Willow House

Willow House
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Pie is the new "Cupcake"


Have you heard that the lastest trend in desserts is Pie? It is apparently the new cupcake! Just when I had about mastered cupcakes! Well, pies are a little different because there is that crust thing... I just prefer homemade crust, but have been known to buy the frozen ones ( a lot more the last few years), but everytime I make one from scratch, I think, "that is really easy, why don't I do that more often?"

I think it may be in the cleaning up afterwards, but homemade is really good ...and easy!

Crust is what makes a pie a pie! The fat is necessary for a good crust and there are "healthier" versious without trans fats, but trans-fat-free shortening won't hold its shape as well due to the lower melting point. (that may be more than you want to know- and you can try substituting 1/2 the butter or regular shortening with trans-fat-free shortening if you are really serious about it)

If you handle it too much it get's tough (it's about developing the gluten, but you don't have to know that either to make a good piecrust!)

You can also substitute whole wheat flour for white flour, but the crust will be "sturdier" and less flaky. This would be good for a meat pie or you can try 1/2 and 1/2 on the flour, too.

I am thinking that if "pie is the new cupcake", then for the popular tasting parties or just dessert for girlfriends, making them in a small ramekin is the "thing"! Helps with portion control, too!

OK, some of that is my former life as a dietitian coming out, but my current life as a dessert-eater likes the pie idea!

Willow House has so many ramekins you can use for little pies: (Whatever your color scheme)

The brown Italian Stitch ramekins are still available on our outlet and so cute! The Verde (green) ones are an oval shape and hold a little more.

Hyacynth ramekins come in a set of 4 colors (that match our wonderful mixing bowls!) and the Cinnabar (red) are called Tidbits and also come in a set of four. Best of all, you can bake in all these!! The little blue bowls are great for small servings and microwaving and also on the Outlet.
My favorite pie crust is:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

4-5 Tablespoons ice water

Mix flour and salt, cut in shortening until pea sized, add water and mix until just moistened. You can add a little more water if not enough, but don't get too sticky) Form into a ball and let set a few minutes then roll out onto a floured board or pastry cloth. For ramekins use a saucer to cut rounds, you can flute the edges by pinching them or leave plain, easiest is always best.

A recipe that is a little more forgiving about extra stirring and handling is:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup salad oil

4-5 Tablespoons cold water or milk

Mix the flour and salt and then pour the oil and cold water or milk into a measuring cup, but do not stir and add all at once to the flour and salt. It is best to roll this one between two pieces of waxed paper.

For cream pies you cook the crust and for fruit pies you usually put the filling in the unbaked crust and bake all together.

Seems to me that graham cracker or crushed cookie crust eliminates all this and is good for the little ramekins too.

Pie fillings are so simple. Use a mix or canned filling!

But if you want to make your own filling I'm loving Two-Bite Chocolate Cream Pies from Feb 2010 Sunset magazine:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 12 ramekins with cooking spray. Process about 30 chocolate cookies (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers -or even Oreos!) into fine crumbs. Blend 1 1/2 cups crumbs with 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1 egg white(save the yolk) and put about 1 Tablespoon in each ramekin, press over bottom and sides and bake until set (about 15 minutes)
Now put 1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate and 1 Tablespoon butter in microwave-safe container and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring often, until melted.

In a separate bowl mix 1/4 cup sugar, 2 Tablespoons cornstarch and 4 tsp. Durch-processed cocoa powder. Pour in a few drops of milk and whisk until smooth, then add 1 cup milk, whisking well. Put this in a small saucepan and heat until thickened and large bubbles appear, about 3 minutes.
Now, mix the egg yolk you saved with 1 more egg and whisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture. Scrape the egg-milk mixture into the milk mixture in the pan and cook, whisking until just starting to boil aboaut 30 seconds and then whisk in the melted chocolate and butter. (hope you have a good whisk, that's what this takes!)

Then just spoon it into the baked chocolate crusts and press plastic wrap over the tops to prevent a skin from forming and chill at least an hour, but up to 2 days! (great! can be made ahead!)

When you are ready to serve, you might "whisk" a little whipping cream (1/2 cup)with 1 Tablespoons sugar and dollop on top of each.

(If you are interested, it's 111 calories per serving, but I don't care at this point.)

Let me know what you think.......

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