Month: February 2015

Blueberry Pie Pops

Blueberry Pie Pops

For my birthday a few months ago, my cousins bought me a book simply titled Pie Pops (by Carol Hilker), and it consists entirely of little pastries that you eat on a stick.  Over winter break we decided to make the blueberry ones.  We didn’t alter much from the book’s original recipe, except for some extra lemon zest.  It only calls for a portion of the zest, but we put the whole lemon-worth’s in, claiming we wanted it to taste more like summer.  It was delightful.

Blueberry Pie Pops

Seeing as I had a partner-in-crime by the name of Nicole, who is also very artsy, this was a good time to experiment with photography.

Oooh, moody...

Oooh, moody…

My other cousin Michelle, who is more science-minded than craft-oriented, wanted serious documentation that she helped–and it’s true, she made the pie crust dough herself! And we all know that’s pretty much the hardest part of a pie.

Bam-o! Evidence.

Bam-o! Evidence.

Since this was also more than the usual “just me”, we had some fun adventures along the way…

Dough Dinosaur

Dough Dinosaur

Rare behind-the-scenes look! Teehee.

Rare behind-the-scenes look! Teehee.

I hope that you make these–and when you do, I hope you enjoy not only the end result but the process itself with some good friends (or family members!), because no one should ever eat a pie pop alone.  These are meant to be shared!

Blueberry Pie Pops

Yield: about 24

Ingredients:

Crust–

5 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 t. salt

1 lb butter, cold

1/2 cup water or vodka

Filling–

4 cups fresh blueberries

1 t. lemon juice

3 T. cornstarch

Pinch salt

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

Other–

Egg wash: 1 egg, beaten with 2 T. milk

Granulated sugar for sprinkling

3-inch round cookie/biscuit cutter

24 cake pop sticks

Method:

Assemble the pie crust dough–mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in butter until resembling small pebbles.  Mix in enough water or vodka so the dough just barely sticks together but is not sticky.  If too warm, form into a log and place wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge.  Once workable, roll out to approximately 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut out rounds with cookie cutter.  If desired, use a mini cookie cutter to cut small shapes in half of the dough rounds for ventilation.  Chill until needed.

Assemble the filling–mix cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a small bowl.  Put blueberries and lemon juice and zest into a medium bowl.  Add cornstarch mixture and mix well to combine.  Set aside for 30 minutes.

To assemble pops–preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place one solid round on a 3×3″ parchment paper sheet, and place on top of a muffin tin cell.  Gently indent the center a bit.  Add a cake pop stick, the end extending about halfway onto the bottom round, and fill with 1 tablespoon filling.  Brush outside edge with egg wash, then place a ventilated round on top.  Crimp edges to seal.  If you did not ventilate the top with small shapes, cut a few slits in the top with a knife to let air escape during baking.  Repeat for all 24 cake pops.  Brush tops of all with egg wash, then sprinkle all with sugar.  Place in oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool 5-10 minutes in muffin tins, then carefully transfer to a rack to cool.

Enjoy!

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Blue Moon Bread!?!

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Hey friends–Friday post this week.  Today I will be seeing Alton Brown’s Edible Inevitable Tour, and I get to meet the man!  So, I’ve put my best “Food Detective” hat on today, in honor of this momentous event: What makes Ice Cream Bread work?  If you haven’t heard of it already, Ice Cream Bread is exactly as it sounds–bread, made from ice cream.  The official recipe is equal parts of ice cream and self-rising flour.  So simple, so nice.  But my cousin and I each discovered that using only those two ingredients makes for a rather bland bread.  So we’re doctoring it up!

(Interjection–I chose blue moon ice cream because, well, what could say “ICE CREAM Bread” better than blue moon?  But did you know that blue moon is a regional thing?  I know I’ve got a few readers from far away, so for those who don’t know, blue moon is almond-flavored ice cream that’s tinted blue.  The funny thing is that most kids never find out it’s almond-flavored.  Most of us grow up assuming it’s a mystery left to the ice cream gods.)

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So, what makes this work?!  First of all, it’s a quick bread.  Not a yeasted bread like baguettes and the like.  Quick breads are fundamentally different from yeasted breads in the way that they use baking powder and maybe baking soda instead of yeast for leavening.  They are more cake-like that way.  This is why the official recipe calls for self-rising flour–without the leavening, it would pretty much be a brick.  Quick breads are different from cakes, however, in that there is no creaming process.  (Use that in your next “A cupcake without frosting is NOT JUST A MUFFIN” argument).

