Strawberry Cheesecake Pie

 

Crust

Line a 9 inch deep dish pie plate with your favorite crust. Blind bake the pie crust. If you like; see my all-butter pie crust recipe: Fearless pie crust.

If you prefer, you can also used  a purchased graham cracker crust or make a quick graham cracker crust instead of using a traditional pie crust.

Filling

Cheesecake layer:

8 oz. Cream cheese, softened

6 Tbsp. confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

2 1/2 Tbsp. sour cream, room temp

3/4 tsp. plain unflavored gelatin powder

1 Tbsp. cold water

6 Tbsp. cold heavy cream

In a large bowl or stand mixer;  beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form but don’t overbeat or you’ll get butter. Place back in the fridge until ready to use. In the same bowl; no need to clean- beat the cream cheese until smooth and lump free. Add the sugar, vanilla bean paste, and sour cream and mix until just combined. In a small microwave safe bowl place 1 Tbsp. of cold water and sprinkle the gelatin over; let bloom for 5 minutes, then microwave on high for about 20 seconds until the gelatin is dissolved, whisk, then let mixture stand for about 2 minutes. Add the cooled mixture to the cream cheese mixture and blend gently. Fold in the whipped cream by hand until combined. Spread evenly over the cooled pie crust and chill while you make the strawberry layer topping.

 

Strawberry layer

Fresh strawberries ~ one pound (washed, hulled and dried)

1 Cup water

2 Tbsp. cornstartch

scant 3/4 Cup sugar

3.0-3.5 oz box Jello: strawberry gelatin

Top your cream cheese filled crust with using half of the berries sliced thin, then the rest of the bigger berries on top left whole. In a small saucepan place the water, sugar, and cornstarch and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring continuously until it appears thick. Boil two more minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the strawberry gelatin until it is dissolved. Pour over the top of the pie; note you will have some leftover; don’t be like me and pour over too much or it will run off the sides. But if you do- don’t fret it’s still delicious and amazing. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight until set. Serve cold.

 

 


Mexican Chocolate Chili Tarts

Everyone in our house is a spice head. The lazy Susan on our kitchen table has about 10 different bottles of hot sauce ranging from “hot” to nuclear. Guess which bottle is the most empty.  My son and I are on a secret mission to turn his girlfriend into a chili head. She does not like spicy food, so of course every time she tries something I make she first asks if it is spicy. We keep trying to up the spice in things we give her so we can get her to join our club. I know it’s just a matter of time. Enter the chocolate tart…dun dun dun.

You can tailor these tarts to suite your level of spice. When you get to the point where you add the spices, then keep adding in pinches of spice to you get the heat you prefer. This past weekend I was catering a Mexican fiesta for a friend and she asked me to do the desserts. I made 4 different mini treats and these chocolate tarts were one of them. They were the first to go empty on the platter! I was kind of shocked because I assumed they would be the treat people would shy away from. There were children at the party so I didn’t make them super spicy; just a hint. Well guess who ate several of them? Yup, my son’s girlfriend. She loved em! And I’m a big fan too! They are super easy to make. A great tool to have when making them is a tart tamper-it helps with getting the chocolate crumb nice and flat-the small end fits perfectly in the wells of a mini muffin tin. This is the one I use below found on Amazon.

 

 

Mexican Chocolate Chili Tarts

yield~ 34 tarts 

Chocolate Filling

4 oz. Milk Chocolate Chips (I like Guittard or Ghirardelli)

4 oz. Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

2/3 Cup heavy whipping cream

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp chili powder

3-5 pinches of cayenne pepper

Prepare the mini muffin wells with the chocolate crumb layer below.

In a heat proof bowl place both the chocolate chips. Heat the cream to a scald, then pour over the chips and allow the mixture to sit for 3 minutes, then stir gently from the middle out until combined. If you see a few small bits of un melted chocolate, then place in the microwave and heat for 30 seconds at a time and stir to combine. Stir in salt and spices. Taste the filling, and add in extra pinches of cayenne as desired for heat level. Pour the filling into each well of the prepared crumb layer. Allow to cool to room temperature then place uncovered into the fridge to set. Decorate as desired with chocolate pearls or dist with chocolate powder. Serve tarts at room temperature.

Chocolate Crumb

1 1/2 Cups Chocolate graham crackers

2 Tbsp sugar

6 Tbsp unsalted butter

Mix the crumb ingredients together and line mini muffin wells with paper liners. Measure out 1 level measuring Tablespoon of crumb mixture and press into the liners. If you have a tart tamper this is ideal. Bake the crumb layer in a preheated 350° F oven for 6 minutes. Crumb crust will puff up and after removing from oven, use the tamper again to press back down; being careful not to burn yourself (wear an oven mitt when doing so). Allow the tray to cool over a wire rack then fill with the chocolate filling.

