Tag Archives: nuts

Divine pecan pie

Pecans are by far my favorite nuts, unfortunately the American classic of pecan pie hasn’t really made it big across the Atlantic. Time to change that! This is a slightly modified version of Martha Stewart’s pecan pie recipe, with a pastry crust from Jeroen Meus. I didn’t weigh out all the ingredients, so use this rule: 1 cup = 250 ml.

Ingredients:

for the crust:

250 gr baking flour
125 gr cold butter, in small cubes
90 gr icing sugar
30 gr ground almonds
1 egg
a pinch of salt

for the filling:

4 large eggs at room temperature
250 ml maple syrup or golden syrup (or 200 ml maple syrup + 50  ml Belgian kandijsiroop)
85 ml brown sugar and 60 ml white sugar
60 gr butter, melted
3 cups pecan nuts
2 tablespoons of brown rum
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Divine pecan pie

How to

Start with the crust, as it needs cooling. Sieve the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl, add the ground almonds and salt. Add the butter and rub with between your fingers or use a pastry cutter, until all is mixed and you have a collection of crumbs. Add the egg, knead into a homogeneous mass (avoid handling the dough for too long) and shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic foil and let the ball cool in the fridge for at laeast 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Before use, roll out the dough onto a flour-dusted surface until it’s large enough to fit a rimmed pie plate, mine was about 25 cm. Test by holding the pie plate over the rolled-out dough, it needs to be larger to fit the sides. Butter the pie plate and transfer the dough. Don’t worry if it breaks up a little, you can ‘paste’ it back together once it’s in the plate. Set this in the fridge until the filling is done (to my surprise, Martha Stewart didn’t recommend blind baking first, so I didn’t do this and it turned out fine).

Make sure your eggs are at room temperature, not straight from the fridge or they might clash with the melted butter. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla, rum and salt together. Mix in the pecan nuts. Pour the filling into the cold pie crust and pop into the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the filling is solid, it can still be a little jiggly in the middle. Keep an eye on the pie in the oven: my pecans started to turn quite dark after a while so I turned down the heat to 170 and covered the pie with aluminum foil to prevent it from burning.

Let the pie cool in its plate. Enjoy!

 

Home made granola

I love grains for breakfast. They’re healthy, they’re tasty, and I can last until noon on them. The kind of grains I love most for breakfast is granola. In Belgium, we don’t really have granola: breakfast grains, even the ‘sticky’ kind, are called muesli. In the USA or Great Britain, muesli that’s been baked with honey into crunchy clusters, is called granola. A few months ago, I bought a little book on how to make muesli and granola, and I finally had some time to give it a try. It’s actually quite easy, but the whole process takes some time. I’ve been enjoying my homemade granola every morning since (actually, it’s almost time to make a new batch). You can alter it to your own taste as you like, mixing up the grains and nuts.

Ingredients:

300 grams of oat flakes (try to find bigger ones than the regular Quaker kind, although mine were that size and it turned out fine – no ‘instant oatmeal’ though!)

120 grams of mixed nuts, for example:
40 grams of roughly chopped pecan nuts
40 grams of roughly chopped hazelnuts
40 grams of almond flakes

120 grams of mixed seeds, for example:
40 grams of sesame seeds
40 grams of pumpkin seeds
40 grams of sunflower seeds

1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (I use cheap homemade stuff with vanilla pods soaked in vodka for at least two months)
200 grams of sweet stuff such as liquid honey, agave syrup, maple syrup… (I used a mixture of honey and agave)
200 grams of fruit compote (apple, or apricot,… but not with big chunks, you can mix it if necessary)
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil

How to:

Preaheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Toast the oats, nuts and seeds in a heavy skillet until slightly golden and fragrant, add salt and cinnamon. Set aside. Heat the sweetner, compote, vanilla and oil until completely liquid, then mix carefully with the dry ingredients until they are completely covered in the syrup mixture. Now spread the mixture over two baking tins and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Every ten minutes, take the granola out of the oven and turn it around with a spoon to let it bake evenly. When it’s al baked, dry and golden brown, take the granola out of the oven (you might need a little longer than 45 minutes, I did – it depends on your oven, how much it cools when you open it, etc…)

If you want to add in dried fruit, this can be done after baking. Keep the granola in an airtight container. Very tasty with some yoghurt and honey or syrup.

