Sweet Potato Maple Bacon Pie

Deliciouness abounds in this pie. I absolutely love the combination of sweet and salty. The candied bacon and maple cream kind of stole the show – as in, I could eat a whole bowl of just those two combined. ūüôā Seriously though, this pie was good! I served it to my parents and husband and they all proclaimed it delicious and they were¬†all surprised at how much they LOVED the bacon.

Personally, I still like pumpkin pie better than sweet potato (it’s a texture thing) but I would totally make this again and serve it to guests and especially find more uses for that bacon. This is really an awesome twist on the traditional pumpkin pie. I’m already dreaming of the leftovers for breakfast. [Just a small note – the bacon looks dark in the picture but it was not burned I assure you!]

There are a few steps to this pie but it is not difficult and the steps do not need to be completed all at once.

SWEET POTATO MAPLE BACON PIE
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1 pie crust in a pie pan (you can make your own or buy a prepared one)
2 c. pureed sweet potato
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 c. evaporated milk
2 Tb. maple syrup
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine the sweet potato, milk, egg, and maple syrup in the blender. Add the spices. Pour into the crust. Bake at 425¬į for 15 minutes.¬† Then decrease oven to 350¬į and bake for 35-45 minutes until set.

CANDIED BACON
3 strips bacon, roughly chopped (mine was fairly thick)
1 tsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. brown sugar

Toss the bacon with brown sugar and maple syrup. Cook until crisp stirring and moving continually. It cooks fairly quickly and you need to keep an eye on it. Drain and cool completely.

MAPLE CREAM
1 c. whipped cream
2 Tb. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Just before serving, whip the cream for 1 minute. Add maple syrup and vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of pie. Top with candied bacon pieces.

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Market Fresh: Strawberries

Strawberries are one of the best parts of summer for me. It used to be that we were limited to the 2 or 3 weeks that they were in season locally, but now we can have them year-round. (I’m not supposed to mention that, really, since we’re meant to eat seasonally on this blog. But, I’m afraid I buy strawberries all summer long.)

Mostly I buy strawberries to make one of my favorite desserts ever: strawberry shortcake. It’s a simple dessert, and low in sugar, not to mention that it tastes so good and reminds me of my childhood.

There are so many ways to use strawberries: eaten plain, on top of cereal, frozen and in a smoothie, sliced into green salads, dipped in chocolate, and made into jam.

If you want something a little different from the ordinary strawberry shortcake, why not try one of these giant strawberry shortcakes!

GIANT STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE
(Heather)
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2 cups flour
1/3 cup butter
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk

1 pound strawberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture and work with hands until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in milk just until blended. Bring dough together and place on a floured surface. Knead 20 to 25 times. Pat dough out into a round about 3/4-inch thick and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake until golden brown 10-15 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, slice the strawberries and mix with the granulated sugar, leaving at room temperature so they develop juice. Beat the whipping cream with the powdered sugar and refrigerate until needed.

Once shortcake is cool, carefully slice it in half with a long, serrated knife. Assemble the shortcake just before serving so it doesn’t get too soggy. Pile the strawberries onto the bottom half and then top with whipped cream. Carefully place the top half on top of the whipped cream.

Serves 6-8.

It’s always good to try something different and here’s an idea for a light, gluten-free, strawberry dessert: Balsamic Strawberries with Ricotta Cream.

BALSAMIC STRAWBERRIES WITH RICOTTA CREAM
(Food Network)
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1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons

Put the ricotta cheese, honey and vanilla extract into the small bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

In a small saucepan combine the vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally (next time I will try 1 minute as 2 minutes made the syrup go hard when it cooled). Allow to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, toss the berries with the basil and the balsamic syrup.

Divide the cream among 4 cocktail glasses, top with the berry mixture and serve.

Makes 4 small servings.

Weekend Fare: Chocolate

We are concluding this week of recipes on chocolate with a day devoted entirely to some easy chocolate recipes that are perfect for entertaining, for ending a special meal, or just because. The lava cakes and creme brulee would make excellent Valentine’s Day¬†Desserts!

These double chocolate cookies are sure to please any chocolate lover. The beautiful texture and chocolatey goodness make it perfect for dipping in a glass of milk! When I want to make large cookies, I use my ice cream scoop and bake them for 12-13 minutes. Mmmm…

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES
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1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. white sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 package (11-12 oz.) milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and blend until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet or stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

The oozy, delicious center of molten lava cakes makes this a popular dessert. I love it paired with raspberries – a perfect combination! Honestly, these cakes are incredibly easy but yet, so impressive. Bake them right before serving. Fresh whipped cream, vanilla bean ice cream, and/or fresh or frozen fruit make excellent garnishes.

MOLTEN LAVA CAKE
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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1 c. butter
8 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate (a nice quality of chocolate will give a better cake!), chopped
5 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
pinch of salt
4 tsp. flour
fresh or frozen raspberries, opt.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease 8 ramekins and set aside.

Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Beat eggs, sugar, and salt with a hand mixer in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixtures into chocolate until smooth.  Beat in flour until just combined. (Batter can be made a day ahead and refrigerated Рbring to room temperature before baking).

Adjust oven rack to middle position. Divide batter between ramekins. Bake until batter puffs but center is not set, 9-12 minutes. Carefully loosen the sides of the cake and invert on a dessert plate. Serve with fresh or thawed raspberries if desired.

Although white chocolate isn’t really chocolate, I wanted to make sure and include a recipe for something with white chocolate! This gluten¬†free¬†creme brulee is WONDERFUL! Seriously, go make it. It doesn’t have a strong white chocolate flavor – just a hint and even my tasters who normally¬†don’t care for¬†white chocolate loved this dessert!¬†

I desperately wished for a torch to make this dessert look prettier Рthe sugar just did not caramelize as well under the broiler. It did have that lovely crisp texture though which is so wonderful with the creamy custard. 

 WHITE CHOCOLATE CREME BRULEE
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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4 egg yolks
1/3 c. sugar
2 c. heavy cream
4 oz. quality white chocolate (I used Ghiradelli), chopped
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tsp. sugar.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg toiks with 1/3 c. sugar until smooth. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add the white chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is melted. Temper the eggs by adding 2 Tb. of the white chocolate mixture  to the eggs. Whisk. Add the rest of the white chocolate and whisk to combine. Add vanilla.

Divide between 4 -6 ramekins. Place the ramekins in a 9×13 pan filled with 1 1/2 inches hot water. Bake for 45-55 minutes of until set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate the custards until chilled. Before serving, sprinkle the tops of each ramekin with 1 tsp. of suagr and place under the broiler or use a torch to carmalize the sugar. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Finally, I wanted to give you a quick and easy hot chocolate recipe. It’s not the very rich, homemade hot chocolate I often think of but it was light and delicious with a hint of cinnamon. It was made with ingredients that I almost always have on hand. You could top it with whipped cream or shaved chocolate.

HOT CHOCOLATE
(adapted from Ellie Krieger)
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1 c. milk
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. water
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat the milk and the cinnamon until just simmering. In a mug, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, and water and stir. Pour the milk into the mug and stir to mix well. Add the vanilla and stir. Makes 1 serving.