Thursday, July 29, 2010

PieDay Friday- Chocolate Tapioca Pie

Tapioca pudding is such a comfort food for many of us in the Midwest and the South. Served warm or cold, it always reminds me of childhood. Always trying to recapture my youth, I've been curious for a while about making a tapioca pie. After doing a few web searches and digging through countless cookbooks, I couldn't find one single recipe for it. I found recipes for fruit pies that were thickened with tapioca pearls but none that used tapioca pudding as the main filling. I assumed that there must be a reason for this, that maybe tapioca pudding just wasn't pie compatible. I basically gave up on the idea until this week.
As of going to bed Wednesday night, I still had no idea what kind of pie I was going to make and feature for this week's PieDay Friday. Nothing sounded good to me or I didn't have the ingredients for what did sound good. Thursday morning I got up and started rummaging around in my pantry and found an unopened box of Minute Tapioca and the memory of my tapioca pie idea came rushing back. I set to work and came up with this delightfully different yet soothingly familiar pie. I don't know why there aren't any (or any that are easy to find) recipes for a tapioca pudding pie but there should be!  It tastes exactly as good as you think it would!

Tips:
  • Whole or 2% milk work best for this recipe, as they do for most puddings.
  • Minute tapioca is what you will typically find in that red box, just above the boxed pudding mixes in most grocery stores.
  • Instead of Kahlua, 1 teaspoon of vanilla can be substituted. You may also omit this step entirely if desired.
  • If you are having trouble getting the mixture to thicken you may add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch to hot mixture.



Chocolate Tapioca Pie

2oz German Chocolate (or Semi-Sweet)
1oz Bittersweet Chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons Tapioca (quick cook, or "Minute")
3 cups milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon Kahlua, optional
1 chocolate cookie pie crust, prepared


In a large saucepan, partially melt the chocolate/s over low heat. The bottom's of the chocolate pieces should be melted, but not the tops. Add the sugar, tapioca, milk and beaten egg and whisk together. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture has thickened and comes to a full boil. Continue cooking for 3 minutes from this point.  Remove from heat  and stir in  Kahlua. Pour pudding into a prepared chocolate cookie crust. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until chilled and firm. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Blog Hops!

 want to give a special mention to my favorite blog post of the month. I thouroughly enjoyed reading every word (though I may be biased based on subject material).
Food Floozie's post: My, Oh, My...9 Slices of Pie





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Let's Just Give It Away

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Danish

This recipe is a minor take-off of my Aunt Cara's Cream Cheese Danish recipe. Simple but delightful as a dessert or breakfast.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Danish

2 cans Crescent Rolls
2 8oz packages Cream Cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted
Glaze, recipe below (optional)


Unroll 1 package of crescent rolls into a lightly greased 9x13 pan and press seams together 
Mix cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla together in bowl. Spread over top of crescent rolls. Place other package of crescent rolls on top, sealing the seams. Pour melted butter over the top and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 mins or until golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes and drizzle with glaze. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk

Stir both ingredients together until smooth.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cannoli Cake

This recipe (and the photo) came from the Sargento Cheese website and is AMAZING! Cannoli are one of favorite desserts and this cake is certainly reminescent of that sweet pastry!


Tips:
  • This recipe produces a very dense cake layer. The only leavening is the air incorporated into the eggs when beaten. For best results, eggs should be at room temperature before beating with sugar.
  • You can use mascarpone cheese in place of the ricotta for a sweeter, creamier filling.


Cannoli Cake


Ingredients:

4 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1/4 cup chopped semisweet chocolate
1 recipe Ricotta Filling, recipe below
1 recipe Whipped Cream Frosting, recipe below
Fresh berries or candied cherries, for garnish

Ricotta Filling:

2 cups (15 oz.) Sargento® Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
3 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Whipped Cream Frosting:

2 cups whipping cream
2 Tbsp. confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Directions

Beat eggs and sugar on medium speed in bowl with an electric mixer 5 minutes or until thick. Gently fold in flour and butter; pour into greased and floured 8-inch round cake pan. Bake in preheated 350°F oven 40 minutes or until cake feels firm when touched in center. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

To make Ricotta Filling: Beat Ricotta cheese, sugar and vanilla on medium speed in bowl with electric mixer 3 minutes. Fold in whipped cream and chocolate chips.

To make Whipped Cream Frosting: Beat cream on high speed in bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar and vanilla.

