Pear Caramel Pie

I never know when something will pop up and inspire me. About this time last year I was in a grocery store line and spotted a Donna Hay Magazine with an awesome looking caramel cake on the front. Issue 62 Autumn.The magazine was full of autumn recipes including a bunch with caramel. I picked up the magazine and was pleasantly surprised when I got home and read it. I knew there was some great stuff in there for fall entertaining.

Fast forward to our annual Christmas party and I knew I needed to make something from this issue. After debating back and forth it was decided that I would attempt the Caramel and Pear Pie with Pecan Crumble. I thought it was enough of a spectacular dessert for the party!

Pear Caramel Pie

For this recipe I used:

Filling:
1 Cup of Whipping Cream
2 Sticks of Cinnamon
1 Vanilla Bean – Split & Scraped
8 Pears – peeled and chopped
1/4 Cup of All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Cups of Sugar
1/2 Cup of Water
1 Tablespoon of White Vinegar

Pastry
1 2/3 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
180G Cold Unsalted Butter – cut into pieces
40 ml Iced Water
40 ml Chilled Vodka
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Topping
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
80 g Melted Butter
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans

I started off with the pastry. I added the flour, sugar, and baking powder to a bowl along with the chilled butter.

Pear Caramel Pie – Cutting in the Butter for the Pastry

I used a pastry blender to mix the pastry until it was the texture of fine crumbs.  I then added the water, vodka, and vanilla and mix the pastry until it came together into a cohesive dough.

Pear Caramel Pie – Adding the Liquids

I transferred the dough to the counter and formed it into a ball. I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and let is rest in the fridge for about an hour.

Pear Caramel Pie – Pastry for the Fridge

Next I made the topping. I added all of the ingredients to a bowl and mixed it well. I set it aside for later.

Pear Caramel Pie – The Pecan Topping Mixture

Now it was time for the filling. I cup the 8 pears into small pieces.

Pear Caramel Pie – Cutting the Pears

I added the flour to the pears and mixed everything well.

Pear Caramel Pie – Adding the Flour

In a medium sauce pan I placed the cream, the cinnamon sticks, and the split and scraped vanilla bean and brought it to a boil. After the pot boiled I removed it from the heat and set it aside. After  a few minutes remove the vanilla pod and the cinnamon sticks before proceeding to the next step.

Pear Caramel Pie – The Cream Mixture

And this is where things got ugly (hence no pictures).  In another sauce pan I added the sugar, water, vinegar. I brought the pan to a boil and let it cook for 10 minutes or so. The mixture needed to be a deep caramel colour.

Following the recipe directions – which I knew would be problematic – I ended up burning my hand. Rats!

As I really made 2 of these Pies, to serve 15, the process should go as follows: After the sugar is a deep caramel colour, remove the pan from the heat.  Carefully add the cream mixture to the sugar. Stand back while doing this. The pot will steam and spit. After the cream has been added quickly whisk the mixture together.

Pour the caramel mixture over the pears.

Roll the pastry out to a large enough sheet to be able to fit into an 8 inch spring form pan.

Pear Caramel Pie – Rolling out the Pastry

I then worked on fitting the pastry into the 8″ Springform pan. This took a little bit of work, but eventually I succeeded.

Pear Caramel Pie – Fitting the Pastry

I took the extra precaution of chilling the pastry in the freezer for 10 minutes just to firm it up. Once the pastry was firm I added the pear mixture.

Pear Caramel Pie – Adding the final Pear Mixture

Then I topped the pear mixture with the crumble.

Pear Caramel Pie – Adding the Crumble

Before putting the  pie in the oven I loosely covered it with foil. Off to a 400˚ oven for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Then remove the foil and finish baking for another 20 minutes to brown the topping. Cool the the pie on a rack for at least 2 hours. Carefully remove the outer ring of the spring form pan and serve.

