Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pecans

Y'all, I love me some pumpkin pie. For the longest time it was one of two pies I'd eat. Pumpkin and blackberry, both served with ice cream (always ice cream, NEVER whipped cream). I was a (picky) simple eater as a child. I knew what I liked, and I stuck with it. Not much has changed really; I'm a more exotic eater, but I still stick with my favorites.

If you been reading along here for any length of time, you know my lovely grandmother (aka Edna Mae) was the QUEEN of pie making. I've tried to calculate the number of pies Edna Mae made in her lifetime and I can't count that high. I'm serious. She started helping in the kitchen at age ten and lived well into her ninetieth year -- and for most of those years she made at least one pie EVERY. DAMN. DAY.

Let's do some quick math: one pie a day for a minimum of sixty years is OVER 2,000 pies. This does not take into account multiple pie days (town festivals, church functions, family shindigs, etc), or the additional twenty years of cooking and baking (lest we forget that quiche count as pies too). There are moments when I stand in awe of things my grandmother did, this is one of them.

My objective for Thanksgiving this year was to take everything I love about pumpkin pie and MAKE IT MOAR. I did this by pumping up ginger and cinnamon, whilst dragging a bit of nutmeg along for the fun. This pie is ALL about the crust; gingery, crispy, and - somehow - just a bit nutty. This isn't your grandmother's pie anymore; this pie has been OOMPHED.

Note: gingersnaps should be thin and crispy ... fat squishy gingersnaps are a) not REAL gingersnaps and b) will not deliver you a lovely, crunchy, gingery crust. Also: the candied pecans were because someone accidentally stuck their finger in the pie and I needed something to cover up the mar ... that being said, sweet buttered crumpets: MAKE THEM AND PUT THEM ON YOUR PIE.

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pecans


12 ounces gingersnap cookies
1 stick butter, melted
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Pie Filling:
1 can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 yolk

Candied Pecans:
1/2 cup pecan halves
pinch of salt
drop of vanilla
2 tsp packed brown sugar
2 tsp water


Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Using a food processor pulse gingersnaps until you have a course crumb (I have to do this is two batches, as I have a small food processor). Empty crumbs into a mixing bowl adding in the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ground ginger - use a fork to toss until combined. Add half the melted butter, and stir to combine. Slowly add the rest of the butter until fully incorporated.

Spoon gingersnap mixture into and UNGREASED pie pan, using your fingers to firmly pack into the pan (remember to go up the sides of your pan). Run a glass or a heavy measuring cup to help flatten and firmly pack the bottom of your pie.

Bake the pie crust for 8 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

In a mixer combine pumpkin puree (again, not pie filling) and sugar. Next mix in the cinnamon, ginger, salt, and nutmeg. Add the eggs, one at a time - fully incorporating after each. Finally, slowly add the evaporated milk into pumpkin mixture.

Pour pumpkin mixture into awaiting cooled gingersnap shell.

Bake pie in a 350ºF degree oven for 30 minutes, then lower the temp to 325ºF and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes. Pie will have a slight jiggle to it when fully cooked.

Remove from oven and let completely cool (approximately 3 hours).

Before serving make the candied pecans. In a non-stick skillet over medium low heat toast the pecans until aromatic (approximately 5-8 minutes), stir constantly to keep the nuts from burning. Mix the salt, vanilla, water, and brown sugar together in a bowl and then add to the skillet. Keep stirring as you wait for the mixture to boil. Once the sugar mixture as boiled (and thickened) remove the skillet from the heat and dump the nuts out onto some waxed paper to cool (separate them or they will harden into a clump).

Decorate your pie with the candied pecans and serve with ice cream (or whipped cream if you must).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pomegranate & Black Walnut Biscotti

Basically: if Crimson Peak were a biscotti, it'd be this. Deliciously dark. Bitter. With a bit of unexpected sweetness hidden underneath it all.

The movie is WELL worth your time - especially if you have a strong love for all things gothic. Yes, there are ghosts. Yes, they're downright creepy and not at all traditionally ghosty (they're decayed and skeletal), but take note campers - THIS IS NOT A JUMP OUT AT YOU HORROR MOVIE. This is, at its heart, a gothic romance. If you want a bit more of a spoilery take on the movie, read the lovely Deanna Rayburn's post.

Now, let's talk biscotti ...

So, black walnuts. First: I pretty much loathe the things. They have a strong, distinct, BITTER taste. Really, it's pervasive. If black walnuts are in something they are the ONLY thing you will taste (trivia time: did you know the black walnut capital of the world is in Missouri? Yup, along with being the Gateway to the West we are the largest purveyor of black walnuts. #themoreyouknow). However the bright, sweet notes of the pomegranate arils and the dark, smooth finish of the chocolate help chase some of the bitterness away leaving you with a delightfully rich flavor meld in your mouth.

Pomegranate & Black Walnut Biscotti


1 stick butter, room temperature
3/4 sugar (alternatively 1/4 cup honeycomb sugar + 1/2 sugar — see note)
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP vanilla extract
3/4 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup black walnut, chopped
85% cocoa dark chocolate, melted


Preheat oven to 350.

Using the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Add vanilla, mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to creamed butter and sugar mixture. Continue to mix until a dough has formed.

Mix in chopped walnuts and pomegranate arils.

Scoop dough out onto a Silpat covered baking sheet and form into a roughly 15×4 inch block. Bake until a light golden color (approx. 25 minutes). Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes.

Carefully remove log from baking sheet to cutting board. Using a long knife (serrated if you prefer) slice log into 1/2 inch wide pieces. Return pieces to baking sheets, and return to oven. Bake for additional 15-20 minutes.

Remove biscotti from oven, and place on a cooling rack, they will continue to “crisp” as they cool. Once completely cooled, dip flat bottoms in melted dark chocolate (or drizzle if you prefer) – pop biscotti in the fridge for five to ten minutes to help chocolate set. Store in an airtight container.