Blueberry Maple Waffle Pie

glass-case-emotion-anchorman

Yeah, that’s a pretty accurate descriptor.

A few weeks ago, I went with the Boy on vacation to Milwaukee to meet his friends and family, eat a ridiculous amount of tasty food, and listen to some fantastic live music. It was wonderful and I wrote about it here. Since then, life has gotten a bit more hectic: tires blowing out on the highway, family members needing surgery to repair injuries (so thankful for skilled doctors!), and the beginning of the back-to-school nightmares. There’s a lot to do and not much time left to do it. So what do I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed?

Yeah. I bake. And this time, it was a pie.

Baking doesn’t make my glass case of emotions any easier to be in, but at least it all smells good.

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I normally don’t use pre-made things when I bake because I’m stubborn and a bit of a snob, but when I bought these cookies I immediately knew they’d be fantastic in a crust (they’re also equally amazing when dipped into chocolate milk and eaten while binge-watching Netflix). Eat one or four for quality control, then put the rest into a food processor. Pulse until you’ve got finely-ground cookies.

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I wrote that you want 2 cups of flour but really, you just want about 3 cups of dry ingredients (flour + ground cookies) in all. I poured the cookie pieces (grounds? puree? I’m not sure what to call them…) into the bottom of my 4-cup measuring cup and added about 2 cups of flour so that I had about 3 cups of dry ingredients. Mix well.

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This dough is STICKY, especially since you add 1 tbsp of pure maple syrup into the crust (and even more so if you spill the bottle of maple syrup on your counter like I did). I normally refrigerate my crusts for about an hour and then roll them out, but with this one I just greased up my pan and pressed it in (I used a springform pan but seriously, you can use pretty much whatever you’d like, pan-wise). Once your dough is spread across the bottom of your pan, pour that last tbsp of maple syrup in and brush it to coat the top of the crust with golden deliciousness.

Once you’re done with your crust, work on the filling. You’ll need 1 pint of blueberries pureed and put into the pot, along with the sugar, maple syrup, cornstarch, gelatin, and salt. Mix it really well to make sure there’s no clumps of cornstarch (hint: use a whisk!) and bring to a boil over medium heat.

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You have to stir basically the entire time or you’re going to have burned blueberry goop all over your pan. No bueno.

Let the mixture boil about 2-3 minutes. You’ll notice that it’s a much darker color than it was before and that it’s far more sticky.

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Mmm…

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Pour mixture over the remaining blueberries and then stir with a rubber spatula, trying to cover every blueberry. Add the filling into the crust, bake for 30-35 minutes at 350º and then let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

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My brother-in-law dubbed this “probably the best pie” he’s ever eaten. #win

 

Blueberry Maple Waffle Pie
For the Crust:
1 cup unsalted butter, cold
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1 package Trader Joe’s Butter Waffle Cookies, pureed
2 cups flour
2 tbsp pure maple syrup, separated

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in egg and egg yolk, mixing well. Scrap down the sides of the bowl.
2. Add flour and pureed TJ’s Butter Waffle Cookies to butter mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time. Mix until just barely combined.
3. Drizzle 1 tbsp of maple syrup into the bowl and continue mixing until ingredients are combined well.
4. Generously spray a pie pan with nonstick spray (I prefer coconut). Press pie crust dough into the pan. Brush the remaining 1 tbsp maple syrup on top of the dough before pouring in the filling.
5. Preheat the oven to 350º.

For the Filling:
4 pints fresh blueberries, washed and separated
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp gelatin
4 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp corn starch
pinch salt

1. Puree 1 pint of the blueberries and pour into a medium saucepan. Add the other ingredients to the saucepan and mix well.
2. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Allow mixture to boil for 2-3 minutes, until the consistency is thick. Remove from heat.
3. When the mixture has cooled slightly, pour over the other 3 pints of blueberries. Use a spatula to mix well, trying to coat all blueberries.
4. Pour blueberries into prepared pie pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Cool 4 hours (or overnight) and serve.

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Chocolate Chip & Peach Cookies

My kids drew things they know I love them more than.