Pear Caramel Pie – After Cooling
Donna Hay – Issue 62
Donna Hay – Issue 62 Beauty Shot

Bakers Notes:

  • given this is a caramel pie I suspected it would be very sweet. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not. It was the perfect finish to a great dinner party!
  • I made a second version of this pie with gluten free flour substitutes and it turned out perfectly
  • as I obtained a pretty good burn from following directions I knew had a problem, I recommend everyone to use methods they know are right despite what a recipe may say

Pumpkin Tart

In the fall it is always hard to find a new twist on dessert. How many versions of apple or pumpkin pie are there? Are they the same or is there a twist to the recipe?I stumbled upon a Pumpkin Chocolate Tart Recipe from Martha Stewart that I thought I would use, with a bit of a change. I decided to use a regular pie crust for the tart shell. I liked the chocolate surprise!

Pumpkin Tart

For this recipe I used:

Tart Shell:
2 1/4 cups of All Purpose Flour
8 Ounces of Butter – chilled and cut into small pieces
1 Teaspoon of Salt
1 Teaspoon of Sugar
1/4 Cup well chilled Vodka
1/4 Cup of Iced Water

Filling:
1 Can (15 oz) Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 Cup of Whey Low Gold sugar substitute
8 Ounces of Sour Cream
3 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon of Nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
2 Ounces of Milk Chocolate

I had already made the pie filling and had frozen it. I thawed the dough in the fridge overnight and the next day I was ready to go.

I rolled out the pastry thin enough to fit into a 10″ fluted tart pan. I fit the dough into the pan and trimmed the edges.

Pumpkin Tart – Fitting the Tart Shell

As this shell needed to be pre-baked, I lined the pastry with some parchment paper and use some pie weights to hold the paper down. Then it was off to a 425˚ oven for 20 minutes. I removed the parchment and weights and put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes to finish baking.

Pumpkin Tart -Ready for the Oven

While the tart shell was still hot out of the oven, I grated the chocolate over the shell.

Pumpkin Tart – Grated Chocolate over the warm Tart Shell

The residual heat in the crust was enough to melt the chocolate to be able to spread it over the bottom of the tart shell.

Pumpkin Tart -Spreading the Melted Chocolate

Now it was time for the rest of the filling.

Pumpkin Tart – Filling Ingredients

This was the easy part. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.

Pumpkin Tart -Mixing the Filling Ingredients

Ensure all of the sugar has dissolved and the eggs are well blended.

Pumpkin Tart – Ensuring the Filling is Well Mixed

Once well mixed, pass the filling through a fine strainer. This will take a bit of work but will ensure a very smooth filling.

Pumpkin Tart – Passing the Filling through a Strainer

Pour the filling into the tart shell and ensure it is spread out evenly.

Pumpkin Tart – Filling the Tart

Bake at 350˚ for about 30 minutes and cool well. Serve with whipped cream!

Pumpkin Tart – Cooling out of the Oven

Bakers Notes:

Dec 2020 – I came across a piece on Dominic Ansell and Pumpkin pie. He noted passing the pumpkin mixture through a strainer 3 times made for a smooth filling. This works! Hight recommended.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake

For Christmas baking last year I bought way too many dates. My calculation from medjool to regular date was slightly off. 3 pounds off it seems! What to do….In my quest to use more of my cook books more often I went on the hunt for a recipe that used a lot of dates at once.

I came across on in Ina Garten’s – Barefoot Contessa – Foolproof that I received for Christmas. Man I wish they showed her show in Canada again.

The recipe is for Sticky Toffee Date Cake with Bourbon Glaze. The bonus is that the recipe calls for 3/4 pound of dates!

