Friday, March 4, 2016

Three months of Catch-Up

First up: reporting in on Thanksgiving pies.

The Caramel Apple pie via Four and Twenty Blackbirds was a huge fail. It was unbelievably watery. And it wasn't just because I'm bad at caramel. I tried it a second time using storebought caramel. Still watery and didn't taste at all of caramel. My conclusion: if you want Caramel Apple Pie, make regular Apple Pie and pour some caramel sauce over it.

This Pecan Pie from smitten kitchen however? I'm never using another recipe. It's perfect. A little smoky, not too sweet, not gooey. I'll say it again. PERFECT.

December was busy but I did manage to make a Stump de Noël for our family Christmas party per my mother (The Pie Queen)'s request. Upped my decorating game by making these pine cones (or are they hedgehogs?), some with fudge centers, some with marzipan.

I thought I'd try rolling the cake while it was warm and using kitchen towels (a trick I probably saw on The Great British Baking Show--if you're not watching it, mend your ways!). Obviously, it still cracked like crazy, and, what's more, it stuck to the towels.

 Ah well, it all comes out okay in the end.

January brings my best girl's birthday. She requested a vanilla and chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese icing. I complied and it was delicious. Those balls you see around the bottom of the cake? Those were meant to be candied hazelnuts with tall strings of shattery caramel that could sit on top of the cake and look dramatic and beautiful. As I think I've mentioned, I'm bad at candy. SO BAD. So they ended up being toasted hazelnuts with a soft sugary coating, dusted with cocoa and powdered sugar. They actually tasted good, but looked far less dramatic than I wanted.

When I was looking for a new Pecan Pie recipe around Thanksgiving, a friend recommended I try Kentucky Derby Pie. I finally got around to doing so in January. And I'm so glad I did. Wow. One of the few desserts that has disappeared pretty quickly from my house. My kids call it "cookie pie" because it tastes like chocolate chip cookies with pecans. I used half the amount of bourbon called for, and replaced with vanilla extract. I know, ME? *I* added less bourbon? Yes. And yet, it was the perfect balance of buttery and smoky and sweet and nutty and chocolatey.

February, at last. I was asked by the director of a play I'm doing later this year to make some pies for a read-through. He wanted pies with red fillings (if your stomach isn't weak, look up the plot of Titus Andronicus, know that I'll be playing Titus, and you'll understand). I have never really liked baked berry pies, and when I've made them they've been watery. But I wanted to do something other than cherry, so. I found this recipe for raspberry pie and was completely surprised (and delighted) at how easy it was. Not only that--not watery in the least. And not too sweet. I made this one with only raspberries but used the same recipe with a frozen triple berry mix for another pie. Both were completely delicious and have changed my mind about baked berry pies.

TGIP Ratings--lots of KEEPERS here. The fails I should have seen coming. 

Next up: Spring has sprung and I want something lemony. I'm debating between this, this, and this. Help me decide.