Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi r square... No, Pie r round!


When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmmmmmm, boy. 
                                                                         ~ Jack Handey


For most, today is just a regular day.

But to us geeks, today is Pi Day!

Why is it Pi Day? Well, a long, long time ago, somebody smart figured out that the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter is always equal to 3.14. Or more specifically, 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510… and on and on for over 10 trillion digits. Pi is an irrational number and a mathematical constant, found in not only circles, but in Pyramids dated back to 2500 B.C., the sinuosity of the average river, and countless other formulas and equations.

In 2009, the U.S. recognized today, 3/14, as National Pi Day. So what better way to celebrate this strange mathematical phenomenon, than with some pie!

I’d love to be smart enough to talk π with you, because there is some interesting stuff there. But the truth is that I am absolutely terrible at math. I appreciate it, I’m intrigued by Numerology and all that fun stuff, but I just cannot think of anything that I am worse at doing.

I am fairly novice at cooking though. So just because I can’t talk Pi, doesn’t mean I can’t talk Pie.

I’m a sucker for pie, but I didn’t know this about myself since I grew up with cake. We hardly ever had any pie of any kind, but we had enough cake to cater a thousand birthday parties. It wasn’t until recently when I dug deep and saw myself as a pie person as oppose to a cake person. Yeah, you can be both but that’s like being a Yankee fan and liking the Red Sucks Sox. It’s just so hard to resist a good pie, not to mention a cake is a lot more dense so one slice can usually do you in, but you can have 2 or 3 slices of pie and be good, especially if it’s fruit. That's practically healthy!

Now, I’m not going to lie to you. I was caught a little off guard for this and couldn’t prepare as much as I would’ve liked. I had minimal ingredients on hand but I know I wanted to make a pie and was open to anything new. So while pondering and looking at my pantry, I remembered a pie that I always wanted to try, and guess what, I had the ingredients.

If you’ve ever been to Sarasota, FL or have seen shows like Man vs.Food on the Travel Channel, you know about Yoder’s Restaurant. It’s an Amish restaurant, and if you know the Amish, they make some simple, wholesome stuff. Ever since I first saw it, I’ve wanted to try the Peanut Butter Pie. Simple, low ingredient list and it looks delish. Being a little ways away from Florida, I’m doing the next best thing:

Yoder’s Peanut Butter Cream Pie:

For the Pudding:

                             1 cup ~ Cold Milk
                          1/2 cup ~ Cornstarch
                      1 teaspoon ~ Salt
                   1 tablespoon ~ Vanilla Extract
                            3 each ~ Egg Yolks
                            3 cups ~ Milk
                 3 tablespoons ~ Butter
                           2/3 cup ~ Sugar

Crumb Mixture:

                              1 cup ~ Powdered Sugar
                           1/2 cup ~ Crunchy Peanut Butter

                           Baked Pie Crust
                           Whipped Cream

Like most of what I do, it’s simple and not complicated. I only had creamy peanut butter, but the only thing you’ll miss out on is that crunchy texture from the peanuts.

Note: I feel as if it could have used more powdered sugar with the peanut butter, so that it could’ve been more of a “crumb” rather than the slightly-more solid state of peanut butter that I got. Also, a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder added in with the sugar in the Pudding would make an overall more gratifying pie. I had this two nights, once with vanilla pudding and the other with chocolate, I must say the chocolate with the peanut butter and cream took it from “simple and great” to “simple and wow”.

I made the pie in a soup crock because not only does it look great, I also didn’t want a pie of this magnitude sitting in my fridge for more than 2 days.

  • First thing you do is prepare your pie crust however you’re going to do it, whether in soup crocks or a pie dish, and get it into the oven. Then get a stainless steel pot or deep pan and add the 3 cups of Milk, Butter and Sugar and let it get hot.

  • While it’s getting hot, mix the 1 cup of Milk, Corn Starch, Salt, Vanilla Extract and Egg Yolks in a separate bowl. Mix well to make sure all the Corn Starch isn’t being stubborn and getting stuck to the bottom of the bowl.

This next step is tricky, and I mean tricky. I’d explain how tricky, but I don’t want you to freak out on me.

What we… well, what you have to do now is temper the egg mixture into the hot milk. Tempering sounds like a pain because it is. If you’ve never done it before don’t get mad if something goes wrong, it’s only natural to want to throw the pot full of scalding hot liquid into a wall or out the window.

Tempering is when you are incorporating eggs or an egg mixture into a hot liquid. It’s a process that is nerve racking because if you don’t take your time and do it right, then you’re going to end up with scrambled eggs. And nobody likes scrambled eggs in their vanilla pudding. There is going to be a lot of whisking involved, which is why you’re doing this in stainless steel rather than non-stick.

So here it is:

  • Once the milk is hot enough to the point where it’s smoking, turn down the heat, place the egg mixture next to the pot and grab a ladle. Slowly, slowly, slowly ladle in the hot milk to the egg mixture while constantly whisking. Once you've emptied the ladle, check to see if you have any chunks of scrambled egg floating around. If you don’t, congrats, you made it through your first ladle; you only have about 3 more left to go. After you hit 2 or 3 ladles (depending on the size of the ladle and how hot the milk is), check the mixture. If it’s a little more than warm then you should be good to go.

  • Drop the ladle and pick up the bowl with the egg mixture. Turn up the heat again and slowly add the tempered egg mixture into the milk while constantly whisking. If by the time you finished incorporating everything you don’t see any chunks floating around in there, congratulations, you just tempered eggs.

I’m sorry, I would’ve taken pictures to help you through this process, but I haven’t quite figured out how to take pictures using my feet yet.

  • Next, sit there and stir the mixture around while the heat is up and wait for the magic to happen. Once it reaches the right temperature, the mixture will thicken. Once the mixture thickens, remove it from the heat before it starts to boil. Transfer it to a bowl, wrap it up, poke some holes in the wrap, and let it chill for a few hours in the fridge.

While it’s cooling, let’s make the crumb mix:

  • Take the peanut butter and place it in a bowl with your powdered sugar and mix until it forms crumbs.

I know that was dreadfully difficult, sit down, you deserve a rest.

  • But don’t rest too long, you still have to make the Whipped Cream.

Once the Pie Crust and pudding is cooled, let’s put this sucker together:

Notice the poorly implemented cocoa in the pudding. Sift!

  • Take the Peanut Butter Mix and layer some on the bottom of the pie crust. Then spoon in the Pudding and layer some more of the Peanut Butter Mix on top of that. Mound it with whipped cream and finally top it off with even more of the Peanut Butter Mix.

And there you go, Yoder’s Peanut Butter Cream Pie. It looks awesome and tastes great. Aside from that whole tempering business, it’s a cinch to make.

Ok, maybe not a cinch, but did you think you can make such a thing with 10 ingredients? Uh huh, I thought so.

Happy π Day, everyone!

If you must know, some of my favorite pies are a Peanut Butter Pie and a Pecan Pie, both of which my wife makes every Thanksgiving. A traditional Apple Pie, something you can never go wrong with. And another Amish favorite: Shoofly Pie. It’s a molasses pie that I had once in my life and I’ll never forget it. Always look for it and never find it. Maybe I’ll have to make it one day…

What are some of your favorite pies?

1 comment:

  1. I never had pie as I was partaking in the endless mountains of cake with you. Heck I was even there when your mother learned how to make cake. Fuck I am getting old. Anyways, make me a pie and express it tome...but no fruit. U know I hate fruit.
    Love your darlin, never had pie sister