Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Key Lime Pie

What a great long weekend.  BP and I had it planned out and it was full of fun and time with friends.  And of course I had to get some baking in as well.  BP's dad has recently moved in with him, and I can't say enough how happy it makes BP to have his dad there.  They are too cute when they are together, and his dad makes me laugh.  I love getting to know him better and enjoy having him around when I'm there.  BP had mentioned that his dad loves Key Lime Pie and could I make one for him.  My answer, of course!!  Any excuse to break out Big Red and bake. 

Saturday we went out and spent some time with friends and caught a movie.  Once that was done, BP went off to poker with the guys and I headed back to the house to bake it up......and I had to do most of it in stealth mode while BP's dad was in the next room.  Happily he had no idea what I was baking, he just knew I was baking.  The pie came together quickly, as do most pies.  The longest part is waiting for it to cool and set up.  So while it was cooling, I started away on some cookies for a BBQ we were going to.  Not just any cookie, S'mores Cookies.  

Now I've made these cookies tons of time in the past, and every time I make them people go crazy for them.  I was a little worried though because BP isn't that big on S'mores in general.  When I told him what I wanted to make for the BBQ, he just gave me a look like "OK Nugget, do your thing".  Oh ye of little faith.  Never doubt my baking skills :) 

Cookies baking away, BP and I were texting back and forth about his dad's pie.  We were like kids on Christmas Eve, getting impatient for it to be ready so I could give it to him.  But in the mean time, I was focused on cookies.  And when I texted BP this picture,

hello friends
his response was amusing.  "Those look interesting".  Oh he had no clue what he was in for.  I mean how can you NOT love a chocolate chip cookie with graham crackers, Hershey bars and mini marshmallows on top?!  I kept telling him how good they were and he asked if they were up to "whoopie pie standard".  All I could say was he would have to be the judge of that when he got home.  Time to get back to work on the pie....

Finally the pie was cooled and ready to top!!  I was so excited. 

so pretty.....ok not really but we can pretend
I had gone the whole time without BP's dad knowing what was going on.  I bring it out to him and tell him I made him a pie - he was so into what he was watching on tv he was like 'oh ok'.  I knew I threw him off from the movie and BP and I came to the same conclusion that he was so engrossed in the movie he wasn't fully paying attention.  But about 30 minutes later, he came downstairs, thanked me for the pie and told me it was delicious.  I couldn't stop beaming.  I wasn't sure if he really liked it, but the next day when BP and I got home from being out and about, the pie was almost gone.  I did a little happy dance in the kitchen.  I was thrilled that his dad loved it. 

Pie = hit.  Cookies?? Let's get back to the cookies and BP.......he got home Friday night and eyed the cookies.  I was eating one and asked if he wanted one.  He said no but he would have a bite of mine.  All it took was one bite.  He was hooked.  Time for the BBQ and I had packed up 2 tins worth of cookies to bring with us.  I turn around with the tins in my hands and the look on BP's face was horror.  "Let's hold up a second - we don't need to bring all of those with us.  Some of them need to stay here with us".  Now, we already had a tin going just for us.  He proceeded to take half of one tin and put it into ours.  You know, to make it through the week.  All I could think of while he was taking more cookies for us was I love this man. 

Weekend came to a close, pie was demolished, a few cookies left.  Amazing time with BP and friends. And S'mores cookies will be making another appearance, maybe for poker night at BP's house. 

Key Lime Pie
makes one 9" pie
1 1/4 cups graham-cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh Key-lime juice
1 tablespoon grated Key-lime rind
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled

1. Heat oven to 375°. Combine graham-cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl, and mix well. Press into a buttered 8-inch pie plate, and bake 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice, and rind. Pour into the prepared, cooled crust.
3. Lower oven to 325°. Return pie to oven, and bake approximately 15 to 17 minutes, until the center is set but still quivers when the pan is nudged.
4. Remove from oven, and let stand until cool.
5. Shortly before serving, whip cream until stiffened. Decorate pie with whipped cream, and serve at room temperature. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Pop Tarts

Time is flying by.  I can't believe it's already the middle of May.  Soon the warm weather will be here and I will be all about no bake items and ice cream.  While the weather is still (somewhat) cool I will be baking away.  Last weekend I made 2 family recipes for BP - Whoopie Pies and Jumbo Raisin Cookies.  Both were a hit.  BP told me that "there wasn't enough whoopie pies made".  I love when he loves things I bake, especially when they are family recipes. 

