ch-ch-ch-Ultimate Cherry Pie

How to Make a Cherry Pie with Dear Martini

What’s the secret to making the ultimate ch-ch-ch-cherry pie?  Use fresh sweet summer cherries. Some folks think you need sour cherries (which we seldom find fresh and are usually packed in syrup) to make a good cherry pie, but we think you’re missing out on some really great pies by sticking with canned cherries.  When cherries are in season we use whatever looks the best at the market– everything  from Bing to Queen Ann cherries.

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No one wants to spend their 4th of July in the kitchen, so here are a couple of ways to make it easier:

  • Make the dough as early as tomorrow and refrigerate tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. While the dough rests in the fridge the water is absorbed in the dough and the butter firms up.  A properly rested and chilled dough relaxes,  making it easier to roll out.
  • Buy an inexpensive cherry pitter.  A cherry pitter makes the process go much faster!  If the thought of pitting fresh cherries makes you want to poke your eye out, you can use pitted frozen cherries or bottled cherries (which are great for pie making during the winter as well.)  Thaw the cherries completely and use no more than about 1/4 cup of the collected juice.

ch-ch-ch-Ultimate Cherry Pie

Makes one 9-inch lattice topped pie

1 recipe Basic Pie Dough (see below)

5 cups sweet fresh cherries, pitted

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon Kirsch cherry liqueur (optional)

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg

2  teaspoons heavy cream or whole milk

Garnish:  Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Roll out half the pie dough on a lightly floured work surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round.  Brush off excess flour; roll dough around rolling pin, and place it over your prepared pie pan.  Press the dough into the pan and trim the edges so that the dough hangs over the pie pan by about 1-inch.  Refrigerate while you make the filling.  

In a large bowl, add the cherries, sugar, salt, almond, kirsch, lemon juice, and cornstarch.  Toss the filling ingredients with the cherries until coated .  Set cherries aside while you roll out the top dough.

Roll out the remaining dough to a 12-inch diameter circle.  With a pastry cutter or a knife cut at least eighteen 1/2 -inch strips.  Place strips on a parchment lined sheet pan and refrigerate. Cut out stars or decorations using a cookie cutter from the remaining dough scraps and refrigerate.

Spoon cherry filling into the pie shell.  Dot with butter. 

Lay strips horizontally across the pie and give the pie a quarter turn.  Fold back every other strip starting with the first strip.  Place a strip horizontally next to the folded strips and unfold the folded strips.  Repeat the process starting with the 2nd strip folding back every other strip.  Repeat folding, adding strips,  and unfolding strips to weave a lattice pattern.  Trim the lattice and fold the edge under or over and crimp the edge.    Refrigerate the pie for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk the egg and cream together to make an egg wash. Brush pie with egg wash and bake for 15 minutes at 425°F. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake approximately 35 to 45 minutes more until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles.  Remove pie from the oven and cool COMPLETELY (at least 2 hours) before serving.  Serve with pie with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

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Basic Pie Dough

Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie shell

Want an easy way to remember our recipe without having to look it up again?  3 + 2 + 1!  3 parts flour  2 parts butter 1 part ice water.

2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and frozen for 15 minutes

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

½  teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

½ cup ice water

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the chilled butter and toss to coat the butter with flour.  Quickly rub the butter with the flour between your fingers to make flat pieces of butter. Take care not to overwork  the butter – you want to work each piece, but should still have pea-sized lumps of the butter in the flour.  Sprinkle in the salt and sugar and toss with your fingers to mix.  Add the water and using a plastic scraper and a quick a folding motion, mix the dough just until it begins to clump together.   The dough will look sandy and lumpy at this point and that’s okay.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface dusted with flour and gently pat out the dough into a flat disk about an 1-inch thick.  Fold the dough in on itself until the dough just begins to hold together and is no longer sandy on the edges.  Once the dough begins to come together, fold dough in half, turn it a quarter-turn and pat it out flat again to an inch thick.  Repeat this process 4 to 5 more times.  Butter will still be visible in the dough — it’s these pieces of butter that result in a flaky dough!  Divide the dough in half and flatten each piece into a disk one more time and wrap them in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour before rolling out.

