Monday, January 25, 2010

10 Things You Didn't Know About Ganache

1) What is Ganache?

Great point. It’s all together possible the first thing you didn’t know about ganache, is what it is! Well, ganache (guh-NAWSH) is a frosting. Actually, it’s a truffle. No, it’s a mousse! It’s a glaze! No, it’s super-ganache! In truth, ganache is all of these things. Made of two simple ingredients – chocolate and cream – ganache is a versatile super-topping that can be used to make a whole wealth of tasty treats, from truffles to cake filling. I made my first batch this past week to top some delicious bacon cupcakes (more on that in a later post).

2) Ganache is French. No Wait! It’s Swiss…
The origin of ganache is in high debate. Many think the Swiss invented ganache because it is the home of the truffle. Sacrebleu! No, no, madam et monsieur, ganache was dreamed up in Paris in the 1800’s at the Patisserie Siravdin. Given its versatility, it's not surprising that two completely different countries picked up chocolate and cream and thought – hey, we could use this! Bon Appetit!

3) It’s all about Texture! Texture! Texture!
It’s a tasters market, and the versatility of ganache comes from its texture, and texture comes from the ratio of chocolate to cream. A loose, or soft ganache (one part cream, three parts chocolate) is perfect as cake icing or dipping chocolate. Meanwhile a firm ganache (one part cream, two parts chocolate) is ideal for the creation of truffles.

4) Ganache Loves to Drink!
Many baked goods taste better with a little alcohol splash, and ganache is no lightweight. For some tasty flavor, feel free to add in some rum, brandy, or cognac to your granache mixer. You can also add fun flavors with extracts like vanilla or almond. Whether you like it straight up or with a triple bang, get yourself to that ganache bar and start flippin’ some trix!

5) Ganache is a Bitter Lover.
Traditionally, ganache is made from bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate. Yes, she’s got a bit of a bite, and if rubbed the wrong way she’ll cause you to throw your entire dessert in the trash. With a little love, however, she’s the perfect match for the sweet stuff – cake or fresh fruit. But if bitter is on your blech-o-meter, don’t fret because you can make ganache out of a ton of choice chocolates. What’s your type? Dark chocolate? Milk chocolate? White chocolate? All can be made into this sensuous sweet!

6) I Like Shiny Things.
Do you find yourself with an affinity toward sprinkles or golden glazes? Then ganache is your kind of chocolate. Add in a quick splash of oil, butter, or corn syrup and you’ll transform your matte mixture into a glossy glaze. It’s the Midas chocolate touch!

7) Oh My Ganache, the Fat is Going Straight to My Hips!
In our image-crazed culture we don’t often hear that fat is a good thing. But if you’re a ganache, it’s the equivalent to being a size zero. In fact, the higher the fat content of your cream, the richer and more stable your ganache will be. This is because the milk solids in the cream help the ganache to thicken, while the butter fat adds smoothness and moisture. That’s right, fat is beautiful (and delicious)!

8) How Long Does Ganache Like to Party?
Because ganache is half cream, it does have a relatively short shelf life. If you keep it in a cool place, the ganache will party for about two days, perhaps less if dancing a room-temperature tango. If invited to the fridge parade, you up your ganache-life to about a week. And if thrown in your freezer's mosh pit, ganache will keep on rockin’ for up to three months. After that, the party's over.

9) Picture this – Ganache is an Emlusion!
At first glance, it seems ganache is just a simple mixture of two ingredients: cream and chocolate. But look closer and far more will develop. Ganache is really an emulsification and a suspension, and if we adjust our focus we'll see that nothing is mixing at all. That’s what an emulsion is: the combination of two non-mixable elements. During the stirring phase when the ingredients are about 90-110 degrees Fahrenheit, the cream and chocolate fat breaks into itsy-bitsy droplets. And since they can't mix together, they become suspended in the water and stabilized with the emulsifier of fatty-milk-acids. Neat huh?

