Birthday Boy & The Pie Club A La Mode

May 2011

It was time for the birthday boy’s grand weekend of festivities.  Friends were flying into the Steel City from major metropolises for a weekend of quality time to include good food, good drinks, all around good times and… a party bus?!?!  This was the first time I was to meet most of these friends, and I knew one thing about this group:  they had a predilection for pie!

As I understood it, this propensity to the pie spectrum of baked goods stemmed from ye olde Harvard days when a group of business school gents would gather around their favorite pie bakery’s best offerings to discuss politics, philosophy, the world and let’s face it…probably the opposite sex.  They developed pie business schemes and even reconvened in other major cities for the same purpose.  In conclusion, a large percentage of the incoming party visitors had serious opinions on pie, and having been briefed on my pie past times, they had high expectations of my oven and me.

Consequently, there was pressure on my pie performance (mostly …ok, maybe completely self-induced pressure), so I went epic and experimental (the experimental part being pie for the course… har har).

I squeezed in any and all kitchen opportunities throughout the weekend’s planned activities, and then I spent one full day with the rosy glow of oven hovering while the kids played in the park.  I packed up the multiple pies and the ice cream, spread my tablecloth, made my arrangement, lit the birthday boy’s candles, joined the chorus of the birthday song, and then I held my breath until the Pie Club and friends took their first bites.

Success!  Aside from the happy faces, the sneaking of seconds, thirds and fourths throughout the night, what really sealed the deal was receiving this comment in an email weeks later, “Was trying to sleep and got a craving for mango pie, strawberry pie, oat pie and creme fraiche icem cream. WTF.”  Even after all that pie love, I have yet to receive my pie club invite.  Apparently Pie Club is harder to join than an ivy secret society.

Oh Pie Club!  Please return soon!  I have so many more delicacies in store for you!

Mascarpone & Lemon Custard
(enough for two cherry tarts and one mango experiment)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar in the raw
17.6 oz cups imported Italian mascarpone cheese
2 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
4 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add half of the mascarpone cheese and beat at low speed until combined. Add the remaining mascarpone cheese, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and cream and beat just until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the surface.

Set the tart pan on a sturdy baking sheet. Position racks in the bottom and center of the oven. On the bottom rack, place a roasting pan filled with 1 inch of water. Place the tart on the center rack and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is puffed and set.

Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.

This mango pie was inspired by necessity after a collapsing crust during the pre-bake, as well as this delicacy and this delectable treat from my meanderings in Brazil, once again proving the importance of travels and affirming my inclusion of my ventures on this blog.

La Mode
Makes 12 cups
(enough for a Pie Club and then some!)
Adapted from here.

For Creme Fraiche:

4 cups local heavy whipping cream
4 Tablespoons organic buttermilk

For Creme Fraiche Ice Cream:

2 ½ cups whole milk
5 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar in the raw
1 cup local, pure maple syrup
14 egg yolks from local, free-range eggs
crème fraîche (see recipe)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Juice from 1 lemon

Key Equipment

Ice cream maker

For the Crème Fraiche

Pour heavy cream into a large bowl.

Add the buttermilk, which will act as the culture.

Cover the bowl with saran wrap loosely and let it sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened to approximately the consistency of yogurt.  Depending on the room temperature, the mixture will take 12-48 hours to thicken.

Once thickened, stir, cover, and refrigerate for at least a day before using.

For the Crème Fraiche Ice Cream

Whisk milk and cream in a heavy-bottom saucepan with the salt and the maple syrup.

Whisk egg yolks in another bowl with the sugar.

Turn the heat to medium-low and bring cream mixture up to just before a simmer, whisking frequently.

Ladle a quarter cup of the cream mixture into the egg yolks and beat thoroughly, then pour the egg mixture into the cream mixture.

Switch to a spatula and run it along the bottom of the pan constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.

When cooled, whisk in the crème fraîche and vanilla.

Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate for two hours.

Whisk in the lemon juice and freeze per your ice cream maker’s instructions.

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  • Quelcy – what amazing pictures and post! Such detail it makes me crave at 9am as I sit here reading this. Keep em coming, please! Although I have to say the pictures and descriptions hardly to it justice to the mouthwatering deliciousness.