Candied Peanuts, aka Dirty Nuts

Candied Peanuts

Candied Peanuts in serving dish

These candied peanuts have been in heavy rotation at our house for years. The recipe is my go to for cocktail hour, teacher and hostess gifts, bake sales, and late night snacks. Beyond simple, the nuts are made on top of the stove, in one pan, with 5 ingredients, and done in 10 minutes. It doesn’t get any easier!

Peanuts in bubbling sugar syrupThe recipe is adapted from one by David Leibovitz.  An expat living in Paris, David shares his talents with the world as a blogger, cookbook author, and former pastry chef at Chez Panisse. The original recipe calls for raw peanuts which I have yet to find at my local store, so instead, I substitute roasted (or blanched) and unsalted peanuts.* These are found in the bulk section of the grocery store.

I feel compelled to warn you… the nuts are highly addictive and sought Crystalized sugar coated peanutsafter. Friends have described them as “crack,” but my favorite nickname is Dirty Nuts. A year or so ago, I shared the recipe with my niece, who wanted to make them for a holiday party. Though Emily told everyone they were “Candied Peanuts” one of her friends, after pulling himself away from the bowl, promptly announced the peanuts were so amazing, they were “dirty.” And the name Dirty Nuts stuck.

Candied Peanuts cooling on baking sheetWhatever you call them, know that you will create uncontrollable cravings in your friends and family. Gentle appeals may turn into begging, and finally outright demands. You’ll have to keep up, satisfying their needs as well as keeping your own stash topped off. Thankfully, because the recipe is so quick and easy, the task should be manageable… or just start sharing the recipe (that’s what I did!).

*I have used roasted and salted peanuts, but the recipe doesn’t work as well. I’m not sure why, but the sugar doesn’t seize the same way. The results have been best and most consistent with unsalted peanuts.

Candied Peanuts

Candied Peanuts

  • Servings: approximately 2 cups
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*adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz

Ingredients:
2 cups raw peanuts (or almonds)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
½ teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
sprinkle of coarse sea salt

Instructions:
In a wide, heavy-duty skillet, mix the peanuts with the sugar and water. Cook the ingredients over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid seizes up. It will take a few minutes. The peanuts will get crusty and the sugar will crystallize; they will appear dry and sandy.

Lower the heat and keep stirring. The crystalized sugar will begin to liquefy again. Stir the peanuts into any syrup forming in the bottom of the pan, coating them as much as possible.

Continue stirring and coating the peanuts in the syrup as it darkens without burning the peanuts or the syrup. If the mixture starts to smoke, remove it from heat and stir. The peanuts are done when they are as dark as you’d like them to be.

Right before they’re done, remove from heat and sprinkle the peanuts with the chili powder, cinnamon, and sizable pinch of flaky salt. Stir them a couple of times, then immediately spread the peanuts onto a silicone mat or parchment lined baking sheet.

Allow the peanuts to cool completely, and then break up any clumps. Enjoy watching them disappear! If you have any leftovers, store in an airtight container.

Candied peanut ingredients: peanuts, sugar, water, spices, and salt.
Just five ingredients… peanuts, sugar, water, spices, and salt.
Peanuts, sugar, and water in skillet
Peanuts, sugar, and water are combined in a heavy duty skillet.
Peanuts, sugar, and water bubbling away on stove top.
Over moderate heat, stir peanuts, sugar and water to dissolve sugar.
Crystallizing sugar on the stove top.
After several minutes, the sugar begins to crystalize.
Crystalized sugar makes the nuts appear dry and sandy.
The sugar has crystalized and the nuts appear sandy and dry. Don’t worry!!! This is normal… lower the heat and just keep stirring.
Peanuts in syrup.
The crystalized sugar begins to liquefy forming a deep brown sugar in the bottom of the pan. Continue to stir over low heat to coat all the peanuts in any syrup that forms. Remove from heat if the syrup starts to smoke.
Adding chili, cinnamon, and salt to candied peanuts.
Just before the nuts are done stir in spices and sprinkle of salt.
Candied Peanuts cooling on silicone lined baking sheet.
Spread the candied peanuts onto silicone mat or parchment lined baking sheet. Allow to cool, and then break up any clumps.
Candied Peanuts
If, by chance, you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container.

