rhubarb pie, please

Great-aunt Helen’s recipe box has yet again yielded riches. Seasonal riches at that. With rhubarb growing strong in the backyard, my family had been making noises about bringing that rhubarb inside and putting it in a pie. So when I … Continue reading

the bourbon slide show

This gallery contains 13 photos.

Remember that Bourbon Festival mentioned last post? It’s in the rearview mirror and I now have only memories. More accurately, I have only memories, lots of photos, and oodles of bourboncentric souvenirs. Though I won’t be pulling out the slide … Continue reading

Door County, the sweets edition

This gallery contains 12 photos.

With a tween daughter at home, I’ve given lots of thought to friendships: how they’re made, how fragile they can be, what makes a good one, and so on. While I didn’t especially enjoy those middle school years myself (though … Continue reading

more momofuku insanity

I’ll admit to not being on top of the blogging game this week. My posting day arrived, but still no sense of what to write up. While my week was full of the usual food-related projects along with a handful of meals out, nothing had struck me as blog-worthy. And truth be told, sometimes I just get lazy. Having to track details, take pictures, etc for a post can (sometimes, not always) suck fun from a food adventure.

So today’s “inspiration” was forced and also a bit lazy. I grabbed Momofuku Milk Bar, Christina Tosi’s amazing cookbook, from the shelf and flipped through until I found a recipe that looked tasty, used minimal ingredients, and took little time to throw together. And boy howdy, did I strike gold.

Momofuku has been featured here before and for those who haven’t heard of this crazy little New York sweet shop, know that it’s famous for Crack Pie™ as well as crunches, crumbs, cereal milk, brittles, and the like. Tosi has an imagination like no other along with a willingness to think waaaaaaay outside the pastry box. She’s the proverbial kid in a candy store except that she’s in charge of the candy store.

What caught my eye this go-round was her Liquid Cheesecake. A dessert in itself, it’s also an ingredient in ice cream, sorbet, layer cakes (both apple and carrot), and truffles. Tosi is an excellent communicator and only her words will do her thought process justice:

…I’m kind of a fan of the gooey, just-barely-baked approach to making something delicious. There’s just something so naughty and fulfilling about the texture… Once I’d settled into my role as pastry chef at Momofuku, I knew I had every right to eat magically thickened cheesecake filling in the confines of my new home…so began my search for my voice in the form of cheesecake. It was short journey: my heart beats for one and only one kind of cheesecake–the underbaked, messy kind. And so, my signature cheesecake is liquid cheesecake.

Now doesn’t that sound lovely?

Should you share Tosi’s obsession for ooey-gooey goodness, I suggest you find yourself a copy of her book. It’s a fun read and a great kickstart for crazy-good dessert ideas. But if you can’t wait to make liquid cheesecake, here’s what I did:

Heat oven to 300°F. In mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat 8 ounces softened cream cheese on low speed 2 minutes or until smooth. Scrape down side of bowl with spatula. Add 3/4 cup sugar; beat 1 to 2 minutes or until completely incorporated. Scrape down side of bowl.

In small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon salt; whisk in 2 tablespoons milk. (I used almond milk.) Whisk in 1 large egg. Beat cornstarch slurry into cream cheese mixture on medium-low speed 3 to 4 minutes or until smooth and loose. Scrape down side of bowl. Stir in 2 or so cups chopped chocolate, miniature candy bars, and cut-up marshmallows.batterScrape mixture into 9-inch graham cracker crust. Bake 15 minutes; gently shake pan. Remove from oven if cheesecake is firm in center and jiggly around edge. If mixture is jiggly all over, bake 5 minutes more. Add another 5 minutes if needed, but, in Tosi’s experience, “it shouldn’t take more than 25 minutes to underbake a cheesecake.” Cool cheesecake completely, allowing to set. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Note that the candy stir-ins and graham cracker crust were my spins. Tosi bakes in a 6-inch square pan lined with plastic wrap and describes the final “cheesecake” as “pipeable and pliable enough to easily spread or smear, while still having body and volume.”

I’ll close with a warning: This cheesecake is deadly addictive. As expected, it’s creamy and rich, but the chopped candy makes it über-sweet as well. What starts out as one spoonful easily leads to two, then three, etc. And before you know it, you’re regretting those last bites. (or so I’ve been told 😉 ) This is a sweet treat meant to be enjoyed in small portions.

Liquid Cheesecake Pie, not for the feint of heart!

Liquid Cheesecake Pie, not for the faint of heart!

If the description and picture didn’t sell it, I offer one more reason to love liquid cheesecake:

not a fail!

not a fail

so not what I was going for

so not what I was going for

It’s supposed to look like this! I’ve had similar baking experiences that were considered fails (see pink squirrel pie at right) and it seems the same result is a major success here.

