“Easy Peasy” Chocolate Cream Pie with Perfect Pie Crust for Your Sweetie!

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The secret to this recipe is the Martha Stewart Perfect Pie Crust.

You may not have a pre made crust on hand but you most certainly have flour, butter and water!

The recipe is so easy and so delicious you’ll have a fresh homemade pie in no time.

This recipe makes two crusts. Freeze one for a quickie treat later!

Makes 1 double-crust for a 9-inch pie

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons margarine or chilled vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water

Method

1.Hand Method: In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt. Cut the chilled butter and margarine into 1-tablespoon bits and add to the flour. With a pastry cutter, work flour and shortening together until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water little by little pressing the pastry together into a ball. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

2.It is very important to work the pastry as little as possible. Don’t overhandle. A secret to light, flaky pastry is to keep the mixture cool, add as little water as possible, and mix only as much as necessary.

3.Food Processor Method: Put flour and salt in bowl of machine. Cut butter and margarine into flour. Process a few seconds until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drop by drop add the water, processing very briefly. The whole process would take 20 to 30 seconds. Wrap and chill the pastry for at least 1 hour.

4.If pastry has been chilled for a long time, let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before rolling.

5.Lightly flour a pastry board, marble counter, or kitchen counter. Divide the pastry in half. Pat each piece of pastry into a flat round. Lightly flour the rolling pin. Roll pastry in one direction only, turning pastry continually to prevent it from sticking to the surface.

6.Using pie plate as a guide, measure rolled-out pastry — it should be slightly larger than the pie plate and 1-8-inch thick. Fold rolled pastry circle in half so you can lift it more easily. Unfold, gently fitting the pastry into the pie plate, allowing pastry to hang evenly over the edge. Do not trim the pastry yet.

7.Fill the pie with filling. Then roll out the second crust in the same manner as for the bottom. Fold circle in half and with a sharp, pointed knife cut little vents in a decorative pattern. Place folded pastry on one half the pie. Unfold, pressing top and bottom pastry together. Trim edges with scissors, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold bottom pastry overhang over top and press firmly to seal. Crimp rim, using fingers or the tines of a fork.

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Roll out the crust.

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Make it look pretty.

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As for the filling I just used what I had on hand and got fancy!

I created layers by mixing some whipped cream with some pudding but you could just as easily do a layer of pudding; I used instant chocolate, and whipped cream; I made my own!

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Whipped cream.

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First layer of chocolate pudding.

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Mix some whipped cream with chocolate pudding for a special layer of creamy yumminess!

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I dusted with cocoa for effect!

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Fun for two!

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I Have Seen the Light, Sweet Potato Pie!

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I have never understood all the fuss around sweet potato pie.

It wasn’t something that we ate in my home growing up in Ohio.

But with my eldest daughter in the kitchen with me I have the pleasure of her adventurous spirit and youthful energy!

She loves sweet potatoes and suggested that we try a sweet potato pie. I set her loose with some recipes I’ve collected over the years and I now suspect that genius lies in this child.

Her ability to cull out the most fantastic collection of ingredients and method to develop the optimum of flavor, texture, and consistency astounded us all.

Here is the recipe below, courtesy of Paula Deen, and my daughter, a girl after my own heart, who substituted half and half for the milk. Genius, I tell you! I am now a sweet potato pie fanatic! I get it, I get it!

Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:

Cook Time:
1 hr 55 min
Level:
Easy
Serves:
6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

• 2 cups peeled, cooked sweet potatoes
• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 1/2 stick melted butter
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 cup milk (we used half and half)
• 9-inch unbaked pie crust
• 3 egg whites

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the filling, using an electric hand mixer, combine the potatoes, 1 cup of the sugar, the butter, eggs, vanilla, salt, and spices. Mix thoroughly. Add the milk and continue to mix. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the pie on a rack and cool to room temperature before covering with meringue. (We skipped the meringue)

For the meringue, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; beat in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is glossy and stiff, but not dry. With a rubber spatula, spoon the meringue onto the pie, forming peaks. Make sure the meringue touches the crust all around. Sprinkle with a pinch of granulated sugar. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until delicately browned. Cool and serve.

Note: I used my Martha Stewart Perfect Pie Crust.

  

Lemon Meringue Love

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My eldest daughter loves lemon meringue pie. She has always loved this pie, even as an infant should would shovel the filling into her mouth and grab hunks of crust in her cherubic hands and gnaw on them with pure delight. I would make it just to watch her eat it!

For every holiday or special event we make this pie for her. She is fantastic at helping in the kitchen and is perfecting her pie crust making skills.

I made this big pie doubling the original recipe which seems just a bit too skimpy given how delicious this pie truly is. I make each batch separately and blend them together to fill the pie. I have never had very good luck making the filling at double the volume. It never seems to mix very smoothly or to thicken very evenly.