10) Ganache is as easy as….Pie?
It’s easier! Pie takes at least an hour to cook, not to mention prep time. Ganache will take 10-15 minutes, tops! Don’t believe me? Then follow the directions below and find out for yourself:

Ganache Recipe:
8 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (cut into small pieces)
¾ cup of heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon rum (or brandy, or vanilla extract, or anything else you want to flavor with!)

1) Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl and set aside. Chopping your chocolate is very important! Don’t forget to do it.
2) Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.
3) As the cream begins to boil, immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Don't touch it. Walk away and pick your nose (and of course wash your hands after).
4) Stir with a whisk until smooth.
5) If desired, add the liqueur.
6) Pour ganache over cake, or dip cupcakes into the ganache while it is still warm and liquid.

Elizabeth, LaBau. "Ganache." 23 January 2010 .
Jaworski, Stephanie. "Ganache Recipe." The Joy of Baking Website. 23 January 2010 .
Phillips, Sarah. "What is Chocolate Ganache?" 2008. Baking 911. 23 January 2010 .
Smith, S.E. "What is Ganache?" 16 December 2009. 23 January 2010 .
Yard, Sherry. "About Ganache - Excerpt from book "Secrets of Baking"." January 2004. The Global Gormet. 23 January 2010 .

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pleasing the Pie People

There are two kinds of people in the world. There are cake people, and there are pie people.

I am a fervent member of the cake people clan. I love moist and fluffy cake topped with creamy icing; and chocolate has been my downfall since I could utter the word. Cake is my go-to sweet spot. In truth, I haven’t given pie a chance. I even spent the first fifteen years of my time on this earth not eating pie at all. *The pie people gasp* But occasionally I have given it a go, and though it is often tasty -- pie just isn’t cake.

But on the other side of the kitchen small voices whisper: “Cake just isn’t pie.”

What separates a cake person from a pie person, you ask? Well that’s a whole different blog post. Today I bring up this point simply to admit that the two camps exist. And when you throw a birthday party, you might have to consider the fact that some people will stand in the corner, force down cake, and mutter to their crust craving brethren “Well, it’s just not pie.” And it’s my party, and I won’t cry if I can help it. So, for the pie people in my life I provided pie-a-plenty. (And by plenty I mean one. Come on, there’s only one cake.)

Apple pie - the American classic - seemed the best candidate to please the pie possessed masses. But I’m not one for classic. I’m one for giving life a little twist. Thus, using a recipe provided by my (better than Edward Cullen) Guru Ms. Martha Stewart, I made apple pie; but with a very special birthday-worthy ingredient. What ingredient, you ask?

Why fresh cherries, of course.

Cherries are special because cherry pie is my personal favorite. They’re special because cherries are the perfect cheesecake accessory. Perfect because cherries girly-on-up a mixed drink before you can say green apple martini! Cherries are ruby red and hot! And it’s my party and I’ll have cherries if I want to. And thus, my second pie was born.

So, should you have pie people of your own to please, keep their tongues tantalized with this cherry-lickin’- birthday-worthy pie recipe:

Spiced Apple Cherry Pie
(Slightly modified from Martha Stewart’s Holiday Sweets 2009 Winter Issue Recipe)

¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 recipe pate brisee
3 pounds granny smith apples
1 pound fresh pitted cherries (or canned if fresh isn’t available)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
¾ cup packed light-brown sugar (dark brown works too)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Some fine sanding sugar for sprinkling

