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You Want Pies With That?: “Watermelon” Ice Cream Pie

"Watermelon" Ice Cream Pie

"Watermelon" Ice Cream Pie

Without further ado….Mary & Rebecca have chosen to test us with a

Taste of Summer Pie.
This month, we’re challenging you to come up with a pie that tastes like the summer.

For some, that might mean getting inspired by the flavors of peak-of-the-season fruits and vegetables, homemade ice cream, carnival food, campfire s’mores, cookouts, beach and ballpark concessions, county fairs, ice-cold floats and lemonade.

But for others, summer brings on thoughts of sunburns and mosquitos, humidity, bored kids, poison ivy and a longing to see that big yellow school bus pull up in front of the house.

So, feel free to take your inspiration from either side of the summer (or both), and use your pie to express how YOU really feel about the summer.

What does summer taste like to you?

YOU WANT PIES WITH THAT?

"Watermelon" Ice Cream Pie ... a taste of summer!

"Watermelon" Ice Cream Pie ... a taste of summer!

Sugar Cone Crust:    I like to use a sugar cone crust.   A standard size box typically has 12 cones.  Finely grind all 12 sugar cones in a food processor.  Place the crumbs in a bowl and add 6-7  tablespoons of melted butter, stirring until combined.  Press the crumbs into a deep dish pie plate.  Place in the freezer while you let the ice cream soften.

Ice Cream Layers:  The bottom layer of the watermelon pie should be a “green” colored sherbert or ice cream.  This time I used Blue Bunny Pistachio Almond ice cream.   Set the ice cream out at room temperature until it is just soft enough to spread over the bottom and up the sides of your sugar cone crust.  This layer is meant to be the “rind” of the watermelon.  Place the sugar cone crust and the pistachio ice cream layer back into the freezer. 

Use a “pink” colored sherbert or ice cream for the center of your watermelon pie.  I chose a strawberry ice cream.   Set the ice cream out at room temperature until it is just soft enough to stir in about 1 cup of mini chocolate chips (seeds).  Spoon this mixture on top of the “green” layer.   Return to the freezer for several hours before serving.

A taste of summer.

A taste of summer.

You Want Pies With That?: Frozen Key Lime Pie on-a-stick, dipped in Chocolate

No fork needed ... Frozen Key Lime Pie on-a-stick, dipped in chocolate.

No fork needed ... Frozen Key Lime Pie on-a-stick, dipped in chocolate.

OUR HOSTESS: Ellen at Kittymama is our hostess this month and she is taking us all down that nostalgic path with Childhood Memory Pies!

OUR YOU WANT PIES WITH THAT CHALLENGEChildhood Memory Pie: Bake a pie or tart that is inspired by a favorite childhood memory. Maybe you spent a summer vacation in Maine so it’s a blueberry pie; or your grandmother always baked lemon meringue, or you remember your first taste of apple pie ever. Tell us a little story that will help us walk down memory lane with you and relive some happy childhood memories

 
When I think of our Florida Keys vacations  … I remember feeling totally separated from the rest of the world.  The islands stretch 100 miles away from the mainland. 
I remember everything felt and smelled “tropical”.

I REMEMBER KEY LIME PIE !!

I don’t remember exactly when it started appearing on a stick, dipped in chocolate, but it didn’t take my family long to make the switch from fork to stick.  Over the years, I have used many different recipes, but I am sharing with you my “current favorite”.  It is a frozen key lime recipe by Nora Ephron.  This recipe has been adapted with an extra step that brings the eggs to the proper temperature rather then using them uncooked.

Sugar Cone Crust:    Rather than the usual graham cracker crust I like to use a sugar cone crust.   A standard size box typically has 12 cones.  Finely grind all 12 sugar cones in a food processor.  Place the crumbs in a bowl and add 6-7  tablespoons of melted butter, stirring until combined.  Press the crumbs onto the bottom of your 9 inch disposable pan and up the sides about 1 and 1/2 inches.   Place in the freezer while you are making the filling.