Thanksgiving Menu and To Do List

Thanksgiving Table

November 2017 Update: It’s been a long while since I posted. Life is busy, good busy, but busy; we have two in high school, one in middle school and a 77lb puppy who thinks she’s a lap dog. My passion for cooking and all things food related still runs strong (not to worry- we are eating over here at White House Red Door!), but finding the time to sit down to document recipes and edit photos seems to be elusive at the moment. I’m hoping to make carving out time for the blog a priority in the new year.

As I was wrapping my head around Thanksgiving prep, I pulled up this blog post. Immediately, a feeling a calm enveloped me… the day to day planning, core recipes, and to do list set my mind at ease. I’m reposting in the hope that it helps you too.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving!                                         ~Jean

Throughout November, I’ve posted some of our traditional family Thanksgiving recipes. You may have noticed that there are no appetizers. This is not without thought, we have so much food for dinner, that I don’t want people to fill up beforehand! We’ll have a few nibbles out…  nuts and a “relish tray.” It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without one.Celery, Olives, and Pistachios

At our house, a relish tray is simply a small platter of olives and celery sticks lying side by side; the celery sticks bathing in the salty brine of the olives. Every year my mom would set the tray on the dining room table before anything else. The grown-ups would walk by in passing and grab an olive or celery stick.

Cranberry Pineapple Sauce
Cranberry Pineapple Sauce

As a child I thought this was incredibly sophisticated, and by default, if I ate the olives and celery I, too, would be incredibly sophisticated- braces and all. I willed myself to eat the green olives stuffed with pimento, chasing them down with celery. A fake grin pasted on my face, I proudly showed my younger sister and brothers that I was well on my to adulthood. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I actually enjoyed the relish tray, the crunch of the celery alongside the saltiness of the chilled olives is terrific and definitely whets the appetite. So I will continue the tradition, setting out a tray of my own. The kids will reach for it when they’re ready, a culinary right of passage.

Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing
Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing

Do you set out appetizers? Or, is it all about the main event and desserts?

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie
Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

Happy Thanksgiving from White House Red Door!

Apple Cream Pie dusted with powdered sugar.
Apple Cream Pie

Thanksgiving 2015

  • Servings: varies
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Ingredients:
Turkey- this year my husband will be cooking the bird on his Big Green Egg. In previous years the turkey has been fried or roasted in the oven. This is the first time doing the turkey on the Egg, I’ll let you know how it goes!
Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Candied Yams
Green Beans with Almonds
Peas with Sautéed Mushrooms and Roasted Red Peppers
Creamed Onions
Cranberry Pineapple Sauce
Apple Cream Pie
Sweet Potato Pie with Maple Meringue

Instructions:
Monday:
* Make cranberry pineapple sauce
Tuesday:
* Cube bread for stuffing and allow to dry overnight.
Wednesday:
* Brine turkey
* Make stuffing
* Make pecan graham cracker crust for sweet potato pie
* Roast sweet potatoes for pie and puree
* Roast sweet potatoes for candied yams and slice
* Prepare topping for candied yams- chopped pecans, brown sugar, and butter
* Sauté mushrooms and dice roasted red peppers for peas
* Toast silvered almonds for green beans
* Set table
* Organize and label serving platters/pieces
Thursday:
* Cook turkey
* Make apple cream pie (morning)
* Finish sweet potato pie (morning)
* Make creamed onions (morning- stove top)
* Make mashed potatoes (afternoon-stove top)
* Finish candied yams (afternoon- oven)
 *Finish green beans and peas (afternoon- stove top)
* Have a drink!

Cranberry Pineapple Sauce

Cranberry Pineapple Sauce

As a child, my only frame of reference for cranberries was cranberry bread at Christmastime and cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving. The smooth jellied sauce emerged quivering and jiggling from the can with a satisfying pop as the seal broke, sliding onto the plate whole, retaining its cylindrical shape and conveniently molded rings marking individual servings. A regular butter knife easily cut the cranberry sauce into perfectly round discs waiting to be plated alongside the turkey and stuffing.

For years this was the only cranberry sauce I knew, until one Thanksgiving when my aunt decided to bring something different. Change is never easy, and there was resistance. What was this lumpy whole berry blob? Where wereCranberry pineapple sauce in a crystal serving dish the smooth, neat slices of cranberry sauce? Eyebrows were raised, whispers hushed as tentative spoonfuls were dropped onto plates in the spirit of being polite. Aunt Rosaleen held her head high and reassured us with confidence; the cranberry sauce was still from a can, though it was whole berry not jellied, to that she added a can of chopped pineapple and handful of walnuts. Initially skeptical, we were quickly won over by the contrast in texture between the whole berries and pineapple and the crunch of the walnuts. The sweetness of the pineapple also complemented and rounded out the dish.

