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Nov 25, 2014
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Posts Tagged ‘Baking’

Wheatless Wednesday: Healthy Chinese Almond Cookies

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

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The holiday season is a dangerous time for me. When confronted with a tray of sweets, I’ve been known to channel Cookie Monster (“C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me!”). Those overly processed, sugary treats are addictive, and I quickly learned that I would need a healthier alternative to stave off the cookie massacre.

Everyone can use a recipe for those times we crave a treat without spiking our blood sugar levels. I find when I bake with higher protein flours, less sugar and minimally processed ingredients, I am more satisfied with just a couple cookies rather than the whole tray. These almond flour cookies are a healthy, simplified version of the traditional Chinese dessert, sweetened with just enough honey and almond extract to make the taste buds tingle. This dough is easy to work with and doesn’t contain raw eggs, so lick the that spoon guilt-free. For holiday flair, replace the vanilla and almond extracts with peppermint extract and swap whole almonds with crushed peppermint candies.

 

Healthy Chinese Almond Cookies
Makes 18 to 20

¼ cup extra-virgin coconut oil, melted
⅓ cup raw honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1⅓ cups (135 g.) almond flour*
2 Tbsp. (15 g.) coconut flour
¼ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. baking soda
18 to 20 whole raw almonds

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract and almond extract until well combined. Add the almond flour, coconut flour, salt and baking soda and stir until a firm dough comes together. It should be able to roll into a ball. If not, refrigerate up to 30 minutes.
• Roll the dough into 18 to 20 1-inch balls and place them on a baking sheet 1 inch apart. Press 1 almond into the center of each cookie. Bake 10 minutes, until edges start to lightly brown. Let the cookies cool slightly then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*I advise weighing any nut flours to prevent inaccurate measurements.

 

Baked: Apple Crisp-Stuffed Apples

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

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I’m not a huge fan of cooked apples, which is why you don’t see many recipes using them on Baked. However, I can’t say the same for my better half, and since this fall fruit is in abundance right now, this apples-on-apples dessert seemed appropriate for a dinner party.

These were a huge hit. Scooping out the apple innards took a bit of work, but they definitely wowed our guests. Whatever you do, don’t skip the cinnamon ice cream, which really takes these beauties over the top. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

 
Apple Crisp-Stuffed Apples
Adapted from Creme de la Crumb
4 servings

4 large apples (I used Jonagolds.)
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used Jonathans.)
6 Tbsp. cold butter, cubed, divided
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, divided
Pinch cloves
Pinch nutmeg
¼ tsp. plus a pinch cinnamon, divided
½ cup flour
¼ cup oats
¼ tsp. kosher salt
Cinnamon Ice Cream (recipe follows)

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Use a sharp paring knife and a spoon to carefully core and scoop out the insides of the large apples, leaving the bottom of the apple intact. Set the hollowed out apples aside. Discard the core. Reserve the scooped-out fruit.
• In a large pan over medium-high heat, saute the reserved apple pieces, the chopped medium apples, 3 tablespoons butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, cloves, nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon until the apples are warm and cooked, about 8 minutes.
• Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, flour, oats, the remaining ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and salt together until crumbly. Set aside.
• Divide the warm apple filling evenly between the 4 hollow apples, then cover each evenly with the oat crisp topping. Bake 25 minutes and serve warm with cinnamon ice cream.

Cinnamon Ice Cream
Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home
Makes about 1 quart

1½ oz. cream cheese
Pinch kosher salt
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch
2 cups milk
1¼ cup heavy cream
⅔ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon

Special equipment: ice cream maker

• Place the cream cheese and the salt in a large bowl and set aside.
• Place 2 tablespoons milk in a small bowl and whisk in the cornstarch until dissolved to create a slurry. Set aside.
• In a large saucepan, whisk the cream, the remaining milk, corn syrup, sugar and cinnamon over medium-low heat until the liquid is steaming and the sugar is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. When the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low and simmer 3 to 4 minutes.
• Whisk in the slurry, raise the heat to medium and continue to whisk. Bring to simmer and let thicken 2 to 4 minutes.
• Remove from the heat and pour over the cream cheese. Let sit 1 minute, then whisk until the cream cheese is melted. Let the mixture cool completely, then pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.
• Scoop the ice cream into an airtight container and freeze at least 4 hours before serving.

