Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pie, Cheesecake, Wine and Deep Conversation

Baking can often be a really wonderful “me time” activity, one which allows me to push myself into trying new things, feel accomplished and, at times, even relax. However, sometimes it’s wonderful to try new things with a friend. My dear friend Tracie and I have made food a few times together before and it’s always a pleasure. On this particular day, we couldn’t decide between fruit pie and cheesecake, so we opted to do both. So among conversations of oppression and change and lots of red wine, we tried two recipes that were new to both of us. And, with Tracie cheering me on, I made my first homemade pie crust! Hooray!

More pictures and recipes after the jump…

Mocha Cranberry Cheesecake (from All Recipes)

What you need…
  • 1 (9 ounce) package chocolate wafer cookies, crushed
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 (16 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
What to do…
  1. Combine cookie crumbs and butter; press onto the bottom and about 2 in. up the sides of a greased 9-in. springform pan; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Combine sugar and flour; add to cream cheese and mix well. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve coffee in water; add cream and cinnamon. Stir into the cream cheese mixture just until blended. Pour over crust. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer.
  3. In a large saucepan, bring cornstarch and cranberry sauce to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool.
  4. Carefully spread 1 cup of cranberry mixture to within 1 in. of edge; cover and refrigerate remaining cranberry mixture. Refrigerate cheesecake overnight. Just before serving, remove sides of pan. Serve with the remaining cranberry mixture.
Rhubarb Cherry Pie (from All Recipes)

What you need…
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 recipe Pastry for double-crust pie (9 inches)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
What to do…
  1. Combine the rhubarb, cherry pie filling, sugar, and tapioca in a large bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell, and cover with pie crust. Brush top with milk, and sprinkle on sugar.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 40 to 45 minutes.
Perfect Pie Crust (from Simply Recipes)

What you need…
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 to 8 Tbsp ice water
What to do…
  1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and pulse again.
2.      Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Gently shape into 2 discs. Knead the dough just enough to form the discs, do not over-knead. You should be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These small chunks of butter are what will allow the resulting crust to be flaky. Sprinkle a little flour around the discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.
3.      Remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes in order to soften just enough to make rolling out a bit easier. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. If necessary, add a few sprinkles of flour under the dough to keep the dough from sticking. Carefully place onto a 9-inch pie plate. Gently press the pie dough down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the pie dish.
4.      Add filling to the pie.
5.      Roll out second disk of dough, as before. Gently place onto the top of the filling in the pie. Pinch top and bottom of dough rounds firmly together. Trim excess dough with kitchen shears, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang. Fold the edge of the top piece of dough over and under the edge of the bottom piece of dough, pressing together. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with a fork. Score the top of the pie with four 2-inch long cuts, so that steam from the cooking pie can escape.

Tracie cutting up the rhubarb

This is pretty much how my kitchen table looks every cooking day

Pouring in the cheesecake batter

While the cheesecake is baking I start on my first homemade pie crust

The top and bottom crust chilling in the fridge

Cheesecake out of the oven, pre-topping

Cherry Rhubarb pie filling

Bottom crust

With filling

Vents added and ready for the oven!

Baked and ready to eat!

Cranberry Mocha Cheesecake finished product


  1. i LOVE that simply recipes crust recipe. good job on the crust!

    p.s. i made the lemon blueberry bread again because it was so good!

  2. Thank you!

    and Hooray! :)

  3. Where's my sample??? Mamacita