1) On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Fit into a 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Trim edges flush with rim. Chill 1 hour, or up to overnight.
2) Roll out remaining disk of dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut 1-inch thick strips for lattice. Put on parchment paper and chill in fridge for an hour, or up to overnight.
3) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
4) Peel and core apples. Thinly slice half of apples, and cut the other half in 1-inch pieces.
5) Toss together apples, cherries, lemon zest, lemon juice, brown and granulated sugars, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.
6) Pour filling into pie shell, mounding it at the center. Dot with butter.
7) Whisk together egg yolk and cream for the egg wash. Lightly brush over edge of crust.
8) Use 1-inch strips of dough to create a lattice work. I used this link to show me how to make mine: Creating a Pie Lattice
9) Spread egg wash over the lattice work and then sprinkle with sanding sugar.
10) Bake pie on middle rack. Put a sheet of tin foil on the rack below to catch any excess juices. Bake until golden brown (about 25 minutes).
11) Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees, and bake until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling (about 70 minutes). Tent with foil if crust is browning too quickly. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Flan: My Love Hate Relationship

I hate flan.

It’s gross. It’s flavorless and has the texture of overcooked jellyfish. If I see it on a restaurant menu, I run in the opposite direction. Who would pay for flan, much less eat it? Blech!!! So one must ask, with such an obvious disdain for flan, why would I ever in my right mind make it? Much less for my very own birthday?

The Answer: Love (and a free cooking class).

The love part comes from the fact that my long-haired, long-term boyfriend thinks flan is the bee’s knees. And yes, despite his poor taste in desserts, I love him. So, flan has found its way into my kitchen repertoire. Well not exactly…

I would have never considered learning how to cook flan just to satisfy my boyfriend’s sweet tooth. In fact, I usually only make desserts that I want to eat. So there is a twist to this tale, and that includes some very Hip Cooks and a certain Pie Expert’s wife (then fiancé). I think Pie Expert’s wife needs her own name so I’m going to deem her –Strawberry Shortcake. She earns this name because she is sweet, adorable, one-hundred-percent irresistible, and well…she’s short. So, Strawberry Shortcake is getting married and for her bridal shower she decides to waive the classic shower shenanigans and does something totally hip instead. She decides to enroll us in an afternoon cooking class with a fun little company called Hipcooks; duly named because they’re hip and they cook – or more accurately: we cook.

The session is about four hours long and in it we learn, cook, and eat a variety of tapas. Each lesson is also sprinkled with fantastic facts about the history of tapas, the best ingredients to use, and lots of laughs. One of the aforementioned tapas was - that’s right – FLAN. Which is actually a desert and not a tapas…but what do I know. So without this afternoon of flan fate, I would never have made flan a part of my kitchen cuisine, and my long-haired long term boyfriend would be custard-less.

So if you want your friends and family to exclaim such wonderful comments as:

“This is Amazing!”
“This is the best flan I’ve ever tasted!”
“This is restaurant quality!”

Then please read the recipe below. And yes, even though my flan has been deemed fantastically fabulous, I still don’t like it. Sure my flan has more flavor than the flan I’ve had in the past, but just cause I made it doesn’t put it on the top of my tower of treats. But then that’s why I have other people to eat it!

(serves 4)

Bakeware Needed:
Four ramekins (¾ cup size)
Square or rectangle cake pan
Heavy sauce pan
Cookie sheet
Parchment paper
Mixing bowls, etc.

For the Caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup of orange juice

For the Flan:
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup milk (any kind except skim)
2 eggs
1 yolk
1/3 cup sugar

To Begin With:
1) Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.
2) Arrange four ¾ cup ramekins in the cake baking pan.
3) Prep a sheet of parchment paper (NOT WAX PAPER!!) on a cookie sheet and place near stove.

To Make Caramel:
Safety Note: At no time – and I mean at no time - during the following process should you taste, lick, or test your caramel with any soft fleshy body part. Because no matter how good the caramel looks it will be crazy crazy hot, we’re talkin’ vampire-incinerating hot, and it will scar you for life! You have been warned!
1) In a heavy saucepan melt a cup of sugar over medium/high heat, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spoon. Be patient as the sugar melts.
2) When the sugar is melt-y and brown remove from heat for a few moments so it can cool a little bit.
3) With your spoon drizzle the caramel over the parchment paper making swirls, lines, cross hatches, or any lovely design you choose. This does not need to be precise, as you will later cool this and break it into chunks for decoration. If the caramel gets too hard, simply place on heat again and stir till it is runny.
4) Place the caramel back over the heat and add the orange juice. The caramel will seize a bit but just keep stirring till it melts (it will, trust me!).
5) Spoon the remaining caramel into the base of your ramekins.
6) Put cookie sheet of spun caramel in the fridge or freezer.