 

 

Wheatless Wednesday: Brown Butter-Apple-Ginger-Carrot Muffins

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

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True, this recipe title does sound a bit overwhelming. I considered calling these “Refrigerator Muffins” or “Kitchen Sink Muffins,” but those names conjured up mental images of old fruit and veggies, expired flours and honey jars dotted with stale breadcrumbs – not what I picture when I imagine a complex, gluten-free muffin.

Instead, this recipe – despite its lengthy moniker – exudes fall. Ginger and honey balance and lighten the crisp fall flavors of apples and carrots. Add hints of fresh herbs, and this exquisite muffin is perfect for breakfast or a sweet-savory snack.

These muffins are very moist and a bit gooey in the center, unlike cake-y, glutinous muffins. Be sure to let the muffins cool before serving, which allows the inside to set, then slather with your favorite fall jam or butter.

Baking gluten-free muffins is just as simple as the standard variety, especially with the plethora of gluten-free baking mixes on the shelves today. I used Andrea’s Gluten-Free super-fine grind flour blend, but any gluten-free flour blend will work.

 

Brown Butter-Apple-Ginger-Carrot Muffins
12 servings

5 oz. butter
1 large apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 eggs
1/3 cup honey
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. plain full-fat yogurt
1 cup gluten-free flour blend
½ cup almond flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. sea salt
1/3 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. chopped fresh sage

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the cups of a 12-cup muffin pan.
• In a cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet, brown the butter over medium-high heat until the solids start to turn dark gold and the butter smells nutty, shaking the skillet often to keep it from burning, 7 to 8 minutes.
• Add the grated apple and ginger and saute 5 to 7 minutes, until light brown and soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
• In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, honey, vanilla and yogurt. Add the cooked apples and ginger, using a rubber spatula to scrape all the browned butter into the mixture. Stir to combine and set aside.
• In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt, coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well. Fold in the carrots, rosemary and sage.
• Fill each cup in the muffin tin two-thirds high with batter. Bake 30 minutes.
• Remove from the oven and let rest in the muffin pan 3 to 5 minutes, then carefully remove the muffins from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with jam and butter.

Baked: Matcha-glazed Brownies

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

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Moving uncovers all manner of hidden ingredients. While packing up my pantry recently, I found a bag of verdant green matcha, powdered green tea with plenty of health benefits. In small doses, it adds a lovely bitter note to sweet treats. I’ve added matcha to many desserts, often pairing it with white chocolate or fruit, and I decided to give it a go in a brownie.

I topped these sweet, fudgy squares with a barely bitter matcha glaze. A little goes a long way here; just one tablespoon of matcha powder was enough for the entire batch. A small bag (available at most international grocery stores) will last year. Balance that strong bitter taste with honey and powdered sugar to create a luscious green glaze and sprinkle the top with black and white sesame seeds.

These could be great, easy Halloween treat – the color reminded me of Frankenstein’s monster! Enjoy and happy baking!

Matcha-glazed Brownies
Adapted from a recipe on My Name is Yeh
12 servings

11 Tbsp. butter, melted, divided
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. matcha powder
1 cup powdered sugar
Black sesame seeds for garnish
White sesame seeds for garnish

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
• Add 8 tablespoons butter to a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat in the granulated sugar, vanilla and the eggs until it turns pale, 2 to 3 minutes. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder into the wet ingredients and stir together with a rubber spatula until combined.
• Pour the batter into the pan and bake 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes with a few crumbs clinging to it.
• To make the matcha glaze, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, honey, matcha powder and powdered sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until combined. Pour the glaze over the warm brownies and spread it with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with black and white sesame seeds. Let cool completely before slicing.

Extra Sauce: Companion’s Josh Allen enters bread battle to compete in World Cup of Baking

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Every four years, the world goes wild for international competition. Participants train endlessly, all vying for the chance to represent their countries on the grandest of stages. No, we’re not talking about the Olympics or the World Cup. We’re talking about a more delicious and mouthwatering sport: the World Cup of Baking, or the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie.

The top three bakers from each country’s team will gather in Paris in March 2016 to be judged on bread, Viennese pastries, a savory sandwich presentation and an artistic piece. But before they go head-to-head in international competition, they have to make their national team. St. Louis’ own Josh Allen, owner of Companion, is one of 15 bakers fighting for a coveted spot tomorrow and Friday, Oct. 23 and 24, at the next round of competition in Providence, Rhode Island. If selected, Allen will be the first St. Louis baker to compete in the World Cup.

