Tag Archives: dessert

Strawberry Chiffon Pie with Pretzel Crust

full pie

Strawberry season is quite an event in our household, and has been for as long as I can remember. Every year we comb our local pick-your-own-strawberries farm website for the date that promises pounds of our favorite sweet treat.

And I do mean pounds. As we’ve grown older, we are less distracted by the immediate temptation of a plump, ripe strawberry and are more focused on the promise of strawberry meals to come. We each choose a row with careful consideration and compete to see who can come away with the most full bucket. One of our best combined hauls came in at around 15 pounds.

Not one went to waste. They’re mashed for strawberry shortcake, strawberry jam, strawberry crumble and, one of my personal favorites, strawberry chiffon pie.

full pie to the side

Strawberry Chiffon Pie is one of those rare holdovers from what I call the “gelatin period of history” that actually tastes delicious and comes in a naturally occurring shape. This particular recipe is from my mom’s 1965 printing of The Settlement Cook Book.

As you might be aware, the 50s and 60s were rife with both social change and gelatinous foods. From random produce floating in towering Jell-O molds to savory aspics made from stock, there was nothing that people wouldn’t throw gelatin into. (If you’ve seen Julie & Julia, you know what I mean.)

I also like to imagine that the Space Race inspired everyday people to try their own science experiments, and making foods congeal seemed like the most accessible option.

This pie, however, is one science experiment I can get behind. It’s basically a strawberry-flavored whipped cream filling that is fluffy and creamy and requires minimal oven time. (Or none at all if you choose not to make your own crust.)

Speaking of crust — I decided to get a little wild with mine. Normally our family makes this pie with a graham cracker crust, but I love the salty/sweet combination that occurs when sweet strawberry cream meets salty pretzels. In fact, I’m going through a little “snack foods as pie crusts” period myself, so stay tuned for more innovation!

Strawberry Chiffon Filling
Makes enough to fill 1 9-inch pie crust, plus some extra for taste-testing

1 envelope (or 1 tablespoon) of unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup sugar, divided
1 cup strawberries, mashed (with juices), plus more for decorating
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup of heavy creamy, whipped, plus more for decorating
1 prepared pie shell, like the pretzel crust below

1) Soak gelatin with cold water in a large bowl for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine the boiling water, 3/4 cup of sugar, mashed strawberries and salt, then pour the mixture into the softened gelatin until the gelatin dissolves. Let cool.
2) In a stand mixer with the beater attachment or with a whisk, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue beating the egg whites until they’re stiff and glossy. Set aside.
3) When the strawberry and gelatin mixture begins to thicken as it’s cooling, fold in the whipped cream and then the beaten egg whites.
4) Pour the chiffon filling into the prepared crust, then cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, or until the filling has set. Decorate with strawberries and whipped cream.

Pretzel Pie Crust
Makes 1 9-inch pie crust

3/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
(Tip: To crush the pretzels, place them in a freezer bag, remove all the air, then roll a rolling pin over the pretzels until they’re crushed. You might need to repeat this step several times.)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix together butter, sugar and pretzels until well-combined. Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, let cool, then fill with strawberry chiffon pie filling.

Advertisements

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting & Candied Pecans

sweet potato cupcakes

Hey friends.

I know it’s been awhile.

Hopefully some sweet potato cupcakes will appease you. (For now.)

plain cupcakes

They are quite delightful, these moist little muffins topped with creamy frosting and crunchy pecans.

single cupcake

I’m currently testing recipes for a friend’s wedding. This friend, to be exact. These passed the test. Remember last time I made cupcakes for a wedding? I vowed only to do one wedding every two years.

I’m a woman of my word, it turns out. Except when that word involves promising to write more. That kind of thing is best left to chance.

Anyway, I know I should be posting recipes that help people keep their New Year’s resolutions, not actively attempt to break them. Alas, one of those recipes is best left to another day.

The original recipe for these cupcakes comes from some sort of Food Network cupcake challenge, but I’ve modified it to suit my tastes. (And the happy couple, of course.)

If you make them yourself, let me know how they turn out!

Sweet Potato Cupcakes:
Makes 18 – 24 cupcakes
2 cups mashed and cooled sweet potatoes, or one 16-ounce can
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cinnamon sugar, if desired

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a few cupcake tins with paper liners.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients and then the sweet potato puree.
3) Fill cupcake tin cup three-quarters full of batter. Bake until the tops spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean — 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool.
4) Once cooled, frost the cupcakes with the frosting, top with candied pecans, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Brown Sugar Frosting:
Frosts 18 – 24 cupcakes
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1) Beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the butter and beat until well incorporated.
2) Add the light brown sugar and beat until fluffy, then stir in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until combined. Add the vanilla extract until fully incorporated.

Candied Pecans:
Makes four cups
Canola/vegetable oil, for greasing
1 egg white
4 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound chopped pecans

1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with oil.
2) Beat the egg white in a bowl until frothy, then whisk water and the vanilla extract into the egg.
3) Stir the sugar, cinnamon and salt into the egg mixture, then stir in the chopped pecans until they’re fully coated.
4) Spread the pecans onto the baking sheet and bake in 20 minute intervals, stirring the pecans before placing them back in the oven. Continue baking for about an hour.
5) Allow the pecans to cool on the baking sheet.