To Make the Flan:
1) Scald milk and cream in a pan by heating it up until small bubbles appear around the edge of the pan.
2) While the milk n’ cream are heating, mix together the sugar and egg.
3) Prep what you want to add to the flan in terms of flavor – lemon zest, amaretto, vanilla, pumpkin – whatever you desire. Or don’t add anything extra (I didn’t).
4) Pour the hot milk and cream into the bowl with the sugar and egg and mix. Add your additional flavor ingredients now. Do this quickly because the egg will start to cook a little because you added the hot milk/cream.
5) Pour the mixture over the caramel in your ramekins.
6) Create a water bath around your ramekins by adding water to the cake pan (but not the ramekins). You want to fill the pan so it is about half way up the side of the ramekins.
7) Put pans in the oven (which should be 350 degrees).
8) Cook for aprox. 30 minutes. You want to check the flan when it gets close to 30 minutes, when the flan jiggles it is ready to come out. Think Jell-O for the proper amount of jiggling.
9) Set Flan out to cool, but keep it in its water bath. Be careful because the water will be VERY HOT! The flan will continue to cook a little and set as it cools.
10) Once the flan ramekins are cool enough to pick up with your hands you can put them in the refrigerator. They will need to say in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

To Serve:
1) Using a butter knife cut along the edge of the flan so it will separate from the side of the ramekin.
2) Turn flan over onto a plate. Give it a little jiggle and shake and it will fall out. Allow the caramel syrup to run all over the flan.
3) Add decoration of spun caramel (it’s in the fridge remember!). Simply break off large chunks and stick it into the top of the flan for a dramatic vertical effect. Or if your caramel was a crazy failure add fruit like raspberries or cherries. Or add both!
4) Serve. Eat. Smile.

P.S. I also hate tiramisu, so maybe I should try making that next.

Photos in this post taken by Russell Gearhart Photography
If you live in LA and are interested in HipCooks learn more about them here: Hipcooks Website

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Thirty and Brimming with Spice!

My fingers wrinkle like ripe prunes. They’re water soaked and swollen from the three GIGANTIC loads of dishes accumulated from last night’s soiree. Not to mention the multiple loads of dishes created far before the party, when the baked goods were baked. I flop down on the couch; fingers puckered, and ask myself - is it really worth it?

*Sits quiet, contemplating*

Do you really think I’m going to throw the cake out with the dish water?! Oh how you underestimate me! All I need is some hot pink dish washin' gloves and a stiff drink.

Oh yeah, and I’m thirty.

Yup, I’m fresh out of the oven of the eternal party of my twenties, and I’ve been tossed onto the cooling rack where I will inevitably mold and rot. Right? No way! This newly-thirty is ready to shine. I’m well seasoned and brimming with spice! I’ve spent the last week celebrating the dirty thirty in all its fun and flirty fabulousness with the following baking (and some non-baking) excitement:

1) I dyed my hair an emerald peacock blue. Yes, I come into my thirties in blazing green phoenix fire! I am baker hear me roar!

2) Cupcake tasting! Who needs birthday cake when you have three cupcake shops just down the street? Better to taste eight cakes than one? Really, who’s going to argue with that logic? Coming soon – a full post about two birthday gals comparing Pasadena’s cake-cuisine! Who makes the best cupcakes in Pasadena? Violet’s Cakes? Dots? Or My Sweet Cupcake?

3) I had a Champagne Shower. Because everyone who turns thirty needs to bathe in champagne, or at least have a little Korean man dump an entire bottle over your head! I did, and it was the best shower of my life. Sticky and alcohol-y, and awesome!

