a yummy-looking granola that Seconda pointed out. May need to go there for breakfast one morning.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Puffy Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

A cookie made with 100% shortening and no butter sounds unappealing, doesn't it? I know, it sounds unappealing to me too. BUT, there's something about that shortening that makes these cookies stay puffy, not chewy, not crispy.

And that's what my kids wanted. So, I figured it was worth a try. And I have to say, I was truly surprised at how delicious they turned out to be. I think the flavor combination of the tart cherries and the semisweet chocolate sort of cuts through the shortening, so you don't taste it. But they don't taste overwhelmingly of cherry, even mr. (who is not the biggest cherry fan) really liked these.

The texture is lovely, it's more of a cakey cookie (probably due, in part, to the cake flour), soft with just a tiny bit of crisp on the outside.

Here's the recipe:

Puffy Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies *click here for printable version*
adapted from “The Puffy” by Alton Brown
(most of the alterations are for altitude)

1 c. butter-flavored shortening
½ c. granulated sugar
¾ c. brown sugar
2-1/2 c. cake flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. dried tart cherries

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine shortening and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl and set aside.

Add the eggs to the shortening mixture one at a time and beat until incorporated. Add vanilla and beat well.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture along with 2 tsp. water and beat to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips and dried cherries. Chill the dough for approximately 30 minutes. Using a #20 ice cream scoop, scoop the dough onto parchment or silpat lined baking sheets. Bake for 13 minutes, until golden and puffy, turning the pan halfway through for even baking. Cool and store in an airtight container.

TGIP Rating--Puffy Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies--KEEPER. I just loved everything about these. Easy to make and delicious. I don't know if I'll ever go back to making regular size cookies, between these and the giant Gingersnap Cookies I made a few weeks ago.

Next up: Finalizing my Coconut Cream Pie recipe. It's just about perfect. And when I say perfect, I mean, you will LOVE IT.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Margarita Cupcakes

Limes are delicious. And so is tequila. Especially more tequila than I put in these cupcakes. If what you were looking for was an intensely flavored lime cupcake, this batch would have been perfect for you. Of course, mine may have tasted extra limey because my limes were as big as apples. Literally.

But I did compensate by only juicing and zesting 1-1/2 limes instead of 3. Seemed like the right equivalent.

ANYWAY...if what you're looking for is a MARGARITA cupcake...then you'll need to add more tequila than I did. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of tequila to be brushed over the warm cupcakes. I brushed each cupcake with barely a brushful and ended up leaving most of that 1/4 cup in the cup. Next time, ALL of it will go on them. Maybe more. The recipe also calls for 1-2 T of tequila in the frosting. I opted for only 1, but next time I will use at least 2.

Here's what I did right. I made a few altitude alterations: increased flour by 1T, decreased baking powder by 1/4 tsp, used 1/4 c. shortening and 3/4 c. unsalted butter, rather than all butter (I don't know if that's necessarily an altitude thing, but I find that when I use some shortening in my cakes they just work better. And I'm not afraid of organic non-hydrogenated shortening), increased the buttermilk by about 2 T, and baked them at 350 for about 20 minutes.

And nothing sank and nothing spread everywhere. They turned out perfect, for my taste. Not too puffy, not too flat. (Please don't ask me why my cupcake papers want to separate from the cakes, I still haven't figured that out.) (Also, please don't ask why pink and green cupcake papers. It was what I had.)

I also sprinkled some margarita salt on top of the frosting, in addition to the lime zest and I think that made a big difference. A margarita is not a margarita without salt. You can't really see the salt in this picture. Well, maybe if you click on the big version you can see something sparkling on one of the cupcakes. That's salt.

But, you know, a margarita also isn't a margarita without tequila. So, next time, more tequila there shall be! And next time will be relatively soon because I have leftover frosting in my freezer.

Also exciting...Swiss Meringue Buttercream is really the way to go. It turns out perfectly every single time. I may never make another type of buttercream. Ever.

TGIP Rating--Margarita Cupcakes--Could be my bad on the tequila front, so I won't judge the recipe. Otherwise it's summery and delicious and I can't wait to try them again.

Next up: Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies. My plan is to adapt this recipe for altitude and add some dried cherries. Gross to some, but YUMMY to me!