dessert

As I previously promised (though a little belated), I made a mini pink ombrè cake to commemorate the one-year anniversery of this blog (and just in time for Valentine’s Day!).  :)

I followed the same layering concepts as my Surprise Rainbow Cake, but wanted to play with just one color and some cake piping.  Instead of the 6 layers I used for the Surprise Rainbow Cake, I kept it simple and made only 3 layers.  For a 5-inch round cake, 3 layers is enough, no? 

 I used a simple buttercream frosting.  But, instead of using completely butter, I used 2 parts shortening and 1 part butter.  Shortening is great for making sturdier frosting, which is ideal for cake decorating, but butter gives the frosting a better flavor than shortening.

I used about a third of my batch of frosting for the crumb coat that covers the entire cake before it gets decorated.  Be sure to put some parchment paper down around the edges of the cake.  Any extra frosting from the decorating will get on the parchment paper and not on the cake stand.  You can remove the parchment paper when the cake is complete.  This will make the decorating process a little less messy — I’m a bit of a messy cake decorator.  Don’t judge.

 Here’s all three layers with a crumb layer around it.  For good measure, you should put enough frosting that would leave the surface smooth and even.  For this cake, I rang out of frosting for the crumb layer and didn’t make a perfect crumb layer (I’m a rebel, I know!).  But because this cake will be covered completely with roses, I wasn’t too worried because the roses would hide those imperfections.  ;)

To decorate the cake, I used an open star tip attached to a pastry bag filled with the remainder of the frosting that has been mixed with food coloring and piped layers of roses.  To make a rose,  start in the center of where you want the rose to be, then slowly move the tip in a circle around the center point.  Loop around the center point about twice and try to end at the same point for each rose.  I started from the bottom of the cake and worked around the cake until the bottom row of roses were complete before moving up to the next row.
 

Ta da!

After you have covered the cake with roses, you can pipe some extra frosting into any extra spaces between the roses.  If you pipe in the same direction as the neighboring rose, it will look like it’s apart of the rose.   Sneaky, I know.

 It’s not perfect, but I was happy with how it turned out.
 

 My favorite part is the different gradients of pink layers inside!

 And yes, I cut a pretty fat piece for myself.  I mean, someone has to be the guinea pig.  Plus, it’s only a 5-inch round cake — it’s practically a diet cake!  :P

The cake was moist and the frosting had the perfect buttercream and sugar consistency.  I washed this piece down with some milk, and  I may or may not have been on a sugar high for the following few hours.  :)

Mini Ombre Cake

Makes a 3 layer 5-inch round cake
 
Ingredients

Three-Layer Ombre Cake

  • Vegetable shortening
  • Parchment paper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sticks (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk, room temperature
  • gel food coloring of your choice

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk

Directions

Three-Layer Ombre Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush three 5-inch-round cake pans (or as many 5-inch cake pans as you have, reusing them as necessary) with shortening. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper; brush again and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Slowly add egg whites and mix until well combined. Add vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Add flour mixture and milk in two alternating additions, beginning with the flour and ending with the milk. Mix until well combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly between three medium bowls. Using a food coloring color of your choice, add enough of the color to each bowl, working on one bowl at a time.  Whisk the color in until you have reached the desired shade for that layer.  I recommend starting with the darkest of the three range of colors you want and work your way to lighter colors.  That way, you avoid the possibility over coloring your lightest layer because you can compare it to the next darker color. 
  4. Transfer each color to an individual cake pan. Use a rubber spatula and smooth out the batter so that the cake will be as level as possible to minimize the amount of trimming necessary.
  5. Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes (working in batches if necessary).
  6. Remove cake layers from oven and transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 10 minutes. Wrap the cake layers individually with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator while making the frosting (below).
  7. Remove the cake layers from the refrigerator.  Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make level, if necessary. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a cake round or lazy Susan. Place the darkest layer on the cake plate. Spread a scant 1 cup of the white buttercream filling over the first layer with a small offset spatula so it extends just beyond edges. Repeat process with next darkest layer.
  8. Place the lightest color layer on top, bottom-side up. Gently sweep away any loose crumbs with a pastry brush. Using an offset spatula, cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting (also use any of the excess frosting visible between the layers). Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
  9. Put an open star tip onto a pastry bag and then fill it with the color buttercream frosting.  To make the rose, start in the center of where you want the rose to be, then slowly move the tip in a circle around the center point.  Loop around the center point about twice and try to end at the same point for each rose.  