The week flew by, work is going amazing and I love my job and my coworkers.  Before I knew it, Friday was here and it was time to start our weekend off at one of our favorite places, Top Golf.  After a great night out with friends, it was time to relax and run some errands.  Wandering around Walmart, we stumbled onto a display of pop tarts.  BP made the comment of how he loves pop tarts, and me being the baking nerd that I am said that I have a recipe for those.  He got so excited.  I wasn't even going to bake this weekend, but the look on his face when I said I could make them was just too cute. 

Now, yes this does take some time.  You need to make the dough and let it chill.  You can do the minimum time required to chill the dough and it's still about 2 hours.  So if you want you can always break this up into two days or morning and evening of one day.  And something I love about these is that you can make them the size you want.  I tend to go for a medium size pop tart, this gets you a good number of treats and they are the perfect size. 

Ok - they aren't the prettiest things, but
damn tasty
Now, make sure you let them cool all the way before you frost them.  Then let the frosting set all the way - then comes the tough choice.  To toast or not to toast?!  Either way these pop tarts are amazingly delicious.  And the best part is, you can make the filling any flavor you want.  Your options are endless. 

nom nom nom
The time finally came to try them.  BP waited patiently for hours while they were baking and cooling and setting.  And one of his friends was over for dinner and to hang out and he finally got to try some of my baked goods that I make all the time.  Time to chow down - and they both loved them.  I'm a big fan of making things from scratch.  You can control the ingredients and lately I've been baking it up with the baking blends of sugar and brown sugar and you can't even taste the difference.  So if you are looking for a great recipe to tackle that isn't too hard, try this one out.  I mean we all love things from our childhood and this is something we all associate with childhood - so make a treat for the kid in you.  You wont regret it. 

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Pop Tarts
For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small chunks
4 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
For the filling:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg, whisked with a tablespoon of water, to brush the pastries with
For the glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
4 teaspoons milk, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
If you don't have a food processor, you can use your hands.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt; pulse a couple times to combine the ingredients. Throw in the cold, diced butter, and pulse 10 more times or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about the size of peas.
With machine running, add ice water through the opening on top of the lid, in a slow, steady stream, one tablespoon at a time,  just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. It should form a ball and come away from the sides. It is very important to  not over process the dough. A way to test the dough is by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still dry and doesn’t come together, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into disks and tightly wrap in plastic. Place the disks in the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
To assemble the toaster pastries: Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and allow it to thaw for a bit. This will help you roll out the dough, and make it easier to work with. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Trim the sides of the dough so that it measures 9×12 inches in size. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Cut each piece of dough into thirds and then each third into thirds again. You should end up with 9 rectangular pieces, each measuring 3×4 inches. Using a ruler will make this process easier.
Beat the egg with a tablespoon of water and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough pieces. This will be the “bottom” of the tart; the egg will help glue the lid on. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, making sure to leave about 1/4 inch of space on the edge. Brush the second dough pieces with egg wash as well, and place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Crimp the edges with a fork all around the edge of each rectangle. This will ensure the tarts do not open up during baking.
Gently place the tarts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart five times with a skewer or tooth pick; this will allow the steam to escape, so that the tarts will become light and airy instead of flat pop-tarts. Brush the tops with extra egg wash. Refrigerate the tarts, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. This will allow the butter in the dough to chill and firm up causing a flakier crust.
Remove tarts from the fridge and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until they’re golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let the tarts cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before glazing.
To make the glaze, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until it reaches a spreading consistency. It should be thick but not too thick. Use a butter knife or offset spatula to glaze each tart. Allow the glaze to harden before eating. Store them in an airtight container. To reheat, place in a350° oven and heat for 10 minutes. Or you can pop them in a toaster to warm them for a few seconds.