Sticky Toffee Date Cake

For this recipe I used:

Cake:
3/4 Pounds of Pitted & Chopped Dates
1 3/4 Cups of Water
1/4 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
4 Ounces (1 Stick) of Unsalted Butter
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/4 Cup of All Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
1 1/2 Tablespoon of Baking Powder

Sauce:
6 Ounces (1 1/2 Sticks) Unsalted Butter
1 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup of Heavy Cream
1/8 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Tablespoons of Bourbon
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – The Cake Ingredients
Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Buttered and Floured 9″ Pan

I stared by chopping the dates and placing them in a pot with 1 3/4 cups of Water.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Chopping the dates

I heated the dates until boiling, stirring frequently to break them up. I let the pot boil for just a minute.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Boiling the Dates

Once off the heat I added the teaspoon of baking soda, stirred and set the pot aside.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Adding the Baking Soda
Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Foamy after Mixing in the Baking Soda

Next it was time to sift together the flour and salt.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Sifting the Flour and Salt

In the mixer I added the softened butter and sugar and creamed it together for 2 or 3 minutes. Until light and fluffy.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Creaming the Butter & Sugar

Once the butter was fully creamed I added vanilla and the flour and mixed it in on low until just combined.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Carefully Mixing in the flour

Now I added the slightly cooled date mixture in 2 batches. Then I added the baking powder and mixed the batter by hand.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Adding the Cooked Dates

Then it was off to the oven for about 30 minutes at 350˚.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – In the Oven!

Near the end of the baking time for the cake I started in on the Bourbon Glaze.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Bourbon Glaze Ingredients

In a pot I combined everything except the Bourbon & Vanilla and brought it to a low boil. The recipe indicates to simmer for about 1 minute. See Baker’s notes.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Bourbon Glaze Ingredients ready to Simmer

Once simmered I poured the sauce into a glass measuring cup and added the Bourbon & Vanilla.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Adding the Bourbon and Vanilla

Once the cake came out of the oven I poked it all over with a skewer.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Properly Poked

Next I drizzled about 3/4 of the sauce over the cake and let it soak in for about 1/2 an hour.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – The First Soaking with the Glaze

After the 1/2 hour wait I turned the cake out onto a serving place then poured the rest of the Bourbon glaze over the cake to make a nice flat shiny surface.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – The Final Shot

Then it was time to serve!

Sticky Toffee Date Cake – Moist and Flavourful

So moist and tender and very tasty.

Baker’s Notes:

  • This cake easily feeds a crowd. It uses a larger than normal 9″ pan.
  • The sauce did not really perform for me. After about an hour on the serving place the glaze clouded over – a butter film is the best description.
  • I think my glaze issue could be corrected by rapidly boiling the sauce (rather than simmering it) for 3 minutes. This would require following the cake soaking timing pretty closely in case the last 1/4 of the sauce solidifies. No guarantees though.
  • I have no problem making this cake again!

Macadamia Banana Bread

Having recently come back from Hawaii I was in need of some Aloha at home.My favorite banana bread recipes is from Martha Stewart. Always moist and it never lasts long. Using this recipe I added some Aloha.

Macadamia Banana Bread

For this recipe I used:

1/2 Cup of Unsalted Butter
1 Cup of Sugar
2 Large Eggs
3/4 Cup of All Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup of Whole Wheat Flour
1 Teaspoon of Salt
1/2 Cup of Sour Cream
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut
1/2 Cup of Candied Pineapple
1/2 Cup of Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia Banana Bread – The Ingredients

I started by creaming the butter and sugar , with a hand mixer, until light and fluffy and then adding the eggs. Mix well!

Macadamia Banana Bread – Adding the Eggs to the Creamed Butter

I added the flours and and mixed them in until just mixed.

Macadamia Banana Bread – Adding the Flours
I added the sour cream, vanilla,  and bananas and mixed well.
Macadamia Banana Bread – Adding the rest of the wet ingredients

I finished the batter off by hand and then folded in the pineapple and coconut.

Macadamia Banana Bread – Adding the Pineapple & Coconut

After putting the batter in a 9″ x 5 ” glass loaf pan, I topped it with the macadamia nuts.

Macadamia Banana Bread – Ready for the Oven

I baked the Banana Bread for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 350˚.

This was one of those loaves that went to work and I don’t have a completion picture of. I did; however, get to taste the bread. It was pretty great!