Since August, Allen has spent nearly every Friday at the Ladue Companion Cafe from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., elbow-deep in dough, testing new recipes and learning along the way. We popped by one of his final practice sessions to get the inside look at how a baker prepares for the tryout of a lifetime.

Allen is required to present five types of bread: a traditional and decorative baguette, a sourdough-based option, a nutritional loaf, and two freestyle breads of his creation. All five must be completed in eight hours and match precise weight and shape requirements.

 

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Since the judges will taste the bread straight from the oven, Allen has changed his usual methods, which focus on preparing bread consumed 12 hours later. “(I) found that the amount of thyme or rosemary has to be cut way back because it’s so floral initially,” Allen said.

Allen wanted to create breads that stand alone, almost as a meal. Each bite should be a sensory overload, he explained.

 

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The nutritional bread (pictured below), which contains more than 50 percent whole-grain flour, has the comforting aroma of chamomile dust. Mixed throughout the dough are quinoa and wild rice, as well as sweet-tart, crunchy pomegranate seeds.

 

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The classic baguette (below) is Allen’s favorite.

 

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Allen elevated the average sourdough (below) by using semolina flour studded with fennel and sesame seeds and brown butter to gild the lily.

 

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The first freestyle bread (below, left) is an ode to fall: chunks of apple and toasted walnut are folded into a thyme- and apple cider-infused rye dough topped with barley for crunch. He kicks up the heat with his second freestyle bread (below, right): an airy polenta bread with briny green olives, aromatic rosemary, bright orange zest, and a zip of red pepper.

 

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Allen expects to hear the results of this round in two weeks or so. If he succeeds, he will move to the final round of competition in March 2015, when the top three compete again to earn the coveted bread baker slot on the three-person team. “I’m as ready to go as I can be,” Allen said the day before competition. “There’s no telling what will resonate with the judges … I’m very excited about it. It’s been a great experience, but it’s been enough work that you want to do well.”

Spencer Perinkoff blogs at Whiskey and Soba

-story and photos by Spencer Pernikoff

Baked: Macaron Cake

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

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A macaron cake can be many things. It could be a cake decorated with macarons. It could be a layer of macarons inside a cake (note to self: try this). But today, a macaron cake means a giant, delicious, cake-sized macaron. When my friend requested this for his birthday, I was excited for the challenge, but I never expected it to be so tasty. I ended up making it twice in two days because we couldn’t get enough!

Even if you’re new to making macarons, this recipe is slightly less stressful since the focus won’t be on those pesky “feet”. If your macaron cracks or looks ugly, it can easily be masked with a pile of fresh fruit and a gentle sift of powdered sugar. It’s far less fussy than making traditional French macarons, but it’s still a show-stopping stunning dessert. (A quick note: You must weigh the ingredients for the macarons; the measurements are that exact.)

The Earl Grey cream filling pairs perfectly with a pistachio macaron base. If you don’t want to indulge in bergamot extract, you can easily substitute vanilla or experiment with any flavor. I imagine this would be delicious with some zesty citrus extracts or even rose or lavender. Enjoy and happy baking!
Macaron Cake
8 servings

For the macarons:
100 g. egg whites (about 3 eggs)
35 g. granulated sugar
200 g. powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
80 g. almond flour
40 g. pistachio flour (available here)

For the filling:
3 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
1½ tsp. bergamot extract (available here)
1 tsp. ground Earl Grey tea leaves
Fresh berries for garnish

