Category Archives: sweets

Mixed Berry Jalapeño Pie

It seems only fitting that I should be writing a post about pie, as today marks the 100th birthday of the queen of all things delicious.   She taught so many of us control freaks to step outside of our comfort zones, and to be creative.  Happy birthday, Julia!  Thank you for inspiring us to love being in the kitchen — and for showing us that it’s okay to take risks! 

This little creation required a bit of experimentation, as I found myself with an abundance of summer berries, and….jalapeños.   While I love the sweet and spicy combination in jams, I had never really thought about using it in a pie.  After a little encouragement from my sweet friend, and goddess of all things pastry, I got to work.

I should probably preface this by stating that pie dough scares the crap out of me.   Seriously.  Maybe it’s the science that intimidates me, but I always feel like I’m doing it…wrong.  Then I hear Julia whisper, in the back of my brain somewhere, that “the only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”   And  I remind myself that anything with an abundance of flour and butter can’t be that bad, so…what the hell?!  For this pie, I referred to the basic pie dough recipe in my Bible of baking.  My main take away is to chill the pie dough thoroughly….and…use butter flavored Crisco for the shortening.  Lots of buttery goodness = delicious pie crust.

It must have gone well, because this is what the pie looked like 4 hours after coming out of the oven:

Just follow the directions for the dough, and while it is chilling in the fridge, toss together the following in a bowl:

Mixed Berry Jalapeño Pie Filling:
3 Cups Blueberries
3 Cups Blackberries
1 SMALL jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely FINELY minced (seriously, NO chunks!)
1 Cup Sugar, plus extra for dusting
2 Teaspoons juice plus zest from one LIME
3 Tablespoons Minute Tapioca
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
1 Egg White

1.  Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, with a baking sheet on it, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Roll the bottom layer of dough into the pie dish, then let it rest in the refrigerator while you mix the berries and roll out the top sheet of dough.
2.  Toss together the fruit, pepper, sugar, lime, and Minute tapioca.  *I actually used half of a pepper because my jalapeños are melt-your-face-off hot.  Let it sit while you roll out the top layer of dough.
3.  Roll out the top layer of pie dough.  Take the pie dish out of the fridge, fill it with the berries, scatter the 2 tbsp of butter over the top, and roll the top layer of dough over the filling.
4.  Trim the edges to about 1/2 inch, and tuck the dough underneath itself, so the edges are folded and flush with the pan.  You can then use your thumb and index finger to make a nice pretty edge.  Cut a few holes in the dough to allow for ventilation.  Brush with egg white, and sprinkle a little sugar over the top.
5.  Place the pie on the baking sheet in the oven, and turn the temp down to 425 degrees.  Bake for about 25 minutes.  Turn the oven down again, to 375, rotate the pie, and continue to bake for about 30 minutes more.  If the edges start to burn, you can take a long sheet of foil, and cut a hole out of the middle, to protect the edges only.  Let the pie cool completely on a wire rack, as it will take time to set up.  

adapted from Baking Illustrated


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THINGS I LIKE: heather’s salted caramel brownies

photo credit: Heather Hands, The Flourishing Foodie

These brownies, by The Flourishing Foodie, are the best thing you will ever put in your mouth.  True confession:  I was lazy and used “Trader Jacques” Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce…

…and they are were amazing.  The brownie recipe can be found HERE.

Next week I’ll share my recipe for the second best thing you’ll ever put in your mouth:  Sweet & Spicy Roasted Nuts (because who doesn’t love warm nuts?!)  Stay tuned!

Wishing you all a very happy 2012!  xo

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POLLY’S CAKES caramel cream cheese frosting

I had the pleasure of spending my Sunday afternoon with Polly Wood, baker extraordinaire behind Polly’s Cakes.  Ms. Polly donated her time and her expertise to teach a cupcake workshop benefiting the Columbia Gorge Arts in Education program.  Here are the highlights of our day…

Rolling out fondant

Fondant 101.
Polly recommends buying ready-to-use fondant. She stores a big tub in the pantry, and works with small amounts as needed.  To create fun colors, simply dip pieces of fondant into coloring (we used “Cake Craft” food paste colors), and roll the fondant with your hands to work the color in.  *TIP O’ THE DAY:  Use cornstarch to keep the fondant from sticking to your hands/work surface, and allow it to sit and dry a little bit before working with it.  When you’re ready, roll it into a thin layer and cut into shapes.  Polly had an arsenal of fun cutters that she has purchased over the years.  According to the pro,  The Decorette Shop, in Portland, is a great source for cake decorating tools.

Polly teaches Kerry new tricks.

Kerry's creation.

We each left the workshop with a big ol' box of love.

Polly shared a few of her favorite recipes with us, including this amazing Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting.  It goes especially well with Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake, from the Fine Cooking website.  Just divide the cake batter into prepared cupcake tins and bake at 350 degrees for about 15-18 minutes.  *TIP: store unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 12 hours before frosting and decorating.

Polly’s Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
makes 2 1/2 cups

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
dash salt
3 Tablespoons cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces cream cheese, softened

In a small sauce pan, bring butter, sugar, and salt to a rolling boil.  With CAUTION, add cream and return to boil until dissolved.  Pour into mixing bowl and whisk until cool.  Beat in powdered sugar, vanilla, and cream cheese until incorporated.  Great as a filling, icing, or leave out cream cheese for a glaze!  


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There really should be a fifth food group, and it should be dedicated to the cupcake.  Seriously, though–who doesn’t LOVE a cupcake?!  Delicious joy, wrapped up in a tiny little package. February is full of birthdays (apparently June was a busy month for some folks) and I’ve been experimenting with birthday cupcakes for friends.  While the experiments have been a total snooze-fest (insert sarcasm here…wait…while I lick the frosting out of this bowl…), I have come upon two new favorites that I want to share with you (as if anyone but my mom is actually reading this thing).  Firstly…red velvet.  Me likey.  Many recipes render a tough, hockey puck type cake but I found one that is pure perfection. It’s from one of my favorite blogs by Joy the Baker (she rules!).  The cream cheese frosting quite literally is “the icing on the cake” here.  And secondly, many of my friends are on crazy gluten-free, no wheat, no dairy, no fun diets.  I attempted to make “I can’t believe they’re not cupcakes” to accommodate various dietary restrictions, but the ingredient list promptly spiraled me into financial debt.  I ended up going with a mix, by Bob’s Red Mill and I have to say….it ain’t too shabby!  It’s quite tasty, actually.  So enjoy a sweet treat, it’s sure to brighten your day!

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