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Archive for the ‘Pies & Tarts’ Category

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Posted by booksncooks on November 27, 2009

A friend made this recipe a couple years ago, my first ever pecan pie. Now that I’m in charge of Thanksgiving desserts, I figured we’d gift it a whirl for myself. The pie was good – it was all gone!

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Adapted from: Betty Crocker

Ingredients for the Crust:

* 1 c. all-purpose flour
* 1/4 tsp. table salt
* 1/3 c. plus 1 Tbs. shortening
* 2-3 Tbs. cold water

Ingredients for the Pecan Filling:

* 2/3 c. sugar
* 1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted (I used 1/4 c. unsalted butter, see note below)
* 1 c. corn syrup
* 2 Tbs. bourbon (optional)
* 1/2 tsp. table salt
* 3 eggs
* 1 c. pecan halves or broken pieces
* 1 c. (or 1 6 oz. bag) semisweet chocolate chips

Note: Betty Crocker says you can decrease the butter to 1/4 a cup and the pecans to only 1/2 a cup if you wanted to make this recipe a bit healthier. Nutrition information, compliments of Betty Crocker, is based on full portions of both ingredients.

Make the Crust:

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Combine flour and salt. Then, using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until combined. The mixture will be slightly lumpy.

Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, “tossing” with a fork after each addition. The dough should be moist and will leave the sides of the bowl. If necessary, add an extra teaspoon of water.

Lightly flour the countertop. Pull dough into a ball and flatten on the prepared counter. The directions said to….. Roll the dough into a circle that is 2 inches larger than the upside-down pie plate (about 9 inches around) and then transfer to pie plate. Press dough against the bottom and sides. Leave a 1-inch overhang around the pie plate, and trim the rest off. Fold or roll the 1-inch overhang so that the dough is even with the plate….

But I had trouble rolling the dough, so instead flattened it as much as possible with my hand, and then manually fitted dough to the pie plate. It wasn’t the prettiest pie crust, but it was still nice and flaky, and was actually my favorite part!

Set the pie crust aside (nope, don’t bake yet!)

Make the Filling:

In another bowl, beat the butter, sugar, corn syrup, bourbon, salt and eggs until combined.

With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in pecans and chocolate chips. Pour filling into prepared pie crust.

Cover edge of pie with a 2-3 inch strop of foil to prevent burning. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until pie is set. Remove the foil after about 30 minutes of baking.

Let the pie cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until chilled, before serving.

Nutrition Information (based on 8 servings):

  • Calories: 630
  • Fat: 35g (14 g. saturated fat)
  • Carbs: 76g (3 g. fiber)
  • Protein: 6 g.

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Pear Tarte Tatin with Almond Pastry

Posted by booksncooks on October 29, 2009

My tarte tatin wasn’t as pretty as the photo in the magazine, but it was quite tasty. Almost the whole dish was gone, and I had one request for the recipe.

Since I had burnt caramel earlier that morning, I was nervous about caramelizing the pears. I probably didn’t actually get to the caramel state with the sugar and water. After baking, it was a bit watery, but I poured off the excess so that it didn’t get soggy (the dessert had to sit out several hours before I would serve it) and still ended up with a great dish!

Pear Tarte Tatin 5

Pear Tarte Tatin with Almond Pastry

Fine Cooking No. 23, reprinted in Big Buy

Ingredients for the Pastry:

  • 1 c. cake flour
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into large pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed ground almonds
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tbs. heavy cream

Ingredients for the Caramelized Pears

  • 3 lbs. pears (about 6 large), peeled, halved, and cored
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger tossed with 1 tsp. sugar (I used dried ginger)
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter

Make the Pastry:
In a food processor, combine the flour, butter, salt, and sugar. Pulse briefly until the mixture has pea-size lumps and the rest looks like cornmeal. Add the almonds and pulse for just another second. Mound the mixture on a work surface, make a well, and pour the egg yolk and cream into the center. Continue mixing the ingredients until you have a “shaggy dough” (mine was quite thick and sticky, and reminded me of the dough used in scones). Knead the dough just until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Caramelize pears: Cut the pears lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Toss Pear Tarte Tatin 1them with the ginger-sugar mixture (1 Tbs. ginger and 1 tsp. sugar). Heat a 9-inch cast-iron pan with an ovenproof handle over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and water swirl the pan to combine. Watch the sugar syrup carefully as it bubbles. When it turns light brown, add the butter and cook, stirring gently with a wooden spoon, until the caramel is an even, deep brown. (Mine never browned, as I said above, but it did get to a candy-like state when it cooled. I ended up reheating it and using it anyway, even though I knew it wasn’t caramel.) Remove the pan from the heat and let the caramel cool slightly. Carefully arrange the pear slices in the caramel in a single concentric layer. Top with additional pear slices, continuing the circular pattern until the pears reach the top of the pan. (Pear slices will shrink as they cook.) Return the pan to medium-high heat and cook until the pears on the bottom layer are fork-tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly while you roll out the dough.

Make Tarte Tatin: Heat oven to 450. Roll the dough on a floured surface into a 10 1/2-inch round. Either pick the dough up with your hands or roll the dough onto the rolling pin to move it to pan. Drape sough over the pan of pears to cover. Fold the extra dough onto itself to form rough border. Press the crust down onto the pears to compress them slightly.

Lower oven temperature to 400F. Bake the tarte until the pastry is crisp and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Carefully invert the tarte onto a serving plate with a rim to catch the caramel. Pour any caramel that stays in the pan over the tarte. (Again, my “caramel” was much more watery that caramel, so I poured off excess caramel so that the pastry crust didn’t get too soggy before serving.)

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Chocolate Ganache

Posted by booksncooks on October 27, 2009

Raspberry Ganache (compliments of

This summer, I found a fantastic recipe (and photo) for a chocolate ganache, by Kraft Foods. It’s as easy as a dessert can get, and tastes absolutely decadent. It takes about 15 minutes to make (no oven!), and then chills for a couple hours. I’ve included the original recipe below, a Raspberry Chocolate Ganache, as well as my variations at the bottom.

1 pkg. (8 squares) Semi-Sweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup  whipping cream
6 Tbsp. seedless raspberry jam, divided
1   OREO Pie Crust (6 oz.)
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 Tbsp.  water

MICROWAVE chocolate and cream for about 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after each minute. Whisk together until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Stir in 2 Tbsp. jam.

POUR into crust and refrigerate for 4 hours.

ARRANGE berries on top of pie. Microwave remaining jam and water in small microwaveable bowl for 30 seconds. Stir until well blended. Brush onto berries. Keep refrigerated.


  • Blackberry / blueberry jam with fresh blueberries on top
  • Kahlua Chocolate Ganache: A couple tablespoons of Kahlua baked into the ganache instead of the jam. Instead of fruit on top, a Kahlua whipped cream. (I’d also like to try this with Bailey’s.)

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