Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Week 16: Grasshopper Pie

As Thanksgiving approached I signed up for a daily e-mail from Taste of Home with a pie recipe each day. This grasshopper pie was one of those recipes that came to my inbox. It sounded pretty awesome: chocolate pudding with Andes mints chopped up in it, chocolate crust, whipped cream flavored with a little peppermint, and more Andes mints sprinkled on top.

I was a little short on funds so I decided to get chocolate graham crackers to make my own crusts, rather than the pre-made chocolate crust called for in the recipe.

The crusts worked out pretty well, made just like regular graham cracker crusts, with sugar and melted butter and baked in the oven for a few minutes.

It was fun and easy to make. I took one to our bishop, although he wasn't home to get it when I drove all the way up there (luckily I was able to sneak it in the house), and one to another bishopric member who had a sick family that weekend.

Hubby didn't like the pie as much as I thought he would. I think we would have rather had a plain pie shell rather than a chocolate graham cracker crust. I thought it was very delicious, though.

Grasshopper Pie

1-1/2 cups cold milk
1 package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate pudding mix
2-3/4 cups whipped topping, divided
1 package (4.67 ounces) mint Andes candies, chopped, divided
1 chocolate crumb crust (9 inches)
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
2 drops green food coloring, optional

In a small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Fold in 3/4 cup whipped topping. Fold in 3/4 cup candies. Spoon into crust.

In another bowl, combine extract and remaining whipped topping; add food coloring if desired. Spread over pudding layer; sprinkle with remaining candies. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. Yield: 8 servings.

Week 15: Pumpkin Pies for Thanksgiving and Why You Don't Take Your Dog Along on Pie Deliveries

After the State Fair, I think I was burnt out on pies, and I took a little respite that turned into a nearly-three-month vacation from piemaking. Life seemed to get busier and a lot of the time I didn't think I missed it.

But as Thanksgiving came close, I got antsy to make some pies again. I found myself getting the ingredients for pumpkin pie, even though I didn't need it for Thanksgiving dinner because someone else was bringing that pie. So I made three pies and proceeded to give them out: one to a friend who'd just had surgery, and one to a friend whose husband was recovering from a pretty serious infection.

What happened to the third pie, you ask? Well, that is why you don't take the dog along on pie deliveries. I came out from delivering one of the pies and found that the dog had found the pies I'd hidden under my heavy coat, and was nibbling on the edge of one of them. Sigh.

It felt good to get back in the pie-making groove.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Week 14: The State Fair and the Nut Pie Invention

The Oregon State Fair was coming up at the end of August. I was planning to enter several pies into the regular contest for ribbons. Plus there was a special contest by Karo syrup for the best pie using Karo. You had to take your pie there on a particular date and time to enter this special contest.

I proceeded to look into what kind of pies you could make with Karo, and found that the usual is a pecan pie. Looking around some more, I found some pies using other nuts that sounded good.

I made three different pies, one a regular pecan pie, the other two hazelnuts with two different substitutions for the bourbon called for in the original recipe, and had my Walgreens coworkers try them and vote for which one they liked best. The voting was pretty close but the one with the Toriani butter rum syrup won out.

Then I gave it some thought, plus discovered that we're supposed to invent our own recipe, and decided to use the technique I'd learned from the hazelnut pies, but combine three kinds of nuts instead of just hazelnuts, to make a hybrid version of the recipe.

In the meantime I had to take my regular-entry pies to Bob's Red Mill to enter them. I discovered after making my pies that I couldn't enter refrigerated pies, so the strawberry cream cheese pie stayed home with us. I entered the Cherry-Cherry-Berry Pie that I've made several times before, the Spiced Peach Pie that I made for the Washington County Fair, and a blueberry pie that I'd also made for the county fair.

On the day of the Karo Syrup contest Alyssa and I traveled down to Salem for the day, with my beautiful hybrid Three-Nut-Maple Pie.

We were so excited as we made our way to the building where the contest was (and it wasn't easy, because the map wasn't very clear). Imagine my disappointment when I inquired about the contest and learned that I was supposed to be there 1/2 hour before the contest time. The pie had to come home. It was delicious though! And I will try again next year. And, I won two red ribbons, one for the cherry pie and the other for the blueberry pie. Not bad for a first-time state fair competitor!

Most of this episode's recipes have appeared in previous posts, so I won't post them again here.

And here is the recipe for the pie I "invented":

Three-Nut Maple Caramel Pie

  • 3/4 cup  maple syrup (can be real, but fake seems to do just as well!)
  • 1/2 cup Karo light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Torani caramel syrup
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 prepared 1-crust pie crust, rolled out and put in pie pan
  • Topping: Smucker’s Sundae Syrup, caramel flavor
This pie won a blue ribbon and a special Best in Class ribbon at the 2011 Oregon State Fair.
Bring maple syrup, corn syrup, brown sugar, and salt to boil in saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling 1 minute, reducing heat as needed to prevent mixture from boiling over. Remove pan from heat. Add caramel syrup and butter; whisk until butter melts. Let cool to lukewarm, whisking occasionally, about 20 minutes.Preheat oven to 350°F. Scatter nuts over prepared pie crust. Whisk eggs and vanilla extract in bowl until blended. Whisk cooled caramel-maple-sugar mixture into egg mixture. Pour mixture over nuts in crust. Bake pie until filling is set, about 50 minutes. Cool on rack. Drizzle with caramel sundae syrup when cooled.

Week 13: The Orange Mousse Pies that Never Went Anywhere

I joined a group called "Love the Pie" on Facebook, and they posted a link to an Orange Mousse Pie one day. I thought it sounded pretty good. So I went back and found the link, bought all the ingredients and proceeded to make it.

I tripled the recipe as usual. It made so much filling that I had to make 1 more pie shell to hold it all. So we had our pie for ourselves, and 3 other pies besides. And we found that the pie did not taste as good as the recipe looked. It was a little too creamy and not enough orange-y.

And then, life got in the way. I don't remember why, but I just could not find the time to get these pies out to anyone. Finally I appealed to my friends on Facebook to come pick them up, and one did. Cody took another one to a potluck. The last pie just got thrown away. I felt so wasteful, especially since the ingredients were not cheap. But in the end you just have to learn from it and go on.

Orange Mousse Pie

1 box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup orange juice
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
2 cups whipping cream
2 large oranges, chopped, drained (2 cups)*

1 container (6 oz) Yoplait® Original 99% Fat Free French vanilla yogurt

1. Heat oven to 450°F. Bake pie crust as directed on box for One-Crust Baked Shell, using 9-inch glass pie plate. Cool on cooling rack 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan, mix gelatin and orange juice; let stand 1 minute. Cook and stir over medium heat until dissolved. In small bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and orange peel with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Gradually add softened gelatin; blend well. Refrigerate until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
3. In large bowl, beat whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into orange mixture; gently fold in chopped oranges. Spoon into crust. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Garnish with additional orange peel, if desired. Top each serving with dollop of yogurt. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

*One can (11 oz) mandarin orange segments, drained and coarsely chopped, can be substituted for the 2 large oranges.