After a parent told me that my empty bulletin boards made the room “look sad,” I had the kids decorate them.

Last Thursday was the 180th school day. My kindergarteners and I celebrated in the most appropriate way we could think of: by watching a Disney movie and eating sprinkle cookies. At 12:30, I hugged each of my kids goodbye, tried not to ugly-cry (at least, not in front of them), and sent them off for summer break.

However, just because my students are on summer break does not mean that I’m done and beach-bound. For the past two days, we teachers have packed up our rooms and stripped the brightly colored decorations off our walls. Our classrooms are huge, empty shells and the whole thing is, frankly, incredibly depressing.

My coworker and friend Lindsay has been using the hashtag “#99daysofsummer” in her Facebook and Instagram posts, so I’ve got to believe that’s how many days we’ve got until we head back to school for pre-planning. And knowing how fast 180 school days went by means that I’ll blink and all 99 summer days will be gone. Since I’m not willing to miss out on pretty much anything, I need to jump start myself. Enter: peaches.

For me, no fruit screams “it’s summer!” louder than a peach. (I know, I know, watermelons, but aside from using them in seed-spitting contests, I’ll pass.) There isn’t a dignified way to eat a whole, ripe peach. Go ahead, try to bite into a really ripe, sweet peach and not have juice drip all over your face and fingers. That mess means summer.

#99daysofsummer. Don’t miss a single one!

Chocolate Chip & Peach Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tbsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh diced peaches
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add in egg and vanilla and continue beating for 1-2 minutes.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.
5. Add flour mixture into egg mixture 1/4 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as-needed.
6. Add peaches and chocolate chips. Use a spatula to combine.
7. On a parchment-lined cookie sheet, scoop dough and roll into 1 1/2″ balls and place on cookie sheet about an inch apart.
8. Bake for around 10 minutes, until golden brown.
Note: because of the moisture of the peaches, cookies with more peach chunks may need to be cooked a bit longer.

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Strawberry Pie

A few weeks ago, my sister told me about a contest a grocery store chain was running. It was the start of strawberry season here in Florida (one of my favorite seasons, by far) and all you had to do was upload a picture and a recipe of something you made with strawberries to their contest page on Facebook. From there, the general public could vote on which recipe they liked best and the winner would get $500 in gift cards to that grocery store. I debated whether or not I’d actually enter the contest, because I am ridiculously competitive. Usually, if I don’t think I’m going to win, I’m not going to play because I hate losing that much. But Katie sent me the link to the other entries and after seeing what I was up against (one person just submitted a picture of blueberries with a spoonful of sugar on them. Blueberries. In a contest about strawberries. I mean, really?) I was pretty sure I could win.

I didn’t win first place. And it’s taken me this long to get past the fact that my strawberry pie recipe, which takes a few hours to make, lost to two canned Pillsbury cinnamon rolls cut into hearts and baked with strawberries between them. Ok, so maybe I’m not 100% over that one yet.

The good that came out of this, though, is this pie. Every person that’s tried it has enjoyed it and that’s more important to me than some silly contest.

Though, the $500 would’ve been nice.

Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie

For the crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for the surface)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks

1. In a large food processor, pulse together flour, sugar and salt. Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add egg and egg yolks and combine until the mixture just begins to come together.
2. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, shape into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap for about an hour.
3. Grease/generously spray with cooking spray one 9-inch pie or tart pan. Press dough into the pan and trim excess dough, leaving between 1/4″-1/2″ around the edges. [I baked my pie without a top crust, but this recipe has extra dough so you can make a pretty lattice on top of your pie.]

For the filling:
4 pints of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 tsp gellatin
dash salt

1. Place 1/3 of the strawberries into a food processor. Pulse until pureed.
2. In a medium pan, whisk together sugar, corn starch, gellatin, and salt. Using a heat-proof rubber spatula, mix in the strawberry puree and heat over medium-high heat.
3. Stir constantly, scraping down the sides and bottom of the pan, until the mixture turns dark and thickens (about 2-3 minutes after it starts boiling).
4. Remove from heat and place in a heat-proof bowl to cool.
5. Once cooled, take the remaining 2/3 hulled and halved strawberries and mix them into the cooked strawberry mixture, trying to coat every strawberry.
6. Pour strawberries into pie crust. [If you want a lattice top crust, place the lattice pieces over the top of the pie and brush with egg whites. If not, crimp the 1/4″-1/2″ edges with your fingers.]
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes (until crust is golden brown).
8. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours and serve.

