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.

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

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...


☕ ☕ ☕


~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
 Visit my online 
coffeehouse here.


* * *


Our bestselling hardcover is
now a bestseller in paperback!



Coffee. 
It can get a girl killed.

Amazon * B&N



A Mystery Guild Selection
A Baker & Taylor "Trends" Pick
Three "Best of Year" Reviewer Lists


☕  ☕  ☕


The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
15 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 


GET A FREE TITLE CHECKLIST
OF BOOKS IN ORDER


See mini plot summaries 
for every title and news on
 Cleo's next release!



🔎 🔎 🔎




Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

To get a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries, 






To learn more about the 
books and meet Jack Shepard, 
our PI ghost...





 📖  📖  📖 






*  *  *





Sign up for Cleo Coyle's 
Coffeehouse Newsletter: Recipes, 
News, Fun Contests, Videos... 
Click here to subscribe.



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!



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pumpkin Muffin Tops from Cleo Coyle


I am not ashamed to say it. I am a lover of muffin tops. The kind you eat and the other kind, because mangia means love in Italian and love handles make it easier to hold on to the ones you love.

Of course, as a writer, I spend most of the day sitting on my assets. So, while I love indulging for the holidays (butter and I have a longstanding relationship), when it comes to daily eating, I'm always looking for recipes that taste good but aren't crazy-high in calories. This recipe does that for me. 


At the start of the week, I'll make a double batch of these babies and store them in the fridge. Each day I'll pop two in the microwave, spread a little butter on top, pour a fresh cup of coffee (of course!), and I'm good to start writing.

Cleo's Pumpkin 

Muffin Tops


Here is a lighter, healthier alternative to fried doughnuts or syrup-laden pancakes yet just as filling and satisfying with a hot cuppa joe, and it has the added nutrition and fiber of pumpkin...

Servings: about 12 muffin tops

Ingredients:

2 large eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 and 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 and 3/4 cups all purpose flour 

NOTE: For higher, prettier muffin tops, you can increase the flour by 1/4 cup, but in my opinion they don't taste as good.

METHOD:


(1) One bowl mixing method: Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit. Place eggs in bowl and whisk. Add oil, milk, canned pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt. Whisk until blended. Finally, sift in baking powder and flour. 

NOTE: Sifting the flour lightens it for better rising and texture. Sift after measuring for correct amount. Stir well to blend in the flour. Batter should be smooth but don't over mix. Now chill that batter for 15 to 30 minutes in the refrigerator. This batter really needs to rest and hydrate for best results.






(2) Prep pan and drop: For best results, line baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop batter onto baking sheet, about 2 tablespoons per muffin top (simply drop one tablespoon of batter right on top of the other). These will double in size so leave room between. On the 2nd batch, allow pan to cool before dropping batter or tops will spread too flat.






(3) Bake: Oven should be well pre-heated to 425° F. Bake muffin tops about 10 to 12 minutes (depending on oven). Rounds will rise slightly in center, resembling muffin tops. Serve warm with butter or dust with powdered sugar. Do not allow muffin tops to cool on hot pan. Bottoms may steam and become tough. Be sure to store in refrigerator (either wrapped in plastic or placed in an airtight container).


*HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN PUMPKIN PIE SPICE

Pumpkin pie spice can be found wherever other spices are sold. Spice mixes like this (and apple pie spice) are good to keep in mind when looking for economical shortcuts to your holiday baking. If you would rather not use pre-made pumpkin pie spice, here are the ingredients to mix your own...

For 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice mix...


1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon ginger 
1/8 teaspoon allspice or cloves 
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg





Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.


* * *


Our bestselling hardcover is
now a bestseller in paperback!




Coffee. It can get a girl killed.

Amazon * B&N




A Mystery Guild Selection
A Baker & Taylor "Trends" Pick
Three "Best of Year" Reviewer Lists


*  *  *


The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
15 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 


GET A FREE TITLE CHECKLIST
OF BOOKS IN ORDER

(with mini plot summaries)


* * * 


Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

Get a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries, 



Or learn more about the 
books and meet Jack Shepard, 
our PI ghost by clicking here.


* * * 



Sign up for Cleo Coyle's 
Coffeehouse Newsletter: Recipes, 
News, Fun Contests, Videos... 
Click here to subscribe.