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.

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