Holiday Pies – Visually Beautiful, Deliciously Delightful!!!

I’ve never been a baker.  I LOVE to cook though, and reading cookbooks at night is something I’ve done for fun 🙂  Back when our oldest was little, and I had more time to venture out, we would go to a beautiful bookstore, and he’d play while I thumbed through French Cookbooks – even the memory of that is so blissful!

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But baking?  It’s just not something that comes natural to me at all, but  I force myself to do it anyway 🙂 , and along the way I’ve found some tricks that have made it a lot easier than I thought baking would be.

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Every year over the holidays I always get the chance to make something to bring to our family feasts.   Since I’m usually the youngest woman there and at the bottom of the family female totem pole 😀 for years I’ve only been allowed to bring the Green Bean Casserole LOL (you know… the meal thats like super easy and if you mess up you’re an idiot – kind of dish)!  But along with that, I’ve also been allowed to bring a dessert pie each year.  And THIS year, this past Thanksgiving, lo and behold I got the privilege of being in charge of ALL the dessert pies, and wow was it a lot of fun!  And a serious privilege I didn’t take lightly.

My older son also loves cooking, and so he’s kind of come with me on this journey of trying to become a baker 🙂  He and I have perfected our own Cherry Pie with lattice work and cut out designs – made from our own homemade pie crust (which is SO delicious you can actually just eat the crust by itself)!

Here some of the things we’ve tried (or similar ones since some I didn’t blog about):

Cherry pie

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Here’s a great cherry pie recipe (not our’s but very good!)

Pumpkin pie (from Pioneer Woman’s amazing recipe!)

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Sweet Potato Pie (a classic of the SOUTH ❤ and one I made a few years ago and blogged about it)

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Chocolate Tarte (the most AMAZING chocolate dessert I’ve ever eaten and super easy! Find it here)

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White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie (still working on perfecting, but THIS  girl’s recipe is what we go off of)

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Marshmellow Fluff Pie Topping:

for the marshmallow fluff:

  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 scant cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract (if you want them stark white; if you don’t mind a little ivory color, use the pure vanilla extract)

from: http://aperiodictableblog.com

 

Great video on homemade pie crusts:

 

If I had to pick a favorite one we’ve tried to perfect over the years, it would definitely be the Chocolate Tart recipe.  It is just TOO easy, and yet it is beautifully presented visually, and never fails to impress with it’s immaculate taste.

I hope you readers get to eat some pie this year!  If you don’t have time to make one, I know restaurants tend to make some really great homemade-style ones.  And if you’re in a pinch, I’ve found some brands are VERY good at making pie filling (like for cherry pies) – that along with a homemade crust makes it hard to tell if you made the filling or not.

Enjoy all the eating and drinking!

Stephanie

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10 Minute Homemade Salted Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

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Being a mom of a new little one + my rowdy 4 year old, I appreciate recipes that are quick and delicious – this Salted Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup recipe is beyond amazing, full of protein & low in fat, and takes literally 10 minutes or less to throw together!

I’m amazed at how fast this was… and how beautiful the results are – these are perfect Valentine’s Day treats to give to a love or to friends or family.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter (use any you like – regular, organic, crunchy even if you want that nut texture in your cups)
  • Kosher Salt for sprinkling

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Instructions:

Set up your muffin tins with liners and lightly spray them with oil or Pam spray

Pour the chocolate chips into a microwavable bowl, heat for 1 minute, stop and stir, then heat for another minute, stir until creamy, melted down, and blended

Drop about a tablespoon of melted chocolate into each cupcake liner – don’t bother to spread it out, the hot peanut butter will take care of it

Heat up the peanut butter in a microwavable mug or bowl for 1 minute, stir to make sure the oil doesn’t separate afterwards

Drop about a tablespoon of melted peanut butter (it should be almost liquidy but not quite), into each cupcake liner directly onto the chocolate

Repeat the process with the remainder of the chocolate – you don’t need to completely cover the peanut butter, it gives it a beautiful swirl if you delicately just spread it a little with the end of the spoon

Refridgerate for about 15 minutes, sprinkle a pinch of Kosher salt onto each peanut butter cup, then return to refrigerator for at least another 15 minutes.

