Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Special: Jack-O-Lantern Pie

Happy Halloween, everyone!
Today we have a special recipe, Jack-O-Lantern Pie! We also have some special guests, classmates of Red and Black. As none of them is old enough yet to have chosen a name, they'll be addressed by colour: Blue, Green, and White.
The base recipe for this is from the back of the can of Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin. Since we're baking in Mom's kitchen, with seven dragons and two brothers along for the ride (and no Archi, as he's at work) we'll use frozen pie crusts. You can easily substitute the pie crust recipe from the Apple Pie if you'd rather make your own or can't find a frozen crust. Keep in mind that pumpkin pie only needs one crust, though, so you'll have leftover crust. Perhaps you could add a stem!

Let's get started!

Ruth is standing on the sugar because it gives him a good view of everything, and with twice as many dragons working under him as usual, there's a lot to keep track of! Black has taken over the salt for a perch, settled between Blue on the evaporated milk and Green on the cinnamon. Hi-chan has the ginger and the whole carton of eggs, though we only need two eggs. We'll sort that out later. Red has brought the nutmeg by mistake, because I managed to get everyone confused about the spices. White is bringing in cloves just behind him. They're almost lined up in front of the can of pumpkin. Ruth found it rather amusing that the recipe was on the back of the can.

Here are the things we need to get started! Ruth brought the larger bowl, White has the smaller. Black
has most of the measuring cups, though Green grabbed one of them to jump in. Hi-chan brought a spoon
to stir with, and Red has the measuring spoons. Blue brought a fork for beating eggs.

Green suddenly remembered that we needed to open the cans, so he hopped out of the measuring cup and
went to get the can opener. This one doesn't look anything like mine, but it'll still work. We'll see it in action later.

To make the face, we'll be using chocolate--Wilson's chocolate melts, because they happen to be easy to work with. In order to make sure they melt evenly, we're using a warm bath for the glass melting dishes. Ruth is adding water so we can get the heat turned on. This is the warming part of Mom's slow-cooker, with the lid of it turned upside-down to hold the water.

Hi-chan is helping me pour the chocolate melts into the dishes for melting down. We have dark chocolate and black candy melts. It takes a bit for the chocolate to melt, so we'll be keeping half an eye on that while we put the pie together, and we can draw up the faces while the pie is in the oven.

Let's get started on the pie! First we need to preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Hi-chan has that under control, as Mom's oven is built a bit differently than mine.

Blue won the choosing-game the little dragons played, so he gets to add the first ingredient, 3/4 cup (150g) sugar. Ruth holds the bowl still and keeps an eye on the other four small dragons as they figure out who's up next.

Looks like Black is up! He's quite familiar with this, so adding 1/2 teaspoon salt is no sweat, though the measuring spoon isn't quite the same as the ones he's used to at home.

Green gets to add 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Red's turn! 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, easy as pie! White has jumped up to watch from the side of the bowl.

Last but not least, White gets his turn and adds 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. That's all the spices!

Ruth stirs everything together until we have a nice even tone without any blotchy spots. We want the spices to all spread nice and even through the whole pie.

Now we need two eggs. Looks like the little dragons are having fun with them! I'm almost sorry to take away their toys, but we need to add them to the pie.

Well, they didn't really mind at all. They've all found a perch so that they can see over the rim of the bowl to watch Neko-kun crack the eggs into it.

Neko-kun holds the bowl for Ruth while he beats the eggs. This might be easier in a smaller bowl, but we're doing it in the large one to save on cleanup.

The eggs are all beaten up now, and the younger dragons are looking closely to memorize what it looks like so they'll know when to stop beating. Yellow on yellow is a little hard to see in the picture, sorry.

Now it's time to mix in the sugar-and-spice (and everything nice?). Ruth uses a spoon to coax it out of the small bowl while the others watch. White commented that it was like watching an hourglass in fast-forward, which everyone thought was a good joke.
"Rather sweet hourglass, isn't it?" Green suggested.

