Monday, March 14, 2011

Pi Day!

After weeks of anticipation, Pi Day has finally arrived!  Truly this is my favorite day of the year.  Traditionally we celebrate by having a pi buffet with friends and/or family, taking trivia quizes to test our knowledge of π, and singing "Happy Birthday" to Einstein.  This year production is set back quite a bit due to fiscal reasons, but I am excited none the less.

I challenged myself a few years ago to try a new pie recipe every year.  This year's recipe was suggested by Miss Abby (thanks, Abby!), and although I am not able to make it today, I want to try it by the end of the month!

Carmel Apple Cheesecake Pie


For the crust:
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
½-¾ cup caramel
1 cup chopped pecans

For the apple filling:
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

For the cheesecake:
8 oz. cream cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the topping:
¾ cup heavy cream
3-4 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
¼-½ cup caramel
Chopped pecans


To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375° F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter.  Toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened and the ingredients are evenly mixed.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press the crumbs in an even layer over the pan bottom and about half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan.  Bake for 6-8 minutes, until golden in color.  Let cool for about 10 minutes.  Pour a layer of caramel into the bottom of the crust and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans.  Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.

To make the apple filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Mix in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, until bubbling.  Mix in the apple slices and toss well to coat.  Cook over medium to medium-high heat until tender and most of the liquid has been reduced, about 15-20 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes and pour into the prepared pie shell.  Set aside.

Reduce the heat of the oven to 350° F.  To make the cheesecake layer, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.   Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon juice until fully incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Spread the cheesecake filling into an even layer over the top of the cooked apples in the crust.  Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To serve, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (being careful not to overbeat.)  Spread gently over the top of the chilled cheesecake layer.  Top with dollops of caramel sauce and swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.  Sprinkle with a handful of chopped pecans if desired.  Slice with a long, thin knife to serve.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

March 3rd

On March 3rd:

-The first amphibious landing of the US Marine Corps began the Battle of Nassau in the Revolutionary War. (1776)
-Florida is admitted as the 27th state. (1845)
-The first ever organized game of indoor hockey is played in Montreal, Cnanada. (1875)
-NACA, the predecesor of NASA, is founded. (1915)
-Time Magazine is published for the first time. (1923)
-The USA officially adopts the Star Spangled Banner as its national anthem. (1931)
-NASA launches Apollo 9 to test the lunar module. (1969)

For us, though, March third marks the anniversary of Dino's passing.  We miss him and we love him, but as my brother said, "At least he went out in style!"

Love you, Dad.