4) A two-day bake-a-thon where I embarked on the creation of flan, chocolate reese’s peanut butter cup cake (two tiers of it, baked and then decorated), and an apple cherry pie. Hence the never ending tower of dishes mentioned above.

5) And finally, the grand finale: a silly eye-ware party where friends wore crazy glasses, and gorged themselves on tasty treats. Priceless.

Yes, thirty is the new thirteen…or the new “cougar”…or something. But whatever it is, I’m it! So don’t get too distracted because a series of full disclosure blog posts, photos and all, are coming! And you don’t want to miss a single magnificent munch-able-moment!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Elegant Red Christmas Cake

This year, I spent my first Christmas away from home and with my long-haired, long-term boyfriend and his family. I decided to impress my potential in-laws with Christmas Cake, because the best way to a potential in-law's heart is through their stomach! The following is a photo-essay (taken by the long-haired, long-term boyfriend) which documents the multiple day labor-of-love it is to make a fancy fondant cake.

I began by making frosting, baking the cake, and then leveling the top. I set up shop at the kitchen table and smile silly-like at my at my documentarian.

I fill the layers with yummy-licous frosting (cream cheese frosting in this case). I've discovered the flavor of the frosting is key to a great tasting cake. Other fun flavors I've tried include peanut butter, and mint. Any future suggestions?

I crushed up some peppermint candy canes and put them between the layers of red velvet and white cake to add a tasty bit of holiday cheer. After wards I covered the two tiers of cake entirely in frosting.

Next comes the fondant (not fondue, as the potential parent-in-law kept calling it). Fondant is a smooth flawless icing used for wedding and specialty cakes. It's made of sugar and water and has a gum-like texture. It's play-dough for bakers! I purchase my fondant pre-made, and it comes in white, so my first task was to color it. Red and black are the hardest colors to create as they require a lot of food coloring and even more kneading and mixing. Guess what color this cake is?

Look at that sexy neon salmon orange - it has Christmas written all over it? looks like a little more gel-color and a healthy wrist workout is in order.

After the desired color is achieved, (which took practically an entire jar of gel-color) I rolled out the fondant until it was about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch thick.

Using the rolling pin, I rolled the fondant out over the cake, and smoothed it out with my hands and a fondant smoother to make my cake flawless. It's like botox for cake!

Once the cake is covered and the wrinkles are wiped away, I cut away the excess fondant. Then lather, rinse, repeat -- I mean -- roll, smooth, and repeat for tier number two.

I use dowels to support the second tier.

Slowly, with agile fingers and the grace of a bull, I lower the second tier, down through a central dowel. (Side note: Bull's are actually very graceful, Mythbusters did an experiment to see what a Bull would actually do in a China shop and here-be-told not a dish was displaced!)

Prior to making the cake I cut out small white flowers from gum paste and let them dry. Next I painted them with pearl dust (you know, to make the cake fancy) and I glue in the center sprinkles using almond extract.

The finished flowers wait to dry as the sun sets. Sparkly!

Later I attach the tiny flowers all over the cake - again using almond extract as a glue. Any extract will work, the almond is simply what I had on hand.

You have to hold each flower down for a moment or two in order to seal the bond. Yes, decorating does include a lot of small work, but I find it very zen-like to enjoy each small step one by one by one by one by one.

And Voila - a beautiful fantastic Christmas cake! Easy as....cake! (Well, three days easy).


How Merry!

Of course after you've admired the cake, you must eat it! Who's got a gigantic knife?!

Time for some slicing and dicing!

Who wants the first piece?

Gobble. Gobble. Munch. Munch. Slurp. Burp.

Even the nieces approve! Merry Christmas Everyone!

All the photos for this post were taken and provided by Russell Gearhart Photography.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Martha Stewart is My Edward Cullen

The question is which side are you on? Are you Team Edward? Or are you Team Jacob?