How to Make Pie Dough YT Tumbnail How to Roll and Fit Pie Dough YT Thumbnail

 

We dare you not to lick your plate!

We dare you not to lick your plate!

 

Baked Alaska – A flaming dessert for Valentine’s Day

Dear Martini Baked Alaska

Q:  What’s sweet, frozen and yummy… and set on fire?

A:  Baked Alaska!

Originally, the chef of New York’s Delmonico’s Restaurant created this show-stopping flaming dessert in 1867 to honor the United States acquisition of Alaska.  Though the chef didn’t invent the flambéed ice cream cake, Delmonico’s is credited for coining the name “Baked Alaska” to the delight of generations of ice cream cake enthusiasts.

If you’re in the habit of making a special dessert for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, chances are sooner or later you’re going to run out of ideas that have to do with chocolate.   We’ve found Baked Alaska usually wins over even the diehard chocoholics.  All you need to do is assemble your favorite ice cream (we love strawberry!) on top of your favorite cake and slather or pipe the entire thing with fluffy meringue.  Then, when it’s time to serve, ignite an ounce of your favorite eau de vie (any flavor that pairs with your ice cream, as long as it is at least 40% alcohol by volume or higher) and carefully drizzle the flaming liqueur over the dessert.  If your sweetheart hasn’t fallen for you by now, this flaming dessert will definitely seal the deal.

Baked Alaska

Makes 6-8 individual servings

1 recipe Yellow Cake, baked into a 9X13″ pan (or, you can use any cake you like – even frozen pound cake!)

1 quart of your favorite ice cream

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup water

8 large egg whites, brought to room temperature

1/4 cup Kirsch (or any of your favorite distilled eau de vie – must be at least 40% alcohol by volume) 

Special Equipment:

Round cookie cutter, 3 inches in diameter

Large ice cream scoop

Piping bag fitted with star tip

Kitchen torch

Small, long-handled saucepan

Long reach (fireplace) match

Punch out rounds of cake and arrange on a sheet pan.  Freeze for about 30 minutes.  Scoop out the ice cream and place one mounded scoop on top of each cake round.  Return to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes, or overnight.

Prepare the meringue by first cooking the sugar and water together until the sugar reaches 240ºF.  Whip the egg whites until soft peaks and slowly pour the syrup in and whip until stiff peaks.

Pipe the meringue in decorative swirls around each ice cream cake.  The fluffier the better. Return the cakes to the freezer and freeze for 1 hour or overnight.

Just before serving, lightly torch the surface of the cakes with a kitchen torch.  Transfer a cake to an oven-proof plate. Pour the kirsch into a small long-handled saucepan and heat over the stove for a few moments, just until the Kirsch is hot.  Carefully ignite the Kirsch in the pot with a match.  While the Kirsch is flaming, drizzle over the cake and allow the liqueur to flame out on its own before enjoying!

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Here are some helpful videos – just click on the photo and jump to the video:

Dear Martini How to Make Italian Meringue VideoDear Martini How to Fill a Pastry Bag VideoDear Martini How to Use a Star Tip Video

Perfect Pecan Pie

Rich and delicious a perfect pecan pie is a study in contrasts… nutty crunchy pecans on top with a layer of silky-not too-sweet filling underneath.  Chef Mia is our pecan pie purist (she’s been making pecan pie since she was knee high!) and insists that this contrast between gooey filling and the pretty concentric circles of whole nuts on top is what pecan pie is all about.

Pecan Pie with Chantilly Cream | Dear Martini

Her secret to the perfect filling is resisting the urge to whisk the filling.  Unlike many other pie fillings, you DO NOT want to incorporate air in the filling.   To make it look as good as it tastes, we take the time to place the nuts in concentric circles in the bottom of the shell before pouring in the filling.  Many cooks just toss them in with the filling.  Using our preferred method as you pour the filling over the nuts they are coated with the filling and magically float to the top (creating the two distinct layers!)  Top off the pie with a dollop of Bourbon Chantilly Cream and it’s heaven.  And, before we fall into that sugar coma after the Thanksgiving meal we usually head outside for  an after dinner walk (or as Mia’s dad likes to say “the pre-amble to a second piece-o-pie”!)  Be sure to check out our post Perfect Pie Crust to learn the secrets to making the best pie crust (ever!)  and video tips on how to roll and crimp the dough.

