makes one 9” pie
Cornflake/Peanut Butter Crust
3 cups cornflakes, processed in food processor until consistency of medium-fine crumbs
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup creamy peanut butter, room temperature
Lightly butter a 9” pie plate. In a large bowl, combine cornflake crumbs, brown sugar, salt, butter and peanut butter. Mix thoroughly; if it doesn’t hold together when you pinch a bit between your fingers, add an additional tablespoon or two of cornflake crumbs. If it feels too dry, add the slightest bit of additional melted butter. Press the crumb mixture along the bottom and up the sides of a 9” pie plate. Chill for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Bake the pie crust for 8 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool while you prepare the filling.
4 large egg yolks
⅓ cup cornstarch
2 cups whole milk, divided (1½ cups is heated, ½ cup is whisked with yolks and cornstarch)
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 medium ripe bananas
¼ cup heavy cream (this will be whipped and folded into the custard)
½ cup heavy cream whipped and lightly sweetened with 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
banana slices to garnish
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch and ½ cup cold milk. Set aside. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the remaining 1½ cups milk, 1 cup heavy cream, sugar and salt. Warm the mixture over low heat until hot but not boiling. Add a few tablespoons of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolk/cornstarch/cold milk mixture, whisking constantly. Continue gradually adding the hot cream mixture, whisking, until all of it has been added to the yolks. Pour this back into the saucepan and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook the custard, constantly whisking the mixture and getting into the corners of the saucepan, for about 8-10 minutes until it is thick and just begins to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, simmering the custard for about 5 minutes until thick and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter, peanut butter and vanilla. Use a rubber spatula to gently combine the pastry cream thoroughly with the peanut butter. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Place the bowl of pastry cream over an ice bath to expedite cooling. When the custard has cooled, whip the ¼ cup of heavy cream until soft peaks have formed. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled custard.
Slice the bananas, placing them over the cooled pie crust. Spread the custard evenly over the bananas. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with additional lightly sweetened whipped cream and banana slices. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
Thanksgiving Morning Apple Pie Bars
(adapted from Carole Walter)
yields: 24 bars
You will need one 9” x 13” x 2” heavy duty baking pan
For the crust-
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup stone ground yellow cornmeal
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup dark brown sugar
zest from 1 small lemon
8 oz. (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter cut into ½” pieces
1 large egg, beaten with a fork
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, place the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, brown sugar and lemon zest. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold butter, pulse just until you have coarse crumbs. Do not over process. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and pulse just until combined. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. (Save this wrap to smooth the dough.)
Generously butter and lightly flour the baking pan. Tap out the excess flour. Place the crust mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan. (I use a large ice cream/cookie scoop and place even amounts in the pan then use my fingers to pat the dough in place. Use the sheet of plastic wrap you saved to smooth the dough, making sure it reaches into the corners of the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 minutes, until the crust is golden around the edges. Set aside to cool while you prepare the crumb topping and the filling. Turn the oven off for a while.
For the filling-
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced ¼” thick
3 Rome or Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, sliced ¼” thick
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
pinch of kosher salt
¼-½ teaspoon of cinnamon (I prefer lesser amount)
generous pinch freshly grated nutmeg
In a large sauté pan or skillet, place the apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover the apples and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until they give up some of their juices. Remove the cover and cook the apples for about 8-10 minutes, until slightly softened and the liquid has cooked down. Remove from the heat and turn the apples out on to a clean half sheet pan, spreading them out in a single layer. Let them cool completely. Prepare the crumble topping.
For the crumble topping-
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 oz. (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces
1 cup pecans, halves and pieces, toasted and cooled
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, place the flour, cornmeal, granulated and brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold butter, pulsing until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add the pecans, pulse a few times then place the mixture in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the cooked, cooled apples over the crust. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the apples and press it in gently. Place the baking pan on the middle shelf of the preheated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crumble is golden and the apples test tender with a small knife. Let the bars cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (They are easier to slice when cold but I prefer to serve them at room temperature.) Slice the bars, dividing the tray in fourths going the short way and into sixths going the long way. That will give you 24 bars with a few edges for nibbling. Any leftovers should be placed in a tin, separated by parchment or wax paper, covered and refrigerated. They can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
JAMES BEARD'S RICH PUMPKIN PIE
makes one 9” pie
Plain pastry for a single crust pie (I use pate brisée) fitted into a 9” pie plate, chilled until firm, then lined with foil and pie weights (or beans) and partially baked at 425 degrees for 12 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Let crust cool completely before filling.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees*
1 cup pumpkin puree (Mr. Beard recommends canned as being ‘ideal’)
1 cup heavy cream
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ cup finely cup candied ginger
¼ cup cognac
⅛ teaspoon mace
Place pumpkin in a bowl and make a well in center. Add lightly beaten eggs combined with heavy cream, seasonings and chopped ginger. Blend thoroughly. Correct the seasoning- you may want a spicier pie. Pour into the partially baked pie shell and bake at 375* degrees till custard is just set.
Mr. Beard recommends serving the pie on the warm side with cognac-flavored and sweetened whipped cream.
* Ovens are fiercely independent. I start the pie at 375 degrees F and bake it for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake the pie for an additional 30-35 minutes or until the edges are firm and the center is just the slightest bit jiggly. The pie will continue to set up as it cools. Your oven may be different and need a little more or a little less time. Try and test for doneness using a gentle finger instead of poking it with a knife (which always leaves a crack). If it does crack, not to worry; that’s what the whipped cream is for.
(a hybrid from BBC Good Food, Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook and Allison Kave)
makes one 9" pie
(my pie plate measures 9" across by 1 and 1/4" deep)
Cognac spiked dates-
6 oz. Medjool dates, halved, pitted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup Cognac
Combine the dates and Cognac in a small jar, cover them and let sit overnight.
For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup white whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated using a microplane
6 oz. room temperature unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon candied ginger, finely chopped
½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup old-fashioned oats (not steel cut, not instant)
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flours, salt, ground ginger, brown sugar and fresh ginger. Add the butter and mix on low speed until a soft dough forms. Add the candied ginger, chopped walnuts and oats, mixing on low speed until combined. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, shape into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling out. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper into a circle about 11” in diameter and between ⅛” and ¼” thickness. Carefully transfer to a 9” pie plate, pressing the dough into the pan and up the sides, leaving a 1” overhang. Turn the dough under to form an edge and crimp as desired. Freeze for at least half an hour before baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Partially bake the crust on the bottom shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are set and the bottom of the crust is just barely golden. Remove to a rack to cool.
For the filling:
1 cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup dark molasses
¼ cup dark corn syrup
3 large eggs, beaten with a fork
3 tablespoons Cognac
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon dried ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup candied ginger, finely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup Cognac spiked dates (see above)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, molasses and corn syrup. Add the eggs, Cognac, fresh and dried ginger and the salt. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Scatter the candied ginger, walnuts and dates over the partially baked crust. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet. Carefully pour the filling over the ginger, walnuts and dates; they will rise to the top. Bake the pie on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the pie tested with an instant read thermometer registers 200 degrees. The filling will be softly set and continue to firm as it cools.
Cool completely before serving. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.