09 April 2011

Like Virginia Diner's Peanut Pie

Yes, you read that right. Peanut pie. Not peanut butter pie. Peanut pie. As described in Ken Haedrich's account of the owner of Virginia Diner, "like a pecan pie, only better." I'm not entirely sure I agree with the 'better' part, but Peanut Pie is certainly like a pecan pie made with groundnuts instead.

The story behind the name for this pie derives from that age-old practice of never revealing the secret recipe. Haedrich wanted to get the recipe for Virginia Diner's peanut pie, but was stonewalled and instead referred to a peanut promoter's website, where he found this recipe. Hence, this pie being "like" the Diner's version.

When putting this all together, it looks like nothing so much as liquid peanut brittle - not a bad thing at all! Chopped peanuts float in a sea of dark corn syrup, eggs, and melted butter, which all gets upended into a pie shell. I had problems with my blind-baking foil sticking to the crust, and I ended up with the filling leaking through and cementing the pie to the plate. That's why the slices are so messy, but it all tastes the same!

A la fin du jour, sign me up for a piece of pecan pie over peanut pie. I am certainly a fan of a good Virginia peanut, but in a pie, the peanutty flavor is a bit too bold for me. If you really <3 peanuts, I encourage you to try this pie. Haedrich suggests serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and Warm Mocha Sauce (scroll to the end for recipe), which might just tip the scales in favor of the Peanut Pie, but then again, the mocha sauce would make file folders taste good.

03 April 2011

Double Crust Cherry-Blackberry Pie

Just to be clear: "double crust" is usually code for "extra calories." Especially when using a from-scratch crust. (I've found that the refrigerated crusts are fewer calories than the homemade ones). And especially when that crust is a 'Tender Cream Cheese Pastry' which includes two sticks of butter and an entire brick of full-fat cream cheese. Oof.

Inside the pie, the nutrition is pretty good - two pounds of berries sweetened with only a half-cup of sugar. The recipe calls for an even mix of sweet cherries and blackberries. The berries are frozen - the recipe calls for them to be partially thawed before baking - which is a very convenient and perfectly passable way to make berry pies in the 11 months of off-season. It would be a gut-busting shame to have to eat all your berry pies ever during the month of July.

I used tart cherries and most of a pound of blackberries, with an ounce or two of raspberries tossed in to make up the weight. I would definitely recommend you go with the sweet cherries, as the blackberries provide tartness enough for the pie.

A word of caution about the cream cheese pastry crust (which, like the pie, is also from Ken Haedrich's Pie): the double crust recipe makes a lot of dough, probably enough for three crusts. I didn't realize this until too late, but it rolls out very thick if just making two crusts, thick enough that I suspect it insulated the filling and prevented it from thickening properly. The crust also came out a bit on the greasy side, but it has promise.

Also on the subject of thickening, I would probably toss in some quick-cooking tapioca the next time. There was a significant quantity of juices inside the pie (but it helped the too-thick crust with a delicious berry juice soak!).

This was the first pie that I've used pie shields on. I added foil strips about 10 minutes before the end of a 60-65 minute bake time and was pleased with the result.

All in all, I don't think this is a bad pie at all; I just think I could do a few things better next time.