Archive for category Carrie’s Confections

Carrie’s Confections: Spiced Applesauce Pie

Monthly Feature
Got a sweet tooth? Carrie has you covered!

While preparing for Thanksgiving, I was on the hunt for a new apple pie recipe. Despite my best efforts, making a two-crust pie look pretty is always a challenging, so when I ran across this recipe, the lack of a top crust appealed to me. Although the abundance of reviewed recipes on the internet has resulted in the abandonment of many of my cookbooks, I took a chance on this recipe. Am I glad I did! I will admit that I made a test pie before the big day, but both times, the pie was so easy and so tasty. Another confession…I used a “cheater” pie crust AKA Pillsbury. I have included the crust recipe included in the cookbook, if you feel so inclined. Either way, this one is a definite keeper!

From Williams-Sonoma’s Desserts Cookbook

Crust:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable shortening
3-4 tablespoons cold water

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and toss together. Add the shortening. With your fingertips, two knives, or a pastry blender, blend the ingredients, working quickly, until you have a mixture of tiny flakes and bits about the size of coarse bread crumbs. Sprinkle on the water 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring gently with a fork after each addition. Add just enough water to form a rough mass.
With floured hands, pat the dough into a smooth disk. The dough is now ready to use. This dough does not need to be chilled, although for convenience, it may be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Filling:
4 tart apples
¼ cup water
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt

Topping:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup coarsely chopped blanched almonds (for ease, I used slivered almonds)
Pinch of salt

Roll out the pastry and line a 9-inch pie pan. Bake the crust partially until the pastry looks dry but it still very pale, about 10 minutes.

To make the filling, peel, core, and cut the apples into small pieces. Combine the apples and water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat, cover, and cook, stirring and mashing occasionally, until you have thick applesauce, 20-30 minutes. A few small lumps are okay. Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425˚. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the sugar, eggs, cream, cinnamon, butter and salt into the applesauce and mix thoroughly. Pour the apple mixture into the cooled pie shell and place in the oven.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, oats, flour, almonds, and salt. With your fingertips, rub the ingredients together until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. After the pie has been baking for 15 minutes, rapidly sprinkle it with the oatmeal mixture, then reduce the heat to 350˚ and bake until filling is set, about 30 minutes longer.

The taste: This treat is like a cross between apple pie and apple crisp. Although it doesn’t have nutmeg or allspice, I found the subtle cinnamon to be enough spice for me. The crunchy topping is a perfect contrast to the creamy apple filling. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (yes, it was Blue Bell) and it’s heavenly.

The ease: Again, because I hate dealing with pie crusts, this recipe was a dream to me. The most time consuming part was peeling, coring and chopping the apples and that still took less than 10 minutes.

The fat-assness: Let’s not talk about it. It was a holiday, for God’s sake. Just let me enjoy it.

The cleanup: 2 bowls, a saucepan and the pie plate. If you make your own crust, there will be one more bowl, but you’ll be cleaned up before the pie ever comes out of the oven.

The verdict: This is a fantastic holiday dessert and a great alternative to the generic apple pies that usually show up as part of the spread. Dividing this recipe and making individual pies would also be a great end to a dinner party.

The tip: This pie is best when it is allowed to return to room temperature, or slightly warmer, before serving. Although dishing it out right out of the oven is delicious, the filling does not set up well when hot. But, if you just can’t wait to dig in, it will still be amazing; it may just be a little messier to serve.

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Carrie’s Confections: Coconut-Banana Cream Pie

Monthly Feature
Carrie’s got you covered in the dessert department!

I recently had an amazing dinner at Mark’s. Even though I thought I might burst from stuffing myself with Mark’s goodness, I couldn’t pass up the dessert menu. My husband and I opted for a beautiful dessert made of layers of crispy coconut cookies, fresh bananas, custard, and whipped cream. It immediately reminded me of this recipe which my mom used to make for family gatherings. It was so delicious that my cousin and I would literally fight over the last piece. Hopefully you will enjoy this treat and no one will end up with puncture wounds!