We need to open that can of pumpkin now, so Hi-chan has that electric can-opener that Green brought over. This one goes all on its own and knows when to stop. Place it on top of the can to be opened, making sure to line up the inside rim of the can opener's bottom along the outside rim of the can to be opened. It has a magnet that will keep it from escaping. Once it's settled, push the black button Hi-chan has her paw on, and go for a ride! Well, Hi-chan went for a ride. The little white can-opener spins itself around the edge of the can, neatly separating the top from the sides. When there's nothing left for it to cut, it'll stop on its own. I snapped the picture just as it stopped, with Hi-chan still grinning wide--she rather enjoyed that ride!

With the can of pumpkin now open, Hi-chan claims the sugar canister as a perch to watch Ruth pull the pumpkin out with a spoon. Neko-kun is holding the can still for him.

Time to take up the mixing-spoon again! Ruth paused to mug for the camera as he finished stirring the spice and the pumpkin into the eggs. Looks like Red is pretty eager for a taste!

Ruth picked Black to help open the can (12oz/354mL) of evaporated milk. First we punch a big triangular hole in one side, as large as the pointed end of our bottle/can opener will make. This is the side we'll actually pour from. Then, rotate the can one half-turn (180°) and make a smaller hole in the opposite side to let air in. If you forget to make the smaller hole, it'll take longer for the milk to pour out, and it will glug like a soda-bottle held upside-down. Looks like Ruth is going for a taste of the milk! Well, we do need to be sure we're using quality ingredients!

Everyone returns to their perches, and Hi-chan pulls White up to sit next to her after he fell a couple times from his perch on the side of the bowl. This time Neko-kun handles the stirring while Ruth adds the evaporated milk. We need the whole can, but pour it in a little at a time to make it easier to mix.

Black and White suddenly remember that we forgot to pull the pie shells out of the freezer! Yugi-kun gets the pie crusts out for them, and Black and White get a ride back to the island where all the baking is going on.

Everyone is back in place, and Ruth has finished stirring up the pie filling. Yugi-kun opened the package of pie crusts and has one ready and waiting behind Ruth, who is taking a break to smile at the camera again. I think he likes seeing me behind the camera. (Usually it's Archi with the camera.)

Everyone watches as Ruth carefully pours the filling into the waiting pie crust. He's very focused! Behind Ruth, Yugi-kun is excited to get the pie in the oven.

With the pie crust filled up, Neko-kun brought out a pie-baking ring, which serves roughly the same purpose as the cookie sheet I use at home. The five small dragons held the ring still while Hi-chan pushed the pie into position. Now it's all set to go into the oven!

Hi-chan sets the timer for 15 minutes (it changed down just before I could snap the picture). Pumpkin pie requires a temperature change in order to set correctly, so it starts out at 425°F (220°C) for 15 minutes, and then we drop the temperature. Do not skip this, or your pie will not set.

While the pie starts baking, we start drawing up the features of a jack-o'-lantern face to decorate it with. The dragons are all fascinated with the chocolate triangles of eyes and nose, and the strange shape intended to become the mouth. It takes time for the chocolate to set, even when you lay it out fairly thin, as we've done here. (Neko-kun and I did the drawing-with-chocolate part.) Black has found a random pile of chocolate and wants to snag a bite. Ruth would rather he didn't.

The timer went off, so now we get to drop the temperature of the oven down to 350°F (175°C) so that our pie will set properly. Green takes care of changing the temperature.

Blue jumps in to reset the timer. The pie will take an additional 40-50 minutes at the lower temperature in order to bake through.

Waiting is always the hardest part. Ruth found some of the cat's toys, so they're all playing catch, or various other games with the balls. Green is trying to snap at the bell in the middle of the yellow ball.

The timer rang, so Ruth has the pie partly out of the oven in order to test it with a knife. Clean knife means the pie is done! Now we just have to let it cool, then top it with the chocolate face!

And here we have the finished pie, with the chocolate face in place! Jack-O-Lantern Pie is a great Halloween dessert! Everyone is looking forward to digging in.

Mm, pie! Although there isn't quite enough room for seven dragons around one slice of pie. Ruth is trying to work out how to wedge his way in without hurting anyone. We forgot to bring whipped cream, though.

Hope you have a great Halloween!
Monday's post may or may not be delayed due to the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy, as she messed with a lot of the power lines in my area this past Monday night. Since my oven is electric, I can't bake very well without power. It shouldn't be a problem, but I figured a warning was in order just in case.

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