Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Pie

This month's theme for What's Baking was "Pies".  With Thanksgiving happening, who didn't have an excuse to participate without having to plan out what/when to make?!  I re-made a pie that I had tried out a few years ago.  One problem we usually have at Thanksgiving is that everyone gets so stuffed with appetizers and the main meal, that when it comes to dessert, everyone looks wistfully at the spread and stays as far away as possible from the table.  I had made this pie a few years ago (after finding the recipe online), and literally had to guilt my dad and his cousin into trying it (they split a piece).  I had some and thought it was delish, but didn't think it was such a big hit due to the response I received that year.

Fast forward to this year.  I knew I wanted to bring a pie based on the WB theme.  I ran a few ideas by my husband, and mentioned the chocolate pecan pie I had made years ago.  His face lit up with anticipation when I told him, so I figured why not give it another shot?  I also decided to up the ante a bit and make my own pie crust.  I was nervous at first, but after making it, I realize how easy it is!  Though I do admit, my rolling skills need some improvement (it was a little thicker in some areas than others).  The original recipe calls for a caramel sauce, but honestly, I don't think it needed it, so I left it off.

The response to the pie was much better this year.  Maybe people had better portion control during the meal?  I don't know, but almost half the pie was eaten at Thanksgiving and we sent a couple pieces home with my second cousin (who loudly announced after taking a bite that my husband was a lucky man).

And yes, not only does my husband agree with that sentiment on a regular basis, but after having this pie (and making sure we had some to take home), he has a new line to add to the list of why he's lucky.

Emeril's Rich Chocolate Pecan Pie (very slightly adapted from a post by Good Morning America in Nov 2008)

1 1/2 cups pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips  
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (****the recipe for pie shell is below****)
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt  

- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Spread the pecan pieces and the chocolate chips evenly on the bottom of the pie shell.
-In a mixing bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients together.
- Pour the filling over the pecans.
- Bake until the filling sets, 50 to 60 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

Basic Pie Dough (as printed in The Craft of Baking)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp kosher salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup ice water, plus more if needed

***For best results, measure out ingredients and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes before making the dough

- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt; pulse to combine.
- Add the butter and the shortening, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, with some larger pieces remaining.
- With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, processing just until the dough begins to bind and holds together when squeezed in the palm of your hand, 5 to 10 seconds.  If the dough is too dry, add a bit more water, 1 tbsp at a time.
- Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and shape it into a flattened disk.  Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or over night (the dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before using)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Honey Cornbread Muffins

I know it's been a while since my last post.  A lot has gone on since then - a hurricane which led to a week with no power, then trying to get caught up with life before going away for a week, and then Thanksgiving.  What a month it's been!

Speaking of Thanksgiving, here is a favorite recipe of mine.  My family's gatherings are quite large.  Back in the day, my grandmother played host to so many people that the already-large-enough-for-20 table was extended so it went from one end of the large dining room all the way into the living room!  Now my aunt & uncle play host and this year had about 25 people.  As with most holiday meals, some guests bring food to contribute to the meal.  A few years back I was trying to come up with a side dish I could bring.  I decided that I wanted to bring cornbread, but how could that be served easily to the large crowd?  I could make it in a large baking dish and cut it up to serve, OR I could just make them the easy to share size of mini muffins!  I found this recipe online at FoodNetwork.com.  It's super easy to follow, and easy to convert to mini-muffins.

Now each year this is one of the things I contribute to our Thanksgiving meal, always to rave reviews.

Honey Cornbread Muffins (from Food Network's Down Home with the Neelys)

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk (I used skim)
2 large eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup honey

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Into a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey. 
- Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

(for full-sized muffins):
- Place muffin paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. 
- Evenly divide the cornbread mixture into the papers.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until golden
Yields 12 muffins

(for mini muffins):
- spray mini-muffin pan with Pam
- evenly divide the cornbread mixture into the tin (I used approx 2 tbsp per cup)
- Bake for 12 minutes until golden
Yields approx 40 mini-muffins