Easy as Pie! Holiday edition!

It’s a pandemic holiday! And, I still was able to add a holiday desert to my list. I’m purposely trying to make light of things. It’s a different world we’re living in today, and I’m trying to make the best of it (without going into a panic attack).

Cheesecake! Yes, I made a strawberry cheesecake! This was not my first time at the rodeo, making cheesecake, however, I bought a 9 inch springform pan, because with my OCD I felt it needed to be perfect!

Auntie Fran’s Strawberry Cheesecake!

Auntie Fran’s Strawberry Cheesecake

Ingredients

Three packs of Philadelphia cream cheese

1 1/2 cup of sour cream

2 cups of sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

3 eggs

Crust Ingredients

1 box of gram crackers

1/2 cup of melted butter

Strawberry compote ingredients

Fresh box of strawberries (leave out about ten to place over the pie)

1/4 cup corn starch

1 cup of sugar

2 cups water

How to make

I love my kitchen aid! Mix cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract in bowl. You can use a hand mixer or kitchen aid. Add the eggs last, after mixture is completely combined and smooth.

For crust, I used my nutra blend to break down the crackers. Added the melted butter, and fluffed it out.

First, evenly pat down the gram cracker crust to your 9 inch springform pan (I put aluminum foil in the pan, for easy transfer to a plate, after bake.

Second, add your beautiful mixture of cream cheese to the pan. Bake for an hour and 10 minutes. Let cool down a bit before putting in fridge.

Cut up your fruit/strawberries in any decoration, shape or size you like and get creative.

To make the strawberry compote, add water, strawberries, sugar and cornstarch in a pot. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes, let cool, then blend.

Check out my holiday pies below. They’ll bring a smile to anyone’s face!

Let me introduce you to my Mom’s southern sweet potato pie, and this delectable fruit tart pie I learned how to make in Culinary school, however, since the holidays that just past, (because I’ve made so many of them), I’ve perfected my fruit tart pies to my own liking. Culinary school just gave me the tools, it’s up to me create on that foundation.

Just let me give you a bit of my Mom’s family history, my Mom grew up in a small town in North Carolina, (Greensboro). My Mom learned everything from her Mom, and I from her. I feel blessed, My Mom and Grandma although inadvertently not knowing, was bringing down tradition. I say that, because in the 1920’s and 30’ there was no time to bombarded with happily passing down traditions, survival was more of a fitting attitude back I those days. Unfortunately, going to work as a cook and housekeeper at a young age for my Ma was a reality. Fast forward to when I was a kid in the kitchen with my Ma, was always fun time for me. Whatever my Ma did during the struggle, or the depression era, her teaching me her crafts in the kitchen overcame what sad feelings, (if she had any) long gone. When my Ma and me cooked, baked, braised, and seasoned, was the best times in my life. My Ma was an eager beaver to show me how to cook. I cherish the memories and the recipes.

Momma Louise Sweet Potato Pie:

Ingredients

5 pounds of sweet potatoes

2 1/2 cups of sugar

3 eggs

1 cup of evaporated milk

2 table spoons vanilla extract

2 table spoons nutmeg

2 table spoons cinnamon

1 stick (half a cup) of butter with or without the salt

This recipe yields 2 pies

How to make:

Boil sweet potatoes until they are soft enough to put a fork through them

When sweet potatoes are done, let them cool. They should be easy to peel at this time

Use a hand mixer, and mix until you have a medium soft consistency, (get out all the lumps, and you may have to add a little more milk to get that medium soft consistency). Add all your ingredients, maintaining your soft consistency (note) you may have to add more sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Fill your pie crust, (I use already made prepared pie crust). Some may consider this cheating, I don’t, because it’s made from real dough, sugar, eggs etc. smooth the top with a spoon or flat frosting spatula. Oven at 350 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes.

Auntie Fran’s delectable sweet tart

Ingredients for the Pastry cream

2 1/2 cups of whole milk

4 egg yolks

1/3 cup of sugar

3 slices of butter

1 table spoon vanilla extract

1/4 cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

This recipe yields two 9 inch pie or six 3 inch mini’s

How to make:

Bring milk to a boil.

While milk is boiling, whisk together all the eggs, sugar, and cornstarch in a separate bowl.

When the milk starts to boil, remove from heat, pour in half milk into your egg mixture, whisk together, then combine with the rest of the milk that’s in the pot, and add vanilla extract and butter slices.

The mixture should thicken up quickly. Let cool and transfer your pastry cream into a bowl.

To prevent your pastry from forming a film at the sides of the bowl, layer plastic wrap literally on top of the pastry cream, and immediately put in fridge to firm up. Pastry cream can be used in about an hour.

Ingredients for Crust

2 1/2 cups AP flour

2 egg yolk & 1 whole egg

1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter (soft)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Note: if you have a Kitchen aid, this can make all the difference. However, you’ll have to put in the work to mix it all by hand. However, it can be done.

Mix butter and sugar in kitchen aid mixer. If mixing by hand, add flour to bowl first, than add butter and sugar.

Once butter and sugar are combined throughly, add vanilla.

Combine flour and salt and mix with a fork throughly.

Combine all ingredients (may have to add a little more flour) to get a cookie Dough consistency.

On a flat surface, sprinkle some flour and knead your dough, not too much. Wrap your dough in plastic wrap, and put in fridge. Can be used in an hour. Dough will keep in fridge for couple days.

Roll out on a flat surface with a little flour, and start layering and fitting dough in your tart pans. (I prefer to use the removal bottom tart pans).

Oven at 350 degrees. Bake your dough for 20 minutes.

Let cool and add your pastry cream. The fruit you use is totally up to you. I like using as many bright colors as I can. However, you can never go wrong with strawberries.

I make mini’s too!