Friday, November 28, 2014

A Happy Thanksgiving

Since neither of us have family nearby, we spent Thanksgiving with friends, and I offered to bring the pies.  I made pecan pie, which is always one of my favorites.  Every year, I make it just a little bit differently than before, and this time I added a splash of whiskey to the filling and topped it off with dark chocolate ganache.  It was absolutely fabulous.

We also still had a few jars of jam left from the wedding, so I made mini almond peach tarts which turned out so beautifully, with their sweet peach filling perfumed with almonds, and buttery, flaky crust.

Wherever you spent your Thanksgiving, and whether you shared the day with family, or friends who are like family, I hope it was a cozy and wonderful day.

Pecan Pie with Ganache

all-butter perfect pie crust, 1/2 of recipe

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 3 ounces cream
  • crushed pecans

Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface then transfer to a deep dish pie pan.  Fold the edges under and crimp them to make them look pretty.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, salt and whiskey until smooth.  Stir in the pecans and pour the filling into the crust.

Bake the pie at 350 for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 300 and bake for an additional 45 minutes or so, until the filling seems to be set.  During the last 15 minutes of baking, jiggle the pan ever 5 minutes; when it barely wiggles when you shake it, the pie is done.

Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours.

Finely chop the chocolate.  Warm the cream in a small saucepan over medium low heat, just until it begins to bubble around the edges.  Remove from the heat and add the chocolate.  Let stand for 3 minutes, stir until smooth, and pour over the pie.  Sprinkle with crushed pecans.  Let cool completely before serving.

Almond Peach Tarts

all-butter perfect pie crust, full recipe
  • 1 cup almond pastry filling (found on the baking aisle of most grocery stores)
  • 1 1/2 cups peach jam (or any flavor jam you like)
  • 1 egg, plus 1 tablespoon water
  • sliced almonds
  • coarse sugar

Working with half the dough at a time, roll out to between 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick.  Use a fluted pastry cutter to cut the dough into 5-inch squares.  Roll out the scraps of dough and cut decorate shapes, such as leaves, pumpkins, acorns and turkeys.

In the center of each square of dough, spoon 1 tablespoon of the almond pastry filling and 1 1/2 tablespoons peach jam.  Fold up the corners of the dough to make a little tart.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water.  Brush each tart with the egg wash, and top with the decorative cutouts, brushing those with egg wash, too.  Sprinkle with the sliced almonds and coarse sugar.

Continue rolling out the dough and making more tarts until you've used up the ingredients - you should be able to make about 12 tarts - divide them between two pans for baking.

Freeze the tarts on the pans for at least 30 minutes, but better for a full hour.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake the frozen tarts for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack, then serve warm or at room temperature.

Yields about 12 tarts