Decadent hazelnut meringue pie

I decided to go all out yesterday and made this hazelnut meringue pie. The recipe is from the famous Holtkamp Bakery in Amsterdam via delicious. magazine (February 2011). I’d been drooling over the article for quite some time so yesterday I finally got around to trying it. The result is very pretty and about to be consumed this afternoon, but I have no doubt it will be delicious (I tried plenty of the mocha buttercream to be fairly certain about this). The only thing you need is a lot of time and patience (i.e. a free afternoon dedicated to cooking) and possibly some friends to eat this with you. Actually, the recipe advises to wait a day since the pie is at its best after one day. Have fun!

The recipe consists of several different parts. I have tried to list them according to the order in which I prepared them: 1. meringue pie layers 2. custard cream  3. hazelnut paste 4. coffee extract 5. butter cream 6. assembly. It’s not as elaborate as it sounds, if that’s any consolation.

Ingredients for the meringue pie layers

2 egg whites (you can use the yolks for the custard)
110 grams fine sugar
75 grams powdered sugar
75 grams ground hazelnuts (I didn’t find this in the regular supermarket so I went with ground almonds, oops)

Heat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt. When they become foamy, add in a bit of the sugar, then add in the rest by the end when they’re completely stiff. Fold in the powdered sugar and ground nuts. You now have a kind of meringue batter, the recipe tells you to use a piping bag but I just used a palette knife. Spread this batter out on two baking tins dressed with parchment paper in a circle shape with a 22-24 cm diameter (it should be about 1,5 cm thick). Put in the oven for 45 minutes, take out and let it cool. Carefully remove from the parchment paper before use. These will be the meringue layers for the pie.

Ingredients for the custard cream (makes about 700 grams)

500 ml of full-fat milk
100 grams of sugar
half a vanilla bean
45 grams of custard powder (I bought vanilla pudding mix, like Dr. Oetker and noticed that one bag is about 45 grams)
2 egg yolks

Put 450 ml milk in a saucepan with 50 grams of sugar. Cut open the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from it and add both to the milk. Put the saucepan on the  fire and bring to a boil, switch off immediately when it starts to boil and remove the vanilla bean. Meanwhile, mix the remaining 50 ml milk and 50 grams sugar with the custard powder and egg yolks. Add a bit of the hot milk to this mixture, mix well and then add the cold mixture into the saucepan milk. Stir, bring to a boil on a low fire and let it bubble for about two minutes  while stirring continually (this burns very quickly so don’t leave the pan). Pour the custard into a cold bowl and let it cool, while stirring occasionally.

Ingredients for the hazelnut paste (makes about 95 grams)

60 grams of white hazelnuts (without skins)
35 grams of sugar

Roast the hazelnuts in a hot skillet until they’re golden brown. Mix the hazelnuts with the sugar in a food processor  until this is a thick, almost fluid paste. I have no food processor so I used a stick blender, which also works, but it’s not ideal. You can conserve any extra’s in the fridge for up to a month.

Ingredients for the coffee extract

half a cup of strong, warm espresso (50 ml)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Nescafé (instant coffee)

Mix the hot espresso with the sugar and Nescafé until completely solved. Let it cool and preserve in the fridge.

Ingredients for the butter cream, or crème au beurre (for about 600 grams)

300 grams of custard cream (recipe above)
65 grams of sugar
200 grams of soft butter, beaten until fluffy

Using a mixer, beat the sugar through the custard cream. Now add the soft butter (if this doesn’t go easily, you can use a hair dryer to heat the bowl while adding in the butter). You can keep this cream in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for a few months.

The glorious assembly!

100 grams of hazelnuts, roasted and crushed coarsely using a mortar and pestle
a few whole hazelnuts for decoration
30 grams of powdered sugar

Mix 600 grams of butter cream with 25 ml of coffee extract and 35 grams of hazelnut paste. This is the coffee hazelnut cream that will make the filling of the pie. Put a few small dots of the cream on the plate on which you will assemble the pie. Put the first meringue layer on the plate. Put the coffee cream into a piping bag with a medium star-shaped tip and cover the meringue layer with a layer of coffee cream (I started at the outsides, making a circle drawing closer to the center). Add the second layer of meringue. Now, the recipe told me to add a thin layer of cream to the sides, but I found this very difficult as the outer parts of the meringue were rather thin and my cream was a bit too fluid. So I piped a layer at the side/top of the upper meringue layer, which then sort of fell into place on the side of the pie.

Now, decorate the sides and top with the crushed hazelnuts. I did this by sprinkling the hazelnuts on top of the cream and adjusting where necessary. When the sides are done, use the rest of the hazelnuts on top of the pie. Pipe a few decorations onto the pie and add a whole hazelnut (see picture). Finish by dusting with powdered sugar (it’s so pretty you don’t really need to do this, in my opinion). Enjoy!