Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Baking

I Love baking; the smells, tastes of the remaining batter after the bowl has been emptied, and the magical dusting of flour that coats the kitchen and my very being come the end of the endeavor. Since we would be hosting on Thanksgiving Day, I decided to do the baking the night before so as not to compete with the turkey for oven space. I also know that there is a lot of cleaning after I bake so this way I didn't have to worry about creating a miniature disaster zone immediately before company was expected to arrive.

This Thanksgiving I made the tried and true Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie because it is always such a hit. One of the aspects of this pie that makes it so over-the-top amazing is that after you finish baking the graham cracker crust, you immediately put chopped dark chocolate (80% dark in the case... woah) on the bottom.

The chocolate crust then gets put back into the oven for 1 min and ends up hardening after it comes out so that when you eat the pie later there is a distinctive chocolate graham cracker crunch with every bite. Oh my!

I like to make pecan pie, and it's the only recipe I have bought corn syrup for in the past, but I thought I would see if this year I could find a delicious recipe that was corn syrup-free. I struck gold when I came across Trisha Yearwood's Pecan Pie recipe. While this recipe lacks corn syrup it was not found lacking in the taste or texture departments.

Here is the pie before it went into the oven:

I prefer making pie crust from scratch to avoid processed ingredients that are unnecessary and unhealthy. I really like Martha Stewart's recipe because it almost tastes a bit like shortbread, it's so delicious.

Perfecting pie crust is an art form and like breads, biscuits, etc. the key is in the short duration of actually handling the dough. I like using a food processor to incorporate the butter and water so as to not overwork the dough and make it tough. I used 2 Tbsp of water at the end to make the dough come together and then formed it into a disk and refrigerated it for an hour. I poured the pecan pie filling into the unbaked crust and put the whole thing in the oven for the directed time. One trick I use in baking to ensure I don't over-bake anything is to set my timer for 5-10 minutes before the product is expected to be finished since each oven is slightly different.

After putting the last of the two pies in the oven, I noticed how enticing the house smelled and realized it would be a shame to not have anything delicious that night for dessert after all the hard work, so I made my tried and true Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. To put a festive spin on the traditional loaf I used a decorative baking mold and sifted confectioner's sugar over the top of it to give it a wintry appearance.

Here is the end result of my three desserts sitting so decadently on the counter, waiting to be consumed:

Yum yum. A happy Thanksgiving indeed. When I bake I try to put positive energy into everything and imagine people enjoying what they taste. That is my favorite part of baking, even more so than eating the results. I love to make people's taste buds happy, knowing everything is made with wholesome ingredients and lots of Love!

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