Cranberries, pineapple, walnuts, satsumas, cinnamon, cloves, allspice berries and ginger on a cutting board.Aunt Rosaleen’s cranberry sauce has been on the table ever since, though it has evolved. Today I use fresh cranberries and pineapple, and turn to some of my favorite fall spices- cloves, cinnamon, allspice berries, and ginger to infuse the cranberry cooking liquid, along with oranges (satsumas and clementines work very well, too). The result is a delicious mix of texture, tartness, sweetness, and spice. The sauce is a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving plate and excellent on your leftover turkey sandwiches.

Do you or your family have a favorite cranberry sauce? Jellied or whole berry?

Cranberry Pineapple Sauce

Cranberry Pineapple Sauce

  • Servings: makes approximately 4 cups
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Ingredients:
1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
5 whole cloves
2 allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
1” piece ginger, peeled
1 orange, cut in half
1 cup chopped pineapple
1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts

Instructions:
Bring cranberries, sugar, water, cloves, allspice berries, cinnamon stick, ginger and orange to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan, stirring often to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally and pressing on the oranges (or satsumas/clementines) to release their juices, until the cranberries have popped, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool slightly. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Remove cloves, allspice berries, cinnamon stick, ginger, and orange. Stir in pineapple and walnuts. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve. Sauce can be made up to a 1 week ahead. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Cranberry pineapple Sauce ingredients in a saucepan.
Put the cloves and allspice berries in an infuser or small cheesecloth sachet. Place the spices, ginger, cinnamon stick, cranberries, orange halves, sugar, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Simmering cranberry pineapple sauce ingredients
Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cranberries have popped, approximately 10 minutes.
Add chopped walnuts and pineapple to cranberries.
Remove spices, ginger, cinnamon stick and orange halves. Allow cranberries to cool slightly before adding chopped pineapple and chopped walnuts. The sauce can be made ahead and will keep in the refrigerator for a week.
Cranberry pineapple sauce in a crystal serving dish
Serve Cranberry Pineapple Sauce chilled or at room temperature.

 

Sweet Potato Pie with Maple Meringue

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie begins with one of my favorite types of crust… the press in crust. I’ll be honest, making and rolling out traditional pie dough IMG_7999induces anxiety and nightmares of ruined desserts; so logically, I try to avoid them when I can. This crust is the result of toasted pecans, graham crackers, fresh ginger, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, a pinch of salt and melted butter taking a spin in a food processor before being pressed into a pie plate. After baking in the oven for 25 minutes you’ve got yourself a delicious pie crust without any tears, curses, or tell tale signs of patchwork.

The filling is very similar to pumpkin pie, but made with roasted sweet potatoes, along with eggs, cream, brown sugar, and a splash of bourbon to round everything out. After baking in the oven, then cooling, the pie could very easily (and tastily) be served with a dollop of whipped cream. However, I highly recommend you spend an extra 10 minutes to push this pie over the top. Blanket it with a heaping cloud of maple syrup meringue and pop it under the broiler for mere seconds to achieve a golden blush. Your family and friends will thank you. You will thank you.

Another plus for this recipe, especially when entertaining, is that it can be broken down into tasks over the course of a couple of days. For example, on day 1 make the crust, roast the sweet potatoes and puree the flesh. Cover tightly and refrigerate. On day 2, prepare the filling and bake. Allow the pie to cool, then whip up the meringue, top the pie and brown. The pie can be served immediately, or covered and tucked in the fridge overnight before making its big debut on your table.

IMG_8062There are a number of ways you could have fun with this recipe if you’re up for experimenting. Simply swap:

walnuts for pecans
rum for bourbon
pumpkin for sweet potato
gluten free graham crackers for regular graham crackers

The original meringue recipe from Food & Wine calls for quite a bit of simple syrup and tastes cloyingly sweet to me, without doing much to enhance the seasonal tastes of the pie. Instead of simple syrup, I use maple syrup (less than half the amount of syrup called for in the original) to make the meringue which pairs beautifully with the fall flavors of the sweet potatoes, cinnamon, and ginger. I also reduce the amount of sugar in the crust, as the graham crackers already have plenty of sugar in them.

