Monday, June 8, 2015

Fiesta Almond Peach Pie

Such a pretty pie, such a lot of work!
My very favorite pie in the world is a fresh peach pie that my mother makes. It is a pretty simple pie that is mostly elevated by using really fresh, ripe, local peaches. Which means it is a fleeting pleasure of late summer days, and is more appreciated for it. So I was pretty excited to try another peach pie!

As a vintage recipe, and one from the other side of the pond, this required some interpretations. Here is the original recipe:

I'm not used to recipes quite so vintage, so I translated it as best I could. 

Fiesta Almond Peach Pie



    •  6 oz dark chocolate chopped
    • 2 tbs butter
    • 2 tbs castor sugar
    • 1/2 milk
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1/2 c crushed almonds
    • 2 c shortbread biscuit crumbs
    • dash of lemon juice


    • 10 peach halves
    • cognac
    • almond marzipan meal
    • 1 dessertspoon butter
    • 2 tbs brown sugar
    • 3 tbs peach juice
    • 1 tbs lemon zest
    • 1 egg divided
    • 2 tbs gelatine
    • 1/2 pint cream
    • almond extract


    1. Melt chocolate, butter, and sugar in bowl over saucepan, Mix in egg yolk and milk and remove from heat. Stir in crushed almonds and shortbread crumbs and lemon juice. Press into bottom and sides of 9 inch springform tin. Chill until set.
    2. Take peach halves and sprinkle with cognac, fill each half with almond marzipan meal then arrange on the bottom of chilled crust.
    3. In a saucepan, mix butter, brown sugar, peach juice, lemon juice. Heat until sugar is dissolved, then cool and stir in yolk and gelatine softened in a little water. Stir until dissolved. Fold in stiffly beaten egg white until fully mixed, then fold in stiffly beaten whipped cream flavored with almond extract. Spread on top of peaches. Chill until set, decorate with melted dark chocolate swirls.

 Initially, my biggest question on reading this recipe was what is marzipan meal and how do I get it. Google is not your friend in answering this question, since marzipan is made with almond meal, so most of the results are about that. I figured it was either almond meal or marzipan ground up, so I split the difference and used both!

First up is the crust. I made shortbread cookies last week for this--a very simple vegan recipe with white and brown sugar and margarine. For this part of the pie, the food processor is your friend. First I blitzed the granulated sugar to make caster sugar, then I used it on the almonds, then the chocolate, then the shortbread. I love that machine!

The chocolate, butter, and sugar go in a double boiler (bowl over saucepan is more like it!) until they melt and combine. The egg is divided and the yolk and milk are combined (I used soy milk--almond milk may have been more almond appropriate, but soy is higher in fat and I find it better for baking substitutes like this.) This is added slowly to the chocolate mixture, while still on the heat. This makes a thick mousse like mixture, to which the crumbs and almonds are added. It was not as thick as I would have liked--I used all the cookies I made (cough that I didn't eat cough), or I would have added more.

It slumped in the pan, so I used wax paper and my pie beans to chill it and then try to wrest it back into shape. It took several hours to get cooled enough, and part of that was in the freezer. While that cooled I made dark chocolate shapes--I'm not very creative so they are mostly loops--and mowed my lawn. Today is the hottest day of the year so far--almost 90 degrees, no wonder none of the chocolate wanted to set outside of the freezer.

Lawn mowing done and crust chilled, I turned to the filling. Besides the dairy substitutions I made one really big substitution--I used fresh peaches. They were on sale! Apparently it is peach season in Argentina, so they were really ripe and smelled so good! The canned peaches were so tinny--they smelled metalic. I did buy a can--I used the juice along with some peach nectar to make the juice the recipe calls for. Using a method I learned from some cookbook I read once--I cooked it down in the microwave to make a syrup.

I pealed the peaches--they were delicious and ripe, but they were the kind that cling to the pit, which required them to be sliced and wrenched from the pits. So no peach halves! So juicy and ripe I may have eaten more than a few slices. I poured on some of the peach syrup (I don't do booze) and tossed them with marzipan and almonds blitzed in the food processor. They then go into the cooled crust.