Special equipment: a candy or deep fry thermometer

• Use an 8-inch plate to trace 2 circles on pieces of parchment paper with a dark marker. Flip them over and place on two baking sheets. Set aside.
• To make the macarons, whip the egg whites and sugar on high using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff. The egg whites should not move when the bowl is turned upside-down.
• Sift the powdered sugar, almond flour and pistachio flour into the bowl and fold in the ingredients, gently removing air from the batter so it flattens and slowly spreads after mixing. Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip.
• Hold the bag perpendicularly a few inches above the circle on the baking sheet. Staring at the center of the circle, slowly pipe the batter in a spiral, leaving a tiny amount of space for the batter to spread and combine to create a disc.
• Hold the bag in the same manner over the second baking sheet, but this time, outline the circle. Pipe another circle just inside the first to create a ring, leaving the center empty.
• Firmly tap each baking sheet on the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the batter rest 20 to 30 minutes, until the tops are dry to the touch.
• Move the oven rack to the center and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the baking sheets in the center of the oven and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon to let some air escape. Bake the ring 16 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through so it bakes evenly. Bake the circle 24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through so it bakes evenly.
• Carefully slide the parchment paper off the baking sheets and onto the counter to let the macarons cool completely before touching.
• Meanwhile, make the filling by placing the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer.
• Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat and do not stir. When the mixture reaches exactly 232 degrees, turn the stand mixer on high and drizzle the syrup into the bowl. Beat 1 or 2 minutes until combined, then let rest until it reaches room temperature.
• Beat in the butter, bergamot extract and tea leaves on high until the mixture comes together in smooth, frosting-like consistency, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the cream into the pastry bag and set aside.
• Once the maracons have cooled, gently place the serving plate on top of the disc-shaped macaron and invert it onto the plate. Peel off the parchment paper and pipe the pastry cream in a circle to cover the entire base. Gently lift the ring-shaped macaron off the parchment paper, peeling it as you go and supporting the bottom with your hands. Carefully place the ring atop the pastry cream.
• Fill the hole in the center with fresh berries and sift powdered sugar over the top. The macaron cake will keep, covered, 1 to 2 days.

Baked: Pumpkin Spice Sandwich Cookies

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

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As a child, I loved those Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies, and I have always wondered what it would be like to make them from scratch. This recipe offers the same smooth, buttery crunch, but instead of a classic chocolate filling, I paired them with a pumpkin spice ganache in honor of the upcoming fall. After all, it’s October, which means we’re about to be inundated with pumpkin-flavored everything. This rich pumpkin white chocolate cream makes for a perfect fall dessert, and should you have some leftover, it’s sinfully delicious as a spread or straight off a spoon when no one is looking.

Be careful not to over-bake these delicate cookies; mine turned out browner than I expected. As soon as the edges start to brown, they’re done. You want these to be pale white, not quite as dark as the photo above. Enjoy and happy baking!

Pumpkin Spice Sandwich Cookies
Adapted from a Bravetart recipe
Makes about 15 cookies

¾ oz. cornstarch
8 oz. flour
4 oz. butter, room temperature
3½ oz. sugar
2 oz. corn syrup
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼. tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, divided
¼ oz. powdered milk
1 egg
2 egg whites
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ cup canned pumpkin puree
8 oz. white chocolate, chopped

• Preheat the oven 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
• In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and flour together. Set aside.
• In another large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, corn syrup, baking soda, salt, ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until creamed, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and beat well.
• Add 1 egg white and half the flour-cornstarch mixture, beating on low until combined. Add the remaining egg white and the rest of the flour-cornstarch mixture until combined. Pour the batter into a pastry bag with a round tip attached.
• Pipe the batter onto the lined baking sheets, creating strips about 2 inches long and ½- inch wide, gently pressing the batter down a bit with the tip while piping so the cookies do not become too thick.
• Bake 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges of the cookies are just slightly brown. Let cool completely on the baking sheets.
• Meanwhile, heat the heavy cream, brown sugar and pumpkin puree in a medium saucepan over low heat for a few minutes, stirring, until the mixture combines and just comes to a simmer. Add the white chocolate and let sit for 1 minute, then whisk to combine until smooth. Transfer the melted ganache to a bowl and let cool at room temperature 30 minutes, then cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled.
• To assemble the cookies, whip the ganache with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Smear a dollop of ganache on the bottom of a cookie, then press the bottom of another cookie on the ganache to sandwich them together. Repeat until all the cookies are used. The sandwich cookies will keep, refrigerated, for several days.

Baked: 8 boozy desserts to accompany your Guide to Drinking

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Our annual Guide to Drinking graces the flip side of our September issue, and we’re talking about everything from old-school bourbon to the cider renaissance to St. Louis’ ambitious super sommeliers. But our favorite spirits and brews don’t always have to be sipped from a glass; they also make fantastic additions to our favorite desserts. Here, 8 great recipes for boozy baking with bourbon, tequila, rum and even beer.