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  1. In a KitchenAid Stand Mixer or medium bowl, cream butter and shortening until light and fluffy.  Add salt, vanilla, confectioners’ sugar and milk.  Beat well.
  2. Use 1/3 of the frosting for the white crumb coating. 
  3. With the remaining frosting, blend in some gel food coloring until it reaches the desired shade of color.  This will be the frosting you use to decorate the cake.  

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There’s something really homey and nostalgic about the winter holiday season.  The air is brisk and energizing and the bitter cold part of the winter season has not yet arrived.

During the winter, I love curling up on my couch under a fleece blanket with a nice book and a mug of hot cocoa.  With my hot cocoa, I like to drop in a few marshmallows.  It takes me back to childhood, when I adored marshmallows and may or may not have, on more than a few occasions, stuffed marshmallows in my mouth to see how many I can hold at once.  Ohh, to be a kid again.  :)

While I do not stuff marshmallows in my mouth like that anymore, I do still adore marshmallows.  So, in the spirit of this holiday season, I made some a lot of homemade peppermint marshmallows.

Once you know how to make marshmallows and realize how easy they are to make, it’s hard going back to the store-bought ones.  Plus, you can flavor and shape your marshmallows anyway you’d like, so the possibilities are endless!  For these peppermint marshamallows, I used peppermint extract instead of the vanilla extract that would go into a regular marshmallow.

To make marshmallows, first mix some unflavored gelatin with some cold water and let it sit until the gelatin softens like this.

While the gelatin is doing its thing, mix the sugar, corn syrup, salt and cold water together in a sauce pan on medium heat and bring to boil.  Stir and continue to boil until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Once all the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to high and boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F.

Then remove from heat and with the electric mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture and whisk.  Slowly increase the speed to high and whisk the mixture until it has tripled in volume.  This will take about 8-10 minutes.

The end result should look something like this.  It has the consistency of melted marshmallows.   Mmmm.  It’s okay to do a taste test at this point.  :)

Pour the marshmallow mixture into a pan that has been lightly buttered and dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  With an offset spatula, level the marshmallow as much as possible.

Let the marshmallow set in room temperature, about 12 hours.  When it’s ready to cut, pour some confectioner’s sugar on top and using your  hands, make sure the surface of the marshmallow is no longer sticky.  Then with a small sharp knife or metal spatula, trace the edges of the pan to loosen the marshmallow from the pan.

Invert the pan and allow the marshmallow to fall onto a large cutting board that has been dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  The parchment on the bottom of the pan will come in handy at this point.  With your hands, rub some additional confectioner’s sugar over the marshmallow in the areas that are still sticky.

Cut the marshmallow into squares.

 

Toss the marshmallow cubes in a bowl of (more) confectioner’s sugar.  I know it may sound like you’re using a lot of confectioner’s sugar, but really you’re only using it to dust the marshmallows and prevent it from sticking to one another.  I did not find myself using more than a cup or two for this large batch of marshmallows.

These are pretty easy to make and perfect holiday gifts.  I stored mine in my tea tins.  Remember this adorable peppermint tea tin I bought at Harney & Sons earlier this year?  I thought this was a perfect new home for these peppermint marshmallows.  :)

Mmm.  I see a lot of hot cocoa in the near future for me.  :)

Peppermint Marshmallows

Print this recipe!

Makes about 140 3/4-inch square marshmallows

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup cold water, divided in half
  • 2 - 1/4 ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1-2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions

  1. Lightly butter the bottom of a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and sift about a tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar onto the parchment, which will later help remove the marshmallow from the pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer filled with 1/2 cup of cold water, mix in the gelatin and let it stand until the gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a two quart saucepan, mix together the sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining 1/2 cup cold water.  Stir over medium heat and allow the mixture to come to a boil.   Continue to boil and stir until the sugar has completely dissolves.
  4. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and increase the heat to high and boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F, about 8-10 minutes.   Once at 240 degrees F, remove from heat.
  5. With the electric mixer bowl with the gelatin mixture fitted with a whisk attachment, slowly pour the hot syrup with the mixer running at low speed.  Gradually increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture has tripled in volume and is very thick and stiff, about 10 minutes.  It should have a melted thick marshmallow texture.
  6. Add peppermint extract and beat until it is combined in the marshmallow.
  7. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and spread the marshmallow evenly with a damp offset spatula or rubber/silicon spatula.  Try to level the marshmallow mixture as evenly as possible.  Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until set, about 12 hours.
  8. Dust the top of the marshmallow with another tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar and remove the marshmallow from the pan by first running a small sharp knife or metal spatula around the edge of the marshmallow to loosen it from the plan.  Then invert the pan onto a large cutting board that has been dusted with confectioners’ sugar.  Cut the marshmallow into squares using a sharp knife or pizza cutter.  Drop and toss the marshmallow cubes in a bowl of confectioner’s sugar so that marshmallows are evenly coated and no longer sticky.
  9. Shake off excess sugar and store the marshmallows in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2-3 weeks.