With the recent release of “New Moon,” I find teenage vampaholics have gone ga-ga, fangs extended, to prove their beloved Edward is the name whispered from my lips when asked this oh-so-life-changing question. Their eyes bulge waiting to find out my true colors. And so, to this chorus of prepubescent shrieks, I dare to say: neither. I’m 100% third party.

That’s right, I’m for team Martha!

Team Martha Stewart, that is. No, Martha hasn’t turned into a vampire, or traded in her blond locks for a full body hair-wolf-athon. No, she’s still the mistress of home-crafting and baking bedazzlement, and dare I say she could give Edward a run for his money. Let’s compare:

Edward Cullen
1) Brooding and Dangerous
2) Soul-less Vampire
3) Immortal
4) Sparkles in the Sunlight
5) Thinks Bella Smells So Good He Wants to Eat Her
6) Achingly Beautiful (according to the screenplay)
7) Brings Teenage Girls to Their Knees with Incomparable Obsession and Loyalty
8) Is 100% fictional

Martha Stewart
1) Happy and Dangerous
2) Soul-less Advertiser
3) Immortal
4) Makes all Baked Goods and Crafts Sparkle Day or Night
5) Makes all Baked Goods Smell So Good You’d Sell Your Soul to Eat Them
6) Makes Cakes that are Butter-Cream-Beautiful
7) Speaks to the Almost-Thirty Homemaker that I Didn’t Even Know Lived Under This California Girl Veneer
8) Is 100% Flesh and Blood

Honestly, I just want something I can sink my teeth into.

The key here is obsession. Young girls are obsessed with Twilight, and I’m obsessed with 2009 winter issue of Martha Stewart’s Holiday Sweets, which is really what this whole blog post is about.

I bought this magazine on a whim. Yes, some achingly beautiful picture on the cover catches my eye, a few flips through its sunlight sparkling pages, and I fell hard and fast. My brooding vampire is a caramel-pear terrine. I found myself drooling over pictures of Eggnog cups, and carrot spice tartlets, lemon mousse, and pumpkin flan. Not to mention the special section on how to build your very own gingerbread mansion (or subdivision for that matter)! I read this magazine cover to cover, and then I read it again. I wanted to rip out the pictures and paste them on the wall so I could stare starry-eyed into the sweet marshmallow gaze of caramel pots de crème! Edward, you’ve got nothin’ when Martha’s got Raspberry Pistachio Dacquoise!

But I digress…

Perhaps all these sweets, like Edward, are just a fantasy. They look immaculate and unattainable in the glossy photos. Martha casts her spell, and for a minute I think maybe I too can make something just as marvelous, something just as exquisite and rare. Am I really special enough, talented enough, and obsessed enough?

I don’t believe in Vampires. But cake. Cake I can work with. Team Martha all the way!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dear Sweet New Year's Pie!

Right now…
The kitchen smells of butter. The air is glazed with the warm scent of flaky bread rising. In the oven the pie simmers with cranberries and pears making love under a bed of brown sugar. I’ll let the love brew for another hour or so, before painting the crust with an apricot reduction. My taste buds are ready to rock out, bringing in the New Year with coconut confetti and Pear-Cranberry Pie: home-made style baby!

The Taste Tester
I baked my New Year’s pie as a surprise treat for a good friend of mine, let’s call him The Pie Expert. The pie expert has rightfully earned his title, for in my circle of friends no one is as knowledgeable, experienced in eating, or loves pie more than he. Case and point, when the pie expert got married there was no wedding cake, oh no, there was wedding pie. So who better to judge my maiden pie voyage?

His comments were few, (perhaps because his mouth was stuffed with delicious pie . Or perhaps he was considering how he could spit it out and not insult me. It was new years, after all, he also could have been drunk.) The Pie Expert’s verdict:

“It’s good” – Vague, but positive. However, one must consider the friend factor. It is well known that friends will often lie to be polite.

