Showing posts with label pumpkin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pumpkin. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pie vs. Pie - Wife vs. Husband for the Best Pumpkin Pie by Cleo Coyle #Thanksgiving



Although my husband and I met in New York City, we were born and raised in small towns outside of Pittsburgh, PA, where our mothers cooked up big, beautiful Thanksgiving dinners. While Marc's mom served different side dishes than my mom, turkey (no surprise) was always the main event. And both dinners ended with big hunks of pumpkin pie. Just not the same pie.

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My mom used the popular recipe found on Libby's canned pumpkin. Marc's mom used another recipe, the one found on the can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk.

For years, my husband insisted that his mom's version was better. The truth is, he's not a big fan of pumpkin pie. But I am! So for years I made my mom's favorite recipe and baked up a pecan or apple pie for Marc. Still...I never forgot his comment about his mother's pie, and I always wanted to do a "pie vs pie" bake off. Well...

I finally did it!


Which pie came out the winner? 

Let's start by baking up both recipes...




 PUMPKIN PIE #1


Libby's® Pumpkin Recipe*

*Recipe slightly adapted by Cleo Coyle, using her own order of ingredients and description of directions.

INGREDIENTS:

2 large eggs 
1 can (15 oz) Libby's ® 100% Pure Pumpkin
3/4 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
1 can (12 fl. oz) Carnation® Evaporated Milk
1 unbaked, 9-inch (4 cup volume) pie shell

DIRECTIONS: 

(1) MAKE YOUR FILLING: First preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Allow it to preheat a good 30 minutes. While waiting, whisk the two eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the canned pumpkin, sugar, salt, and spices. Slowly stir in the entire can of evaporated milk. Mix  well, until the filling is thick, smooth and all ingredients are blended together. 

(2) PREP YOUR PIE SHELL: Loosely curl aluminum foil around the crust's edges as a shield against the high heat. This will prevent your crust from over-browning or burning. OR you can use a baker's pie crust shield like the ones you see here. (Note: While many pie recipes tell you to apply the foil or shield near the end of the baking process, I think it's a hazard to do this with a very hot pan and much smarter to shield the crust edges before the pie goes into the oven. Just sayin'....it works for me!)

(3) BAKE: Pour the pumpkin filling into the pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes. Remove foil about ten minutes before pie is finished baking. Pie is done when top is set and no longer liquid (jiggly) and/or a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.






PUMPKIN PIE #2


Eagle Brand® Recipe

*Recipe slightly adapted by Cleo Coyle, using her own order of ingredients and description of directions.

INGREDIENTS:

2 large eggs 
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (about 2 cups)
1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 unbaked, 9-inch pie shell

DIRECTIONS: 

(1) MAKE YOUR FILLING: First preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Allow it to preheat a good 30 minutes. While waiting, whisk the two eggs in a large bowl. Add the canned pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, salt, and spices. Whisk vigorously, until the filling is thick, smooth and all ingredients are blended together. 

(2) PREP YOUR PIE SHELL: Loosely curl aluminum foil around the crust's edges as a shield against the high heat. This will prevent your crust from over-browning or burning. OR you can use a baker's pie crust shield like the ones you see here(Note: While many pie recipes tell you to apply the foil or shield near the end of the baking process, I think it's a hazard to do this with a very hot pan and much smarter to shield the crust edges before the pie goes into the oven. Just sayin'....it works for me!)

(3) BAKE: Pour the pumpkin filling into the pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake for an additional 35 to 40 minutes. Remove foil about ten minutes before pie is finished baking. Pie is done when top is set and no longer liquid (jiggly) and/or a toothpick inserted an inch from the crust comes out clean.


In the photo above, Pie #2 (Eagle Brand recipe)
is on the left and Pie #1 (Libby's recipe) is on the right.

THE VERDICT

I hate to admit it, but the winner is PIE #2. The husband was right, and his mom had the better recipe for many reason. Of course, it's also more calories...but, hey, it's Thanksgiving! 

WHY IT WON

The Eagle Brand recipe brought a nicer texture to the pie and that made a huge difference. The filling baked up denser and smoother with a more velvety mouthfeel. It also made a prettier pie, as you can see in the photo above, with a more appealing color and less cracking after cooling. 

HOWEVER

I must give credit to Pie #1 (Libby's pie) for being less calories AND having a better spice mix! You'll notice there are no cloves in Pie #2 (the Eagle Brand recipe). Because of that, the ginger and nutmeg seem to overwhelm the flavor, and not in a good way. I think the balance of spices is much better in my mom's favorite pie recipe.

MY SOLUTION?

