Mince-Nut Tarts au Chocolat

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I had a package of mincemeat left over from the holidays and remembered this recipe that I had developed in 1986 for a magazine contest.  It didn’t win, but it’s a delicious little tart.

I used a portion of mincemeat that I made from this condensed package (mixed with water) that makes 1-¾ cups.  I used one cup for this recipe.

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Mincemeat made from his package is comparable in taste and consistency to the prepared mincemeat in jars.

MINCE-NUT TARTS AU CHOCOLAT

  • 3 Tblsp.condensed milk
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tblsp. chocolate chips
  • 1 cup prepared mincemeat
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 6 pastry tart shells (3-½ in. diameter (across top) x ¾ in. deep

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

In small saucepan combine condensed milk and chocolate chips.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until chips are melted.

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Spread chocolate mixture over bottom surface of tart shells (about 2 Tblsp. per pan).
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Divide mincemeat among pans and spread over chocolate mixture.

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Sprinkle the top of each tart with chopped pecans.

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Bake at 375 degrees F approximately 20 minutes until crust and walnuts are golden brown.

Let cool in pans on a wire rack.

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6 servings

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Abby’s Pecan Pie

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When I went to work as a secretary in Procter & Gamble’s corporate offices, they were located in the old Gwynne Building on Sixth and Main Streets in downtown Cincinnati.  The 12-story Gwynne Building was completed in 1914 and Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt (wife of Cornelius III) dedicated it to her father, prominent Cincinnati lawyer and Judge, Abraham Gwynne. Procter & Gamble leased the building and eventually purchased it in 1935. The building served as Procter & Gamble’s corporate headquarters until 1956.  When I went to work there in 1950, on the ground floor was a Dow drugstore and an Italian restaurant.   The drugstore was handy for a quick candy bar or soft drink and when the girls got together for drinks after work, they usually chose the Italian restaurant (whiskey sours were a favorite).

The Gwynne Building - P&G's corporate offices from 1914-1956
The Gwynne Building – P&G’s corporate offices from 1914-1956

On the 12th floor of the building was a huge employee dining room.  I liked to choose a one-person table near a window where I could have a gorgeous panoramic view of the city while I ate the wonderful food that was served.  Maybe because of the Crisco connection, they always offered an array of pies which was excellent.  I had my first taste of pecan pie here and it was memorable.  After I left the company to start my family (most women did not continue working after their first baby at that time), I tried several recipes, trying to duplicate the P&G cafeteria pecan pie.  In the 1970s, I found this recipe in Dear Abby’s column in the newspaper and I thought it came closest to what I was looking for.  It’s been a family favorite ever since – often included with our Thanksgiving pies.  This is an easy pie to make.

ABBY’S PECAN PIE

  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 whole eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup melted butter (cooled)
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (my favorite is here
  • 1 cup pecan halves and pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix together the light corn syrup and dark brown sugar.
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Whisk in the eggs, salt, vanilla and cooled melted butter.

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Pour into the unbaked pie shell and sprinkle pecans evenly over the top of the filling.
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Place on a flat sheet to catch spills and bake @ 375 degrees F for approximately 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.

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This is a specialty of the house recipe from the Phoenix Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky.  I begged this from the pastry chef to share with you.  Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby)”

Servings:  6 to 8.  This is a very rich pie and a smaller piece might be just right for most people, but it’s my youngest daughter’s favorite and she likes a nice big slice.

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Procter & Gamble's current headquarters
Procter & Gamble’s current headquarters

Sugar Cream Pie

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In the 1970s, my young daughters and I loved a Sugar Cream pie that we could buy frozen at our local grocer.  As the years went by, the pie disappeared from the grocery store and several of my attempts to duplicate it failed.  Then in the 1980s, I adapted several recipes to come up with one that I thought was very close to our old favorite and it won a ribbon at the Ohio State Fair.  I made it again for the two daughters for this week’s Sunday dinner.

SUGAR CREAM PIE

  • 1 cup whipping cream (1/2 pt.)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3 Tblsp. butter, melted
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 9” unbaked pie shell*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Place a piece of foil or parchment paper in the unbaked pie shell and pour in 2 cups of dry beans.  Bake @ 375 degrees F for 10 minutes to “blind bake”.  Remove foil and beans and let pie set on rack while preparing the filling.  Note:  I keep dry beans in a jar to use in blind-baking pie crust.  The beans can be used over and over again to blind bake, but don’t cook them for other uses.

TO MAKE THE FILLING:
Combine one cup whipping cream, sugar, flour, salt in medium bowl – whisk until smooth.

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Whisk in half-and-half gradually, add melted butter and nutmeg.  Pour into blind-baked pie shell.

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Bake @ 375 degrees F approximately 45 minutes.  Pie is done when knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.  Good at room temperature or chilled.  Chill leftovers.

