Salted Honey Pie

Spoiler alert–the next few weeks are all David Lebovitz recipes all time.  I’ve probably already talked about how much I enjoy the author, blogger and former Chez Pannise baker.  But have I talked about his Instagram (@davidlebovitz)?  I don’t experience a ton of social media envy but Mr. Lebovitz curates his gram very, very well (and enjoyably).

I can’t remember if I saw this pretzel crust on his instagram or blog but I knew I had to try it out with “why didn’t I think of that” urgency.

He paired it with a salted honey filling.  And since honey pie sounded simultaneously sounded delicious and novel, I followed suit.

A note on honey.  I used what I already had in the pantry–which I think was an everyday clover honey.  Mr. Lebovitz suggests using a darker honey because it is less sweet.  About a week after I made this pie, I was chatting with a former student who had spent some time during her after graduation travels working on  a kibbutz in New Zealand that made manuka honey (produced from the Manuka tree).  Manuka honey is pretty pricey–but also supposed to be medicinally magical. So next time I might spring for some Manuka honey for a salted honey pie…as if pie could get any more transcendental.

While I didn’t find the honey taste to be particularly overt, the combination of salty pretzel and creamy rich filling was incredibly satisfying (at least until I wanted another bite).

Salted Honey Pie with Pretzel Pie Crust

for the crust

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 C (140g) pretzel crumbs (I ground mine in the food processor)
  • 3 TBS sugar
  • 6 TBS (85g) unsalted melter butter plus additional for preparing dish

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Lightly butter a pie plate or pan with butter.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the pretzel crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until the crumbs are saturated with the butter and everything is moistened and evenly mixed.
3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pie plate or pan and use the heel of your hand or the bottom of a coffee mug (TMH preferred method) to press the crust mixture across the bottom of the pans and up the sides.
4. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, until it’s slightly golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.

for the pie and filling

Ingredients
  • 8 TBS (113g)  unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 C (45g) sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 C (240g) honey
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C (120g) sour cream, heavy cream, or crème fraîche (TMH: I used heavy cream because I had it in the fridge)
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • flaky sea salt, to finish the pie

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC).
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, and honey.
  2. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the sour cream and vinegar. Scrape the filling into the baked pie shell.
  3. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the center is almost set. It should still jiggle, but not be watery. (If the edges of the crust get too dark during baking, use one of the techniques listed in the headnote to mitigate that.)
  4. Let the pie cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt before serving.
Note: Mr. Lebovitz offers a variation whereby you replace 3 TBS of the dairy (cream/sour cream etc) with bourbon or dark rum.  Someone needs to do this and report back.

Altoid brownies, trust me on this one

I procured this recipe from David Lebovitz who borrowed it from  from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. Sadly, I can claim no stake its bizarre and wonderful  brilliance.  I will say that based on the rather odd surprise guest ingredient in this recipe and, well, the name of the book itself, I’ve surmised that its authors just might have been in an altered state of mind when they developed it.  Perhaps caused by another type of brownie or edible substance?

The recipe starts, as all brownie recipes worth their weight do: melted chocolate. To this, both white and brown sugars are added.

Then, a whopping five.  Yes FIVE eggs are added.

Next, well, really first if you don’t want to take time out in the middle of your batter preparation.  An entire tin…maybe even a tin-and-a-half of Altoids get sacrificed to the brownie gods.  The instructions suggest using a mallet, rolling pin or pestle and mortar.  I tried the latter first but my pestle and mortar is made for spices and a little undersized for the job at hand.  So, I busted out the meat hammer and went to town.  I do have a picture of what the results look like.  However, the, um, white powder looked startling like a bag of cocaine (or at least what it looks like on TV).  And, despite by Scooby Doesque references in this post, the image wasn’t particularly wholesome.  So, I’ve substituted a shot of the tin as a proxy.

The crushed Altoids and flour are folded-into the batter.

Into the oven.

David Lebovitz notes in his posting of this recipe to err on the side of undercooked.  I couldn’t agree more.  The photo below is of a batch I baked for the suggested 30 minutes.  When I cut them, I thought I’d undercooked them.  What I really did was make the rookie mistake of cutting them the same day I’d baked them (sometimes we don’t follow our own rules) and the results were disappointingly goopy.  By the next day however, they’d set-up beautifully. DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO.  Just to make sure they weren’t undercooked, the next batch I made I upped the bake-time to somewhere between 40 and 45 minutes.  While they were fine, the texture was dryer and the peppermint had lost some of its intensity.  Some of its, shall we say, curious strength.   And, you definitely don’t want that to happen.

Soundtrack

Dave Mathews Band of course.

“Baked” Altoid Brownies

Adapted from David Lebevitz adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito

Makes one 9 x 13-inch pan

Ingredients

  • 11 ounces (315g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (60-75% cacao), chopped
  • 8 ounces (215g) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/4 cup (175g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrhona–that was originally David’s note, but I use Valrhona as well)
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon pure mint extract
  • 1 to 1½ packages of Altoid peppermints, (80-120g), crushed (See Note)

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Line the inside of a 9 by 13-inch pan with parchment and butter or oil paper and pan.
  2. Crush the Altoids in a sturdy freezer bag with a mallet,rolling pin,  mortar and pestle–or, if you happen to be feeling particularly violent, a meat tenderizer. They should be relatively fine, but I do like having little bits remaining. . If you want your brownies even more minty, add the larger amount of mints. You can add some pure mint extract to the batter, too.
  3. In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.
  5. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, over the heat, whisk in both sugars. Remove from heat and whisk in three of the eggs completely, then whisk in the other two, along with the vanilla and mint extract, if using.
  6. Sprinkle the flour mixture and the Altoids over the top and using a spatula, gently fold in the dry ingredients until just combined; there might be just a trace of the flour in places. Do not overmix.
  7. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Like most brownie recipes, it’s best to err on the side of underbaked than over.
  8. Serving & storage: Once cool, wrap the brownies well and wait over-night to cut.

Dulce de Leche III

Yes, we’re back to dulce de leche.  But really, why would anyone ever leave?

Let us review.  I’ve already talked about two dulce de leche making methods.   The first involves boiling the sweetened condensed milk in the original can in a water bath.  I tried this method before reading about the apparent danger of explosion with this method.  A little to my disappointment, mine did not explode…in fact it worked well though took about 3 hours.  In the second method, the milk was baked in a water bath inside a roasting pan.  So really, was it roasted?  This method was also successful and took much less time than the dangerous method.  Thanks David Lebovitz.

I tried one more method this summer: the  double boiler.  While a fine dulce de leche resulted, like the boil-in-a-can method, it too took forever.  FOREVER. AND there wasn’t even the excitement that it might explode at any moment.

The winner in my book:  bake your dulce de leche.  Easiest hands-down.

What did I do with the third batch of dulce de leche you ask?   Dulce de leche sundaes made with homemade vanilla bean ice cream, prailined pepitas and cinnamon-laced whipped cream.