Hats off, then, to Christina Tosi for her envelope-pushing sweet treats. I love how she thinks and am ever grateful for her inspirations.

failed pink squirrel pie

I’ve posted before that I love a pink squirrel. This sweet cocktail is a blend of equal parts cream (or ice cream, if so inclined), white crème de cacao, and crème de Noyaux (also known as crème de noya or crème de almond). Made of apricot kernels, crème de Noyaux takes its name from “noyau,” the French word for kernel, pit, or core. Its red hue puts the pink in a pink squirrel and lends a more interesting flavor than if similarly flavored amaretto were used in its place.

Pink squirrels rank high on my list. So does Marshmallow Fluff. (Click over to deLizious Facebook for proof of the fluff obsession.) With two dozen jars of fluff in my pantry (I can only find it on store shelves once a year, folks. Please don’t judge me. 😉 ), I’ve taken The Marshmallow Fluff Cookbook down from the shelf. A recipe for Grasshopper Pie caught my eye and I thought why not crème de Noyaux instead of de menthe? A traditionally mint green pie went pink as I subbed in one liqueur for another.

I’d like to say it was an amazing success. Except that it wasn’t. My tendency to play fast and loose with recipes got me into trouble. Instead of using gelatin, I used vegetarian gelatin left over from a past project (vegetarian marshmallows anyone?). I also let the gelatin mixture come to a boil, which is for sure a no-no. In the end, the chilled gelatin mixture was a bit gloppy–certainly not the light and airy mousse I was going for. Once folded into the freshly whipped cream, it made a passable pie filling, though it never fully set, so slices didn’t hold their shape once plated.

pink squirrel pie

pretty and delish, but so not what I was going for

I’ll call it pudding in a pie shell and still enjoy, but will try again another day using regular gelatin and paying more attention when heating the gelatin mixture. It’s a reminder to me that experimenting with recipes doesn’t always lead to success. Even the mistakes are delicious, though, which is why I’m ok making mistakes in the kitchen. And for the sake of deliciousness, I hope you are, too.

Pink Squirrel Pie

Play with flavor by switching out the crème de Noyaux for another liqueur.

  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (vegetarian gelatin not recommended)
  • 1 (7.5-ounce) jar marshmallow fluff
  • 1/2 cup crème de Noyaux
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 (9-inch) graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • Sliced almonds

In medium saucepan, stir together cold water and gelatin; let stand 1 minutes. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly,  just until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallow fluff and crème de Noyaux. Refrigerate until mixture mounds when dropped from spoon.

In large bowl, whip 1 1/2 cups cream until soft peaks form. Fold into thickened gelatin mixture. Pour filling into crust. Top with 1 cup whipped cream; sprinkle with almonds. Refrigerate 4 hours or until set.

it’s pie time

My husband is the pie maker in the family. He grew up in a house where pies were made often and he loves a good pie. I don’t remember my mom ever making pie (though she made a mean chocolate chip cookie and fabulous birthday cakes), so maybe that’s why I don’t get overly excited about this all-American dessert. (The exception being coconut cream, which rocks.) I have made the occasional pie, but it’s not my first choice when the urge to bake strikes. Too much trouble for not enough reward. (I get that there are those who like nothing better than a good pie. To them I say, you can have my slice as long as I get a double-portion of the ice cream.)

My husband has learned that when he’s feeling pie-ish, he has to make one. His pie urge struck this week. Our spring rhubarb crop is tall, proud, and screaming to be cut down and baked up. Rhubarb pie time, thought hubby. He dutifully dug out his mom’s recipe and thawed a crust we had in the freezer. (Proof that I’m not a complete Pie-Making Abstainer: The crust was leftover from a two-crust recipe I had mixed up months ago.) Because he wanted to make a two-crust fruit pie, and the frozen crust would provide only one pastry round, he decided to make a smaller pie. A single crust could easily make two smaller pastries. Our mini pie dishes were too small and the standard pie dish too large, so he used an 8-inch cast-iron skillet. Perfect! The pie baked up hot and was adorably rustic.

I enjoyed a piece, though for me it was more a vehicle for the à la mode ice-cream topping. A pie purist, my husband didn’t need the ice cream. This mystifies me. Though it means I get his ice cream, so I don’t ask.

Rhubarb Pie

  • 1 unbaked (9-inch) pie crust, divided in half
  • 2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Cinnamon-sugar

Heat oven to 375°F.

Roll each dough-half into 10-inch round. Fit one round into 8-inch pie dish, shallow casserole, or ovenproof skillet.

In bowl, stir together rhubarb, sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Transfer mixture to pie shell. Cover with remaining pastry round; seal edges. Crimp decoratively, if desired. Cut a few slits in top crust to vent. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.

Bake pie 50 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Makes 5 or so slices.

pretty rhubarb pie

served with a sprinkle of cinnamon