 

 

 


Chocolate Peanut Butter Snickers Pie

I picked up the latest special issue from Bake From Scratch dedicated to “Artisan pies and tarts”. I love this magazine-it has become one of my all time favorites. Their peanut butter pie on page 56, is a virtual no bake pie- only a quick trip in the oven for the crust and the rest is no bake. Perfect for summer in this August sweltering heat.  I adapted the recipe slightly by adding in some mini snickers bites. I was not able to find the preferred Famous brand chocolate wafer cookie so often used in chocolate crust recipes so I ended up swapping in chocolate graham cracker crumbs and bumped up the melted butter a titch as well as adding in a bit of cocoa powder. If you can find the Famous brand chocolate wafer cookies they lend a deeper chocolate flavor for the crust. This pie is rich and super creamy so a little slice with a cup of hot coffee will do you just fine! Allow it to sit for a few minutes out of the fridge before diving in to allow the chocolate ganache on the bottom to soften. Peanut butter lovers will adore this pie!

 

Pour half of the filling over the ganache, then push the Snickers bites into the filling, then top with the other half of the filling. If you can’t find them, you can just chop up regular Snickers.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Snickers Pie

recipe adapted slightly from special issue “Artisan pies and tarts”  Peanut Butter Pie (Bake From Scratch)

Chocolate Crumb Crust

1  1/2 Cups chocolate cookie crumbs (either Famous chocolate wafers or chocolate graham cracker crumbs*)

7 Tbsp. melted butter

1/4 C sugar

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder* (add only if using choc. graham cracker crumbs)

 

In a food processor blitz the cookies/crackers along with the sugar and salt, and (cocoa powder if using) until the mixture is fine. Add in the melted butter and pulse until incorporated. Pour the crust into a standard size 9 inch pie plate and press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides. Bake in a 350° F preheated oven for 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until cooled completely.

Chocolate Ganache

4 oz. 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (I used Ghirardelli brand)

1/4 C heavy whipping cream

Microwave the chocolate and cream in a microwave safe bowl on high in 20 second intervals, stirring in between until mixture is smooth and melted.

Peanut Butter Snickers Filling

8 oz. cream cheese, room temp

1 C creamy peanut butter

1/2 C roasted salted peanuts, chopped

1/4 C sugar

1/4 honey

1 C heavy whipping cream

~ 27-28 Snickers baking bites (I found them in the baking aisle)

• In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat one cup of the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

• Using the same bowl (no need to wash) switch to the paddle attachment and beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth; stopping to scrape the bottom and sides as needed. Add in the peanuts, sugar, and honey and contine to beat until combined. Fold in one-third of the reserved whipped cream from step one, and continue to fold in the rest of the whipped cream.

• Assembly: Pour the ganache in the bottom of the crust and smooth out with the back of a spoon. Pour in half of the peanut butter filling, and smooth til flat, then top with about 28 of the Snickers bites. Pour on the rest of the filling and smooth with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Chill the pie for at least 3 hours. Top with whipped cream if desired and top with chopped Snickers- (I used the same snickers baking bites and cut them in half for the garnish).

 

 


Gingered Plum Streusel Pie

Gingered Plum Streusel Pie

I have to admit- plums are not exactly one of my favorite fruit. When I do eat a plum though, I like it super ripe and juicy-to the point where you have to lean over the sink to enjoy it. I tend to like the kind with the red flesh (and I can never remember which type it is by looking at the skin).  I’m more of a prune lover (don’t judge my Granny ways), but when I saw this recipe from last years Fall issue of Sift it caught my attention. Plums are bursting in the stores right now, so now is the time to strike! I adore a good streusel pie. My child groans when I make a pie without a top crust, but I love texture-so a pie with streusel? I’m in.  I’m all about that crunch, bout that crunch, bout that crunch, so I amped up the crunch factor by adding walnuts to my streusel. There’s something about biting into a bite of pie with that soft warm oozy filling and topping of yummy crunchy crust. I skipped ice cream and went with an ice cold glass of milk and it was divine.

Note: I let my plums become very ripe (on purpose) when I made this pie and as a result I used 3 Tbsp. of tapioca because of the extra juice generated, and it set up nicely. The original recipe calls for only 2 Tbsp., so you decide. Store leftover pie in the refrigerator.

Plum and ginger streusel pie

The picture doesn’t do it justice, but the filling is a  gorgeous ruby red color

Plum Ginger Streusel Pie

Gingered Plum Streusel Pie

recipe adapted from: Sift 2015 Fall issue 

1/2 recipe fearless pie crust (or your favorite crust)

Roll out crust and line a 9 inch pie plate and crimp edge as desired. Brush the inside of the crust with beaten egg white (it prevents the crust from getting soggy).  Chill crust for at least 30 minutes before filling.

Fifteen minutes before assembling pie make filling and preheat oven to 375° F

Spoon filling into crust and top with streusel. Place onto a sheet pan to catch any drippings. Bake at 375° F for about 50 minutes or until filling is bubbling and streusel is golden brown. Cover crust halfway through with tinfoil if crust getting too brown.