This is where the real fun begins--haha! Actually this is where the really crazy stuff starts. Basically you make a marshmallow--with more gelatin than any single person should put in any dish. I've made marshmallows and they were easier than this.  Anyway, make syrup, add to beaten egg whites, fold in whipped cream. At this point the gelatin has set so it curdles and is hard to fold in either--it would be better if you used the method for making marshmallows where the hot syrup is poured over whites being beaten in the mixer. To try to rescue this I stuck the whole gloopy mix in the standmixer and whipped it until somewhat smooth. This nasty textured mixture is spread over the delicious peaches, and the whole concoction is chilled.

 So at this point I had mixed thoughts on this pie--all of the elements tasted good, though the topping had a funky texture. I was invited over for dinner and offered to bring this pie--I should have made a back up dessert, but I figured folks could eat the delicious crust and yummy peaches. This probably was the biggest mistake I made. My family may never forgive me for making them eat this. NEVER FORGET and NEVER forgive!

So I should have realized this was going to be a problem when in trying to take the pie out of the pan the shell stuck to the pan to the point that the pan broke. Yes, this crust was so strong and sticky that it broke my brand new springform pan! I managed to get it together enough to snap a pretty picture, but cutting it was a nightmare because the crust also stuck to the bottom of the pan. The topping had so much gelatin that it could be dropped out of a plane and land in the same shape, can you say boing!

Verdict: Somewhere between hot mess and train wreck--my family actually had an extensive discussion about the difference between the two, including references to Urban Dictionary as I tried to portion it out. Personally, I lean more towards train wreck--it is too chilled to be a hot mess!

I actually liked the taste well enough, but I was the only person to finish my piece. My sister said the chocolate swirls on top were nice--so that is one positive bit of feedback.There are a lot of issues with this pie--ironically the only thing I would probably do again in this dish is the one thing I was most concerned with--the marzipan. I thought the peaches tossed with ground up marzipan and almonds and peach syrup were delicious, but the crust and topping were epic FAILS. I actually was sad about the shortbread cookies and chocolate who gave their lives for this pie.

Hopefully I will come up with something great to win back their trust so I can bring dessert again! Suggestions for a crowd pleaser dessert are welcome.

 I'm looking forward to all of the other Vintage pies in the Second Annual Pieathalon--particularly how the person who got the recipe I selected turned out! Check out the other posts below:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Second Annual Pieathon

One would need to be adventurous to cook from a book with this cover!
My sister tells me I am an adventurous cook, which isn't to say a good cook. I think she means that I'm willing to try anything, to venture outside of my comfort zone and explore a strange veggie or a pie that involves gelatin, canned peaches, marzipan, and raw eggs. Honestly, I get excited at the idea of trying something new--a recipe I've not made before, or even better a food I've never made. 

So I was thrilled to hear about the second annual Pieathon. I enjoyed last year's pie, and volunteered right away to participate--even though my blog has been dormant for a long time. Selecting a recipe to send was a perfect excuse to hit up the thrift store for an ideal pie--I may have bought more than one book, just in case I changed my mind!

Since I've gone vegetarian I requested pie with no meat--apparently loads of pies sent in involved various animal products. The pie I received was vegetarian--not vegan. I made some substitutions and used some local pasture raised eggs. I'm very excited to see all of the other pies--and see how my submission turned out!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Good News, Bad News

So the good news is that I am not Gluten intolerant! The bad news--apparently the shear horror of the gluten trial sapped me of the energy to blog. Ha!

Fortunately I've still been cooking, still eating healthy, kept most of my weight off. I've started to use Pepperplate to track my recipes, which is awesome to load on the computer and view on my phone where ever I'm cooking.

Here are some fun things I've made lately:
Birthday Cake--Yellow with chocolate frosting!

Tangerine Sweet Rolls
Chinese New Year Feast