Bakers Notes:

  • I would add another 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda – may give it a little more lightness with the added whole wheat flour
  • used salted or unsalted Macadamia Nuts both are great for this recipe
  • use the candied pineapple – fresh will leave wet holes in the finished bread
  • When ever you have that one left over banana that is too ripe, peel it and put it into a freezer bag and put it in the freezer. Thaw the frozen banana the night before you need it.

Madeleines

When ever I am looking for something new to make I do check with the cookbooks on hand. Having recently purchased 2 Madeleine pans  it was time to finally try them out.The recipe I used was from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook – Lemon Madeleines.

Madeleines

For this recipe I used:


1 Stick (4 Oz) Unsalted Butter
3/4 Cup of All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup of Almond Flour – or finely ground almonds
1/2 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons of Sugar
2 Tablespoons of finely grated Lemon Zest
1/4 Teaspoon of Lemon Extract
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt

Starting off, I melted the butter and set it aside to cool. While the butter was cooling I zested the lemon. As a Madeleine is a very delicate cookie I used a rasp for the finest zest. The added bonus was the great lemon aroma in the kitchen.

Madeleines – Lemon Zest
I gathered all of the rest of the ingredients together.
Madeleines – The rest of the ingredients

In a bowl I mixed together the flour, almonds, and sugar.

Madeleines – Flour, Almond and Sugar mixture

I added the lemon zest and the lemon extract to the cooled butter.

Madeleines – Add Lemon Zest, Lemon Extract and Butter

In another bowl I cracked the 3 eggs ans was surprised to see all 3 had double yolks!

Madeleines – Eggs (with double yolks)

I whisked the eggs with the salt until the mix was foamy.

Madeleines – Eggs and Salt

I added the almond/flour mixture into the egg mixture and gently folded everything together.

Madeleines – Addling the Almond/Flour Mixture

Then it was time to add the butter/lemon mixture and fold it in as well.

Madeleines – Adding the Butter

Then the batter was ready for the pans and the oven.

Madeleines – fully mixed

I spooned a couple of tablespoons into the buttered and floured cavities of the Madeleine pan.

Madeleines – Ready for the Oven

Then off to a 350˚ oven for about 12 minutes.

Madeleines – Baking

Perfect humps! If I do say so myself.

Madeleines – Just out of the Oven

Turned out and cooling.

Madeleines – Out of the Pan and Cooling

Served plain or with a sprinkle of icing sugar.

Madeleines

Cooks Notes:

  • to be eaten the same day… but that’s not hard
  • change up the nut and flavour combos

Lemons & Lemon Squares

At some point last June we purchased a big bag of Lemons from our local warehouse store. Fast forward a couple of weeks and it was time I needed to do something with them. But, it was a huge bag of lemons! What to do?For preserving the lemons I decided to zest and juice them. Both the zest and juice can be easily frozen. The trick is remembering to use them!

I zested the lemons and divided the zest up into 1 tablespoon mounds on a cutting board covered in plastic wrap. I covered the zest mounds again and froze them on the cutting board in the freezer.

Lemons – Zesting

Lemons – Zest spit into Tablespoon Mounds for the Freezer

I split the juice into 1/2 cup packets for the freezer.

Lemons – Lemon Juice

Meanwhile, all this work deserved some kitchen joy as well.

Lemon Squares were the order of the day. I looked on line at my favourite sites and settled on this recipe.

For the crust I added 3/4 cup of Sifted All-Purpose Flour, 1/3 cup of  Sifted Icing Sugar, 1/4 Cup of Sifted Corn Starch, 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt and 1/2 cup of Unsalted Butter Cubes into a bowl. 

Lemon Squares – Preparing the Base

Using a pastry blender I cut the butter into the mixture until the mixture looked like course crumbles.

Lemon Squares – The Base

I put the mixture in a parchment lined pan and pressed it into the corners and ensured the base was flat. I put the pan in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes. Then, off to a 325˚ oven for about 20 minutes and then let it cool.