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A “surprise” rainbow cake is the perfect cake for a baby shower or a birthday party.  I should know, I made it for both events within the same week recently.  Crazy, I know!  But, it was so much fun to make!  And the results speak for itself.  :)

Yes, I know I typically stick with my cupcakes.  I do have a bias towards those serving-size delicious cuties, but I could not resist trying this adorable rainbow cake I recently saw on Martha Stewart’s site.   Instead of using the normal colors of the rainbow, however, I decided to use pastel colors for mine, which I thought would be fitting for a baby shower and a girlfriend’s birthday.

Shall we make some rainbow cake?

First, let’s start off by making the cake layers.

Make the batter first.  This is a simple white cake recipe, but you could also use any other batter.  Just make sure it’s close to colorless, so that the food coloring will turn out properly.  Some alternatives I think would work well are:  pound cake, coconut cake, lemon cake, poppy seed cake (though, don’t go overboard with the poppy for this cake).   You should have enough batter to make 2-3 normal 9-inch round cakes (~ 12 cups).

Divide the batter equally into 6 bowls.  You can use a weight scale here if you want to be exact, but I just eye-balled it.  I confess, and please don’t judge me, but I have never been a very exact cook.  I alter, combine and improvise a lot of recipes I find.  To me, that’s part of the fun in cooking/baking.  Plus, I personally think there are very few recipes where you need to be very exact with your ingredients.  With that said, I think anyone can make something delicious, even if they don’t end up following the recipe exactly.  :)

Okay, this is where the fun begins!  Using gel food coloring, make the following colors: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and pink.  I recommend gel food coloring over the regular food coloring because the colors will be more vibrant.  Plus the color of the batter before baking will be about the same color as the final result, which will help you gage how much food coloring to put in the batter.

With shortening, grease the bottom of 6 pans, and then place a layer of parchment inside each pan (I traced and cut 6 out from a roll of parchment).  Grease the top of the parchment.  If you don’t have 6 pans, you can bake the layers one at a time.  I had two pans, so I bakes these layers in three batches.  Pour each bowl of batter in its own 9-inch round pan.  I recommend using an offset spatula to distribute the batter evenly in the pan.  This will ensure that the layers will be as even as possible, which will reduce or even eliminate the need to level the layers out later.

Once the layers are baked, let it cool a little before carefully removing the cake layers from the pan.  You will notice that the parchment between the pan and the cake layer will be very helpful at this point.   Wrap each layer individually in plastic wrap and put the layers in the refrigerator.  These layers can be stored in the refrigerator for several days, so they can be made ahead of time.  Even if you are planning on frosting the cake right away, keep the layers in the refrigerator while you make the frosting.  Chilled layers will be much easier to frost and your cake will be less likely to crumble into the frosting.

Next, you make the frosting.  I used a lemon meringue buttercream frosting, but you may certainty use whatever frosting you prefer.  I think a regular buttercream or cream cheese frosting would work just as well here.  A lighter frosting, such as whipped cream frosting may be a little difficult here because the light frosting will have less body and may not be strong enough to hold the six layers together, which could potentially make a mess.  But, I still think it’s possible, you will just need to be more careful when moving your cake, and I would suggest creating a slightly thicker whipped cream by adding a little more sugar than the recipe may call for.

Now let’s assemble the cake.  On a cake round, lay out some parchment strips, which will be on the bottom of where the edges of the cake will be.  This will make it easier to clean up the surface of the cake round after the cake is frosted.

Let the layering begin …

When the layers are complete, make the crumb coat.  This is the thin layer of frosting around the cake, which will help prevent any loose crumbs from mixing with the top layer of frosting.

