Saturday, December 19, 2015

Pepper Pie

To celebrate my new niece Pepper, my sister asked me to make this pie. It's from "The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book" by Emily and Melissa Elsen, who have a pie shop in Brooklyn. They tend to edgy flavors.

The recipe worked well, and most of us enjoyed it quite a bit. The texture is really nice. I imagine the method could be used to combine the chocolate with any strong flavor-- my mind immediately went to orange peel, and a family member thought immediately of steeping the milk with mint. Other options might include wintry spices. (I am reminded here of the Lindt holiday spice truffles, which I've only ever seen at Wegmans. I loved them, and they included a lot of coriander, which surprised me.)

The name of the recipe in the book is "Green Chili Chocolate Pie," but I used a red pepper in spite of their saying they chose green on purpose for its green taste. I say vegetal taste. Red it is for me.

Pepper Pie

single 9 inch pie crust, parbaked

1 red jalapeno pepper (recipe says green), halved and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 in piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch pieces
1 c whole milk
1 c heavy cream
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, broken into 1/4 inch pieces (recipe says 55% cocoa; I got as close as I could with Bakers 56% baking chocolate)
1/2 t cardamom
1/2 t salt
2 large eggs
1 t fresh lime juice

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 F.

Combine sliced pepper (with seeds), ginger, milk, and cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and steep 6-8 minutes.

Combine chocolate, cardamom, salt in large heatproof bowl and put a fine mesh sieve over top. Bring cream mixture back to a simmer, and immediately strain it over the chocolate. Let stand 5 min, and then whisk steadily until the chocolate is melted.

Crack eggs in separate bowl, whisk. Slowly stream a small amount of chocolate mix into the eggs, whisking as you pour. Continue until the egg mix feels warm to the touch (I don't know if mine got there, but I think it was ok); then mix it back into the chocolate mixture. Add the lime juice, whisk till smooth.

Strain the filling into the crust (I did not do this. The temper on the eggs was just fine). Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30-35 minutes, rotating 20-25 min through. (Honestly I overbaked it 5 minutes, but I also felt like the oven was running cold). "The pie is finished when the edges are set about 2 inches in and puffed slightly and the center is no longer liquid but still quite wobbly. Be careful not to overbake or the filling will be dry and sandy; the filling will continue to cook and set after the pie is removed from the oven." Well, I did put it in longer-- and I wouldn't call the center "quite wobbly" when I took it out-- so I put it immediately in the fridge. And honestly, no dryness or sandiness here. I would make it the same again.

Allow to cool completely.

I didn't use the Elsens' crust, but here is their recipe for a single chocolate crust, which the recipe actually calls for:

1 c AP flour
1/4 c cocoa
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t sugar
1/4 lb (1 stick) cold butter, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 c cold water
2 T cider vinegar
1/2 c ice

Stir flour, cocoa, salt, sugar. Add butter and coat with the flour using a bench scraper or spatula. With pastry blender, cut in the butter to pea-size pieces (a few larger are ok)-- work fast.

Combine water, vinegar, and ice. Sprinkle 2 T over flour mix; cut in with spatula till fully incorprated. Add more, 1-2 T at a time, mix till it comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. Squeeze or pinch to bring it all together, sprinkling dry bits with the water mix to moisten. Shape in flat disk, wrap in plastic, and chill at least 1 hr, preferably overnight.

To parbake, pour pie weight or beans into foiled crust and spread them around (concentrate at edges). Place on pre-heated baking sheet at 425 and bake 20 minutes, until crimped edges are set but not brown. Lift out weights and foil and brush with a thin layer of egg white glaze (1 egg while whisked with 1 t water). Continue baking 3 minutes.

Pepper rolls

My Dad and I recently visited my sister, who just had a new baby we call Pepper. To celebrate, he made pepper rolls and I made a pepper pie. His pepper rolls were inspired by a type of roll my Mom gets at their local panaderia. He made a white bread dough and stuffed the individual rolls with diced green chiles (from a can) and cream cheese. I quite liked them and I think he plans to iterate on them. Maybe I will too. I bought mild chiles for him to use but he told me they should be hot chiles.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Grandma Beth's Cream Cheese Lemon Pie

How good this is. It's not a cheesecake-style pie, it is a cream style pie that happens to have cream cheese in the pud. An aunt makes this in a graham cracker crust. My mom makes this in unsweetened pie pastry, which I think is perfect. I love the salty counterpoint. It is topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

a single 9" pie crust
1 c sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
1 1/2 c water (C. uses 1 c)
3 egg yolks
1 T butter
8 oz cream cheese
3 drops yellow food color
1/4 c lemon juice (C. uses 6 T)
1 t lemon extract (C. uses 1 1/4 t)

When confronted about her instructionless card, Mom simply says, "I know how to make it."

When pressed, she says, "It is just lemon meringue pie with room-temperature cream cheese mixed into the warm pudding at the end."