Tag Archives: unsalted butter

Pecan pie

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Short crust pastry and puff pastry are not the same thing. Though they do look awfully similar when they’re frozen.

People who have grown up down under probably know that. I should probably know that too, but that doesn’t mean I do.

They should have easy Americanized definitions on the label, like short-crust = sweet, puff = savoury. I suppose the picture of sausage rolls on the front should have been a clue, but my brain was in a different place.

Despite pastry problems in the kitchen the pie turned out to be pretty tasty. Pecan pie isn’t seen that often in Australia, but it’s not too difficult to make and it’s super sweet and delicious.

As a side note, the egg in this recipe will cause the pie to rise pretty high while cooking, don’t worry, it won’t explode. I already did enough panicking for you.

Ingredients:

Frozen SHORT-CRUST PASTRY (caps make everything seem more important.)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons pure vanillaextract
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Once the dough has defrosted a bit, lay it into a 9-inch pie pan and trim the edges, leaving about an extra inch hanging over the edge. Tuck the overhanging dough underneath itself to form a thick edge that is even with the rim. Flute the edge as desired.

Set separate racks in the center and lower third of oven and preheat to 200 degrees C. Put a piece of parchment paper or foil over the pie shell and fill with dried beans or pie weights. We didn’t have either so we used old uncooked ramen, it works as well. Bake on a baking sheet on the center rack until the dough is set, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and lift sides of the parchment paper to remove the beans.

While the crust is baking make the filling: In medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, bourbon, and the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. (If the crust has cooled, return it to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through.) Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth. Put the pie shell on a baking pan and pour the filling into the hot crust.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the edges are set but the center is still slightly loose, about 35 to 40 minutes. (If the edges get very dark, cover them with aluminum foil half way during baking.) Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or room temperature with a dollop of cream on top.

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New York Cheesecake

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Cheesecake is one of those things that can actually feed your soul. As dumb as that sounds I really believe it is impossible not to feel happier after eating a bite of perfectly creamy, delicious cheesecake.

The other day was one of those days where things seemed to be piling up and weighing down on my shoulders without reason or warning. To cure this and make that stress load feel a little lighter I decided to ditch studying for the day and bake a cheesecake instead. And it was a great idea.

The other day my roommate made a Japanese cheesecake which was a new experience for most of us, it was delicious but it wasn’t the kind of cheesecake I am used to.

It’s never good when eating cheesecake makes you yearn for even more cheesecake. Isn’t it supposed to be a very special treat that you have once every few months and have to savor and dream about until the time comes round again that you can justify eating heaps of sugar and cream cheese and biscuits?

I decided to ditch that common sense and instead declared it Cheesecake Week in Apartment 1834. And I headed off to the supermarket to buy my supplies.

As I’ve said before baking is never the cheapest option for a student but this recipe wasn’t too bad, I also was missing a few necessary tools but I made do with what I had and everything turned out fine.

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Recipe from Good Taste, May 2008:

New York Cheesecake

Preparation time: 30-40 minutes

Cooking time: 90 minutes

Ingredients (serves 10, supposedly, we managed to let 9 people get a taste of this so I guess that’s about right. )

1 250 gram packet of plain sweet biscuits ( I used Arnott’s Nice)

125 grams unsalted butter, melted

750 grams of cream cheese, at room temperature (Philadelphia cream cheese is undoubtedly the best kind to use for a cheesecake but since it was pretty expensive I used 500 grams of Philly cream cheese and 250 grams of a store brand lite cream cheese, I figured that as long as the majority was good quality it would be fine and it was)

215 grams (1 cup) caster sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp finely grated lemon rind

2 tablespoons plain flour

4 eggs

1 300ml container of sour cream (again I used a cheap store brand one to save a few bucks)

Instructions:

First of all, make sure all of your ingredients are on the counter on your workspace so that they will be room temperature when you use them.

Preheat oven to 160°C. (I was using a fan forced oven so I lowered it to about 145°C because apparently you’re supposed to do that). Grease the inside of a 23cm springform pan with butter or Pam.

Place the biscuits in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely crushed. (I don’t actually own a food processor so I just put the biscuits in two ziploc bags and pounded them with a frying pan until they turned into a ‘finely crushed’ powder. The act of destroying the biscuits with a frying pan was also extremely beneficial in making me feel better and more relaxed.)

Add the butter and process (or just stir with a spoon) until well combined. Transfer to the pan. Use a straight-sided glass to spread and press the biscuit mixture firmly over the base and side of the pan, leaving 1 cm at the top of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

Meanwhile, use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon rind in a large bowl until just combined. (I also don’t own a grater, which I really should because it’s quite practical, but I decided not to spend the $4 at the grocery store out of principle, for some reason I thought it would be horrendous to spend an extra $4 on this cheesecake, anyway, I just used a sharp serrated bread knife and basically grated the rind off the lemon that way, it was pretty successful except for the fact that it took quite a while, I would probably recommend just buying a grater, the one at the supermarket was even on sale when I went, I don’t know what I was thinking.) But to get back to the recipe, beat the flour into the mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until combined. (But make sure you don’t beat too much since you’re not supposed to overbeat the cream cheese or it’ll get too many airpockets.) Stir in the sour cream until just combined.

(You can tell I’m such a neat and organized chef.)

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the base. Place the pan on a baking tray and bake for 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours or until just set in the center. (It is actually a bit tricky to tell when your cheesecake is done but if the sides are firm and the middle is still a bit wobbly then it is done and will set while it is cooling off.)

Turn the oven off. Leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the door ajar, for 2 hours or until cooled completely (this will prevent the cheesecake from cracking). Place in the fridge for 4 hours to chill. (Though good luck keeping hungry roommates away for that long).

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