Put the cake back into the refrigerator to allow the crumb layer to set.  This will make the top layer easier to frost.

Frost the top layer.  Once everything’s frosted, carefully remove the strips of parchment from the bottom edges of the cake.

I love raspberries and thought it’d look adorable on the cake.

Voila!  So cute!  You’d never guess there was a cuter surprised waiting inside. :)

The perfect cake for a surprise birthday party!

My favorite moment is when the birthday girl cut through the first slice and revealed the “surprise.”  So pretty!  Definitely a crowd pleaser. :)

A slice of the rainbow.

Not only was this cake adorable, it was really delicious.  It’s a must-try if you’re looking for a creative baking project. :)

For the baby shower, I used a little more batter for each layer so that the cake layers would be thicker.  Instead of raspberries, the cake was topped with adorable edible heart-shaped sprinkles.

 

Surprise Rainbow Cake

Original Recipe from Whisk Kid’s Super Epic Rainbow Cake

Makes one 6-layer 9-inch round cake

Ingredients

Six-Layer Rainbow Cake

  • Vegetable shortening
  • Parchment paper
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/3 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple gel food coloring

Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

For the Filling and Crumb Coat

  • 9 large egg whites
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure lemon extract

For the Frosting

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract

Directions

Six-Layer Rainbow Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush six 9-inch-round cake pans (or as many 9-inch cake pans as you have, reusing them as necessary) with shortening. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper; brush again and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Slowly add egg whites and mix until well combined. Add vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Add flour mixture and milk in two alternating additions, beginning with the flour and ending with the milk. Mix until well combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly between six medium bowls. Add enough of each color of food coloring to each bowl, whisking, until desired shade is reached. Transfer each color to an individual cake pan. Use a rubber spatula and smooth out the batter so that the cake will be as level as possible to minimize the amount of trimming necessary.
  4. Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 15 minutes (working in batches if necessary).
  5. Remove cake layers from oven and transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 10 minutes. Wrap the cake layers individually with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator while making the frosting (below).
  6. Remove the cake layers from the refrigerator.  Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make level, if necessary. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a cake round or lazy Susan. Place the purple layer on the cake plate. Spread a scant 1 cup buttercream filling over the first layer with a small offset spatula so it extends just beyond edges. Repeat process with blue, green, yellow, and orange layers.
  7. Place the remaining pink layer on top, bottom-side up. Gently sweep away any loose crumbs with a pastry brush. Using an offset spatula, cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting (also use any of the excess frosting visible between the layers). Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
  8. Using an offset spatula, cover cake again with remaining frosting.

Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  1. Make the filling and crumb coat: Cook egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until sugar is completely dissolved. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; mix on high speed until mixture is room temperature. With the mixer on medium-low, add butter, one piece at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  2. Remove whisk attachment and switch to paddle attachment. Increase speed to high and beat until buttercream comes together, about 5 minutes; beat in lemon extract.
  3. Make the frosting: In a clean saucepan and bowl of an electric mixer, repeat process in step 1.

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Yes, you read the title correctly, “Better Than Sex” Cupcakes!

I wish I could take credit for the name, but I can’t.  So are they really as amazing as the name self-proclaims???  Well, the jury is still out on that, BUT,  the last time I made these, a serious debate on whether these were truly better than sex ensued (among Columbia grad students, at that!).  No joke.  I will say though, that (unlike some things) these cupcakes are satisfying each time without fail.  They really are pretty amazing (and I should know, I’ve made a fair number of cupcakes!).  They’re rich and decadent, and it’s really hard to eat just one!

There’s a variation of theories of how these should be made.  Here’s my take.

First, we’ll make devil’s food cake batter.  Devil’s food cake is a very moist and rich chocolate cake.  To make devil’s food cake, combine the sugar and butter with boiled water and mix well until the butter has melted.

In a  KitchenAid Stand Mixer or large bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Then mix in the butter mixture.  Mix until the mixture is smooth.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners.  I got a little messy here.

Once the cupcakes are baked, let it cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, whip the heavy cream, vanilla extract and sugar together into either soft or hard peaks.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, using a toothpick, poke some holes into each cupcake.

 

Now for the fun part — the dulce de leche part!  I’ve made my own ahead of time, but you can certainty buy these pre-made (though, why would you when it’s so easy to make!)

Pour some of the dulce de leche on top of each cupcake.