Frozen Key Lime Pie
Serves 8   (In my world it only serves 6)

6  large egg yolks
1  cup freshly squeezed lime juice   (I use fresh key limes when they are available. 
                                                         One pound of key limes yields about 3/4 cup of juice.
                                                         To “maximize the juice potential” microwave the limes
                                                          for about 45 seconds and roll them on the counter
                                                          prior to juicing.)
2  cans (14 ounces each) sweetened condensed milk
1  Tablespoon finely grated Key Lime zest

Making the pie filling:     In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks and lime juice together.  (I like to beat the egg yolks until they begin to increase in volume and then add the lime juice and whisk until combined.)   Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and cook  (keep whisking the whole time) until the mixture is foamy and smooth looking and reaches 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer.  Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk and the key lime zest until well combined.

Remove the sugar cone pie crust from the freezer and pour in the filling.  Using a rubber spatula, smooth the top.  Place in the freezer. 

DEBBIE’S METHOD FOR ADDING STICKS:  Now is when you have to make the really important decision … does your pie serve 6 or 8!    After approximately 50 minutes in the freezer remove the pie and with a knife, gently score the top of the pie to indicate where your cutting lines will be.  These lines will help you determine the placement of your “sticks”.  You will be using a sharp knife to cut slits, the width of your sticks, in the outside of your disposable foil pan.  You will need to determine midway up the pie from the bottom and the middle of each piece of pie.  (This is where you will use the score marks you made on the top of the pie filling.)  Once you have made the slit in the foil pan, slowly insert a stick.  You are trying to position the stick to as close to the center of each piece of pie as possible.  The better you are at finding the center … the sturdier your finished product will be.  When you have finished inserting the sticks, cover the pie and return to the freezer.  I leave it in the freezer overnight.

"Sticks have been inserted thru the foil pan into the semi-frozen pie.

"Sticks" have been inserted thru the foil pan into the semi-frozen pie.

DEBBIE’S METHOD FOR UNMOLDING PIE:   With scissors, snip from the top of your tin, down towards each stick.  Next carefully peel the foil pan away from the pie.  This will release the pie from the pan.  Use a sharp knife and cut your pie into pieces.  Each piece will have a stick handle!  The pie will not be difficult to cut as it has a frozen, chewy-candy-like consistency.  Return the pie slices to the freezer until you are ready to dip in chocolate.

The pie has been released from the foil pan and is ready to slice.

The pie has been released from the foil pan and is ready to slice.

 DIPPING THE FROZEN KEY LIME PIE:    In a heatproof bowl, over simmering water, I melted milk chocolate chips.  (Use your favorite chocolate.)    Dip each piece in chocolate, place on a parchment paper lined sheet pan and return to the freezer.  Once the chocolate has set you can wrap each individual piece.

Enjoy pie on a stick!

Enjoy pie on a stick!

You Want Pies With That?: Cinnamon Thyme Poached Pear Tart with Lavender Whipped Cream

Cinnamon Thyme Poached Pear Tart

Cinnamon Thyme Poached Pear Tart

Elizabeth … Elizabeth, what were you thinking when you picked this theme?   What’s our theme?   Well, glad you asked.  Elizabeth of Cake … or Death? gave us the following instructions:

“After playing with a few ideas, I’ve decided on “Herbs and Spices” as the theme. I think there’s a lot of possibilities there. Obviously a lot of spices go well with pies (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger etc) but there’s lots of room for creativity: orange-cardamom, chocolate-cayenne, pink peppercorn-grapefruit, etc. And I’m also excited to see what people do with herbs. Pairings like blueberries and fresh mint or strawberries and basil could be delicious, and herbs like lavender and lemon verbena are getting more popular. There are also lots of opportunities for savory pies and tarts with this theme. “

Let me tell you … after reading this month’s theme I developed a serious mental block.   Where do I start  …..

After much thought, I decided to begin by picking the herbs/spices I wanted to bake with.  I also made the committment to do a “sweet” pie, rather than a savory, to kick up the challenge factor a bit!

I began by researching “classic” combinations of herbs.  Ultimately, it was Herbes de Provence that provided the inspiration for my Cinnamon Thyme Poached Pear Tart with Lavender Whipped Cream.  Experts disagree as to exactly which herbs should be included in the traditional, dried, aromatic blend.   No matter what the combination, I did find a common thread.  All seemed to agree that thyme and lavender were essential.   A bit more reading revealed that thyme and lavender were both members of the fragrant mint family!  So there I had it … finally … THYME and LAVENDER  it would be.