I only ever use the Perfect Pie Crust from Martha Stewart as follows:

Perfect Pie Crust:
Adapted from Martha Stewart
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
15 tablespoons unsalted butter (or 12 tablespoons plus 3 tablespoons margarine or chilled vegetable shortening)
¼ cup ice water

Put the flour and salt into the bowl of the machine. Cut the butter (shortening) into the flour. Process a few seconds until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Drop by drop add water, process a bit more. The whole procedure should take 20-30 seconds. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Lightly flour a work surface. Divide the pastry in half. Pat each half into a flat round. Lightly flour a rolling pin. Roll pastry in one direction only, to 1/8 inch thick, turning the
pastry to prevent it from sticking to the surface. Using your pie plate, measure the rolled out pastry-it should be slightly larger than the plate. Fold it in half so that you can lift it easily. Unfold, gently fitting the pastry into the pie plate, allowing it to hang evenly over the edges. Don’t trim off the excess just yet.

This is where I make the edge. I fold over the excess and create a nice thick crust and form the best decorative finish that I can manage. (Again, I am not a baker) Then gently poke holes with a fork to prevent bubbling.

I bake this at 425 degrees fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Turn oven down to 350 degrees.

Now you are ready to add the filling.

HINT: Make the filling while the pie shell is cooking.

Lemon Pie Filling Recipe:
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 tsp fresh lemon peel or zest, grated
4 large egg yolks, beaten
3 Tbsp butter

Directions:
Blend sugar, cornstarch and salt together in saucepan.
Add water, lemon juice, lemon zest and beaten egg yolks and bring to a boil on low-medium heat, stirring and whisking often. Do not allow it to stick to the bottom of the pan or burn.
Continue to simmer until filling is thick, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and without stirring, let butter melt on top of filling.
After the butter melts, stir in.
Pour into the cooked pie shell.

Meringue Recipe:
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg whites

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
With a high-speed mixer, whip egg whites on high until foamy.
While beating, add sugar 1 Tbsp at a time until meringue forms soft peaks.
HINT Egg whites at room temp seem to work best

Lemon Meringue Pie Assembly:
Be sure to pour meringue on the hot lemon filling.
Spread a layer of meringue over the filling and right to the ends of the shell sealing in the filling.
Pile on the remaining meringue and swirl into decorative peaks with a spoon or spatula.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (more or less, all ovens are different) or until meringue peaks start to brown.
Cool completely before refrigerating. Chill well before serving.

  

Vidalia Onion Tart with Gruyere and Heirloom Tomatoes

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This pie crust recipe comes from, The Martha Stewart Cookbook; Collected Recipes for Every Day. It is called the Perfect Pie Crust because it is! The only thing that I do differently is use 15 tablespoons of butter instead of the 12 tbspn plus 3 tbspn shortening recommended; mostly because I never seem to have shortening but also because it works so well.
I, also, use crushed ice and water and let the chips fall where they may in the food processor. Yes, the food processor; secret of perfect pie crust. If you don’t have a food processor, treat yourself to one. It will revolutionize your baking range. I do not consider myself a baker and do so only when I can’t avoid it, however, with the help of the food processor, Julia Child and Martha Stewart, I have conquered some of my fears and ventured into pie crust, and even puff pastry!

Since I have been using this recipe, I have had friends who have scraped off the filling of pies and eaten only the crust! This was a first for me as I always seemed to be tossing leftover crust from holiday meals into the trash.

Perfect Pie Crust:
Adapted from Martha Stewart
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
15 tablespoons unsalted butter (or 12 tablespoons plus 3 tablespoons margarine or chilled vegetable shortening)
¼ cup ice water

Put the flour and salt into the bowl of the machine. Cut the butter (shortening) into the flour. Process a few seconds until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Drop by drop add water, process a bit more. The whole procedure should take 20-30 seconds. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Lightly flour a work surface. Divide the pastry in half. Pat each half into a flat round. Lightly flour a rolling pin. Roll pastry in one direction only, to 1/8 inch thick, turning the pastry to prevent it from sticking to the surface. Using your pie plate, measure the rolled out pastry-it should be slightly larger than the plate. Fold it in half so that you can lift it easily. Unfold, gently fitting the pastry into the pie plate, allowing it to hang evenly over the edges. Don’t trim off the excess just yet. (wrap the other half in plastic wrap and save for another pie, it also freezes well)
Hint: I place parchment paper on the bottom of the dish for flawless serving at the table. I love this pretty pie plate!

This is where I make the edge. I fold over the excess and create a nice thick crust and form the best decorative finish that I can manage. (Again, I am not a baker) Then gently poke holes with a fork to prevent bubbling.

I bake this at 425 degrees fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Turn oven down to 350 degrees.

Now you are ready to add the filling.

Filling:
3-4 Vidalia onions
a pinch of Tarragon
Olive oil
Salt
2 Cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 egg
heavy cream
a pinch of Nutmeg
1-2 Heirloom Tomato (or what ever kind you have handy, Yellow tomatoes would also do nicely)

Slice the onions in rings and sauté in olive oil and Tarragon until they are caramelized; golden brown. Fill the cooked pie crust with the onions.

To the 2 cups of shredded Gruyere, add a slightly beaten egg with about ¼ cup of heavy cream and a pinch of nutmeg and gently fold the mixture together, then pour on top of the onions.

Slice the tomatoes in nice even 1/8 inch slices and arrange on top of the pie and bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese is melted and tomatoes are starting to cook.

I served this Tart at a small dinner party and it was a hit. I would recommend this for autumn and winter meals as it is rich and filling. I would serve it with a salad of baby greens with a dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Keep it very simple. A nice pinot noir or Malbec would accompany this very well.

  

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