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The Perfect A Pecan Pie Recipe Does Not Exist December 3, 2016

We had a Dansih family stay with us for Thanksgiving. It was nice and we shared recipes. One that I was sure to make was my pecan pie. But they were hesitent about the corn syrup.

Pecan Pie recipes used corn syrup long before corn syrup had the reputation it does today. In fact, I would wager that when corn syrup became a key part of good pecan pie recipes, cane sugar was cheaper (sweet corn wasn't even grown in abundance then, and corn syrup wasn't as commonly found).

Corn Syrup was used because it imparts the proper sweetness, thickness, and texture.

While I understand (and even agree) with the vilification of corn syrup as an ingredient, there are still old school recipes kicking around where it's the right ingredient to use.

But as others have noted, there are numerous syrup substitutes. But if it were me, I'd still use corn syrup.

The corn syrup you buy at the grocery store and high fructose corn syrup are not the same thing.

If you want to use something else I wouldn't even consider using maple or agave at a 1:1 swap with corn syrup but they'd both complement either corn or simple sugar syrup nicely at a ratio of ~1:4-1:6.

Here is a good one without corn syrup.

A pecan pie recipe I've been making for 15 years has come to include varying amounts of maple, blackstrap molasses and date honey. You can basically use any sugary syrup just make sure there's a more neutral foundation underlying it so none of the more dominant aromas become overpowering. Too much of any fragrant syrup and you'll drown out the pecan.

Easily, I might add.

I'm happily willing to buy, cheat and steal my way out of hard work when cooking but when it comes to baking I'll go the hard way every day...

Nothing you can buy gets close to the results you get from just putting the work in.

The satisfaction you get from pulling off (or even just not entirely fucking up) baked goods is worth all the effort; it validates your ability to tackle the science, rather than just the art, of the culinary craft.

My Favorite Pumpkin Pie Recipe October 2, 2016

My recipe is pretty simple. It turns out perfect and delicious every time - I try to make one every few months and I usually end up eating the entire pie as dessert.

It's the kind of dessert that's so good your muscles go limp on the first bite because your taste buds completely take over :) It's very easy: once you've got all your ingredients together you basically put 'em all into a bowl, mix 'em together, pour into crust, & bake. I start with a ginger snap crust instead of graham cracker:

  • 3/4c(6oz) ginger snaps
  • 1tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1tsp ground fresh ginger
  • 1oz(2tbsp) butter, melted

Grind ginger snaps in food processor (or crush) until fine. Combine all ingredients. Press evenly into 9inch pie dish. Bake at 350F 10-12min til firm.

For the pie:

1 1/4c canned(1 15oz can) or cooked pumpkin. Libby's canned pumpkin is my favorite. I've tried Alton Brown's with fresh pumpkin along with a few others, but I've always come back to that one. Make sure your can is simply 100% pure pumpkin, no other variant.

  • 1/2c light brown sugar
  • 1/4c granulated (white) sugar
  • 1/4tsp fresh (ground/grated) ginger
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1tsp flour
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1c undiluted evaporated milk (or light cream)
  • 2tbsp water or rum (I use water, but that's because I'm a recovered alcoholic haha)
  • 1tsp vanilla

Using mixer, combine pumpkin, sugars, spices, and flour.
Add beaten eggs; mix. Add evaporated milk (or cream), water (or rum), and vanilla; mix.

Pour into crust-lined 9-inch pie dish. Bake in pre-heated 425F oven for 15min, then reduce heat to 350F and bake for 35min longer or until set.

Let cool completely.

I have a Danish family coming over (to the U.S.) in November who's nuts for pumpkin pie, I can't wait to make them this one!

Meringue Pie Or A Cream Pie June 28, 2016

A cream pie is any pie with a custard base (egg, milk, flour). A meringue pie is any pie with a meringue topping.

The difference between a lemon cream pie and a lemon meringue is one uses a whipped cream topping (or none at all) and a lemon meringue uses a whipped egg topping.

It is important to note while meringues are often used for cream pies, they are not exclusive - if you were to make a standard blueberry pie with a meringue topping then it would be a blueberry meringue pie.

Personally, on the rich/sweet scale, I'd say they're pretty similar. You can add less sugar to both meringue and heavy whipping cream to make them less sweet though. Meringue has a more eggy taste to it so you can tell what you are eating pretty quickly.

Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake January 19, 2016

I kinda improvised this one but here is how I did it.

For The Crust:

  • 15 graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

For The Cheesecake:

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 20 ozs whole milk (full fat)
  • Ricotta cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 TBSP & 1 tsp lemon extract (or to taste)
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1 TBSP lemon zest (optional or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven 325 F Grease bottom & sides of 9' springform pan.

Put a shallow baking dish filled with a couple inches of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Crush graham crackers in food processor.

Seperately, crush hazelnuts in food processor. Remove from processor and Add melted butter. Fold in almond meal. Use a fork or fingers to combine to a uniform crumb consistency. Press into bottom and about halfway up the sides of 9' springform pan.

Place pan in freezer while you prepare cheesecake.

Cream together cheeses and sugar in a stand mixer. Add creams and extracts. Beat on medium speed until combined.

Mix flour and cornstarch, then add to mixer. Last, add eggs, one at a time. Combine thoroughly but do not overmix. Pour filling into crust and bake in middle rack above the pan of water for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 325.

!!DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR DURING BAKING!!

This will ruin your cake. As it has done to some of mine in the past.

After one hour and 15 minutes, turn the oven off and crack open slightly, use a wooden spoon to prop oven open if you need to but do not open all the way.

Leave cheesecake in the oven for at least an hour, until it is cool enough to be removed from the oven by hand. Then, place on countertop for at least one more hour until there is no more heat in the pan, then put in refrigerator for at least 4 more hours, ideally overnight.

The next day, pipe whipped cream onto edges and fill center with lemon curd (mine was a store bought jar from the jelly aisle), top with blueberries, blackberries and candied lemon peels.