Filling:

2  1/4 lbs (4 Cups/about 10-11) coarsely chopped ripe (I used very ripe)  black/purple skin plums; skins left on

1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar

2-3 Tbsp. instant (quick cooking) tapioca (I used 3, see above note)

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 (heaping) Tbsp. finely chopped crystalized ginger

1 tsp. lemon zest

Combine plums, brown sugar, crystalized ginger, tapioca, spices and lemon zest. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Streusel

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

3/4 Cup flour

pinch salt

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, chopped

3/4 Cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Combine first 4 ingredients, then cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Fold in walnuts, and set aside.


Passion Fruit Curd Tarts

Mini Passion Fruit Curd Tarts with Meringue

 

passion fruit tarts 2

Thank you my loyal followers for stopping by to read my blog. I know I’ve been kind of absent and have not posted as often lately. I recently had back surgery-3 weeks ago,  and I’m still trying to recover and I am not able to stand for very long still, so thank you for being patient! On to the subject at hand!

One of the beauties of this recipe is that you can make it in stages. You can make the tart shells ahead of time and keep them at room temperature in a covered container, and you can make the curd a day or two ahead and keep it stored in the refrigerator, so you don’t have to make it all on the same day; (perfect when your body is not cooperating such as mine).

I am absolutely crazy for passion fruit and I love it beyond words. I know unless you live near or below the equator it can be hard to find. If you cannot find fresh passion fruit you can use the frozen variety that you can find in either Hispanic or Asian markets that allow you to thaw it. One particular brand is Goya, which is a great brand.

I love these little tarts because the tangy tart but sweet floral taste of the passion fruit pairs nicely with the billowy marshmallow like meringue. I read online that it is possible to grow passion fruit vines here in Arizona. Hmmm, that is something to think about!

passion fruit tarts

 

fresh passion fruit

If you’re not familiar with passion fruit- the juice or “puree” is housed inside the seed pockets. Buy the fruit when it is as it’s ugliest- meaning, when it is wrinkly then they are ripe. You have to scrape out the fleshy pods and the juice will burst open. Smush it through a strainer to get the best consistency. The seeds or “pips” are edible. Some people do not care for the seeds, so mostly they are discarded. Other times you will see that a few seeds are left in a recipe, for visual appeal, but not usually all. Your choice!

 

Passion Fruit Curd Tarts

yield 6-8 three inch tarts

Short Bread Tart Dough

Note: this recipe makes enough for 12 individual tarts or one 9 inch tart (so freeze the remainder or cut the recipe in half to make 6 tarts)

1  1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1/3 C  confectioners sugar

1  1/2 C all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

lightly beaten egg white

In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed; cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add in the vanilla bean paste and combine briefly until smooth. In a small bowl whisk the flour and salt to combine. Add the flour mixture on medium low speed until the mixture is almost combined; there will be some bits at the bottom of the bowl. Stop the mixer and with your hands lightly  mix the dough together to incorporate any little bits until it is combined.

Measure a size ball of dough about a ping pong ball size and press the dough into the tart pans/rings until it looks fairly even. Chill the crust for at least 30 minutes before you bake them. I chill mine an hour so it helps prevent the crust from shrinking when baked. Once the crust has chilled, dock the bottom of the crust very well all over with the tines of a fork and blind bake the shells. Bake at 350 º F for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust looks no longer wet. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush the bottom of the tart shells lightly with a beaten egg white. The egg white will prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the crusts cool completely on a wire rack.

 

Passion Fruit Curd

(yield: ~ 2 cups)

1/2 Cup passion fruit puree, divided

1 tsp. powdered gelatin

1 Cup sugar

1 large egg

2 egg yolks

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

 

1.  a small bowl measure out 2 tablespoons of the passion fruit puree and sprinkle the gelatin over and set aside to bloom. Keep the rest of the puree for the remainder of the recipe in step 2.

2. Place the remaining passion fruit puree, sugar, egg, egg yolks, and salt in a saucepan and whisk over medium heat until mixture reaches 160° F. Remove from the heat and stir in the bloomed gelatin until combined. Strain mixture into a clean bowl and stir in the butter. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap directly over the surface and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Note: you will have some curd leftover which you can freeze or store in the fridge to spread on scones etc. or stir into yogurt (coconut yogurt in particular is fabulous!) You can also stir curd into vanilla buttercream to make passion fruit buttercream.

Swiss Meringue

3 large egg whites

3/4 Cup sugar

Place the whites and sugar in a heat proof bowl (I use the bowl of the stand mixer) and place over a bain marie and whisk while heating until the sugar is dissolved and temperature is around 160° F. Remove from the heat and whisk until the mixture is billowy and fluffy and resembles marshmallow.

 

To assemble tarts:

Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of chilled curd into each tart shell. Top with a heaping scoop of meringue, and pull up with a knife to achieve some spikes or swirls.  Use a hand held torch to brown the meringues. Serve immediately. Store any leftover tarts in the fridge.