Ummmm cheesecake – everyone’s favorite. But getting it to come out is another matter. Do you use a water bath or not? How do you prevent it from cracking? Or do you just give up and buy one? What if you could make a great cheesecake and not have to worry about the baking part? We’re not talking about just any cheesecake, but rocky road with chocolate, salted peanuts and marshmallows finished with a gravel top of peanuts and chocolate and caramel sauce? Now there’s no reason not to make one. Oh, and you can tell everyone you baked this perfect cheesecake and soak in all the compliments. No one will know this was a no bake cheesecake except you and me!! And I’m not tellin’!! Continue reading
Hand Pies have been around as long as people have been cooking. Anything enclosed in bread or pastry that can be eaten out of hand qualifies. It can be a turnover, English pasty, a calzone, or Russian pierogis. Every culture has a hand pie no matter what they call it.
While many hand pies are savory, sweet hand pies qualify and have been front and center of late. Any pie filling or sweet filling can be used as long as it isn’t runny. A number of pastries can be used but I particularly like this Mock Puff Pastry. The recipe has been around a long time. I remember seeing it first in the ’80’s. It combines two techniques – pie crusts and the laminating of doughs. This dough contains no water. It is held together with sour cream which makes a very tender, as well as tasty, pastry.
It is important when making the pastry to make sure the butter stays in pea size piece as in a pie crust. The pastry should not come together in the mixer. It should be removed as soon as it clumps together. It is pushed together into a cohesive dough on the work surface and rolled into a rectangle. I fold mine into what is called a book fold as has more layers than the traditional three fold laminated pastry.
It is best to make the pastry at least the day or up to three days ahead. It rolls out easily. When making pastry for a hand pie, do not roll it out too thick, especially as this will rise as does puff pastry but not as dramatically.
The apple filling may also be made the day ahead if desired.
This recipe calls for the use of a bought caramel, Werther’s Original soft and chewy caramels. But my caramel would make an even better version. Just use about 1 tablespoon per hand pie and place it on the bottom of the hand pie with the apple filling over it.
A salted version can be made by sprinkling coarse sea salt lightly over the caramel.
Or, if you wish, omit the caramel and just use the apple filling. This filling is a great basic apple filling for anything made with apples.
A word about the potato starch. I have recently switched from cornstarch to potato starch for a couple of reasons. The first is anything thickened with potato starch can be frozen and thawed with no harm. Cornstarch will break down if frozen and thawed. Secondly, potato starch can be heated to a higher temperature than cornstarch. If you have ever cooked something with cornstarch in it and it has lost its thickness, it was cooked too long or at too high a heat. The potato starch, like cornstarch, is clear when cooked.
This Apple Caramel Hand Pie can be frozen before baking without the egg wash. It is best to bring it to room temperature, egg wash it and then bake it. Hand Pies are great to have in the freezer when you want a quick dessert or treat.
Mock Puff Pastry
The original recipe came from King Arthur Flour. While I increased the salt slightly, my main change was how this was put together. KA did it by hand, I give you the option of processor or mixer.
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (245 grams or 8 2/3 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (225 grams or 8 ounces)
1/2 cup cold sour cream (114 grams or 4 ounces)
Place the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a mixer. Mix briefly. Place the butter over the flour and beat on low to medium until the butter is cut in but leaving pea size pieces of butter.
Pour out onto a work surface and push together to form a cohesive mass. Shape into a rectangle and roll into a 16×8 rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Brush off any loose flour. Bring the bottom to the middle of the dough. Square the sides by pushing the sides to straighten it out. Bring the top down to the middle and the bottom up to the muffle. Fold in half. This is a book fold. Turn one quarter to the right.
Apple Caramel Hand Pies
1 large Granny Smith
2 Gala Apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoons potato starch
1 recipe mock puff pastry
2 – 5 ounce bags Werther’s Original Chewy Caramels
Coarse Sea Salt, optional
Peel the apples and cut into about 1/2 inch dice. You should have about 4 cups. Combine the apples with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and water. Place in a medium saucepan and simmer until the apples are tender. When the apples are almost done, stir the potato starch into the lemon juice and add to the apple mixture. Bring to a boil and cook several minutes until thickened. Cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a 1/2 sheet with parchment. Set aside.
Line 4 caramels along the bottom of the rounds, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle with a little sea salt if using. Place 1/6 of the filling (scant 1/3 cup) over the caramels. Wet the border with water, Bring the top down over the apples matching the edges. Press together. Seal with the tines of a fork. Brush with egg wash. Cut a vent in the top.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until medium golden brown. Repeat with the other 5.
Bake for 18 to 22 minutes until golden brown. Cool. Serve slightly warm.
Yield: 6 Handpies
Orange Bread Pudding with Orange Cream Sauce is the type of dessert I once joked about. I was going to write a book named, “363 Bread Puddings and 252 Crème Brulees” because almost every restaurant in business serves these two desserts. But none of them comes close to this different take on everyone’s favorite dessert.
While technically any bread can be used, Challah or Brioche are my breads of choice for this bread pudding. Challah is the Jewish Bread rich in egg and braided. It’s very close to Brioche. Pecans and raisins work well with the orange flavor of the bread pudding. The Orange Cream Sauce accentuates the orange flavor while adding the perfect balance between sweet and tart. Continue reading
Every once in a while I get a hankering for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. So recently I had one. I don’t know if it was me or if the formula was changed but it seemed gritty and not at all smooth like I remembered it.
So I set out to capture the taste I remembered and low and behold, I think it’s better! And not only better, but really, really easy. For ingredients for the peanut butter and two for the chocolate. So there’s no excuse for not making these.
The small paper liner cups can be found in grocery stores, party stores, and kitchen stores. They need to be small and just fit the cups. It is ok if they rise slightly above the cups. Continue reading
I have been asked on more than one occasion how I write Pastries Like a Pro. It’s so automatic, I have never really given it a lot of thought. So basically it goes like this.
There are several scenarios I follow. When I knew I would be moving from my house of 47 years late last year, I worked furiously to finish my blogs almost through the month of February. I knew the day of the move was the start of an intense period of change for us and we both looked forward to it. But Wow! did I ever under estimate the time to get settled in and unpacked. The good news is, we are comfortable and loving our new home. But now it’s time to get back to a normal life and that includes blogging.
I usually set up my list for 3 to 6 months ahead. This is for self defense. I don’t want to get to Monday or Tuesday of the week and realize I do not have a blog for that week. It also helps me organize the blogs so I am not doing chocolate, or cakes, cookies or anything else too many times in a row. It often takes a simple shifting of blogs around to make the list more interesting. Continue reading