Pour the dough into the prepared tart pan and press to form an even crust.

Pour the dough into the prepared tart pan and press to form an even crust.

CRUST
(Crust recipe by John Besh)

Vegetable oil spray   (I used olive oil spray)
1  3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1  1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
1 large egg yolk mixed with 4 tablespoons of ice water

DIRECTIONS
1.  Make the crust:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray an 11 inch tart pan with a removable bottom with      vegetable oil.  In a food processor, combine the flour with the sugar and salt and pulse once or twice until       combined.  Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas.  Lift the lid and sprinkle with the egg yolk      mixture.  Pulse until the dough is crumbly.

2. Pour the dough into the prepared tart pan and press to form an even crust.  Use a flat-bottomed glass dipped in flour to tamp it down.  (I used my fingers and a flat bottomed glass.)  Bake the crust in the lower third of the oven for about 25 minutes until it is golden brown.  (I buttered the shiny side of a piece of foil and put it buttered side down over the crust and then filled with beans to keep the crust from puffing.  At 15 minutes into the baking I      removed it.  Placed my tart pan on a sheet pan to bake.)  Cool on a rack.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Ready to bake.

Ready to bake.

PEARS
4 large, ripe, firm pears such as Bosc, Bartlett or D’Anjou  (I used Bosc.)
1 cup pear nector   (I used Looza brand.)
1 cup water
3/4 cup maple syrup  (I used organic Grade A amber.)
2 Cinnamon sticks, slightly crushed
1  1/2 teaspoons Thyme leaves  (I used McCormick Gourmet Collection)
4 strips of orange peel

Pears and poaching ingredients.

Pears and poaching ingredients.

DIRECTIONS
1.
Peel the pears. The pears will need to stand up in the pan.  Cut the bottom to make the pears flat.

2. In a tall sauce pan, combine the pear nector, water, maple syrup, cinnamon sitcks, thyme leaves and orange peel.  Bring to a boil.  Place the pears in the liquid in saucepan, standing pears with stems  pointing up.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, covered 20 to 30 minutes or until pears are tender.  Remove  pears from the sauce pan to a plate.  Cool completely.    ( Thyme’s minty green flavor accents the subtle sweetness of the maple, cinnamon and orange.)

3. Continue to cook the liquid until it has reduced to about 3/4 cup. Pour through a fine mesh strainer.  You can drizzle the sauce over each  piece at serving time.  You can also use to decorate the plate.

Simmer on medium-low heat until pears are tender.

Simmer on medium-low heat until pears are tender.

FILLING
(Filling recipe by John Besh)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup of flour

DIRECTIONS
1.  Make the filling:
In a small skillet, cook the butter over moderate heat until golden brown and fragrant, about 4 minutes.  Pour the browned butter into a small cup.  In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar, vanilla seeds, orange zest and salt.  Add the flour and beat at low speed until smooth.  Add the brown butter and beat the filling at low speed until incorporated.

2. Pour the filling into the baked crust.

3.  Slice each cooled pear from stem to bottom.  Remove the core from each half.  Slice each half of pear  crosswise and gently fan the pear onto a spatula.  Use the spatula to assist in placing the poached pear over the filling.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, until the filling is golden and set.

Cinnamon Thyme Poached Pear Tart
Cinnamon Thyme Poached Pear Tart
Ready to serve.
Ready to serve.

Ready to eat.

Ready to eat.

LAVENDER WHIPPED CREAM

1  1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Lavender
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

DIRECTIONS
1.  Mix the cream and lavender in a small bowl.  Cover.  Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.     (The lavender does not really add a taste to the cream, but rather it adds a lovely aromatic quality.)

2. Pour cream mixture through a fine mesh strainer.  Beat the cream mixture, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Elizabeth, as a result of this months theme, I will forever see  herbs and spices in a new light.   Unusual flavor combinations now catch my eye.   I found an article about a root beer and toasted sesame cake …. hmmm … wonder how that would taste …