This is probably the hard part — hard to not eat all the dulce de leche while making this!  So good!

Allow the dulce de leche to soak into the holes of the cupcakes.

Top with some crushed toffee.

Pipe on some whipped cream frosting.

Wait!  It’s not done, don’t eat them yet!

Last step, drizzle some more dulce de leche on top.  Mmmm.  Go make them now.  They will leave you satisfied. ;)

Here’s the recipe!

“Better Than Sex” Cupcakes

Print this recipe!

Makes 24 cupcakes

Prep Time:  50 minutes
Total Time:  1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

Devils Food Cake Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 3 cups cold heavy whipping cream.
  • whisk – in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
  •  2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
Toppings

Directions

Devils Food Cake Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil.  Remove from the heat.
  3. Stir in sugar and butter until butter is melted.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Set aside.
  5. Sift and mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a KitchenAid Stand Mixer or large bowl.
  6. Add into the mixer or bowl the butter mixture and mix thoroughly.
  7. With a spoon or measuring cup, scoop the batter into each cupcake liner and fill it 2/3 full.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  10. While cupcakes are baking and cooling, you can make the whipped cream frosting detailed below.
  11. Once cupcakes have cooled for a few minutes, use a toothpick and poke 5 – 8 holes in the tops of the cupcakes.
  12. Spoon about a tablespoon of Dulce de leche sauce over each cupcake.
  13. Top with crushed toffee.
  14. Once cupcakes have completely cooled, frost each cupcake with the whipped cream frosting.
  15. Garnish with additional Dulce de leche sauce and crushed toffee, if desired.

Whipped Cream Frosting  (this can be done while the cupcakes are baking and cooling)

  1. For best results, make sure that your heavy cream, whisk, and bowl are all very cold.  Heavy cream should be chilled in the refrigerator for at least several hours, preferably overnight.  Place the bowl and whisk in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before using.  They should be super cold.
  2. Whisk cream on low speed in a KitchenAid Stand Mixer with the whisk attachment or medium bowl until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds in a KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  Increase speed to medium and continue whisking for about another 30 seconds.  Increase speed to high.
  3. Just before the cream becomes soft and billowy, slowly add the vanilla extract and sugar at the sides of the bowl, and continue whisking.
  4. Stop whisking when the cream has doubled in volume and is smooth, thick and forms soft or hard peaks.
  5. Be careful not to over beat or it ill turn to butter, which is what heavy cream will become after the hard peak stage.

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One of my dearest college friends will be getting married in less than a month and we recently celebrated her “last fling before the ring” bachelorette weekend in Sonoma/Napa Valley, CA.  The weekend was packed full with fun activities (thanks to our amazing event planner, the maid of honor)!

During our first night at the beautiful villa we stayed in, the maid of honor made a delicious dinner comprised of the bride-to-be’s favorite foods (nachos and mac ‘n cheese, yum!).  I made the bride-to-be’s favorite dessert—cherry pie—with a twist:  cherry pie in serving size mason jars. :)

There’s something to be said about pies made in individually-portioned mason jars.  They’re so adorable and make the homemade pie that much more special.  If you don’t like cherry pie, you can use any other pie filling for this recipe.  In fact, this would be a great way to make individual size chicken pot pies (I’ll probably make those this winter.  Stay tuned.)!

Here’s how we make cherry pie in a jar:

You start with the pie crust.  I prefer to make my own because it always taste better.  But if you’re short on time or don’t want to deal with the hassle of making pie crust, feel free to buy the pie crust.  I’ve included my favorite pie crust recipe below in case you’re up to it.  ;)

Place your pie crust on a lightly floured surface and roll it out evenly.

Using the opening of the mason jar to cut out the pie crust bottoms and pie toppers (the top crust covering the filling).

Place a crust bottom in each jar.

Use the remaining pie crust dough to line the sides of the jars.  The dough is easy to mold, so there’s no need to cut out a rectangle that goes around the side exactly.  Just press the dough pieces together until it form around the side.

Now for the fresh cherry filling!  The best cherry pies are made with fresh cherry filling.   If you’ve  had cherry pie and didn’t like it, it’s very likely that the pie was not made from fresh cherries.  Instead, it was probably cherries from a can.  Gross.  You’d be amazing how big of a difference fresh cherries make!   Trust me on this one.

