July 8th, 2008

real apple pie vs mock apple pie

2 apple pies 1

this past friday was the fourth of july, which gave me a chance to unleash a recipe for one of my all time favorite things in the world – PIE. seriously, even my old AIM screen name had to do with my love of pie (i’m not giving it away, sorry). instead of a birthday cake, i would ask for a birthday pie. and what’s the best kind of pie? the answer is clearly apple (i’m not even going to recognize arguments to the contrary. and for independence day, what’s more american than apple pie? how about a no holds barred competition between two apple pies?

ritz cracker crumbslemon zestapple slicesapple pie 3

i’ve been intrigued by mock apple pie since i first read about it in jeffrey steingarten’s the man who ate everything. it’s an apple pie without any apples in it that promises to taste just like the real thing. i was doubtful, but the thought of a cheap and quick pie recipe was too much to pass up. this is a real celebration of conflicting american baking tactics: one pie is a carefully and lovingly crafted piece of americana, using fresh ingredients and a homemade crust. the other is a quick and easy answer (albeit a delicious one) to a hectic schedule that can satisfy in a pinch. but which pie will reign supreme?

mock apple pie 1apple pie 4

we rose to the challenge with a blind taste test. could we tell the difference between an apple pie with real fresh apples and one without? the girl and i both tried warmed forkfuls of both pies while blindfolded. the results? both of us INCORRECTLY named the ritz cracker pie as the real deal. needless to say, i was astonished, but also excited to find an apple pie i could whip up in half the time of an “authentic” one.

mock apple pie 4

some comments on each pie: the mock apple pie was characterized as tasting a bit like the apple pie filling you can buy at the grocery store. it was also a bit too lemony. i would cut down on the amount in the recipe. the real apple pie was delicious but not as flavorful as we had hoped. i think my crust had some “integrity” issues, and as a result, a bunch of the gooey sugary syrup from the pie leaked out. i’m betting a lot of the flavor went with it, so next time i’ll be more careful. you can actually see in the pictures that the pie deflated a bit as it cooled.

apple pie 6

you’ll also notice that although i made a fresh pie crust for the real apple pie, i did not document it in any way. this is because pie crust is a pain in the butt to tackle, and trying to take pictures of it at the same time does not make the job any easier. i will say that that the finished homemade crust was very flaky, buttery and savory. i would recommend making your own, but if disaster strikes, there’s no shame in using a frozen prepared dough.

2 apple pies 2

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July 2nd, 2008

peanut butter blossoms

peanut butter blossoms 5

do you like peanut butter and chocolate? sure you do. who doesn’t? i can’t resist it. i used to trade all of my halloween and easter candy for reeses peanut butter cups. move aside, charleston chew. no room for you.

peanut butter blossom doughhershey kisses 1peanut butter cookiespeanut butter blossoms 2

are these just peanut butter cookies with hershey’s kisses stuck in them? sure they are, but the sum is greater than its parts. it’s almost a reese’s peanut butter cup, deconstructed…and inside out..sort of. well, chocolate and peanut butter are a delicious combination anyway. these cookies could not be easier to make, and they’re actually fun too. next time i could try actually putting a reese’s cup in the center of the cookie, but dare i?

peanut butter blossoms 6

one note of caution – it can be tough to store these cookies since they’re not easily stackable. and if you try to put them on top of one another in some kind of container, the kisses can melt and get squished. you have two options: either refrigerate the cookies after they cool on the sheet for about half an hour before trying to store them, or eat them before you get a chance to store them. i usually opt for the latter.

peanut butter blossoms 3

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