A Simple Chocolate Pie

chocolate pie

Chocolate pie is what I would call one of the best things you can easily make, and win a few hearts along the way. Valentine’s Day is coming!! With a little bit of help from one of my grandma’s favorite recipes (and some upgraded chocolate), you can have the pie in a hurry, too. The recipe is very easy to make and the only thing that’s a downside is having to wait around for the pie to cool enough to eat it.

The pie you see in the picture is not the simplest nor the most extravagant pie you can do with this recipe. If you care, you can use a chocolate pie crust made up of Oreos or Graham crackers, or a simple pie crust from the refrigerated aisle at the grocery store. I use my own crust, but didn’t bother to make it look as pretty as you might have seen elsewhere at Discovery Cooking. I just wanted something quick and easy. I used some whipped cream and some chocolate chips to decorate mine, you can use fruit or have it just plain. Your call.

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Pi Day! Blood Orange Custard Pie

blood orange custard pie

On Saturday, 3.14.15 at 9:56:23 a.m. we’ll be celebrating a once in a century moment, when the digits for the day and time line up with the value of pi to the level of 10 digits. It’s a math geek’s once in a lifetime holiday, so what better way to celebrate than with a pie. And with blood oranges still available, I thought it might be fun to use my pi plate and make a blood orange custard pie that left the digits on the rim exposed. 

To take advantage of the decoration around the rim of the plate, I used a graham-cracker crust, which turned out to be a good choice. The flavor goes well with the filling.

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Holiday Mincemeat Pie

mincemeat pie

I’m a history buff as well as a self-designated foodie, so recipes with a long tradition fascinate me. Mincemeat pie is a perfect example. So far as I can tell, mincemeat pie as we know it, was a 13th century English creation, using recipes and ingredients brought there by returning crusaders, who learned about the combination of meat and fruit and spices in various dishes in the Holy Land. For some reason, it became associated with Christmas and the winter holiday season, faded in popularity and then was revived in a more modern form during the Victorian era.

In the 13th century, this must have been a very exotic dish, full of aromatic spices, fruit and meat, and I’m guessing that the expansion of the British Empire, which brought access to those spices to ordinary citizens at a reasonable price, explains its revival in Victorian times. The recipes reflect what would likely have been available to cooks in early winter when the recipe was created — dried fruit, apples, meat and fat in the form of beef suet.

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Caramel Pumpkin Tart

caramel pumpkin tart

It’s not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, but since we’re doing a French-themed dinner, a traditional pumpkin pie was out of the question. A pumpkin tart, on the other hand, would fit in nicely, so I set to work.

The crust for the tart is the Perfect Pie Crust I use time and time again. It stands up well to soft, liquid fillings without getting soggy. I used a two-inch deep fluted pan with a removable bottom, and pre-baked the crust for 20 minutes while I made the filling.

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Classic Apple Pie

apple pie

While it might be argued that pumpkin spice has become the essence of fall in the past several years, to me nothing is more emblematic of the season than the classic apple pie.

I’ve been baking apple pies for many years. It probably was the first dessert I made from scratch, in fact. Over all that time, I’ve gone from ready-to-use pie crusts to mastering the art of pastry crust, and I’ve tested just about every combination of apples you can imagine. I’ve invested many hours in figuring out how to get moist tender fillings that don’t turn into mush, aren’t runny and have the right balance of tartness and sweetness.

And while I still experiment, I’ve hit on what is, for me anyway, a perfect combination of ingredients and technique. It produces apple pies that are tender and flaky, with fillings that have great flavor and just the right blend of tender and firm, tart and sweet, spiced with the classic fall scents of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

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