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6 servings 


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*Click here for my favorite pie crust

Delicious No-Bake Eggnog Pie

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At this time of year, we usually have some straggling leftovers and I wanted to make something for Sunday dinner that would use up two cups of dairy eggnog.  I remembered a pie I had made for Christmas in 1985 from an old 1978 Southern Sideboards cookbook.  I adapted it a bit, including leaving out an extra two cups of whipped cream – I felt we had indulged enough over the holidays.  It’s a good dessert with a crunchy graham cracker/almond crust and a smooth creamy filling.  Make the day before serving so the pie can chill at least 6 hours or overnight.

DELICIOUS NO-BAKE EGGNOG PIE

CRUMB CRUST:

  • 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup butter, melted

FILLING:

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tblsp. cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 cups dairy eggnog
  • 2 Tbsp. rum
  • 1 cup whipping cream, whipped
  • Freshly grated nutmeg for topping

TO MAKE THE CRUMB CRUST:
Combine graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup sugar, almonds, cinnamon and melted butter in a small bowl.

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Press the mixture on the bottom and sides of a buttered 10-inch pie pan (deep).*  Set aside.

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TO MAKE THE FILLING:
In a cup, sprinkle gelatin over water to soften – set aside.  Mix 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt in top of double boiler.  Gradually stir in eggnog.  Cook over hot, not boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened.

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Remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin until dissolved.  Allow filling to cool …

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…then fold in rum and whipped cream.

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Pour mixture into the pie shell and sprinkle with nutmeg.  Cover and let chill in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

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*I had a 10-inch pie plate but apparently it wasn’t deep enough.  I poured the leftover filling into two custard cups, covered and chilled for a nice light dessert after the pie is gone.

6 servings 

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This has nothing to do with eggnog pie but I couldn’t resist showing you this picture.  It’s not everyone who can look out the back door and see a St. Bernard dog in the snow.  Our neighbor’s dog is usually looking for a shady spot or barking to get back in the house, but today he was in his glory in all that beautiful snow.

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Celebration Peach Cobbler

This recipe comes from two sources – the fruit portion is from a Crisco flyer, American Pie Celebration, and the cobbler topping is my favorite from Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook.  The Farm Journal stresses dropping the cobbler dough onto piping hot fruit.

CELEBRATION PEACH COBBLER

Fruit Mixture

  • 4 cups sliced fresh peaches
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg

Cobbler Topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 1-½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
  • ½ cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Have a 9-inch square baking pan or 2-quart baking dish at hand.

To Make Fruit Mixture:
In a large saucepan, combine peaches, sugar, water and cornstarch.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring constantly for one minute.  Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg.  Pour into a 9-inch square baking dish or a 2-quart baking dish.

To Make Cobbler Topping:
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Blend in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.  Stir in the milk to make a soft dough.

Drop tablespoons of cobbler topping over surface of piping hot fruit mixture.

Bake @ 400 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until fruit is bubbly and topping is golden brown.

6 servings.  Serve in bowls with cobbler juices. 


This is a wonderful cobbler served warm.  I try to time it so it’s coming from the oven  to  cool for 20 minutes or so while we’re eating dinner.  It’s a lovely dessert  plain or topped with a little cream or whipped topping.

Kentucky Lemon Chess Pie

My husband’s family was from Whitley City, McCreary County, Kentucky – near Cumberland Falls.  His mother, Nettie, and her sister, Anne, lived to be in their late 90s – funny, active, energetic.  Aunt Anne belonged to the McCreary County Senior Citizens and in 1983, the group published a cookbook, “Home Cooking Secrets of McCreary County Senior Citizens”.

One of the first recipes I tried was Lemon Chess Pie submitted by Charita Farris.  I have a note beside the recipe, “Excellent- 11/83”.

Each year, I bake the pie at least once during the winter, following Charita’s recipe exactly.  This year, I suddenly realized spring is here and I haven’t made the pie yet.  So, we’re having it for dinner today.

KENTUCKY LEMON CHESS PIE

  • Unbaked pastry for single crust 9″ pie (see my recipe here)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tblsp. yellow cornmeal
  • 4 eggs, unbeaten
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon peel, grated*
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

In a medium mixing bowl, place sugar, flour, and cornmeal.  Toss with a fork.  Add eggs and whisk together until smooth.  Add butter, milk, grated lemon peel and lemon juice.  Mix well.  Pour into the unbaked 9″ crust.

Bake @ 375 degrees F for approximately 45 minutes until the top and crust are golden brown.

Place pie on a wire rack to cool.  It’s quite rich and delicious.

*Here’s a good way to always have lemon juice and lemon peel on hand for your favorite recipe.

My Easier Lemon Meringue Pie

My oldest daughter was here for Sunday dinner and I asked her to choose what dessert I should make.  As usual when she has a choice, it was lemon meringue pie.

I make my lemon filling a little different from what the cookbooks say but I think it’s easier and it always turns out great.  Rather than trying to mix egg yolks into hot filling, I make a slurry with the eggs using cold water, then adding hot water,  and I’ve never had a problem with lumps or cooked egg in the filling.

LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 Tblsp. cornstarch
  • 3 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 3 slightly beaten egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 baked 9″ pastry shell*
  • Meringue using 3 egg whites (see below)

In a medium saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch, flour, salt.  Add egg yolks and then gradually add cold water, whisking until smooth.  Whisk in hot water and place over medium high heat.  Cook and stir to bring to a boil.  Cook two minutes longer, whisking constantly.  Remove from heat and add butter and lemon peel.  Gradually add lemon juice, whisking well.  Allow to set in sauce pan while making meringue:

THREE-EGG-WHITE MERINGUE

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 6 Tblsp. granulated sugar

In an electric mixer bowl, place egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar.  Beat until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and all sugar is dissolved (be careful not to get it stiff to the point of dryness).

Stir and pour hot pie filling into baked pie shell.  Immediately top with meringue, sealing to the edge of the pastry shell.  Bake @ 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes until meringue is golden.

Cool on a wire rack.  Allow time for pie to cool completely before serving.

*Here is my favorite recipe for pie crust.  I use half of the recipe for a 9″ shell and freeze the remainder for another time.  After the pastry is in the pan, prick generously on the bottom and sides of crust.

Place a piece of foil in the bottom of the pan and fill with dry beans.

Bake @ 410 degrees for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and take out the foil and beans.  Return to oven and bake for 8-10 minutes longer until crust is golden brown.  Place on a rack to cool.

Note from my recipe binder:  “From cookbook, “Better Homes & Gardens Pies & Cakes”.  Made 7/95 for Sunday dinner.  David declared it the best lemon pie I ever made.”

Update: To answer a question about the beans – they are used to keep the crust from “bubbling up”.  I keep dry beans in a quart jar and use them over and over again.

A Good Sunday Lunch

I offered to fix lunch for my two daughters and two grandchildren before they headed for the large pool at Coney Island in Cincinnati.  One daughter suggested an oriental style pasta salad would be good and I found one on Allrecipes.  This is my edited version with a few changes.

SESAME PASTA CHICKEN SALAD

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 8 oz bow tie pasta (Barilla Piccolini)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup Teriyaki sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • few gratings of black pepper
  • 2 chicken breast halves, baked and shredded
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

Heat a small skillet over medium high heat.  Add sesame seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted.   Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for 7 minutes.  Drain pasta and rinse under cold water.  Transfer pasta to a large bowl.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine canola oil, Teriyaki sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, ginger and pepper.  Shake well.  Pour dressing over pasta and toss to coat evenly.  Gently mix in chicken, cilantro and toasted almonds.

The three adults loved this salad – it was exactly what I was looking for in flavor and I would suggest that you not omit the fresh cilantro.  It just adds so much to the salad.

For dessert, I pulled out a recipe for a pie that myoldest daughter had made for a pie contest at the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati) in 1985.  She won an award and as soon as we tasted it, we could see why.  It’s incredibly rich, so plan on at least 8 servings.

NANCY'S CHOCOLATE LIME PIE

  • 16 chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed (Oreo)
  • 2 Tblsp. butter, melted
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
  • 2 envelopes of Nestle Choco-Bake pre-melted chocolate
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 3 egg whites
  • 7 oz. jar of marshmallow creme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Crust:

In a 9″ pie pan, combine crumbs with melted butter.  Press onto bottom and up sides of pie plate.  Bake @ 375 degrees  F for about 8 minutes.  Cool while preparing filling.

Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F.

Filling:

In mixer bowl beat egg yolks at high speed about 4 minutes.  Add condensed milk, pre-melted chocolate and lime juice, mixing well.  Pour into prepared crust.

Meringue:

Beat egg whites to soft peaks, gradually adding marshmallow creme, incorporating well and beating to stiff peaks.  Spread over filling.

Bake @ 350 degrees F for 12 minutes until meringue is golden brown.

Chill for 2-3 hours.

Note: It’s important to chill the pie well and to chill any leftovers to make the pie easier to serve.

A Perfect Day for Pumpkin Pie

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A PERFECT DAY FOR PUMPKIN PIE

This September Sunday morning is cool, crisp and autumn-like with trees starting to show color and fall decorations beginning to appear on front doors.  It’s a perfect day for pumpkin pie.  My recipe is pretty much standard except for a few variations in spices.  I heard Garrison Keillor quote one of his radio characters, saying,  “The best pumpkin pie you ever tasted isn’t that much better than the worst,” but I don’t agree.  Homemade pumpkin pies are really good and a super-easy pie to make.  I prefer to make my pie crust but certainly frozen ones are available.

FAVORITE PUMPKIN PIE


2 eggs

15 oz. can of pumpkin (not pumpkin filling)

½ cup plus 2 Tblsp brown sugar

½ cup plus 2 Tblsp granulated sugar

½ tsp salt

1-1/2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp ginger

12 oz. of evaporated milk

One 9″ unbaked pie shell (any smaller and the pie will overflow)


In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten.  Add the remaining ingredients and whisk together until smooth.  Pour into the unbaked pie shell.  (It works better to have the pie plate on a larger flat pan or cookie sheet to catch spills.)  Place pie in preheated 375 degree oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes.  The pie is done when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Yield:  One very good 9″ pie 



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