So, lesson of the day, use fresh cherries.  You’ll thank me later for that.  :)

Now, using fresh cherries for the pie takes a little bit more effect than opening a can of cherries in syrup (did I mention, gross!).

First, you’ll need to pit them.  The easiest, although messy, way of doing this is to use the side of a chef’s knife and press down on the cherries.  You should do this 1-2 cherries at a time.  You might want to also wear an apron to avoid getting cherry juice on you (they’re a tough stain to get out!).  Once they’ve been pressed down on, the stem and pit comes out easily.

In a bowl, mix in the pitted cherries with some sugar, cornstarch, almond extract, vanilla extract, water, and salt.  Scoop about 1/2 cup of this cherries mixture in each jar.

If you want to, using a small knife (paring knife will do), cut a design out of the pie topper before placing it on top of cherry filling.  If you don’t want a design, make sure to at least create some slits on the pie topper to allow the steam to vent while baking.

There were 10 of us, which was  perfect:

You can also use a fork to seal and chrimp the edges of the pie.  I didn’t do that this time around.

To add a touch of cinnamon flavor, brush on a mixture of brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon on top of each pie before placing it in the oven.

You can either bake the pies right away or you can put the lid on the mason jars and store them in the freezer to eat later.  This is perfect if you have a craving for pie but don’t have several people to share a whole pie with (or, you can’t eat a whole pie alone.).

When you’re ready to bake the pies, place the jars on a baking sheet and place them in a cold oven.  Even though mason jars are pretreated to withstand heat, letting the jars heat up slowly will ensure that the glass doesn’t break during baking.   and set inside a cold oven.   Turn on the oven to 375ºF and bake the pies until the pie tops are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

They were really delicious (and really fun to make)!  I think a few tongues were burned that night (including my own) because it was nearly impossible to wait for them to cool down before wanting to dig into them.  Oh, the price one pays for lacking self-control.  :)

Here was my jar 10 minutes later.  My only regret (and grip from the girls) was that I only made 10, one for each girl.

Fresh Cherry Pie in a Mason Jar

Print this recipe!

Makes 10 servings

Prep Time:  1 hour
Total Time:  2 hours

Ingredients

10 1/2-pint wide mouth canning jars

Pie Crust

  • 15 tablespoons (~2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening, very cold
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Cherry Pie Filing

  • 5 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon water

Pie Topping

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

Pie Crust

  1. Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator to keep it cold.
  2. Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.  Try not to over-pulse, as it can make your pie crust less flaky.
  3. Add the cold butter and shortening.  The colder they are, the flakier your crust will turn out.  Pulse 8 – 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas.
  4. While the machine is running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.
  5. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  (Use this time towards making the filing).
  6. Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut the dough in half.  For each piece of dough, rolling from the center to the edge, and turning and flouring the dough to make it doesn’t stick to the board.  Use the opening of the jar to cut out 10 pieces of the dough to make the pie topper.   Do the same with the other piece of dough and cut out 10 pieces of the dough with the opening of the jar lid to make the pie bottoms.
  7. Place the pie bottoms inside each jar.
  8. Use the remaining dough to line the jar sides, pressing the dough all the way to the top of the jar.  Do not grease the jar.
  9. Keep the pie-crusted jars and pie toppers in the refrigerator while you finish preparing the filing.

Cherry Filing

  1. Pit the cherries by using the flat side of a large knife to gently mash the cherry one by one on a cutting board.  This gets messy, so an apron is recommended.  Remove all the stems and pits from the mashed and loosened cherries.
  2. In a bowl, mix the pitted cherries with the sugar, cornstarch,  almond extract, vanilla extract, salt, and water.  Mix well.

Pie in a Jar

  1. Fill each jar with 1/2 cup filling.
  2. Cut a vent or shape into each pie topper.
  3. Cover each pie jar with a pie topper.  Use fingers or fork to seal and chrimp the dough together around the edge of the pie.
  4. In a bowl, mix together brown sugar,  cinnamon, and melted butter.  Evenly brush the top of each pie with the mixture.
  5. Seal each jar with its metal top and place them all in the freezer until you’re ready to bake them.
  6. To bake the pies, remove the lids from the jars and place them on a baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet in a cold oven.  Do not preheat.  Once the pies are inside the oven, turn on the oven to 375 F.  This will allow the jars to heat up slowly.
  7. Bake the pies until the pie tops are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.  This is about 50-60 minutes if the pies are frozen; 45 minutes if they are fresh.

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