Monday, November 1, 2010

Honey Pumpkin Date with 'Mallow Topping

In a nutshell:
1) Thoroughly blend all the ingredients together, taking care that the dates are cut to bite-sized bits.
2) Pour into your prebaked graham cracker pie crust, distributing date pieces evenly
3) Bake at 350 F for 20 min, rotate pie, bake for 25 more min at 450 F
4) Remove, let cool, place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours
just before serving,
5) cover chilled pie with mini-marshmallows and place in the broiler for 2-3 minutes -
MAKE SURE YOU WATCH THE MARSHMALLOWS AS THEY BROWN!! If you take your eyes off for even a few seconds, you'll end up with an ugly burnt mess.

Pumpkin, dates, eggs, heavy whipping cream, full-fat sour cream,
honey, molasses, cinnemon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves!

One thing I am learning about pies is that for all their variety in flavor, filling, crust and occasion, they are pretty darn straight forward to make.
However, one thing I underestimated is the value of some TLC. This pie, relatively simple and easy in writing, required a significantly greater amount of time to prepare (and practice). And I am a lazy person - if I had planned a little better, I might have been a little less frustrated, but perhaps you can benefit from my strife and discovery:

Stuff I learned this time around:

1) Let ingredients (like eggs) reach room temperature
2) Your own squash puree is easy! But not instantaneous...
3) Cool a pre-baked pie shell in the fridge OR unthaw a frozen one in the fridge before using
4) If the recipe says the pie should cool -

A little about each:

1) Letting the ingredients, like eggs & butter & even milk, really does help mix and bake the filling to the proper consistency!
Room temperature ingredients allow for the emulsion of fat and liquid which cannot otherwise mix. If you add cold ingredients, like eggs from the fridge, to a room temperature filling, you may end up with not-so-yummy descriptions of your mixture like curdled, chunky or grainy. This is particularly annoying if you are mixing or whisking by hand.
Also, your mixture will likely not hold its form as well - a good looking pie is even across the surface and not cracked or sunken. Sinking is a particularly disheartening result of chilled ingredients.
(PS I know the FDA says this isn't true, but you can leave eggs out of the refrigerator for up to two weeks, depending on how fresh they are. It's true! That's how they do it in EVERY OTHER COUNTRY except America. Ask you European or African friends (I did). There isn't an in-between for a good egg and a rotten one and so long as you aren't storing your eggs in the top cabinet with the California winter-heat beating on them, they'll do just for for a while.)

2) You can cook any squash like this:
Cut in half, de-seed, put in the oven in a half an inch of water (any way you like) with some loose foil over for about 35-40 minutes at 350 F. That's it. Pumpkin, Delicata, Spaghetti, they can ALL be cooked this way. If you want to forgo the canned pureed squash you stick the results (without skin!) in a blender. VIOLA!

3) Once again, don't be lazy like me. Prebaked pie shells are the bomb! And easy. So just do it, you don't need to always buy pie shells... but you do need to cool them and not use them straight from the oven. If you do, you might make a mess of your pie in one or several of theses ways: cooking the outside filling faster on the hot crust, crust can absorb the filling and get mushy, the taste might change, the exposed edges will likely cook more & dry out than the covered ones and ultimately, the crust (depending on the kind) can really lose its shape - refrigerating it keeps it firm.

4) This is probably the singularly most important experience I had during the baking of this pie.
The filling for this pie used a lot of liquids and had a very low viscosity (rather runny); in addition to this new factor in pie-making, the recipe called for this pie to be baked at two different temperatures in the first half and last half of its time in the oven. I did my best to follow the recipe to the "T" (after not doing so and creating delays as I ran into the aforementioned discoveries) and baked as instructed. But at the end of the 45 mins, the pie still seamed to be quite liquid. I baked for an extra 20 minutes, just to be sure, but the consistency did not change much. I didn't want to risk over-cooking, so I removed the pie and let it cool to room temperature.

This pie is best served chilled with freshly warmed marshmallows. Prepare this pie the night before or very early in the day to alot time for cooling...
Allow the pie to cool thoroughly; then place the pie in the refrigerator for 3 hours or over night.

Despite the hold-ups and a little bit of cheating on the instructions - the pie was incredible. So delicious and so vacant of any processed foods (san marshmallows!). The ingredients DID NOT include sugar except what was in the dates and honey! Another successful Pie of the Week.

The party we attended was pretty fantastic, too! The treats were especially fun:

Potato Brains! Mummy Dogs!Baby Burrito!

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