Tuesday, November 24, 2009



My husband adores pumpkin pie, so it had to be one of the first things I learned to make, and I now make it every Thanksgiving . Originally I made a traditional evaporated milk-pumpkin pie , but it wasn’t as firm as my husband would have liked, so I began working with condensed milk. The texture was great, but the pie was bland and dull. It took some tweaking but I finally had the perfect pie - firm-textured with great spice and flavor complexity.



Sweeter Pastry Crust
1-1/2 cups(195 grams) all-purpose flour, fluffed, scooped and leveled into measuring cups
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 large egg yolk
1 – 3 teaspoons water

2 large eggs – beaten
1 15-ounce can (2 cups) pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon clove
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

Old Fashioned Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. with a rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and flour a 9-inch glass pie plate.

Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor bowl. Pulse-process until the ingredients are well mixed.

Add the cold butter. Pulse-process about 7 times, until the butter is cut into lentil-sized pieces. Add the egg yolk and 1 teaspoon water. Process for 10 seconds. If the dough is not yet clumping, add another teaspoon of water. Process 10 seconds more. If necessary, add the remaining water, and process again. The dough should just be starting to come together. Dump the dough out onto a board, and press clumps of it down into the board with the heel of your hand, repeating until all of the dough has been worked. Scrape it up with a bench scraper or knife, and press into a flattened disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Roll the dough into a 12-inch round, about 1/16-inch thick. For more details on the easiest way to roll dough see my post on pie crust rolling, part 2 . Sprinkle the dough lightly with flour and then fold the dough in half and transfer it to the pie plate.

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The dough is very forgiving, so if it cracks, it can be fixed by simply pinching it back together. Cut the dough so that it extends 1/2 inch beyond the pie plate rim.

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Roll the dough up so that it sits on the pie rim.


Crimp as desired. For other edges see my post on pie crust shaping.


Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and press it into the crust, sprayed side touching the dough, and fill the foil with dried beans or pie weights.


Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights. Return the shell to the oven and bake for 5 minutes more, or until the dough just loses its raw appearance. Set it aside to cool.

For the Filling and Baking:
Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.

Place the eggs in a mixer bowl. Whisk lightly. Using a wooden spoon, stir in all of the filling ingredients. Stir just enough to blend everything together (do not beat).

Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie shell. Shield the edges of the pie crust with an aluminum shield .

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Set the pie on a rimmed cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan, place it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes. If the top is browning too much, cover it with foil. Continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the pie is set and a skewer inserted into the center will come out clean. Cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the whipped cream, place all ingredients in a small mixer bowl and beat on high speed until the cream stands in stiff peaks.

Moisture will accumulate on the top of this pie as it chills. Make sure to mop up this moisture, with a paper towel, before garnishing and serving. The pie is best if made at least 1 and preferably 2 days in advance. It will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Apple Cherry Turnovers

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Turnovers are a really nice pastry to take to a party . They’re elegant and pretty and just the right size, when made as 3-1/2-inch pickups. Although not difficult to make, they require a little advance planning, as the filling needs to be cooked ahead. Turnovers only bake for about 20 minutes, and this isn’t enough time to cook most fruits. In addition, when fruit cooks, it gives off liquid – sometimes quite a lot of liquid, and this would make the turnover soggy. The last reason for cooking the filling ahead is that cooked filling adheres to itself and stays in a cohesive mass, making it much easier to work with.

If you read my blog on Apple Pie (http://amazingdessertrecipes.blogspot.com/2009/10/best-apple-pie.html) you know that I cooked up all different kinds of apples to see how much liquid each gave off. For the apple pie, I wanted something that would have a nice bit of juice that would spill out a bit when the pie was cut. But for turnovers, you want just the opposite. Apples that exude tons of juice, tend to be a bit dry on their own, and since you can’t use the juice in the turnovers, you actually want to use the less juicy apples in the turnover filling.

Here’s a chart of apple types with how juicy they are, how soft they get and how sweet they are:
Apple Texture Juiciness Sweetness
Macintosh------- Very soft-----Least------------Sweet/tart
Rome ----------- Very soft-----Least------------Sweet/tart
Cortland--------- Medium------Least------------Sweet/tart
Golden Delicious-Medium------Most------------Sweet
Granny Smith----Med-firm----Moderate--------Tart
Fuji--------------Extra Firm---Moderate--------Sweet/tart
Gala-------------Extra Firm--- Moderate--------Sweet/tart

For turnovers, I like to use mostly Cortlands, 1 Mac thrown in for extra apply flavor and applesauce note, and a Granny Smith for a bit of tartness and texture.

The pan that you use for baking the filling will make a huge difference to the filling, as well. I baked one batch in a metal baking pan and another batch in a glass pan, each covered with foil and baked at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

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These were the apples baked in the metal pan. They were more like a very chunky applesauce with some of the apples (the Granny Smiths) still in chunks. I did have to mash on the apples a little to get them to come together in a mass.