Check out the video to see for yourself the pecan magic.

Pecan Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

Yep, you read that right… the recipe calls for a pinch of finely ground black pepper!  Just as with savory dishes a little salt and pepper brings out and enhances the flavors in a sweet dish too.

4 large eggs, beaten

1 cup dark corn syrup

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch finely ground black pepper (optional)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

1 ¼ cups pecan halves

1 recipe Bourbon Chantilly Cream

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, combine eggs and corn syrup; stir to combine.  Add sugar, salt, pepper, and vanilla, and melted butter.  Allow filling mixture to rest while you place the pecans in the pie shell.

Remove your pie shell from the refrigerator.  Place pecans in concentric circles on the bottom of the pie shell.  Pour filling gently over the pecans following the concentric circles as a path.  Once all of the pecans are floating, continue to pour the remaining filling around the edge trying not to disturb the circles.  If you have left over pecans, you can fill in gaps and or slide them gently underneath the top pecans.  Bake pie in the center of the oven 40-50 minutes or until center is firm.  Remove pie from oven and cool on a baking rack for at least 1 hour before serving.  Do not even think about cutting this pie before it cools — the pie needs the cooling time for the filling to set — if you cut it hot the filling will ooze all over the plate.  

Cut pie into wedges and serve with a generous dollop of Chantilly Cream.

Cook’s note: Pecans have a tendency to go rancid quickly (as do all high fat nuts.)   Store nuts in the freezer for best results.

How to Make a Pecan Pie | Dear Martini

Bourbon Chantilly Cream

Makes 2 cups

Chantilly Cream is the  cooking term for any lightly sweetened whipped cream that includes a liqueur.

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon bourbon

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Place your bowl and whisk in the fridge 20 minutes before you are ready to whip the cream.  Whip the cream with bourbon and powdered sugar. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Cook’s note:  Substitute 3 teaspoons of vanilla if you’d rather skip the bourbon.  

Classic Pumpkin Pie

Classic Pumpkin Pie | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

When they coined the phrase “easy as pie” they must have been referring to a classic pumpkin pie.   All you need are a couple of minutes and a few simple ingredients  — eggs, sugar, spices, pumpkin puree,  and a little cream are whisked into a quick custard and poured into a pre-made shell. Be sure to check out our post Perfect Pie Crust to learn the secrets to making the best pie crust (ever!)  and video tips on how to roll and crimp the dough.

Pumpkin Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

We use grated freshly ginger in our pie because we love the depth it adds to the spicy flavors of the pie.  If you aren’t a big fan of ginger you can substitute a 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger or simply omit it.

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon kosher salt

One (15-ounce) can Libby’s Pumpkin Puree

¾ cup heavy cream

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

1 recipe Whipped Cream

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a large bowl with a whisk or in an electric mixer, combine eggs, sugars, spices and salt.  Mix in pumpkin and cream.   Mix until well incorporated.  Pour pumpkin mixture into pie shell.

Place pie pan on and baking sheet and place sheet on the middle rack of the oven.  Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F and bake 30 to 40 minutes longer until top is firm  or a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.  Remove pie from oven and cool on rack. The pie will continue to set as it cools and deflate slightly.  Serve cool or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.

Cook’s Notes:  We welcome you to make your own pumpkin puree from scratch, but we all know that the Thanksgiving feast is a kitchen marathon so we usually make an exception to our do-it-from-scratch mantra and use canned pumpkin.

Whipped Cream

Makes 2 cups

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Place your bowl and whisk in the fridge 20 minutes before you are ready to whip the cream.  Whip the cream with vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Perfect Pie Crust

We admit it, we’ve gone a little overboard in recent years in search of the perfect pie crust.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

We’ve experimented with the food processor, resorted to adding vodka instead of water to our dough, all in the quest for perfection.  We’ve come full circle back to a humble basic pie dough.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

The method relies on a hands-on approach to work the butter into the flour and hand patting and turning the dough to create layers without over working the dough.  The results are a tender-tasty-flaky crust — every time.  And, importantly to us — it’s a method that is as friendly to first time pie makers as those of us looking to return to a simpler method with consistent results.  No fancy gadgets required.  All you need is a bowl and a plastic scraper.  Easy cleanup (woohoo!)

