Favorite Pie Crust

My pie crust opinions change like the wind, but this one has always been good to me, so it is my go-to.  Vodka bakes off faster than water does, leading to a crispier end product.  Good structure, but not too tough.  And, all butter, no shortening.  The only thing it doesn’t do is brown nicely on its own.  An egg wash is necessary for that kind of thing.  This is from the book entitled Pie Pops–in fact, it is the same recipe we used for the Blueberry Pie Pops on here last year.

Favorite Pie Crust (0f the moment)

Yield: 2 crusts (or one top and bottom)


2 1/2 c. All-Purpose Flour

2 T. Granulated Sugar

1 t. Salt

1 c. Chilled Butter

1/2 c. Vodka


Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl.  Cut in the butter.  Add vodka until the dough combines to form a ball.  Halve, form two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a half hour before rolling out.


Red Currant Rum


As my roommate and I themed our apartment after the Harry Potter world, we looked through the books for food and drink ideas.  This particular name of a drink is a favorite of the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge.  I made it with my black currant jam from earlier.  I know, not exactly a “red” currant drink, but it turns a pretty color nonetheless.  It would make a very good holiday drink with its flavors!

Red Currant Rum

Yield: One Drink


1 spoonful Black Currant Jam (about 1T.)

1.5 oz. Spiced Rum



Stir together jam and rum in a glass. Add ice and fill to the top with seltzer.  Perhaps garnish with some citrus.

Black Currant Jam

I tried fresh currants for the first time this summer, and bought a pint of black currents at the farmer’s market.  Not knowing what else to do with it, I made it into jam.  I apparently took no photos…hmm. Don’t worry, it’s a lot sweeter than that Rhubarb-Orange Jam!  I used it as a filling for “Pumpkin Macarons”… but that recipe won’t be on here because it didn’t go too well (the jam was wonderful, though!).

Black Currant Jam

Yield: About 2 cups


1 pint Fresh Black Currants

1 c. Water

10.5 oz Granulated Sugar

Juice of 1 Lemon


Put the currants and water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil.  Simmer until the currants are tender and some liquid has evaporated (about 20 minutes).  Then add the sugar and lemon juice, bring back to a boil, and cook until it reaches 220 degrees on a sugar thermometer.

Can if preferred, or consume within a month (officials would prefer that said “within a week”, but mine was fine for much longer).

Tart Rhubarb-Orange Jam

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This is certainly a tart jam, and certainly a recipe from almost 6 months ago.  Feel free to play with the amount of sugar–if you use Pomona’s Pectin, that is.  Most pectins use sugar to help them gel.  Pomona’s Pectin, however, uses calcium to gel.  It is provided in the box it in which is comes.  I therefore used Pomona’s usual instructions to make this, which I will outline here.


Tart Rhubarb-Orange Jam

Yield: About 4 Cups


2 lb. Rhubarb

2 t. Calcium Water (use instructions in Pomona’s box)

Zest and Juice of 1 orange

1/2 c. Water

3/4-1 c. Sugar

2 t. Pomona’s Pectin


Chop rhubarb into 1/2-inch pieces.  Add rhubarb, calcium water, orange juice and zest, and water to a medium pot.

Mix together sugar and pectin in a bowl.

Bring rhubarb mixture to a boil, then add the pectin-sugar mixture.  Stir while the mixture returns to a boil and pectin dissolves.

Can if preferred, or use within a few weeks.

Sweetapolita’s Chocolate Fudge Frosting

This is the frosting I used for my roomie’s Avenue Q themed birthday cake!  Aside from some simple colored buttercream, that is.  The original (which is pretty much the same as what’s here) can be found at Sweetapolita.com.  As you can see from the picture, it is very squish-able when warm.  I’d say let it cool more than I did before frosting with it!

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Sweetapolita’s Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Yield: Enough for a layer cake, plus some!


1 1/2 c. Unsalted Butter, room temperature

1/2 c. Powdered Sugar

1/2 c. Cocoa Powder (Sweetapolita says “dark”, but my plain worked fine!)

1/3 c. Hot Water

1/4 c. Sour Cream

1 t. Vanilla Extract

1/8 t. Salt

10 oz. Milk Chocolate

5 oz. Dark Chocolate


Beat butter in stand mixer until light and fluffy (Sweetapolita says about 6 minutes).  Meanwhile, melt milk and dark chocolate in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time.  Let cool but not solidify.  Stir the cocoa powder and hot water into a slurry.  When the butter is creamed, turn the mixer to low and add powdered sugar, cocoa slurry, sour cream, vanilla, and salt, beating about a minute until combined.  Increase to medium speed and beat 2 more minutes.  Add the melted chocolates and beat until smooth, about two more minutes.  Let set up in the refrigerator for a while before frosting!

Fluffy Chocolate Cake

This is a take on Ina Garten’s “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake”.  I loved the flavor and the texture–and consistency!–of that recipe, but the structure was a bit weak for layering or travel.  In May, I had messed up on making my Lemon-Lavender Cookies and was left with three cups of flour with some added salt and baking powder.  I saved this dry mix, knowing I’d use it somewhere, and a week later I decided to bake it into Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe–though the amount of flour was double what was called for.  The thing is, that didn’t matter.  The cake came out just as delicious and fluffy, but it held up better than Beatty’s.  So, in October, I repeated this “mistake” and made it into my roommate’s birthday cake.  Avenue Q themed, because we are theatre people.  So if you want a rich-tasting but lightweight chocolate cake that won’t fall apart, look no further!  I used it with Sweetapolita’s Chocolate Fudge Frosting.