These are the apples baked in glass. They were still quite firm and not cohesive. I had to bake them another 30 minutes to get them to the state shown above.

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By the way, the reason that the apples baked in the metal pan are so dark, is that I didn’t put any lemon juice or Fruitfresh® in with the apples, and the picture was taken the next day. Turnover filling really isn’t seen, but if it matters to you, then you should add one of the acids to keep the apples light.

Apple Cherry Turnovers
Makes 18 or 19 3-1/2” turnovers

1 batch of sweetened pie crust dough , see http://amazingdessertrecipes.blogspot.com/2009/10/best-apple-pie.html

Turnover Filling
3 Cortland apples
1 Macintosh apple
1 Granny Smith apple
2/3-3/4 cup brown sugar
Pinch nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup tart dried cherries

juice from 1 lemon, or 1 tablespoon Fruitfresh mixed in 2 quarts cold water, optional

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 6 chunks

Milk or egg white wash, for brushing, optional

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Make the pie crust and wrap and refrigerate it as per the instructions with the crust.

For the filling, peel, core and dice the Cortlands and Mac into large dice, and the Granny Smith into ¼-inch dice. If you want to keep the apples from turning brown, drop them into the acidulated water and then scoop them out and pat dry. Place in an 8x12-inch baking pan (or any similar pan) and stir in the brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, using quantities to taste. Stir in the dried cherries. Scatter the butter over the top. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30-50 minutes , until most of the apples are mushy but the Granny Smith is still in medium-firm chunks. The apples may look like they are still firm, but when pressed with a spoon, they will yield readily. Uncover, and let the mixture cool. Transfer to a storage container, and refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to prepare the turnovers, preheat the oven to 375-degrees F., with racks in the middle and lower sections of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

To roll the dough into a rectangular shape, I like to use this tool:
Dobord -Available at: http://www.cooking.com/


The Dobord has grooves cut into the two sides that allow you to drop the bottom down to 4 different levels for 4 different thicknesses of dough. It's terrific for rolling out cookie dough and larger, rectangular or square shapes. You want the turnover dough to be thin, so set the board to the 1/16th-inch setting. You’ll need a rolling pin long enough to sit on the edges of board, and one without ball bearings.

To make it even easier to roll, you can roll the dough inside of a jumbo ziptop bag, which has been cut open on three sides. Flour the inside of the bag, and then roll one piece of dough into a rectangle about 6-inches wide and 8-inches long ( size isn’t really important). Fold the dough like a letter, and then turn it 80-degrees and roll it again to the same size. Fold it again, and then roll it until the pin sits perfectly flat on both edges of the sides.

Cut the dough into 3-1/2-inch squares. Pick up one square and turn it so that the points are now facing you.

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Place about 1 rounded tablespoon of filling just below the center line of the dough. In the one below, the filling is actually placed a little too high, which will make it harder to fold over without some of the filling oozing out the bottom – which will prevent the turnover from sealing properly. What I can do to remedy this, is to roll the top part of the turnover a little thinner and longer. Then, I’ll have a little more dough to pull over and seal the pastry.

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In this next picture, the filling is not only a little high, but the dough isn’t square. In this case, I can roll the right side a little thinner and longer, to try and get it square again.


Brush the edges of the bottom part of the dough with a little water.

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Fold the dough over the filling, and seal the edges by tamping down on them with the tines of a fork.

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Make a few slits in the dough, and then transfer the turnover to the parchment paper. When all of the turnovers are done, you can brush them with milk or egg white wash, to add a little shine, but it’s not really necessary because they’ll be sprinkled with powdered sugar before serving.

Place the turnovers in the oven and cook them for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned, switching the sheets after 10 minutes, so that both sheets get cooked evenly.

Slide the parchment onto cooling racks, let the turnovers cool 5 minutes, and then slide them off of the parchment and onto racks to finish cooling.

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Sprinkle the turnovers with powdered sugar before serving. For best taste and texture, eat the turnovers within 6 hours. Unbaked turnovers can be frozen, but they do lose lots of taste and texture.

The turnover pictured under the title is actually a 4-1/2 turnover. that I served as a stand-alone dessert to be served with a fork (and maybe some ice cream!).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Because this is one of my favorite cookies (pastry, really), I have a version of it in every book I create. Rugelach are flaky cream cheese pastries filled with cinnamon, sugar, nuts, preserves and sometimes chocolate. Homemade ones are usually crescent-shaped, but it’s easier to shape them into logs. Unlike commercial Rugelach, these are never dry.    Rugelach are pretty time consuming to make, and not for the novice baker. But they are well worth the effort you will put into them!

This recipe is no longer available online, but you can find it in all my books.  Click here to order