 

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1. Niche chef-owner Gerard Craft put a Southern twist on a classic tiramisu for us a few years ago with a generous soak in bourbon.

2. Our first of two bread pudding recipes drizzles sweet, fruit-studded brioche with a sticky maple-whiskey sauce.

 

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3. Already pining for Harvest’s brioche bread pudding? Cheer up; we’ve got that sweet, boozy cake recipe right here.

4. Bourbon + bacon + brownies = brilliance

 

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5. Tart pomegranate notes mingle with lime, mint and rum in this happy mojito-inspired cupcake.

6. Fair warning: This marjolaine is not for the faint of heart. But the effort you put into this dessert – from the delicate sponge cake to the sweet rum syrup – is well worth the effort.

 

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7. Not much of a baker? Let your ice cream maker do the world with a creamy chocolate and maple-stout beer concoction.

8. Take advantage of the last few blackberries of the season (and that brand-new bottle of tequila) and make a deliciously drunk sorbet.

 

- tiramisu photo by Carmen Troesser; cupcake photo by Jonathan S. Pollack; ice cream photo by Laura Miller

By the Book: Allison Kave’s S’more Pie

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

 

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I think there is something daunting about making a pie, especially one with a fruit filling, which is why I don’t make them. I have made exactly one pie in my life. It was an apple pie, and while it was great, it took a lot of time. Honestly, I’d rather someone else do the work, and I enjoy the results.

 

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So for my second attempt at pie-making, I decided to avoid the fruit altogether (even though this is the perfect season for a fruit pie) and go the chocolate route with a S’mores Pie out of Allison Kave’s book First Prize Pies: Shoo-fly, Candy Apple & Other Deliciously Inventive Pies for Every Week of the Year (and More). Kave offers a ton of interesting recipes in her book: grasshopper pie, a Nutella pie, even an avocado cream pie. But there’s nothing like the allure of a s’more: sweet, messy and a hallmark of childhood.

 

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A simple graham cracker crust, a chocolate ganache and a burnished marshmallow topping was easy enough. Kave includes an actual marshmallow fluff recipe, but thankfully she gave me an out when she noted that you could skip the whole mess and just top your pie with store-bought marshmallows. Not every recipe in the book has step-by-step photos, but this recipe did, which came in handy when I thought my ganache looked too thin.

 

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S’mores are sweet, as is this pie, but it’s a grown-up, fancy version of the original treat you loved as a kid. That’s reason enough to make it.

 

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S’more Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie

Graham cracker crust (Recipe follows.)

Filling
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. high-quality milk chocolate, chopped or chips
1 large egg, at room temperature
¼ tsp. salt

Topping
1 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Make the filling: In a saucepan, heat the cream over medium-high heat until it is scalded. Pour it over the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and let it stand 1 minute. Whisk it thoroughly until combined into a glossy ganache. Whisk in the egg and salt until fully incorporated.
• Put the crust on a baking sheet. Pour the chocolate filling into the crust and bake it 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling has just set and is still slightly wobbly in the center. Remove the pie to cool completely.
• Make the topping: In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large heatproof bowl, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over 2/3 cup water.
• In a clean, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and another 2/3 cup water. Cook the sugar mixture over medium-high heat, stirring only at the beginning to dissolve the sugar, and boil it until a candy thermometer reaches the hard-ball stage (260 degrees). When the sugar is close to reaching this stage, turn on the stand mixer with the softened gelatin (or quickly beat the gelatin in your bowl to blend).
• Once you’ve reached the right temperature, turn on the stand or hand mixer to low speed, and slowly pour the hot syrup in a steady stream into the gelatin while mixing. Try to avoid the sides of the bowl and aim for the space between the beater and the side. When all of the syrup is in, increase the speed gradually to high to avoid splashing, and continue to beat until the mixture is very thick and has tripled in volume, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the vanilla, beat 1 minute more, and then pour the topping over the pie. It will slowly spread to cover the surface or you can use a spatula to spread it.
• Allow the topping to cool at room temperature or in the fridge until it has set, about 30 minutes. If you are using a torch (the preferred method), make sure the area you are working in is clear of any plastic, paper or other flammable items, and that the surface you are working on is fireproof (steel, marble, etc.). You can put a baking sheet under the pie to protect your countertops. Light the torch and start to lightly toast the surface of the pie, going darker or lighter according to your preference (I like my marshmallow pretty scorched, but that’s me!). When the pie is perfectly bruleed, turn off the torch and allow the pie to cool 10 minutes.
• If you are torch-less, you can do this in the broiler, but keep a close eye, as it requires patience, watchfulness and speed. Preheat your broiler, put the pie on a baking sheet, and use foil or a pie shield to cover the crust edges. Broil the pie about 3 inches from the heat source, rotating the pie for even toasting, until the topping is at your desired color. It burns very easily with this method, so watch closely! It’s best to keep the oven door cracked open and watch and rotate the whole time. Remove the pie and allow it cool at least 10 minutes.
• Your pie is now ready to serve, or you can keep it in the fridge up to 1 week. To cover, spray foil or plastic wrap very lightly with oil spray to prevent it from sticking to the topping. For easier slicing, run your knife until hot water first to prevent the marshmallow from sticking to the blade.