“It’s not too sweet.” - Upon further inquiry I learn this is a good thing. Pie expert explained that the pie had a nice balance between sweet (the pear) and tart (the cranberries).

“The crust is nice and firm.” – It turns out this is a particularly important element of pie construction. One must make a substantial crust that can support the weight of the fruit without wimping out and becoming mystery mush. Good to know. I often hear that the crust is the hardest part about making pie, so with the hardest part in the clear I'm going to call this match: One point for team Ingrid.

So Let’s talk Shop…
Baking pie wasn’t the intimidating feat I imagined it to be. No mountains of butter were scaled, no pie bridges burned, or tsunamis of cranberries splashed upon the floor. Just follow the directions - chop, toss, press, cover with crust and bake. Easy as pie.


I decided to get a little creative with the decoration of this pie. The original recipe (which came from the creative crafting queen Ms. Martha Stewart) showed you how to create a lattice work by using small square cookie cutters. Instead of weaving a lattice you cut out the holes in the flattened dough, and then use the cut-out squares as a crust. My thought is – good effort Martha – but if you’re going to use cookie cutters why not use something fancy? Why be square when you can be a flower shaped?! I got my craft on with a flower cookie cutter, originally used to crate fondant flowers. You can get these at Michael’s Arts n’ Crafts. If cake can be pretty, then pie can be pretty too! So I double dog dare everyone to get out their cookie cutters and fancy up some pie!

Fun Photos…
Because I haven’t invented the scratch and sniff icons yet, you’ll have to drool over some photos. (Taken by Russell Gearhart Photography).

he Recipe:
(Comes from “Martha Stewart's Holiday Sweets Magazine” Winter 2009 Issue, Pages: 8, 9, 16, 17)

Pear-Cranberry Pie Recipe
All purpose flour, for dusting
1 recipe Pate Brisee for crust (See Below)
4 ripe Bartlett pears

4 1/3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into small
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
½ cup apricot preserves

1. Roll out one disk of dough to 1/8 inch thick. Fit into 9 inch pie plate and trim edges. Chill 1 hour or up to overnight.
2. Roll out second disk of dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out pattern with cookie cutters. Use square for lattice effect. Cut around edges so that you have a round pie top.
3. Use leftover dough to cut out additional squares, flowers, (your choice of shape), for the crust of the pie. Chill pie top and cut out shapes in fridge for 1 hour or up to overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
5. Peel and core pears. Very thinly slice 2 pears lengthwise; cut remaining 2 pears into 8 wedges each.
6. Toss pears, cranberries, brown sugar, cornst
arch, and salt. Pour into pie shell; gently press to make level. Dot with butter.
7. Whisk egg yolk and cream to create egg wash.

8. Place pie top design/crust over the top of the pie. Gently press edges of crust togther to seal; trim edges if necessary.
9. Lightly brush
egg wash on pie top.
10. Arrange shapes along the edge of the pie to create crust. Lightly glaze each piece as you go. You can make shapes overlap or butt them up next to one another. This depends on the design you wish to create.
11. Put pie in the oven on middle rack. Bake until golden brown and juices bubble – aprox. 1 ½ hours. Pull out and cool when done.

12. Meanwhile, heat preserves in a sauce pan over medium heat till warm. Puree in a food processor till smooth. Press through fine sieve into a bowl. Brush warm pie with generous amounts of apricot glaze. Let cool.

Pate Brisee Recipe (Pie Crust Dough)

(Also from above mentioned Magazine)
Makes one 9-10 inch double crust pie.
3 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup and 2 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
¼ to ½ cup ice water

1. Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (Read previous blog post on evil food processors for exciting adventures in pulsing!)
2. Evenly drizzle ¼ cup ice water over mixture. Pulse until mixture just begins to hold together (it should not be wet or sticky in texture). If too dry, add more water one tablespoon at a time.
3. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic and shape into a disk.
4. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to overnight. Freeze up to 1 month (thaw before using).