Topline Trends Tuesday: Butterscotch

November 10, 2009


Fancier. Butterier. As yummy as ever before but just more (deservingly) popular. Butterscotch is trending up and that can’t help but be good!

From butterscotch desserts appearing on more fine dining restaurant menus to a twitter chat I had with @finecooking a couple of weeks ago, it seems like I can’t pass the day without hearing a butterscotch reference.

It’s even on sitcoms: on a recent episode of How I Met Your Mother, it was declared that “Butterscotch is Canadian women’s chocolate.”

While I can’t speak for the entire Canadian female population, I can say that chocolate is my chocolate but butterscotch is my butterscotch. Confused? It’s the same as how silk is silk and wool is wool. Both are great but they’re different. And, like a wool sweater over a silk shirt, they’re often fantastic together!

That said, one of my favourite childhood desserts is Butterscotch Meringue Pie; it’s a study in soothing dessert goodness.

What about you? Butterscotch or chocolate? Canadian or American? Fess up!

Dana’s Definitive Butterscotch Meringue Pie

1/2 cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) dark brown sugar
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) hot milk
4 eggs, separated
3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1 pre-baked pie crust, 9-in (23 cm)
1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar

Stir the flour with the brown sugar in heavy saucepan. Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth. Cook, stirring almost constantly, over medium heat, for about 5 minutes or until thick and smooth; reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring often.

Beat the egg yolks and stir a little of the hot milk mixture into eggs. Pour the egg mixture into pan, stirring constantly and cook for 3 minutes longer. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Pour into pie shell. Cool completely.

Beat the egg whites until foamy; gradually beat in granulated sugar until soft peaks form. Mound on top of custard, spreading meringue out to edge of crust. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until golden.

• Because this pie and topping are so sweet and rich, use a lard or shortening-based piecrust to ensure that the crust is a foil to the other elements.
• To pre-bake the piecrust, prick the raw shell all over with a fork; line with foil and pie weights or dried beans. Bake in a preheated, 400 F (200 C) oven for 20 minutes; remove foil and weights; bake for 10 minutes longer or until golden. Cool on rack.

Topline Trends Tuesday: Foie gras in the sweet kitchen

July 14, 2009


Photo credit: Food In Houston

Although no pastry chef I know ever learned how to make profiteroles, macarons, tarte tatin, waffles, milkshakes or doughnuts with foie gras at culinary school, many of them are doing it now in high-end eateries in cities such as Montreal, Chicago, Portland and New York.

I haven’t tried a foie gras-laced dessert yet myself but I did have a foie gras and pear empanada at my husband Martin’s restaurant recently and it was pretty damn good.

Have any of you seen foie gras used as a dessert ingredient in your area? If so, did you try it? And, if you did, what did you think? Hit or miss?

Say “yes” to pie!

April 22, 2009

A Piece of the PieJust like casseroles, pie is back! I know that since last October I’ve made more pies and tarts than ever before and at my dining room gatherings, pie has definitely been the new cake!

While recipes for great pies are bouncing around the internet at frenetic speed, places that make great pie are also getting their fair share of attention:

Three Sisters Pies in Alberta is a much-loved staple at the Millarsville Farmers’ Market because their dessert pies made from premium, regional, ethical and organic ingredients make people feel good about eating pie while their super flaky, hand-crafted flaky pastry makes doing the right thing a pleasure!

Gourmet on the Lake’s Muskoka Food Boutique has an entire day of the week devoted to pie! That’s right, every Friday they have a full roster of fresh sweet and savoury pies ready for their customers to take home and love as their own!

And, if you’re thinking that this pie pandemonium is just a Canadian thing, guess again. According to this post in The Nibble, pies are quite often the preferred choice in the US right now, too.

Can you recommend a place that makes great pies in your area? And, what do you prefer: cake or pie?

BTW, if you feel like baking a pie yourself, you might find these previous posts useful:

Ten Double Crust Pie Tricks

Choosing a rolling pin

Tarte tatin

Pumpkin flans

December 16, 2008


You could say that I love pumpkin pie but the truth is that I love pumpkin pie filling. In fact, I love it so much that one year when I was baking pumpkin pies for a charity pie auction, I made not just an extra pie for my own family but another so that I could go on an all-day pumpkin pie diet. Honest.

As if that story even needs a punch line, when I told my then 7-year-old son that mommy was on the all pie diet, he rolled his eyes and said “pie-yi yi!” Yeah, he was born snarky and sarcastic.

Anyhow, once I realized that I was actually fonder of pumpkin pie filling than actual pumpkin pie, I decided that there was no need to make pastry. So, now I cook up pumpkin filling in a bain marie so that I can indulge anytime. This technique also works well as a single-serve dessert for the holidays. To glam them up a bit for Christmas dinner, I’d chill these flans down in the refrigerator and then drizzle with dark chocolate before serving them in their ramekins to be eaten with spoons. Festive flavours and make-ahead convenience.

Butterscotch pudding

January 24, 2008

butterscothpudding.jpgWhen I was growing up I loved homemade butterscotch pudding. In fact, I vowed that as soon as I was an adult I would make an entire pot of butterscotch pudding and eat it all by myself. I still find that idea wonderfully appealing; however, as I mentioned on television recently, I’m also trying to stay slim and trim (BTW: I’ve lost four of the six pounds I talked about losing that day!).

When I originally envisioned eating an entire batch of butterscotch pudding, it was a big batch. A really big batch. Enough for eight, in fact. While I know that my adult metabolism can definitely not handle that kind of indulgence, I do still love creamy, rich homemade butterscotch pudding. There’s just no substitute for scratch butterscotch pudding. The single-serve commercially prepared butterscotch puddings available in grocery stores don’t even taste like butterscotch. No, once you go homemade, there’s no turning back when it comes to butterscotch pudding!

To satisfy my cravings and maintain portion control, I developed this smaller batch, microwave version of my favorite childhood dessert. Although it makes enough to share with a friend, you could eat the entire batch. You’d be blowing your diet for the day but you won’t have to lie down to recover!

What’s your favorite childhood food? Are sweets more “cravable” than savoury foods for you?

Dana’s Microwave Butterscotch Pudding
4 tsp (20 mL) cornstarch
½ cup (125 mL) lightly packed dark brown sugar
pinch salt
1 cup (250 mL) 2 % milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
2 tbsp (30 mL) cold, salted butter, cubed
¼ tsp (1 mL) pure vanilla extract

Blend the cornstarch with the sugar and salt until well combined in a microwave safe bowl or large glass-measuring cup. Whisk in about 1/4 of the milk until smooth. Blend in remaining milk, whisking until smooth.

Cook mixture in the microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Whisk well and cook for 2 minutes longer or until thickened. Spoon a little of the hot milk mixture into the eggs. Stir until smooth. Scrape the egg mixture into the hot milk mixture using a rubber spatula. Whisk well and cook for 1 minute longer on HIGH. Whisk in the butter and vanilla until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Makes 2 servings.