Lemon Squares – The Base in the Pan

While the base was cooling: In a bowl I added 4 Large Eggs, 1 Cup of Sugar and mixed them until thick and frothy, about 5 minutes. Next I added 2/3 cup of Fresh Lemon Juice, 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour, 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Powder and 1/2 Teaspoon of salt and mixed everything well.

Lemon Squares – Mixing The filling

I carefully poured the filling over the slightly cooled base and it was back to the oven again for 20 minutes.

Lemon Squares – Ready for the Pan

Out of the oven I let the pan cool fully.

Lemon Squares – Cooling from the Oven

Sadly it was late at night so the pan cooled over night. In the morning I cut the baked and cooled lemon squares into 16 pieces, sprinkled with icing sugar and sent them off to work. It was early in the morning when I did this and I missed taking a final glory shot. Reports were that they were great!

Bakers Notes:

  • Don’t forget to chill the crust. An important step!
  • Use fresh lemon juice otherwise avoid this recipe
  • Pretty quick and easy

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie

The second recipe I made for Sunday Cafe & Kuchen was a Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie from a book called The Hali’imaile General Store Cookbook.I bought this cookbook when we were on the Island of Maui a few years ago. We had somehow heard about the Hali’imaile General Store. We sought out the restaurant and had, to this day, one of our top 10 meals ever! We had to buy the cook book.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – on the Bottom Right
Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie

For this recipe I used:

For the pie crust:
3/4 Cup Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup plus 1 Teaspoon of Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
2 Tablespoons plus 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Heavy Cream
1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
2 Cups of Cake Flour
1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt

For the filling:
4 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
2 Ounces of Semi Sweet Chocolate
5 Eggs
1 Cup of Sugar
1 1/2 Cups of Dark Corn Syrup
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 Cups of Halved Macadamia Nuts

How it went:

I gathered all of the pie crust ingredients together so thing would go quickly.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – The Ingredients

I sifted the flour, cocoa and the salt together. Mainly to get rid of the lumps in the cocoa.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Sifted Flour & Cocoa

Next I mixed the butter and sugar together until it was well mixed.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Butter & Sugar

I added the egg and the vanilla and mixed well again.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Creamed Butter, Sugar, Egg & Vanilla

Adding the flour mixture end mixing until just mixed.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Adding the the Flour Mixture
Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Mixed Pie Dough

I turned the pie dough mixture onto the counter and brought it together and wrapped and refrigerated it for at least an hour.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Ready for the Fridge

After about an hour in the fridge it was time to line the 10″ tart pan.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – 10″ Tart Pan – Removable bottom

I floured the counter and the dough and rolled it out to fit the 10″ tart pan.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Pie Dough Ready to Roll Out
Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Rolling out the Pie Dough
Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Rolled out Pie Dough

I moved the dough to the pan and trimmed the excess off.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Pie Shell Fitted and Ready for the Oven

The it was time to bake the shell in the oven @ 350˚ for 15 minutes. It may need longer to fully bake. The crust should be dry with a matte finish.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Tart Shell Baked

Now for the easy part. The filling. In a large bowl I added the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Filling Ingredients

In a small sauce pan I melted the butter and chocolate together until just melted.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Melting the Butter and Chocolate

I added the warm chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisked until well combined.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Mixed Egg & Chocolate Mixtures

Then I added the macadamia nuts.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Adding the Macadamia Nuts

I carefully added the filling mixture into the tart pan and the put the pan into the same 350˚ oven for an hour and 20 minutes.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Ready for the Oven

My filling cracked because if how I moved the hot pan. I accidentally pushed up on the bottom of the pan. I let it thoroughly cool.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie – Cooling on the Rack

Cooks notes:

  • ensure the rolled out pie dough is 1/4 of an inch thick. The crust will be soggy otherwise.
  • make sure the crust is fully baked. The crust will be soggy otherwise.
  • the recipe called for macadamia halves. I am going to assume the recipe also called for unsalted macadamia nuts. Following these, this pie turns out to be very expensive. I have made this pie several times with dry roasted salted whole macadamia nuts. The salt dissolves in the sugar and is, in my opinion, unnoticeable.

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