Peach Pie

I am not a morning person. At all. Given the opportunity, I would sleep until 11 am daily and feel absolutely no shame about it. The bedroom I picked in my house, however, makes that pretty much impossible, as the sun streams through the slats in the blinds every morning and heats the room up 5 degrees hotter than anywhere else in the house. When you live in Florida, an extra 5 degrees makes a big difference. Especially if you’re too cheap to turn down the AC.

Most of the baking I do happens in the afternoon or early evening. For example, tonight I made a peach pie for our 4th of July dessert and games celebration that we are (hopefully) having at my sister’s tomorrow night. (I realize that it’s after midnight as I’m writing this, but “tomorrow” is still the 4th to me, regardless of what the posting’s timestamp says.) While processing the pie crust I realized that if I ever do open a bakery, it would either need to be open in the afternoons and evenings or I’d have to find a morning baker. I have no problem being up at 7, but having fresh muffins and other pastries ready to go at 7 am would mean I’d need to be up around 4 am. That just isn’t happening. But, that’s a problem that I can deal with in the future because for now, I am too excited about teaching to give it up. [On a related note, to the new followers of this blog who subscribe for the recipes, the next entry or two will most likely not be related to baking as this blog is my “everything” blog, not specific to any one select type of post. Feel free to read it, but I wouldn’t be offended if you scrolled past it :).]

I’m still not 100% sure why I decided to make a peach pie. I’ve never made one before and I had to learn a lot of new things to make it work (how to ripen peaches more quickly, blanching peaches to peel the skin off easier, etc) but it’s an experiment that people will hopefully enjoy eating!

Peach Pie

for the crust:
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp shortening
3 tbsp cold unsalted butter
1 pinch salt
3 tbsp ice-cold water

for the filling:
8 fresh peaches, peel, pitted and sliced
3/4 c sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon

for the topping:
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1 c quick oats
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c flour

1. Grease one 9-inch pie pan. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, shortening, butter and salt until chunky. Add water and combine until it’s one big ball in the processor. Roll dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and place into prepared pie pan. Place pan into refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. To make the filling, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon into a small bowl. Put the peaches into a large bowl and carefully stir the sugar mixture in, coating the fruit. Do not overmix as this will add a LOT of extra liquid (I’ve learned that the hard way with other fruit pies). Carefully pour mixture into the pie pan.
4. To make the topping, cream butter and sugar together, then add in the flour and oats until just combined. You want the mixture to be a bit crumbly. Crumble topping over fruit.
5. Bake for between 50-60 minutes, turning half way through the baking time, until the topping is golden brown.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins

I have 6 dead bananas on my kitchen counter. When I went home last week, my mom gave me 3 that were “on their way out” so that I could make banana bread with them. I spent 20 minutes looking at “banana _______ bread” recipes (plain banana bread is a bit too boring for me) and decided to make strawberry cream cheese muffins.

Yeah, I realize that doesn’t make sense at all. Honestly, I wasn’t going to bake anything tonight or for the next few days, but Tropical Storm Debby has spoiled my afternoon plans. I had every intention of mowing my lawn today (at least, you know, the part the neighbors can see), even if only to avoid having our neighborhood handyman stop by and express to me again how much he really, REALLY wants to mow my lawn, but there’s just too much rain. Muffins to the rescue!

Note: I follow the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. A good portion of this recipe is a slight adjustment from other recipes I’ve used. And people think baking is hard… 😉

Strawberry Cream Cheese MuffinsMakes about 24 muffins
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced into small pieces
turbinado, for sprinkling onto muffin tops

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Either grease or line a cupcake pan with wrappers. (You’ll need to do this again, but the muffins need to be baked one pan at a time.)
2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. Set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugar. Add in the cream cheese, egg, milk and vanilla, mixing until well-blended.
4. Add the flour mixture and combine well.
5. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the strawberries into the rest of the batter.
6. Spoon the batter into the muffin wells, until about 2/3 full.
7. Sprinkle turbinado on each of the muffin tops.
8. Cook for 10 minutes; rotate the pan and cook 11 minutes.

