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Mince & Tassies

11 Dec

I felt like baking something that wouldn’t require a whole lot of effort tonight. I figured that since there was some vegetarian mincemeat left, but not enough left to make a whole pie, I should probably use that up. In my pondering, I remembered having pecan tassies, which were basically little pecan pies, made in mini-muffin tins. Sure enough, there are about a bajillion recipes for those, along with lots of variations that led me to believe that the mince pie filling would work in that crust.

Despite seeing the same ingredients listed over and over, I was skeptical because all it called for was 1 stick of butter, 3 oz of cream cheese, and 1 cup of flour. The result is rather crumbly and a bit on the bland side, but since it’s just a vehicle for the filling, I’m okay with it, especially since it was wonderfully low-effort. I also like that this is a good example of British-American fusion, as the tassies seem to be an especially Southern cookie, and there’s the staple British holiday dessert of mincemeat pies! So here we have this, somewhere between a cookie and a pie:

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Vegetarian Mincemeat (see previous post)

Method:

  1. Mix first 3 ingredients together until a dough forms.
  2. Refrigerate dough 1 hour or until firm enough to work with
  3. Preheat oven to 325
  4. Pinch off balls of dough and plop into the cups of an ungreased mini-muffin tin (it just filled my 18-cup tin).
  5. Push the dough down so that it lines the inside of each cup.
  6. Fill (but don’t overfill) each cup with the mincemeat.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crusts are golden.
  8. Cool in the tin, then carefully lift each one out with the tip of a knife (they will be crumbly!).

 

 

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Vegetarian Mincemeat Pie

24 Nov

…but mincemeat pie isn’t really meat, so it’s already vegetarian, you might say. You would be wrong. Traditional mincemeat is made with beef suet, which is the fat from specific areas of the cow, as it apparently has a certain desirable texture. Are you grossed out yet? Yeah, me too. That’s why I decided there had to be a better way to make the stuff without adding a meat product to a fruit pie. In the UK and in some British import shops, it’s possible to find vegetarian suet, but after a thorough search of my area, I couldn’t find any. To the Internet!

I looked up what suet is and what properties it has that are needed to fulfill its duty and ultimately decided that the refined coconut oil I already had in my cabinet would be perfect. It is solid at room temperature, with a waxy, somewhat crumbly texture, which is exactly how the suet was described. Also, unlike UNrefined coconut oil, the refined stuff has absolutely no scent or taste of coconut (or any scent or taste of anything) whatsoever, so unless you have an allergy, this pie is totally fine even for people who don’t like coconut. Inserted into (a well-modified version of) Gordon Ramsay’s Cranberry Mincemeat Pie recipe, it produced a wonderful result. These things are seriously delicious!

Another thing that’s hard to find stateside are mince pie pans, which are sort of like a shallower cupcake pan. I plan to order one online, but since I wanted mincemeat pie for Thanksgiving tomorrow, we ended up with one full-sized 9″ pie, 5 little mincemeat raviolis made from the pie crust trimmings, and about another pie worth of filling leftover. I’m thinking I might try making mincemeat tassies or something with that, but we’ll see.

With no further ado, here’s the recipe I ended up making, which is adapted from the Cranberry Mincemeat Pie recipe in the Christmas With Gordon cookbook. If you can get your hands on that book, I highly recommend it.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium honeycrisp apples
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 100g (about 1/4 package from Trader Joe’s) dried apricots, diced fairly small
  • 1 10 oz box of golden currants
  • About 10 oz of dried cranberries (give or take a little, depending on the size of the package you find)
  • 1.25 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 8 TBSP unrefined coconut oil
  • 100 ml spiced rum
  • 2 uncooked pie crusts (the original recipe included a crust, with more grated orange zest, but I just used frozen pie crust from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp water
  • Sugar, for sprinkling

Procedure

  1. Peel the apples, then grate them into a large bowl (one that’ll fit in your fridge though)
  2. Dump in the orange zest, lemon zest, orange juice, and lemon juice. Stir.
  3. Add the currants and cranberries. Stir.
  4. Add the brown sugar and spices. Guess what? Stir.
  5. Mix in the coconut oil. It’ll melt a little and leave some clumps, but that’s okay. You don’t have to make it disappear.
  6. Pour in the rum and stir it all together.
  7. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour, but preferably overnight. According to Ramsay, it gets better the longer it matures, but if you’re not going to use it in the next day or so, store it in sterilized, sealed glass jars in the fridge for up to 6 months.
  8. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350.
  9. Put the bottom crust into a pie dish (I recommend using one sturdier than aluminum foil, as it’s going to be a heavy pie and a foil pan will make it an exercise in frustration to get the thing out of the oven without destroying the edges of the crust – not that I know this from personal experience or anything.), trimming off any overhang. Don’t bother fluting the edges or doing anything fancy at this point.
  10. Scoop the filling into the unbaked crust until the filling is just about level with the top of the pan (a little bit higher is okay).
  11. Lay the second crust on top of the filled pie, again trimming off any overhang. Now is when you can flute the edges or just press them really well into the bottom crust. Make a few slashes in the top to vent.
  12. Mix the egg yolk and water together and paint this mixture over the entire top crust with a pastry brush, then sprinkle sugar over the whole affair.
  13. Bake for about 35 minutes or until it’s golden brown and the crust isn’t doughy anymore. If the edges get really brown before the middle is done, fold strips of foil over the edges to stop them from burning.

If you want to use the leftover dough to make the little raviolis like we did, just roll the dough into an even number of same-sized balls, flatten them, and put half of them on a cookie sheet. Place a dollop of filling in the center of each round, then top them with the remaining rounds. Be sure to seal the edges, then egg wash and sugar the tops. Those will bake in about 15 minutes.

Aside

Fraser’s First Sweet Potato Pie

9 Dec

He approves! The pie was based on a recipe from Epicurious, but which I adjusted and substituted as I felt like it. The consistency is similar to a pumpkin pie, but fluffier, and tastes nothing like a pumpkin pie. It puffed up quite a bit as it baked, but then it deflated and was even with the rim of the crust.

Ingredients:

5 small sweet potatoes

1/4 cup of butter

1 can of sweetened condensed milk (used instead of the milk & sugar in the original recipe)

3 eggs

Several dashes of pumpkin pie spice (I like it fairly spicy)

Dash of salt

Splash of milk (I didn’t measure – just enough to thin it out some)

1 premade shortcrust pie shell

Method:

Bake the sweet potatoes at 350 F/180 C for about an hour, or until they’re soft but not too mushy. Prick the potatoes with a fork a bunch of times before placing them on a baking sheet.

Let the potatoes cool until they’re safe to handle, then peel off the skins and mash the potatoes.

Raise the oven temperature to 400 F/200 C.

Melt the butter, then mix it and the rest of the ingredients together.

Press the pie crust into a deep pie or flan dish.

Pour the filling into the dish, then sprinkle some cinnamon on top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle. (40 minutes put mine just a trifle too dark on top.)