Sunday, August 17, 2008

key lime pie

i just made my first key lime pie....but it was really a science experiment. i had no idea there are only 3 ingredients in the filling: key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks. i didn't have to make a custard or anything! key limes are a lot smaller than regular limes...i'd say smaller than a golf ball. i found this recipe in an old issue of bon appetit magazine. all you do is mix in a bowl (whisk no need for an electric beater) and pour it in. 18 minutes later the pie is done. well not done...ready to go in the fridge. i found a few other recipes and they were all different ratios of the same ingredients.

i got excellent reviews from everyone who tasted it. my brother asked about the color because he expected it to be green...but i didn't want to add any food coloring. i had a few issues with the crust...mostly because i didn't measure the 1 1/4 cups of graham cracker crumbs and because i used a 9.5 inch pie plate. the first time the crust was too thin...the second time the crust was too thick. i'm not too frustrated though because this was all good practice. i think i'll get it right next time.

i fully intended to make the passion fruit coulis and huckleberry compote that were included in the recipe...but i had a few technical difficulties. good thing too because the sweet crispy graham cracker crust went so well with the cool, tart creamy filling, i didn't want anything else to get in the way!

from september 06 issue of bon appetit

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. combine cracker crumbs, sugar and salt in medium bowl. add butter and stir until crumbs are moist. press mixture onto bottom and sides of 9-inch glass pie dish. bake crust until set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. cool crust completely. maintain oven temp.

whisk sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks in medium bowl to blend. pour filling into cooled crust. bake pie until filling is set, about 18 minutes. transfer to rack and cool to room temp. cover and refrigerate pie overnight.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

i'm an award winning baker!!!

i learned from the food network that the name "pound cake" came from the ingredients. this cake originally called for a pound of butter, a pound of flour and a pound of sugar. my mom's recipe is top secret so my lips are sealed. she has been making this pound cake for a loooong time. so i can't take credit for it - i'm just lucky she passed it on to me! i entered it in the california state fair when i was in middle school...and i won first place! i forgot about it until my dad reminded me - he even found the ribbon. it's wrinkled but i had to show you what i won. :o)

i would say this pound cake is one of my mom's specialties....and one of my dad's favorites. i bet she bakes a pound cake once a week. she's also figured out how to alter the recipe to make a cake that's lower in fat. she used to send this cake to family members in st. louis and chicago by request. aunt gert (who was in her 90's at the time) actually talked my mom into giving her the recipe. she passed away a few years ago so now my mom and i are the only people who know this recipe - and we even have it memorized.

this is one of those treasured family recipes ya'll.

it's pretty easy to put together...but also kind of temperamental. beat it too long and the result is too fluffy. too short and it's dense and lacking in flavor (because the flavorings aren't evenly dispersed). there are several important steps even after the cake is out of the oven. i can't go into detail but i can describe the taste experience: crunchy crust, buttery...perfectly centered between sturdy and tender. there's also a delicious, slightly gooey (purposely undercooked) layer that i leave for the very last bite.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

chocolate bliss

i realized i don't eat chocolate a lot...even though i'm a chocoholic. maybe i've been just trying to take advantage of all of this beautiful summer fruit. when i go out to restaurants i usually don't order a chocolate dessert because most of the time they are made with milk chocolate. i don't play with my chocolate...i don't like the diluted stuff. gimme the bittersweet!

i first came accross this recipe on scharffenberger's (my favorite chocolate) website a few months ago. they're called "brownies" but my mom and i agree...they're so much more than that!
i added a few extra ounces of chocolate to her recipe, just because i had an especially strong craving that day. the result was an incredibly chewy, intense chocolate bliss. there was nothing "brownie" about it.

alice medrich is the "queen of chocolate." i really wish i had been alive when she had her cocolat stores in the bay area. sigh... anyway, i've tried several of her recipes and ended up with great results. home girl doesn't play with her chocolate either. i bought this cookbook for my mom for mother's day (my mom is a chocoholic too). it's out of print so i had to get it used. just to let you know how much respect i have for alice medrich let me be clear: i was willing to pay $50 for a used book. that's some serious chocolate! my mom and i are gonna take a chocolate class with her this year. more about that later...