Cut cake in half horizontally using sharp serrated knife. Cut each layer in half again horizontally. Place 1 layer on serving platter; spread with one-third Ricotta filling. Repeat procedure, ending with cake layer. No sooner than 6 hours before serving, frost sides and top of cake with all but 1 cup frosting. Decorate with remaining frosting, chopped chocolate and fruit. Refrigerate until serving time.





Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara is one of my favorite pasta dishes. It's rich and flavorful without feeling heavy.   You'll often time see it at restaurants where it includes green peas. I love it with peas, I love it without but the more traditional way to prepare Carbonara is without.  However you serve it, this dish is sure to fill you up and still leave you wanting more!

Tips:
  • If you do wish to add peas, add 1/2 cup of thawed and cooked/steamed frozen peas just before adding the pasta. When I do add peas, I actually like them cold (not frozen) instead of warm.
  • If you can't find or don't wish to use pancetta, try thick cut bacon that has been diced instead. You may need to cook it slightly longer though.
  • You can add more or less red pepper flakes according to your tastes. We like it kind of spicy, so I will actually use 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
  • Make sure you toss the pasta quickly once the egg mixture is added. The residual/radiant heat from the pasta and skillet will cook the eggs but you don't want them to "scramble".



Pasta Carbonara

16oz pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, diced (thick cut bacon can be used)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon cream
1 tablespoon parsley
salt and pepper to taste


In a large skillet, add olive oil and heat for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Add pancetta, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for 5 minutes and add chicken stock. Stir to incorporate the drippings from the pancetta into the stock.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks and add cream, parmesan, parsley and salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cook the pasta a large pot of boiling water until done (1-2 minutes for fresh pasta, 7-10 minutes for dried pasta).
Add a couple of tablespoons of the boiling pasta water to the beaten egg mixture to temper (This prevents the eggs from scrambling)

Remove skillet with pancetta from heat. Drain pasta and add to skillet with pancetta. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss everything to together. Add additional Parmesan, salt and pepper and parsley to garnish if desired. Serve immediately.







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Thursday, July 22, 2010

PieDay Friday-Coconut Cream Pie

Did you ever wonder how on Gilligan's Island, Mary Ann made those Coconut Cream Pies? I get that they had coconuts on the island but what about flour, butter, eggs, sugar, "and the rest" :) ?  It's the small things that bug me.

One thing that doesn't bug me is how amazing this Coconut Cream Pie is! It's rich, creamy and sinfully good! I use cream of coconut in lieu of coconut extract to create a really lucious filling that tastes fresh and natural. The coconut flavor isn't overpowering, nor is it subtle. It's the perfect balance of flavors that makes this one of my best pies yet. Sometimes a good old fashioned pie is all you need.

Tips:
  • Make sure to stir the cream of coconut before using. The cream and coconut water often seperate in the can.
  • Cream of Coconut can be found on the international aisle of most super-markets. You will usually find it in a can near Hispanic foods as well as Thai or Asian items. Make sure you buy Cream of Coconut and not Coconut Milk though.
  • I brushed my unbaked pie crust with 1 tablespoon of cream of coconut before baking. It gave the crust a nice "coconutty" glaze.
  • When you first add the flaked coconut to the filling/pudding, the coconut will still be chewy. After the pie rests for a couple of hours, the chewiness fades to a near perfect consistency that blends well with the rest of the filling.
  • Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature before you beat them for the meringue. Cold eggs take longer to beat, and won't create as fluffy or voluminous a meringue.


Coconut Cream Pie

1 pre-baked 9" pie crust

Filling
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cream of cocounut, stirred
4 egg yolks
1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract/paste
1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in egg yolks followed by the milk and cream of coconut. Cook over medium heat, whisking continuously until mixture thickens. Once mixture has thickened and comes to a low boil, continue cooking and whisking for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and flaked coconut. Pour hot filling into pre-baked pie crust. Make meringue immediately.

Meringue

4 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract/paste

In a large bowl beat egg whites until frothy, add cream of tartar and continue beating until mixture is thick and forms stiff peaks. Gradually add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after (or during) each addition. Add vanilla and beat just enough to incorporate.
Spread over warm pie filling. Using fork tines or a knife, gently touch the top of the meringue and quickly lift up, leaving small peaks in a decorative fashion. Bake at 350 for 5-7 minutes or until the peaks are lightly brown or golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle with toasted coconut (recipe below). Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours of overnight.


Toasted Coconut
1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Arrange coconut on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes or until golden.



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