Enjoy a delicious & healthy chocolate treat!

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Swedish Chocolate Cake (Kladdkaka) – Easy & Out of This World – Perfect Holiday Treat

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I like to try ahead anything I’m planning on making to bring for our family holiday celebrations… even though there can be a mischievious element of fun in making your friends and family be the guinea pigs for a new recipe or pie, I truly want to know if I love it.  If I don’t absolutely love a dessert, I won’t eat it nor will I expect anyone else I love to eat it… why waste the precious calories 😉 ?

My motto is…

Eat wonderful, incredibly good foods or wine,

and don’t waste your calories on candy, store bought cookies, or lesser desserts.

 

There is something to be said about a homemade treat for the holidays – but they usually just take so much time that the average working person feels they can’t accomplish it.  The result of this Swedish cake was breathtaking!  The easiness in making it puts it easily above any “chocolate pie” – and is great for the ever-busy mommies or for working families!

You only need 7 ingredients, and you probably have most in your pantry already!

Recipe by Izy Hossack, creator of Top with Cinnamon cookbook (and only 18 years old – wow!):

Swedish Chocolate Cake
Serves 8 to 9

I’m throwing a bold claim in here: this is the best chocolate cake you’ll ever make. It’s wonderfully quick since it’s all melted together in one pot and poured straight into the cake tin. Bake it carefully—keep it gooey! I’ll cry if you over-bake it, OK? It requires no frosting, only a dusting of icing sugar but looks just as impressive as a four-layer cake with buttercream roses… It’ll be gone in a day, though, so don’t make any plans for it any longer than five hours post-bake. No worries though, you can just make another one because it was so darn easy the first time!

135 g (4 ¾ oz or 10 Tbsp) salted butter
55 g (2 oz or ½ cup) cocoa powder
350 g (12 oz or 1¾ cups) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
110 g (3 ¾ oz or 1 cup, minus 2 Tbsp) plain (all-purpose) flour
3 eggs
2 Tbsp icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line, grease and flour a deep 18 cm (7 in) cake tin.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 20-30 minutes—it should be set around the edges but still gooey in the middle.

Let the cake cool in its tin for about 20 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the inside edge of the tin to loosen it. Turn out onto a wire rack, dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

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A note about her instructions… this isn’t exactly a difficult cake, however it IS a tricky cake.  It’s hard to get it to turn out just right – not too-under-baked, and not over-baked into the consistency of an American brownie.  You are not trying to make brownies 🙂 and you’re not trying to make a molten-lava runny cake either.  It’s tricky because it’s in between. 

I noticed her directions leave out that you need to mix all the dry ingredients together first – fully incorporate the cocoa powder together with the flour, sugar, and salt (I added a pinch of Kosher salt).

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You don’t need to melt the butter in a saucepan, you can easily melt it in the microwave if you wish.

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You DO need to whisk the eggs & combine them together with the melted butter and the vanilla, before combining them altogether with the dry mixture.

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Also, never add vanilla into a dry mixture – always add it into a wet mixture… it just won’t incorporate effectively otherwise.

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When everything is mixed, and you’re ready to combine the wet & dry mixtures, make sure you do not use an electric beater – there is no need and you risk over beating it.  Use a wooden spoon if you have one (or metal) or a spatula will work fine, only stir about 30 times – if you over-stir, the batter will be too hard and stiff.  You want to mix it until its just combined, then pour it into your greased pan.

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A word about baking time:  This will more than likely take longer than 20-30 minutes at 350 F.  For ours, it really wasn’t ready until about 40 minutes of baking.  But unless you’re ok with brownies, you need to be checking every 5-10 minutes after 30 minutes.  45 minutes is too long and gives you regular brownie texture.  But each environment is different and ovens as well, so make sure you keep a watch on it so that it comes out how you want.

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A trick I use… to cool quickly, place on top of ice packs

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Dust with powered sugar!  This picture was when it had been only 20 minutes baked – the edges were firm but the middle inside was still too runny, I popped it back in (checking it every 5-10 minutes) and meant to take it out at 40 total minutes, but got distracted by my little one (life of a mom right??), so it was in for 45 minutes and came out slightly over-baked :/  It looked great and done – just gooey enough at 40 minutes though.