Let’s take a look at all the stuff I’m actually putting in this thing: ice cream, all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and almond extract.  The ice cream does in fact do a lot of the work, being a large ball of fat and liquid to provide the hydration and tenderization.  Remember my Wonderful World of Butter?  Fat wraps around flour particles to keep them from getting wet and forming too much gluten (gluten = tough).  Thus, a more tender crumb, as they say.  While we’re speaking of the flour: it is responsible for toughening and drying the bread, giving it the structure it needs.  If you were to use custard instead of ice cream, I imagine the eggs in the custard would help a bit with this too.

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Up-close cake texture!

The baking powder, as mentioned, will make sure that this quick bread does not end up as dense as a brick.  The leavening aspect of the baking powder will expand bubbles in the bread, giving it that fluffy, cake-like texture.  I’ve taken this a step further with the addition of sugar (if the mere fact that it needed more flavor wasn’t enough of a reason to add sugar).  Although there is no official creaming process here, I believe that mixing the softened ice cream with the sugar leaves little air pockets for the leavening to nicely expand upon. It is also for this reason that I mix it with a hand mixer rather than by hand, so that more air gets incorporated that way, too.

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The extra sugar is also responsible for this dark caramelized exterior.

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Look at that unassuming brown crust. You’d (almost) never guess there was blue inside.

 

Finally, the salt and almond extract are there to flavor the loaf.  They don’t do much chemically…not here, at least.   And since this is blue moon bread, I also added a few drops of blue food coloring since it seems that color bakes out in the oven.

What do you think, Alton?  Did I do it justice?  We’ll just have to see if he ever finds my little blog… As for the rest of you, friends, I hope you try this with EVERY kind of ice cream.  This may quite possibly be the easiest thing you will do all day.

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Ice Cream Bread

Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups softened (not melted) ice cream of your choosing

1 1/2 tsp. complimentary flavoring (in blue moon’s case: almond extract)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the first four ingredients into a bowl.  Next, incorporate the softened ice cream using a hand mixer.  Finally, add the flavoring and mix well.  Spoon into a greased loaf pan and smooth out the top.

Bake in oven until a prick to the center comes out clean.  For me, this took about 45 minutes–start checking at 30 minutes.  Let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a rack to finish cooling.

Homemade Ketchup

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Does anyone else read the ingredients on nutrition labels?  One of the things that drives me nuts is to see “spices” as an ingredient.  It is not AN ingredient.  This only irks me, but I just imagine some poor soul with an obscure allergy being unable to partake in certain foods because they never know what’s truly in there.  One of the biggest offenders of this labeling crime is ketchup.  Partly, I understand.  You can’t give your secrets away, or people like me will make copycat recipes.  The thing is, people like me are going to make copycat recipes whether you list all of the ingredients or not–and with a sense of pride!

Homemade Ketchup

One of my college friends mentioned this a few months back, so I asked her for the recipe.  Someone unknown made the original, Jen at Bakerette adapted it to taste, my friend adapted it to her taste, and then I adapted it to mine.  That’s how cooking works, right?  Tweaking community recipes.  The original recipe calls for honey, Bakerette uses agave instead, and my friend doesn’t like the taste of those so she used maple syrup.  I am in favor of whichever sweetener you prefer.

This recipe is, like I said, adapted from Bakerette’s, cutting the sweetness and adding some additional flavors.  The first attempt was fine, but not exactly how I wanted it.  The second try made my 17-year-old brother say “Okay, this is good”, which everyone knows is the highest of compliments.  Get some fries from your favorite red and yellow restaurant chain, and it’s the perfect match.  You might not want to buy a bottle again.

Homemade Ketchup

Homemade Ketchup

Yield: about 1 cup

Ingredients:

3 oz. tomato paste

1 T. honey (or agave syrup, or maple syrup)

¼  c. white vinegar

¼ c. water

½ t. salt

¼ t. onion powder

1/8 t. garlic powder

2 whole cloves

Method:

Whisk all ingredients together in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  It will sputter–keep a screen over it if possible.  Once the desired consistency is reached (it will thicken slightly as it cools), remove from the heat and fish out the cloves to discard.  Let cool then store in the fridge!