Basic Pie Dough

Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie shell

Want an easy way to remember our recipe without having to look it up again?  3 + 2 + 1!  3 parts flour  2 parts butter 1 part ice water.

2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and frozen for 15 minutes

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

½  teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

½ cup ice water

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the chilled butter and toss to coat the butter with flour.  Quickly rub the butter with the flour between your fingers to make flat pieces of butter. Take care not to overwork  the butter – you want to work each piece, but should still have pea-sized lumps of the butter in the flour.  Sprinkle in the salt and sugar and toss with your fingers to mix.  Add the water and using a plastic scraper and a quick a folding motion, mix the dough just until it begins to clump together.   The dough will look sandy and lumpy at this point and that’s okay.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface dusted with flour and gently pat out the dough into a flat disk about an 1-inch thick.  Fold the dough in on itself until the dough just begins to hold together and is no longer sandy on the edges.  Once the dough begins to come together, fold dough in half, turn it a quarter-turn and pat it out flat again to an inch thick.  Repeat this process 4 to 5 more times.  Butter will still be visible in the dough — it’s these pieces of butter that result in a flaky dough!  Divide the dough in half and flatten each piece into a disk one more time and wrap them in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour before rolling out.

Dough Tips:

Always use cold ingredients — ice cold butter and ice water are your friends in pie dough making.

Don’t skimp on the refrigerator time required in the recipe before rolling out.  While the dough rests in the fridge the water is absorbed in the dough and the butter firms up.  A properly rested and chilled dough relaxes,  making it easier to roll out.

To make pie making easier, we usually make the dough the day before we plan to make pies to spread out the work.  Dough tightly wrapped in plastic wrap will last in the fridge up to 2 days (after that it becomes an unappealing gry color) or throw it in the freezer for up to 3 months.  Want to get a jump on the Thanksgiving feast madness?  Make pie dough this weekend and store in the freezer until ready to use.  Allow dough to thaw in the fridge before rolling.

Ready to Roll?

Rolling Tips

Less is more when it comes to the amount of flour used to roll out the dough.  You need just enough so the dough doesn’t stick to your board or your rolling pin.  Brush off excess flour with a pastry brush (or your hands)  before placing your dough in your pie pan.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

If dough becomes too soft and floppy to work with while you are rolling out (first time pie makers sometimes have this problem) put the dough on a baking sheet and return it to the fridge until it becomes firm enough to work with.  The butter in the dough needs to remain firm (not melted and completely incorporated into the dough) for flakiness.

Keep the dough moving!  After every couple rolls give the dough a quarter turn.  Every quarter turn is an opportunity to make sure the dough is not sticking to your work surface.  Dough stuck to the rolling pin?  Rub off the stuck dough with a little flour until it is clean and then add a light sprinkle of flour to the top of your dough.  Your dough is stuck to your work surface?  A long metal spatula is a pie rookie’s best friend.  Using short strokes run the spatula between the dough and the work surface until it releases.  Dust the work surface with flour and continue rolling.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

Scraps!

Hey, don’t throw away those leftover bits of dough.  Here’s a fun delicious Pastry Cookie you can make from the scraps!

Happy pie making!  Don’t forget if you like our videos please LIKE them on YouTube and/or SHARE them with your friends!

Introducing Mariel!

We have  exciting news at Dear Martini HQ:  We are expanding our team!   Our newest member is Mariel Cruz and she joins us as our Social Media Assistant.  Welcome Mariel!  Look forward to meeting our other new team members in the coming months.

Introducing Mariel!

Introducing Mariel!

Hey everybody! I’m super excited to be working with Dear Martini! Working with Chef Terri and Chef Mia has been such a blast. I’ve already learned so much about cooking from Dear Martini. Strawberries are my favorite fruit, and Dear Martini has some great tips on picking out the best strawberries for desserts, or even just as a healthy snack. Did you know that the best tasting strawberries are dark red, plump and small (the smallest ones are the juiciest!) with dark green stems? Check out Dear Martini’s blog for more tips on strawberries. https://dearmartini.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/strawberries-rule-tips-for-choosing-and-preparing-the-better-berry/

My first strawberry fan!