Chocolate Mint Cheesecake

As you may have noticed from your facebook or twitter feeds, I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately. I’ve been trying to justify the amount of time I’ve spent creaming butter and sugar together as practice for the bakery I’ll open when I’m done teaching, but the truth is that I don’t have a job and I’m bored. I was lamenting my lack of income to my dad one of the last times he visited when his fiancee offered me a solution: in order to help me have some kind of income this summer, she’s hired me to proofread things for her for a quarter per page. This may not seem like a lot of money, but when you realize that a 300-page document is $75, you find this number to be more reasonable.

Tonight I’m in the middle of one such 300-page document and it’s a doozey. And, because it’s taking me longer than I thought it would, I’m missing out on two events that I would’ve loved to have gone to. Tonight calls for something special.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve worked on creating what I think is the perfect crust. I’m not quite there yet, but this almond crust is pretty darn close. [I definitely “cheat” and use my food processor to mix the dough for the pie crust, though I’ve done it by hand before too.]

Almond Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch table salt
1/4 cup butter, cold, cut into pieces
1/4 cup crisco
2 tbsp ice water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease one round pie pan.
2. In a food processor, add flour, ground almonds, sugar, salt, butter and crisco. Pulse mixture until just combined. Then add the water and pulse again until the water is mixed throughout.
3. Turn dough onto a flour surface and roll flat until about 1/4 inch thick. Line the rolled out dough into the pie pan, pinching the edges up. [Because I have still not gotten the hang of picking up pie crusts, I roll my dough onto a piece of parchment paper and flip that into the pie pan.]
4. Line the dough with foil and add pie weights or a bag of dried beans. This will prevent the crust from rising up.
5. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the crust turns a pale golden color.

Chocolate, mint and I have been bffs for years. I probably should’ve realized sooner what an amazing addition they’d make to cheesecake, but I didn’t. Better late than never?

Chocolate Mint Cheesecake
3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1 tsp peppermint extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cream together cream cheese and sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. With the mixer running on low speed, add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add in the vanilla, mix for 30 seconds and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4. Mix the cooled chocolate and peppermint extract in the cream cheese mixture until all the chocolate is combined.
5. Scoop the mixture into the prepared pie crust, being careful not to overfill.
6. Bake for about an hour, or until the cheesecake has set.
7. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hours.

[I had a bit of both leftover crust and batter, so I made two mini cheesecakes. This works out nicely, because I owe someone a cheesecake and now I can just give him one of the special mini ones!]

Brown Sugar and Blueberry Mini Bread

[This blog post is, in part, for Mary. It’s the type of post she’s mentioned wanting me to write (a la Joy the Baker) and since I used her as a reference in my recent summer job search, I figure I owe her.]

I’ve been incredibly stressed lately looking for a summer job. With each day that passes, I get more anxious about the 7 weeks between my last paycheck of the 2011-2012 school year and my first one of 2012-2013. I was complaining recently about my lack of employment to Kristi and told her that I should just open a bakery. Kristi, being the wealth of encouragement and warmth that she is, excitedly told me to pursue it. Now, I have no business sense or start-up capital whatsoever, so I’ll stick to teaching for the time being. One day though, I’m going to open a bakery. And I’m going to bake these.

Brown Sugar and Blueberry Mini Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup brown sugar (unpacked)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease 4 mini bread pans.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Cream butter and granulated sugar together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the milk, egg and vanilla. Mix well.
4. Add the flour mixture into the bowl with the mixer running, a spoonful at a time, mixing until the batter has incorporated all the flour in.
5. With a rubber spatula, mix blueberries and brown sugar into the batter loosely. Be careful not to over mix. You want the brown sugar to not quite be blended with the rest of the batter.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared bread pans, until 2/3 full.
7. Bake about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick is insert and comes out clean.