Monday, November 20, 2006

Who needs pie?

I'm having a deja vu moment. It's from Willi Wonka when Violet grabs a piece of gum and begins experiencing a full 6-course meal (or something like that).

"What brought this on?" you ask?

In this morning's (digital) headlines I read "Give Thanks: Pie Takes On Life Of Its Own". The article goes on to say that Godiva has come up with a line of pie-flavored chocolates and Jones Soda has done the same with fizzy drinks.

Oh come now! Why replace pie with anything else? Tis the season for pie eating and I must say that there is just no substitute for the stuff. Nothing. Absolutely NOTHING should come between a girl and her pie. Not even a fancy chocolate with a pie-flavored soda chaser.

Read on...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My First Pie

I'll admit that I don't much care for cake. I'm a cookie person. I prefer the crunch of a cookie to the crumb of cake. And I like that cookies don't have to be all that sweet. As a cook I appreciate how forgiving cookies are compared to cake. Cake is chemistry, precise science. Cookies are improv. They reward you for experimentation.

And then there's pie.

I've never really attempted pie because I've always been intimidated by the crust. My cousin Tamara can mix up a bit of dough without really thinking about it. She doesn't even need a bowl. Just tosses some butter, water, sugar and flour around on the counter and voila! A crust for anything you can imagine eating. That's not me.

One morning after sitting like a drone for hours watching the Food Network I decided that my fear of Pie making had to end. I would tackle it one piece at a time. If I could perfect some fillings, I'd give myself permission to use some pre-made pie crust. Heck, if Giada De Laurentiis could then why couldn't I? After all we're not talking some Frankenstein creation from Sandra Lee the Semi Homemade queen, right? (Hey a girl's got to rationalize...)

So here you have it. The results of my early pie experiments. This one inspired by my irrational love of nuts and Giada's recipe for Chocolate-Hazelnut Tart.

Chocolate Pecan Pie
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups pecans toasted and roughly chopped
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1/2 cup)
4 ounces dark or bitter-sweet chocolate (chips or chopped)
1 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (store bought frozen, defrosted) pie crust

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and the flour. Add the eggs, pecans, two kinds of chocolate, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir well. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 1 hour.

Cool the tart for at least 30 minutes before serving. I find that the tart is very gooey on the first day but is nicely set on the second and holds its shape when cut so make ahead and resist temptation for 24 hours if you can!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Let the recipe sharing begin

I've been waiting to migrate MyCentralParkKitchen over to the Blogger Beta but I've run out of patience. I don't know enough HTML to create special sections in my old blog to add recipes but I've figured it out in the idiot-proof Blogger Beta so I'm going to say goodbye to MyCentralParkKitchen (I've migrated the old posts but can't migrate the comments - sorry!) and open things up in this new space - CentralParkKitchen. Why be possessive? When it comes to cookies - sharing is essential!

Pictured here (borrowed photo) are my latest creation. I call them Two-By- Fours. Two inches of cookie by 4 kinds of chocolate. These were inspired by my friend Paul Parton who can't have nuts. I started with Ina Garten's Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies and then began changing things around a bit.

A super decadent chocolate cookie.


1/2 pound unsalted butter (room temp)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs (room temp)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound white chocolate (chips or coarsely chopped)
1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate (chips or coarsely chopped)
1/2 pound dark chocolate (chips or coarsely chopped)

Preheat oven to 350

Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla then the eggs and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to chocolate mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 3 kinds of chips.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop cookies using a #40 ice cream scoop (or rounded tablespoons). Flatten dough slightly with dampened hands (so dough doesn't stick).

Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven (even if they look undone). Let cool slightly on the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If you can keep any around - store in an airtight container.