My first strawberry fan!

I learned how to make this quick and easy dessert from watching Dear Martini’s videos on strawberries.

Before I watched Dear Martini’s strawberry videos, I had to the hardest time slicing strawberries, but now it’s super easy. Now, I can’t wait to try making strawberry shortcake!

For more tips and videos on how to make the best strawberry shortcake, be sure to check out Dear Martini’s YouTube page.

I’m super excited to be part of the Dear Martini team, and I can’t wait to learn more awesome cooking tips!

Piece of Cake

Piece of Cake | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

First things first — you do not need to make your cake look like a store-bought cake with the fanciest of decorations (sigh of relief heard ’round the world.) Focus on making your cake TASTE great and the looking-good will follow. In pursuit of making cake baking easier, we’ve outlined some of the tips and techniques to help you avoid the common pitfalls novice bakers face.

MAKE:

Adjust the rack before you light the oven. We’ve all opened up the oven to find the rack in the wrong place. Bake cakes (unless instructed otherwise) on the center rack for even heat distribution.

Bring ingredients to room temperature | www.dearmartini.wordpress.comBring all refrigerated ingredients to room temperature. It takes about 20-30 minutes for most ingredients to reach room temp about 65-70 degrees. Eggs are always large (not extra-large) and butter is always unsalted unless your recipe states otherwise.

Cold eggs are easier to separate. If you are an egg novice — try separating while cold and then bring them to room temperature.

Take the time to prepare your pans properly. It sincerely sucks when you’ve spent a lot of time making a cake only to have a major fail when trying to get it out of the pan.

Use the freshest ingredients available. This sounds like it goes without saying, but before you start a baking project, the day before double-check your expiration date on the baking powder and, if you bake infrequently, that your flour is not a million years old. Rancid flour (develops a sour-off taste) and baking powder that is old will ruin all of your hard work. It’s also the time to double-check that you have all the ingredients you need in your pantry so you don’t have to make a middle-of-the-project run to the store. Having all of the proper ingredients at hand will also prevent you from falling to the temptation of substituting ingredients or using less of an ingredient. Baking is an exact science and making substitutions is the purview of the experienced baker ONLY.

Measure your ingredients carefully. For liquid ingredients always use a liquid measuring cup (one with a spout.) For dry ingredients use the dip and sweep method. For the most accurate results, experienced bakers weigh all of their ingredients with a digital kitchen scale.

No skimping on the sifting! Sifting aerates the ingredients and ensures that all of the dry ingredients are thoroughly combined. If you don’t have a sifter (we never use one) you can use a wire mesh strainer.

Take your time when combining butter and sugar. It takes about 5 minutes to beat or cream these ingredients together. Creaming adds tiny air pockets to your batter and is the secret to a light cake.

Incorporate dry ingredients on low or by hand to avoid too much gluten development. Recipes always say don’t over beat… this is what they are referring to. Gluten development results in tough, dry cake.

Whip egg whites to the proper consistency as called for in the recipe. Need help with being able to tell soft peaks from firm peaks be sure to watch the video!

BAKE:

Cakes Need Space

Baking 2 cakes? Allow enough room in between (a couple inches — pans should not touch) and on all the sides for proper heat circulation.

The Big Switch | ww.dearmartini.wordpress.com

twist the pans for even baking | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

When you start to smell a cake, that’s usually a good indicator that it is done. But that’s not always the case. To check if your cake is done insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out with just a few dry crumbs, the cake is done. If the toothpick is moist, continue baking and check again after 5 minutes. Resist the urge to open and close the oven multiple times! Every time you open the oven you lose heat from the oven.

COOL:

Unless otherwise stated in the recipe, allow cakes to cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove cake from the pan and completely cool on the wire rack.

NEVER try to ice/frost a warm cake. Cakes need to be completely cool or the frosting will melt.

Enjoy:

send us your cake photo

Wishing you many great cakes and happy baking!

Mia and Terri xxoo

Ps. We love hearing from you and would love to see photos of your cakes. Send us a photo and we will share!