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie and Apple Cream Pie will be on our dessert table this Thanksgiving and possibly even Christmas… what will be on yours?

Sweet Potato Pie with Maple Meringue

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

  • Servings: 8-10
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*adapted from a recipe Chef Andrew Carmellini contributed to Food & Wine

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 cup (4 ounces) pecan halves
11 whole graham crackers, broken (gluten free, if needed)
4 teaspoons minced ginger
1 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
32 ounces of sweet potatoes (about 3 large sweet potatoes)
½ cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 Tablespoons bourbon
½ cup heavy cream

For the meringue:
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
3 large egg whites
pinch of salt

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325°F. In a pie plate, toast the pecans for about 10 minutes or until fragrant and browned. Let the nuts cool completely.

In a food processor, combine the pecans, graham crackers, ginger, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon; pulse until crumbs form. Add melted butter and process until incorporated. Press the crumbs evenly into a 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Bake the crust for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Keep the oven on.

Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork and cook in a microwave oven for 10 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to the 325°F oven and roast for 10 minutes longer, or until soft. Let cool, then scrape out the flesh; you should have about 2¼ cups.

Transfer the sweet potato to the food processor and puree until smooth. Add the brown sugar, eggs, and bourbon and process until blended. Add the heavy cream and process until incorporated. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until set; cover the crust edges with foil if they darken. Let the pie cool completely.

In a small saucepan, bring maple syrup to a boil. Cook over high heat until a candy thermometer inserted in the syrup registers 240°F, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. With the machine running, carefully and slowly drizzle in the hot syrup and beat at high speed until the whites are stiff, glossy, and warm to the touch, about 3 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Mound the meringue over the sweet potato filling, swirling it decoratively. Broil the pie 4-6 inches from the heat for 30 seconds, or until lightly browned- do NOT look away(!), it can burn very quickly.

Cut into wedges and enjoy!

*Pie can be made a day ahead and refrigerated overnight.

Pie crust ingredients ready to go into the food processor: pecans, graham crackers, ginger, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter.
In a food processor, combine pecans, graham crackers, ginger, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter.
Pecan and graham cracker crust
Press processed ingredients into deep dish pie plate. Bake at 325°F for 25 minutes.
Pecan and Graham Cracker Crust
Let the pie crust cool while you make the filling.
Roasted sweet potatoes cooling.
Microwave the sweet potatoes for 10 minutes, then finish roasting in the oven for an additional 10 minutes, or until soft. Allow to rest until cool enough to handle, then scoop out flesh and puree in the food processor. You should have 2 1/4 cups puree.
Sweet potato puree, brown sugar, eggs, bourbon, and heavy cream on cutting board.
Sweet potato puree, brown sugar, eggs, bourbon, and heavy cream are ready to combine in the processor.
Sweet potato pie filling in the processor
The sweet potato pie filling is ready to go into the pie crust.
Unbaked sweet potato pie
Bake at 325°F for 50 minutes or until set.
Baked sweet potato pie is cooling.
Filling is set and pie is cooling.
Maple syrup in saucepan.
Let’s make the meringue! Boil maple syrup until thermometer reads 240°F.
Soft peak egg whites on whisk.
At medium speed, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peak stage.
Pouring hot syrup into beaten egg whites.
With mixer going at high speed, pour the syrup in a slow steady stream.
Stiff peak egg whites on whisk
Continue beating egg white/syrup mixture until eggs are glossy and stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.
Mound of maple syrup meringue in center of pie.
Mound maple syrup meringue in center of the pie and swirl decoratively.
Sweet Potato Meringue Pie
Place pie under broiler for 30 seconds or until lightly brown. Do NOT walk away from oven… it will quickly go from brown to burned. Watch it carefully!
Sweet Potato Meringue Pie
Sweet Potato Meringue Pie with Pecan Graham Cracker Crust

Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing

Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing

Heirloom recipes, tattered and splattered notes scrawled in cookbooks, on index cards, and handwritten on scraps of paper are gifts from our individual pasts as well as time capsules for us collectively. Holiday dinners celebrated around the world, of all traditions and faiths, are windows into our kitchens, our mothers’ and grandmothers’ kitchens, and all the cooks who went before them.