Our delicious, a little over-baked, finished result:

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choclate tarte

If you love chocolate desserts, you have to check out the Traditional Chocolate Tart I made for Christmas last year – it was divine… and it’s still #1 in our family.

It’s incredibly easy, however it takes more steps than the Swedish Chocolate Cake (and of course, is a completely different texture… the Tart is more “mousse-like” instead of gooey cake-like in Kladdkaka), but if you want a truly decadent and elegant dessert that is SURE to impress family and friends, the Traditional Chocolate Tart is the way to go!  I’ll be making it again come December.

The Best Cinnamon Apple Kuchen Cake!

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Growing up I always hated eating apples…  I was sadly, a very picky, spoiled eater.  Thankfully, I’ve outgrown this and now enjoy eating things like raw spinach almost daily, apples, along with a variety or fruits and vegetables I never would’ve otherwise wanted to try.  Cooking (and dabbling a little in baking) is what has broadened my horizons to the tastes of new foods, and this Apple Kuchen, although something I never would’ve eaten before (blame the sweet baked apples on top), is something I’m excitedly glad I tried & loved!

Searching for something new to try for this year’s Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, I stumbled upon this wonderful recipe is from the blog 2 Teaspoons – A Muffin Living in a Cupcake World, and is a quick from-scratch recipe that is ridiculously easy to undertake.  I’d never tried to make a cake from scratch before (baking really isn’t my forte), so it was wonderful to see it actually rise and turn into a delicious, moist, & definitely “cakey” treat – like the best coffee cake texture I’ve ever eaten! 

You can do this too!  Embrace Fall, and all the cinnamony-apple goodness that naturally comes with it! ❤

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Mom’s Apple Kuchen

“A fluffy, sweet, super simple German apple cake – perfect for fresh picked apples!”

Author: Karen’s Mom
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 1½ Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Margarine or Butter Softened
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ Cup Milk
  • 2 ½ Pound Bag of Apples (about 10 Medium Apples) Peeled and Sliced
  • Lemon Juice
  • ¾ Cup Brown Sugar + 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • ½ Cup Chopped Nuts (optional)
  • 1 Cup Confectionary Sugar and Dash of Milk or Premade Frosting
Instructions
  1. Mix the first six ingredients in a large bowl. Press dough into a well greased (or lined with parchment paper) 13 X 9 X 2 jelly roll pan.
  2. Mix the apples with about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.
  3. Lay the apples in rows on top of the dough. Press the apples into the dough.
  4. In a small bowl combine ¾ cup brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ cup granulated sugar and chopped nuts for the topping. Set topping aside.
  5. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until cakes starts to expand, about 15 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle topping evenly on the cake. Return cake to the oven and bake until lightly golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a cooling rack.
  7. When completely cool drizzle cake with a sugar glaze. This can be made from confectioners sugar and milk or slightly melted frosting.
  8. Enjoy!

(Images belong to 2 Teaspoons)

Magnolia’s Sweet Potato Muffins & Cream Cheese Frosting

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I love cooking & baking, my mom, who also loves to labor in the kitchen, gave me a novelty cookbook for New Year’s, The Show Boat Cookbook (Southern Cooking from the Banks of the Mississippi) by June Jackson.  It is wonderful!  It is not the most healthy of course, but it’s good to have balance in your life with food, as with everything else.  You can always substitute different flours like almond flour instead of the gluten.

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil (use extra virgin olive oil for nutrition)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup orange juice (or milk you’d like)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes peeled, cooked & mashed
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Sift all dry ingredients except sugar and spices and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together sugar, cooking oil, butter, eggs, and spices.  Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Add orange juice (or milk) and vanilla.  Fold in sweet potatoes and pecans.  Pour into muffin cup-lined muffin tins (should make 2 dozen).  Bake at 325’F for 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve hot & with Cream Cheese frosting on top if you’d like!

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (fat-free can be used)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Combine the three ingredients and refrigerate before using.

ENJOY!