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Fluffy Chocolate Cake

Yield: 2 nine-inch rounds


(Butter and Flour for greasing pans)

3 c. All-Purpose Flour

2 c. Granulated Sugar

3/4 c. Cocoa Powder

2 t. Baking Soda

1 t. Baking Powder

1 t. Salt

1 c. Buttermilk

1/2 c. Vegetable/Canola Oil

2 Eggs

1 t. Vanilla Extract

1 c. Fresh Hot Coffee


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9-inch pans with butter, then shake flour around the pans to coat in a thin layer.

Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (Ina likes a KitchenAid with the paddle attachment).  Beat together buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.  If using an electric mixer, put it on low, and slowly add the wet mixture to the dry.  This can also be done by hand.  After they have been combined, stir in the hot coffee.

Divide batter evenly between pans, and bake for about a half hour.  Watch closely to make sure it does not overbake.  Let cool in pans for 30 minutes, then flip out onto cooling racks.


Whiskey Sunshine


Just imagine: finals are almost over, it’s bright and sunny outside, and you are down to whatever is left in your refrigerator.  In this case, it was some Honey Syrup (I had been trying to make a Bee’s Knees cocktail) and a lemon.  Good enough for me.

Whiskey Sunshine

Yield: 1 drink


1 1/2 oz. Whiskey

1 to 1 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice

1 oz. Honey Syrup (see previous post)

Seltzer Water


Shake the first three ingredients with ice, then transfer to a glass.  Top with seltzer water and garnish with a lemon wedge.

Honey Syrup


This is a simple syrup for cocktail purposes, because pure honey does not dissolve in cold drinks.  In fact, it is what one would call a “rich simple syrup”, because the amount of sweetener is twice the amount of water.  I keep mine in a squeezy bottle because that’s how the pros do it (I made that up but I don’t think I’m wrong).

Rich Honey Syrup

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups


1 c. Honey

1/2 c. Water


Place the honey and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stirring occasionally, heat it until the honey is fully dissolved in the water, possibly to a simmer if necessary.  Cool to room temperature and then store in the refrigerator!

Oreo Ganache Tart


So, remember those Cannoli Cupcakes I posted about a half hour ago?  Yes, LOADS of leftover ganache… And Brother, after having had his Foreign Language Party, graduated, and we had a grad party, which required a dessert.  I had seen this little guy in a video on Facebook not too long before the grad party, so I thought this would be a marvelous way to use up the leftover ganache.  And it was.  Oreos are not the classiest thing ever…but once in a while, I tell you, they’re delicious–especially when crushed up with butter!  The amount needed for this recipe is almost an entire package–the original recipe author probably knew we’d want to eat a few before crushing them!


Oreo Ganache Tart

Yield: One 12-inch Tart


32 Oreos (get the original because more cookie is better here)

1/2 c. Butter

Leftover Ganache from Cannoli Cupcakes (or approximately 1 1/2 c. Heavy Cream and 1 1/2 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips)

Fresh Fruit of your choice (I used 1 Pint of Raspberries)

1/4 to 1/3 c. Fruit Jelly (not jam because it needs to be clear)


Crush Oreos until there are no big chunks left.  The finer the texture, the easier it will be to mold into the tart pan.  Melt butter in the microwave, and mix it into the Oreo crumbs.  Using fingers, compact the butter-crumb mixture into a 12-inch tart pan–preferably one with a removable base.  Chill while you prepare the ganache.

I had kept my leftover ganache in the fridge, so I warmed it up slightly so I could pour it.  (If you are making the ganache now, heat the heavy cream until hot but not boiling, and pour over the chocolate chips.  Let stand for a few minutes, then whisk until a uniform texture).  Pour the ganache into the Oreo crust, and top with fruit.

Refrigerate until ganache is set.

Warm jelly in a small saucepan until entirely liquid.  With a pastry brush, brush the jelly over the fruit to give it a pleasant glossy look.  Refrigerate until serving, whereupon you would remove the outer part of the pan to show off the pretty Oreo crust.


AB’s Graham Crackers


This is an easy one for exposition, because it is really not my invention in the slightest… Just placing here what Mr. Alton Brown has on the Food Network website!  I of course have made my own little notes along the way.  Like this one: these graham crackers are really soft, because they puff up while baking.  This makes them actually pretty wonderful for s’mores (because you can eat them without marshmallow getting shot out at you), but it is definitely not what comes to mind when thinking of graham CRACKERS.  When rolling them out, roll them as thinly as possible, and that should help them crisp up some more!


AB’s Graham Crackers

Yield: About 2-dozen cracker sticks


8 3/8 oz Graham Flour (Alton likes to be precise)

1 7/8 oz All-Purpose Flour (told you)

3 oz. Dark Brown Sugar

3/4 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

3 oz Unsalted Butter cut into cubes and chilled

2 1/4 oz Molasses

1 1/2 oz Whole Milk

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract


Mix all dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles sand.  Slowly add the wet ingredients and keep mixing until it starts to form a ball–Alton says about 1 minute.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, forming it into a disk, and refrigerate for a half hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out the dough between sheets of parchment paper until it is as thin as possible (Alton says 1/8 inch–I say as thin as it will go).  Peel off the top sheet of parchment and transfer the rest (rolled dough and bottom parchment) to a half sheet pan.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into segments.  I made mine about 1 inch by 2 inches, Alton made his 2 inch squares.  Alton says remove any excess–I say Pfft, that’s the chef’s snack later.  Poke holes in the top of the dough with a fork.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges start to darken.  Set the whole pan on a cooling rack to cool completely.  Once cooled, break apart the individual crackers and store in an airtight container. (For up to two weeks, says AB)