Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gingerbread Pumpkin Bars

Kind of like the last post on pecan pie, these gingerbread pumpkin bars are a wee bit tardy.  I realize that although there's no law stating you can't whip up a pumpkin based recipe after Thanksgiving, Christmas always takes over and most of the recipes are geared towards all things red, green and peppermint.

[Just a forewarning though...I still have some homemade pumpkin puree to post....]

But alas I couldn't let this recipe go to waste.  I saw a ton of pumpkin recipes floating around Pinterest all throughout the fall, but these bars caught my eye because they deviated just ever so slightly from your standard pumpkin pie bars....these bars have a gingerbread base and a streusel topping.  I know, it sounds kinda funny; gingerbread AND pumpkin?  Isn't gingerbread supposed to be reserved for Christmas and gingerbread boys and girls with those cute m&m buttons?

I know it sounds weird, but somehow it works.  Gingerbread is a bit spicy, pumpkin pie is a bit spicy....so together they go, right?

I only made one change from the original Land O' Lakes recipe and omitted the glaze.  These bars were sweet enough on their own and I didn't feel they needed it.

While the bars are so delicious they probably won't last that long, I will admit that these little guys did get a bit soggy by day 2.  So just a word of warning:  if you're making them ahead of time for an event I wouldn't do so really far in advance.  To combat this I might bake the bottom layer solo for a few minutes while preparing the filling the next time I make these.

And there will definitely be a next time.  Yum!

PS If you want lots of streusel you can make extra.  There was just enough, but I might try doubling the amount I use next time.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pie Crust

Now for the follow up from Wednesday's post....the pie crust!  For me this is always the hardest part.  When I mentioned before that making pies is really an art I was referring more so to the crust than the filling.

For me, making pie crust takes practice.  And lots of it.  Just like with anything else, the more you do it the more comfortable you are and the better you become.  It's kind of like my grandmother who doesn't measure any ingredients for her biscuits, but rather claims that it just has to "feel right".  With some practice you'll be able to tell as you work if the recipe needs more flour, water, etc.

I've used a few different pie crust recipes over the years, but this one from Smitten Kitchen is my favorite.  I completely agree with her reasoning regarding mixing the dough by hand instead of with a food processor.  I know everyone from Ina Garten to Alton Brown advocates the food processor method, but I've always found that (for me) it's much harder to overwork the dough by hand than with a food processor.  The food processor always seems to leave me with tiny bits of dough down at the bottom that get overworked and larger pieces at the top that never get down to the blade.  But hey, if you're a firm fan of the food processor you can certainly use the below recipe with one.

This past Thanksgiving I used this recipe for a pecan pie and for a custard pie.  But when spring rolls around the flavor of this crust will also be a perfect pairing for fruit and meringue pies.

The recipe below makes enough for two generous pie crusts, which I loved.  So often a recipe leaves me rolling the dough super thin just to try to get it to stretch over the pie pan by the time it's divided in two.

Also, make sure to read the tips down at the bottom.  I compiled that list based on things I learned from other food bloggers and also some insight that I learned myself the hard way :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No Fail Pecan Pie

Oh my dear!  Where to start??  First off, let me apologize for the silence.  My beloved macbook officially bit the dust last week and I've been in the process of mourning the loss.  You know the stages:  denial (pretending that my mac would somehow come back if only I plugged it into so many different outlets), bargaining (if I buy it a new screen maybe that'll do it!) and acceptance (finally realizing that my time with my first ever macbook was done....I've officially become one of those crazy Apple converts and saying goodbye to the piece of technology that was responsible for this was tough).  I got a new Macbook Pro this weekend and finally began the process of transferring photos and getting some new posts put together.  Woohoo!

Today's post is a little late due to the aforementioned issues, but I figured it is better late than never.  Pecan pie reminds be a lot of Thanksgiving, but you can also eat it year-round, which is why I decided to still do a post on it.  I mean, I would never turn a slice down.

I don't bake a lot of pies.  I love eating them, but making them really is an art.  It's not making cookie dough, rolling it into a ball and then you're good to go.  If you're not used to making your own crust it can be quite a daunting task.  Remember this terrible awful scenario from my last year's Thanksgiving pecan pie attempt?  Yeah, I'd like to forget it too.  

Because of that terrible awful experience I did a LOT of research with regards to recipes and techniques.  I absolutely love caramel pecan pie but wanted to stick with a traditional recipe since it's the kind my hubby's grandad loves so much.  I also knew I wanted something that wouldn't leave me with that dreaded watery/wet middle which can sometimes happen.  

I ended up settling on a pie crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen (hello obsession!) and a filling recipe from King Arthurs flour which had received rave reviews.  Luckily for me (and the hubby's family), this pie turned out just as I had hoped and I was actually able to bring an edible dessert to this year's get together.  [Insert loud sigh of relief}  I loved the flavor and texture of the pie crust and thought the filling had the perfect amount of richness while still keeping with the familiar flavor that everyone loves.  I definitely found my new go-to!

Today's post will only feature the filling recipe....I tried to post both the crust and filling recipe and it was WAY too long!  Check back Friday for the crust recipe and details!