My family’s chestnut and sausage stuffing recipe has been on our Thanksgiving table since before I was born. My grandfather was the head tennis pro at a club for over 30 years. The chef at the Club made this dressing for their Thanksgiving dinners and at some point shared the recipe with my mother. As a child I remember going to the Club and visiting “Chef” in the hot humid kitchen, delicious smells enveloping me while the sounds of banging pots and pans filled the air. My little girl self recalls the Chef as a big man with a Scandinavian accent, always gifting me with an ice-cream cone- my choice of any flavor, before heading back to the tennis courts with Pop-Pop.

This is Chef’s own recipe; I am forever grateful that he shared it with my mother, Jean at the Thanksgiving table 1972and though he couldn’t have known it at the time, he now shares it with me. My childhood is full of taste memories, and every Thanksgiving, as I step into the kitchen with my own children to help, this delicious stuffing serves as a direct connection to not only my past, but theirs, the fourth generation to have it on their table each November.

The stuffing is so much easier to make these days. I can recall many Wednesdays before Thanksgiving filled with burnt fingers as my mom spent what seemed like hours cutting x’s into fresh chestnuts, boiling and peeling them, only to discover they were rotten. Happily that has not happened to me, as cooked and shelled chestnuts are now readily available in jars! The stuffing is made the day before Thanksgiving, which frees up some oven space on Thursday, and makes you feel like you’ve got a head start on your preparations. It also smells incredible! As soon as the sausage, followed by the onions and celery hit the sauté pan, you are clearly announcing to the world- or at least your household, that delicious things are in store.

*Fun Fact: Dressing vs Stuffing? Dressing and stuffing are one in the same, Thanksgiving Tableonly dressing does NOT get stuffed into the bird. It is cooked separately in a casserole, while stuffing does go into the bird. However, in the American South, most everyone calls it dressing whether it is cooked inside or outside the bird.  This recipe allows for both. The dressing is cooked the day before, and on Thursday you can take a portion of it and stuff the bird. Or, you can do as I do, and use drippings from the turkey or stock to moisten the dressing and then reheat it in the oven before serving.

Chestnut and Sausage Dressing

Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing

  • Servings: 12-16
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Ingredients:
4 stalks celery, cut fine
3 medium onions, diced
2 lbs sausage
1½ lbs chestnuts (cooked and shelled)
2 lbs day old bread, cubed
2 cups milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning* to taste

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Fry sausage until golden brown. Add celery and onion and cook 5 minutes. Soak bread in milk until moist, then squeeze out any excess. Add to the sausage mixture. Add 2 slightly beaten eggs, melted butter, and season to taste with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.

Transfer to a deep casserole dish and bake for 1 hour. Let cool and refrigerate until next day.

Before reheating or stuffing the turkey, stir in 1½ lbs fresh chestnuts, roughly chopped.

*To make homemade poultry seasoning: combine 1 teaspoon each crumbled dried rosemary, crumbled dried sage, dried thyme, dried marjoram, and celery salt, with 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.  Crush together in mortar and pestle, mini food processor, or spice grinder (poultry seasoning recipe from Thanksgiving 101 by Rick Rodgers).

**Another variation would be to use chopped fresh herbs like parsley, sage, and thyme in place of the dried poultry seasoning blend.

Drying bread cubes on sheet pan.
Trim crusts from bread and cube. Leave to dry overnight.
Diced onion, thinly sliced celery, and sausage on cutting board.
Dice onion and thinly slice celery.
Browned Sausage
The sausage is brown and ready for celery and onions.
Celery, onions, and sausage in skillet.
Add the celery and onions to the browned sausage. Cook for 5 minutes.
Adding milk to cubes of bread.
Add milk to bread cubes. Let sit and squeeze out any excess… (I rarely have to squeeze out any excess).
Bread cubes, melted butter, egg, and sausage mixture ready to combine.
Add sausage mixture to bread cubes and stir to combine. Add slightly beaten egg and melted butter.
Stuffing mixture in bowl, ready to season with salt and pepper.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.
Stuffing mixture in casserole, ready for the oven.
Transfer stuffing mixture to casserole and bake at 350°F for 1 hour.
Cooked stuffing in casserole.
Stuffing is nicely browned after an hour in the oven.  We still need to add the chestnuts, though!
Roughly chopped chestnuts on cutting board.
Roughly chop chestnuts and add to cooked stuffing.
Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing
The stuffing is ready to go into your bird OR serve it as dressing. Just moisten with turkey drippings or stock and reheat.