Ingredients
1 3 ½ oz can flaked coconut (1 1/3 cups)
2/3 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked
5 tablespoons margarine or butter
3 cups milk
1/3 cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
½ cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large bananas
½ cup heavy or whipping cream
Toasted sliced almonds for garnish (I use toasted coconut instead)

Directions
Preheat oven to 300˚. In a 9-inch pie plate, with hand, mix coconut, oats and 3 tablespoons softened margarine or butter. Pat coconut mixture onto bottom and up side of pie plate. Bake crust 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack.

In 2-quart saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks, ½ cup sugar, and remaining 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens; boil 1 minute. (It may seem like you’ve done something wrong during this step, as it seems to take a while for the mixture to thicken and when it does it looks like it is curdling. Just keep the temperature low, keep stirring, and have a little faith. It will come together!) Remove saucepan from heat; stir in vanilla extract.

Cut 2 bananas into ¼ inch thick slices. Line cooled pie crust with sliced bananas; pour custard filling over bananas. Cover custard filling with plastic wrap; refrigerate until cold.

In small bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat heavy or whipping cream with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar until stiff peaks form. With metal spatula, spread whipped cream mixture over pie.

Cover and refrigerate pie until ready to serve. *The recipe recommends making this at least 4 hours before serving, but I find that it’s best when made a day ahead.

To serve, slice remaining banana. Garnish pie with banana slices and toasted almonds (or coconut).

The taste: The crispy, coconutty crust is the perfect vessel for the creamy filling. And, what’s not to love about coconut and banana? Nothing in my book. The pudding is a vanilla, but so much better than the boxed stuff. I think I’ll be making this by itself for a simple treat.

The ease: The recipe is simple! Making the pudding does require a little patience, but really is worth the effort. If you’re short on time (or patience) the boxed stuff could be substituted, but you’ll be missing out!

The fat-assness: As far as real desserts (i.e., no fake desserts, like a fruit cup) go, this one is really not too bad. You can totally justify eating it…you’re getting some grain with the oatmeal, dairy and even some fruit. And, with only 5 tablespoons of butter in the whole thing, it’s not an artery clogger. Practically sounds healthy, right?

The cleanup: If you make the crust in the pie plate, you really only have to clean the saucepan and the mixing bowl. Not bad at all!

The problem: The only problem with this recipe is that I cannot find canned coconut. As I result, I used the equivalent amount of flaked coconut. The crust was still delicious, but did not hold together well. Next time I make it I’ll try more butter and maybe a little light corn syrup to add some stickiness. Has anyone out there seen canned coconut? I checked at HEB, Kroger and Randall’s with no luck…

The verdict: Regardless of the state of your crust, this is a tasty treat. Although I’m bringing this recipe to you in the fall, this makes a great springtime treat. It’s light, flavorful, and sure to impress your guests at your next event!

The tip: Make sure you use bananas that are very ripe for maximum flavor. Under-ripe banana will leave you wishing for some more banana-y goodness.

Enjoy!

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Carrie’s Confections: Apple Cheesecake Bars

Monthly Feature
Carrie’s got you covered in the dessert department.

Growing up in Vermont, September marked not only the beginning of the school year, but the beginning of the greatest season to be in New England. There’s nothing like those beautiful leaves, the crisp, fall air, or eating an apple you’ve just picked from the tree. Although it’s still hotter than the blazes of Hades here in Houston, I’m going to pretend it’s autumn and enjoy yummy fall-ish treats, like these Apple Cheesecake Bars. Maybe it will help…

The taste: It’s like a threesome of shortbread cookie, cheesecake and apple crisp. How can that be bad? The buttery crust is thick enough to hold the divine layers of cheesecake, cinnamony apples and crunchy streusel. I omit the caramel sauce. I find that these are plenty sweet enough without it. Trust me…these are delish.