Bake the best of both pies! The next pumpkin pie I bake will use the Eagle Brand recipe (for texture) but with Libby's mix of spices (for taste). Okay, I *might* reduce the cloves slightly for Marc's sake since he's not a fan while adding a bit of nutmeg, which wouldn't hurt, either.

And there you have it, 

THE BEST PUMPKIN PIE 

is when you make it your own!


May your 
Thanksgiving table
be blessed!



Alice and Marc in Central Park.

Together we write as...


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~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Buried in a Bog Cheesecake for #Halloween

Ah, that lovely season when the dead rise again! You probably know of my fondness for graveyards, not to mention my obsession with my dear departed ancestors (“You have how many names in your family tree?” Actually, as of this week it’s 13,165, not including the Irish side.)

But sometimes it’s hard to find appropriate recipes for Halloween. In the past I’ve offered you black pasta (hand-imported from Italy!) and black garlic, and even spider cookies crawling out of a pumpkin one year. This year I realized I had overlooked one very obvious choice: the bog dead!



A few years ago my daughter gave me a set of skull baking molds (she knows me well). But I seldom feel the urge to make skull muffins or cupcakes. What else could I do . . .  And then I had this idea for skulls emerging from a pool of peat (aka a bog). Don’t worry: the skulls are shortbread, and the peat is dark chocolate cheesecake.

(If you’re faint of heart, you could make pumpkin cookies instead and scatter them over the nice field of cheesecake earth.)

The Skulls:

I used the basic shortbread recipe from my post last week and pressed the dough into the molds, filling them only part way (you could also use sugar-cookie dough). Then I baked them. It’s all right if they brown a little—a skull marinating in peat for a few centuries should be a bit discolored.

The Crust:

This will not show, but you will need it if you plan to eat this concoction (silly question) This recipe fits a 9-inch pan, but I doubled it for a 9x13” pan (I wanted to fit more skulls in).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray your pan with cooking spray.

9 oz. chocolate wafer cookies (crunchy ones, not chewy ones)
2 Tblsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted

In a food processor, grind the cookies to fine crumbs, then blend in the sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and blend. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until set (about 10 minutes), then cool.





The Cheesecake:

I searched through recipes and picked the deepest, darkest one I could find.


12 oz. (2 bags) bittersweet chocolate (if bars, chop)
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
4 eggs



Melt the chocolate (microwave works well, or in a double boiler—slowly!), stirring steadily until the chocolate is melted. Let cool to lukewarm.



In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and cocoa powder together (no lumps!). In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes), then add the sugar/cocoa powder mixture. Beat well, scraping down the bowl. Blend in the eggs, one at a time. Finally mix in the lukewarm chocolate and stir.

Let me tell you, this stuff is delicious! I was tempted to eat it straight from the bowl.

Building your Bog:



Take your pan with the cookie layer and arrange the skulls on that—you can use as many as you want, and distribute them in whatever pattern pleases you—all lined up or randomly.

Pour in the filling carefully around the skulls. Actually, I had to use a pastry bag—the batter was a bit too thick to pour. But this is supposed to be peat, so it doesn’t have to be tidy. The layer doesn’t have to be too deep—you want the skulls to look like they’re emerging from the murk, ever so slowly. If you’re feeling creative, you can sprinkle some left-over crumbs around the skull to make the bog look more authentic.

This is a very large peat bog in Shannonbridge,
Ireland. It provides fuel for a nearby electric
generating station.  I had to stop and check it out.

Bake until the center is just set (that is, still a little wiggly), rotating the pan in the oven once during cooking. The exact timing will depend on how large your pan is and how deep the cheesecake layer is. Start checking after 30-40 minutes. It’s  not the end of the world if it’s baked a bit too long—the cheesecake will be more brownie-like in texture rather than creamy, but it will still taste good.




If you’re really into it, go wild with more decorations—maybe black sprinkles or some hints of green (bogs are growing things, you know). I did draw the line at adding a few (clean) chicken wing bones for effect, though. Maybe it would look good if you served it in the light of flickering candles.

Refrigerate your bog cheesecake overnight before you try to cut it (if you can wait that long!).
Savor it after the manic sugar-fueled trick-or-treaters have retreated for the night.

Oh, and a giveaway bonus: a pumpkin that will last more than a couple of weeks (It's cloth.)


And if you've never read Buried in a Bog (the first book of my County Cork Mystery Series), I'll throw that in too.

Here's a picture of the bog it's based on:

My great-great-grandfather's bog down the hill
from Knockskagh in West Cork. The peat is
under the brown grass.
Just leave a spooky comment and I'll draw one name for the pumpkin (hmm, I could draw a name out of a pumpkin . . .)

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!