Apple Cream Pie

Apple Cream Pie

I love this time of year! The weather, color, gatherings with friends and family,Braeburn and golden delicious apples in a bowl. and the food! Thanksgiving in the US is just a few weeks out and menu planning at White House Red Door is well underway. Truth be told, the planning is not too difficult, as the menu has pretty much remained unchanged since my childhood. It’s not that my parents, siblings, or my own family don’t like to try new foods, or experiment; Christmas dinners, Easter brunches, and other traditional meals vary from year to year, but Thanksgiving has always remained the same, well at least the main dish and sides. There would be a “coup de cuisine” if candied yams weren’t on the table. That said, desserts are an entirely different story. We are far more flexible in our after dinner fare thinking. Friends often join us for dessert, bringing their favorite treats, creating a beautiful cornucopia of desserts.

One pie that has made appearances off and on through the years is my mom’s Apple Cream Pie. Quite unlike a traditional double crust apple pie, Tarte Tatin, or apple crisp, which have all shown up to the party over the years, this pie features tender slices of apples nestled in a bed of creamy custard. Traditional enough for the purists but outside the box enough for those wanting something new or different. For reasons unknown, this pie has not been in attendance for some time, and I’ve never made it myself. Curious to give it a go, I wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered and should be included on the menu this year. Without a doubt, it was and will be.

Women's Day Encyclopedia of CookeryConversations with mom revealed that the original recipe came from a long out of print encyclopedia like set of cookbooks from Women’s Day, actually called Encyclopedia of Cookery. My mom still has her set and found an identical set at a tag sale years ago that she gave to me as a gift. It turns out the recipe for this wonderful pie has been sitting in the vintage set of cookbooks, in my own house, for years.

The pie is simply elegant, with few ingredients, quite light and perfect after a heavy meal. I’ve taken the original recipe and updated it somewhat by adding a cinnamon stick, star anise, and cardamom pod to the stewing liquid. These additions infuse the simple syrup, and eventually the cream, with classic flavors and aromas that pair well with the apples. After making the cream pie for dessert this week and receiving all round approval, it will now regularly appear not only on our holiday tables, but throughout the fall and winter.

What desserts will show up on your table this year? Are you a traditionalist serving the same menu each year, or do you like to mix it up?

Apple Cream Pie

Apple Cream Pie

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients:
5 cooking apples, peeled and sliced into eighths
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1 anise star
1 cardamom pod
Pastry for one 9” pie crust, unbaked
1 egg
½ cup heavy cream

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Put apples in a saucepan with sugar, water, cinnamon stick, anise star, and cardamom pod. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until apples are tender, about 10 minutes. While apples are simmering, line a 9” pie plate with crust, decoratively crimping edges and place in freezer until needed.

When apples are tender, remove and place them in a strainer set over a bowl to catch any juices. Continue to simmer syrup left in saucepan until reduced to approximately ½ cup. To that add any syrup caught from draining apples.

After apples have cooled slightly, place in the pie pan lined with pastry. Beat egg and cream together and stir in reserved syrup. Pour over apples. Transfer to oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until custard is set- the center will be slightly jiggly, but will continue to firm up as it cools. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Peeled apples, cut into eighths.
Peel the apples and cut them into eighths.
Apples with sugar, water, cinnamon stick, anise star, and cardamom pod in a saucepan.
Add sugar, water, cinnamon stick, anise star, and cardamom pod.
Simmering apples in sugar syrup with cinnamon stick, anise star, and cardamom pod.
Simmer apples until tender, about 10 minutes.
Apple syrup in measuring cup, with apples draining in sieve.
Drain apples, reserving any syrup, you should have about 1/2 cup of apple syrup.
Apples placed in the bottom of a pie plate lined with pastry.
After apples have cooled slightly, place them in the bottom of a pie plate line with pastry.
Egg, cream and syrup mixture poured over the apples.
Egg, cream, and syrup mixture is poured over the apples. Bake for 30-45 minutes in a 350°F oven until custard is set.
Apple Cream Pie cooling on a wire rack.
When the custard is set, remove the pie and place on a wire rack for cooling.
Apple Cream Pie dusted with powdered sugar.
If desired, dust the Apple Cream Pie with powdered sugar before serving.