The ease: Honestly, the worst part about making these is peeling and chopping the apples, although you can see how finely I chop them…not very. If you have your butter and cream cheese at room temperature, the other layers are made in about five minutes. Use the 15 minutes that the crust is in the oven to chop those apples and the whole process takes about 45 minutes.

The fat-assness: Don’t ask. Three sticks of butter in one 9×13 pan does not make for a slim waistline. But, these are pretty sweet and you really only need one to curb your sugar craving. Please note that if we’re using the “yield” amount written on the recipe, I think the 2 dozen is more accurate. 4-6 servings? Good Lord! If that’s the case, go ahead and make a call to the paramedics while you’re baking this bad boy.

The cleanup: 3 bowls, measuring cups and spoons and the 9×13 pan. The recipe calls for aluminum foil to be used in the pan, but I used parchment paper (I’ve had trouble with foil sticking). Either way, this makes cleaning the pan a breeze.

The verdict: Yummy fall goodness.

The variation: Adding nuts to the apple mixture or to the streusel would likely add a nice nutty crunch. I haven’t tried it yet, but that gives me a good excuse to make these again!

The tip: If you try to remove these from the pan when they are even a little warm, you’ll end up with a crumbly mess. After letting them cool at room temperature, I store them in the refrigerator overnight before cutting the next day. It allows the cheesecake to firm up and the flavors to meld.

Enjoy!

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Carrie’s Confections: Raspberry Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

Monthly Feature
Looking to make a dynamite dessert? Carrie has you covered!

First, a family confession. My mom has a bit of a lemon addiction. Anytime she sees a recipe for something with lemon she feels compelled to add it to her recipe collection. Last time I helped her organize her recipes there were hundreds of recipes for lemony creations…chicken, curd, dessert bars, cakes…you name it, it was there. So when she sent this recipe to me after making it for a Christmas cookie exchange in 2005, I figured it was just another tart treat, but nothing extraordinary. Boy, was I wrong. She found a winner with this one. Thanks, Mom! (You’ll be thanking her, too!)

Ingredients
½ C raspberry jam or jelly
1 Tbsp Chambord, Kirsch, or other raspberry liquor
2¼ C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
2/3 C sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp lemon zest, finely grated
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 C confectioner’s sugar
1½ tsp almond extract
2 tsp water

Directions
Preheat oven to 350˚. In a small bowl, combine jam and raspberry liquor. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt, whisking to blend.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar using an electric mixer until light and creamy. Beat in egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 2 additions and beat just until moist clumps form. Gather dough into a ball.

Using a 1” scoop (or you can eyeball it), form dough into balls. Place 1” apart on baking sheets. Use finger or back of a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon to create depressions in the center of each ball. Fill indentation with nearly ½ teaspoon for jam mixture. Bake 13-14 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

In a small bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar, almond extract and water. After cookies have cooled, drizzle back and forth across cookies.

Yields 2½ – 3 dozen cookies

The taste: The cookie is a flaky, shortbread base with a hint of lemon. Pair this with the touch of raspberry in the center and the hint of almond in the glaze and you’ve got a winning cookie! Yum, yum!

The ease: Although these look difficult to make, they are simple. The most difficult part is rolling the dough into balls and pressing divots to hold the raspberry filling.

The fat-assness: With two sticks of butter for 36ish cookies means approximately ½ tablespoon of butter per cookie. You may have a fat ass after eating these, but it will be worth it!

The cleanup: 4 bowls, the mixer and utensils. And, 2 cookie sheets. Or, you can take my favorite easy route and line the sheets with parchment paper. Easy schmeasy.

The verdict: They look beautiful (this batch doesn’t look so hot, as the Texas heat got to them), taste delicious and are simple. What’s not to like about that?

The variation: Although I haven’t done it, I imagine that using orange zest and juice for the lemon (sorry, Mom) and strawberry jam for the raspberry would be a delicious alternative.

The tip: When making cookies, always beat the butter and sugar more than you think you should. It should lighten in color and look fluffy. Then, once the flour is added, beat minimally, just enough to combine the ingredients. You’ll get tender, flaky cookies every time!

Enjoy!

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