Graham Cracker Crust
Makes 1 9-inch pie crust

1½ cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
5 to 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Crumble the graham crackers into the work bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground. Alternatively, you can put them in a bag and whack them with a rolling pin until finely crushed. Pour the butter into the crumbs and mix (hands are best for this) until the butter is fully incorporated and the texture is that of wet sand. Firmly press the crumbs against the sides of a 9-inch pie pan, then against the bottom of the pan (the underside of a measuring cup works well for smoothing the bottom crust). Chill the crust for at least 15 minutes to help prevent it from crumbling when serving.
• Bake the crust 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove it and allow it to cool before filling.

Reprinted with permission from Stewart, Tabori and Chang.

What’s your favorite s’more making memory? Tell us about it below for a chance to win a copy of First Prize Pies. We’ll email the winner!

 

Baked: Cherry Lavender Hand Pies

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

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I used to dislike pie so much that when anyone offered me a slice, my reaction was a perfunctory “No, thanks.” However, this is increasingly difficult the more I play with fruit and dough. Case in point: When I saw fresh cherries at the supermarket, I knew exactly how I wanted to use them. Floral, fragrant lavender perfectly cuts the sweetness of dark, luscious cherries, and there’s no better package for this combination than pie.

Instead of a cumbersome traditional pie, I opted for the more portable hand pie. This also provided greater crust-to-filling ratio (Rejoice, crust lovers!), but the best part is all the leftover filling. Place it in a saucepot over medium heat let it boil and bubble until it became thick and jam-like. Then spoon it over chocolate cake, smear it on pancakes or just close your eyes and inhale that heavenly scent. These portable bites smell just as good as they taste. Enjoy and happy baking!

Cherry Lavender Hand Pies
Adapted from The Martha Stewart Handbook
Makes about 24 3-inch pies

1½ lbs. cherries, pitted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
Juice of one-quarter of a lemon
½ tsp. lavender extract
A pinch plus 1½ tsp. table salt, divided
1/3 cup plus 1½ Tbsp. granulated sugar, plus more to taste, divided
½ tsp. lemon zest (optional)
3¾ cups flour
1½ cups plus ½ Tbsp. unsalted chilled butter, very cold and cubed
¾ to 1 cup cold buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
Coarse sugar for sprinkling

• Coarsely chop the cherries and toss in a large bowl with the lavender extract, cornstarch, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Adjust the sugar to taste and set aside.
• In a large bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar, then add the flour and the 1½ remaining teaspoon of salt and mix well. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your hands or a pastry cutter until it is in small, pea-sized pieces.
• Pour in the buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time, using your hands to work the dough until it just comes together in a ball. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
• Place the chilled dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll it out ¼-inch thick. Use a 3-by-3-inch square cookie cutter or a sharp knife to slice 24 dough squares, rerolling as necessary (Chill the dough again if it gets too soft.).
• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
• Arrange 12 dough squares about 1-inch apart on the baking sheets. Brush the edges of each square with the beaten egg.
• Place a heaping teaspoon of cherry filling in the center of the squares, then insert a small cube of the remaining ½ tablespoon of butter into the center of each scoop of filling.
• Cover each pie with the remaining dough squares and use your fingers or a fork to seal the edges. Poke a few holes in the top of each pie with a fork. Brush the tops with the remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
• Bake 15 minutes, until puffed and golden on top and browner at the edges. Transfer to racks and let cool to room temperature before serving.

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