Friday, June 10, 2011

Baking in Tiny Jars: Derby Pie

I’m an animal enthusiast who comes from the horse capital of the world, whose great-uncle was a triple crown winning jockey, and whose cousin is currently mayor of Louisville--home to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. By all rights I should be a horse enthusiast. But I have a confession… the only day I can get excited about horses is Kentucky derby day. And, while I’m confessing, it’s not the horses that make derby day magical for me. No, it’s the pie.

Kentucky derby pie (which I suppose I should call ‘horse race pie’ since we live in a world where the name ‘derby pie’ has been trademarked… just know that I’m rolling my eyes) is the best thing that ever happened. Ever. For you Yankees who don’t already know, derby pie is a chocolate pecan pie with a wee bit of bourbon. I could eat an entire pie. All by myself.

Because I often have this desire to eat a whole pie by myself, and because it’s adorable, I often make individual derby pies for my annual derby shin-dig (the party is all about the pie. And the hats).

This year, my life changed when I learned something amazing. I hope you’re sitting down for this because it may change your life too. Pies in jars. It’s the second best thing that ever happened. Why? Let me detail the ways:
Pies baked in tiny jars!
  1. Jars have lids. I’ve probably sold you on pies in jars already with just lids! They’re stackable, they’re transportable, they’re amazing! 
  2. You can freeze the pies in the jars. Make the pies as far ahead as you want! Pop on the lid, freeze them before you bake, and take the pies right from the freezer to the oven (removing the lid first!)! So easy! 
  3. You can bake the pies in the jars. RIGHT IN THE JARS. And they’re a single serving, so you don’t have to worry about getting carried away with portion sizes… you can eat the whole pie and not go into a diabetic coma! 
  4. You can serve the pies in the jars. No extra cleaning! No additional plates! 
  5. You can get adorable canning labels for the lids. This is just an extra touch… but a particularly cute one. 
  6. Later, when you have leftovers, you can keep them in the freezer and have one whenever you panic because there’s no dessert in the house. What? That doesn’t happen to you? 
  7. You can ship them! Yes, I ship pies to the deserving. If you’re really nice to me, maybe pies will show up at your house one day. 

Well, now that I’ve convinced you of the wonders of derby pies in jars, let’s get to the good bit—how to make them! I learned about pies in jars from the Not Martha blog, so here are some of the tips she had, as well as the tips I learned through trial and error.

This recipe makes about a dozen pies in 4 oz jars. I use these from amazon, but you can sometimes find them at walmart, and apparently stop & shop as well!

For the pie crust you’ll need:
            1 ¼ c flour
            ½ t salt
            1 T sugar
            ½ c butter (chilled and cut into 1" cubes)
            ⅛ - ¼ c cold water

And for the filling you’ll need:
            1 stick melted butter
            1 c sugar
            1 c corn syrup
            4 eggs
            1 T bourbon
            ¾ c. chocolate chips (give or take)
            ¾ c pecans

Whipped cream, just for fun

First make the crust. I like to use a butter crust recipe because it’s delicious, and it holds up pretty well to the freezing process (people always say stuff like that in food blogs, thought I should throw something like that in, but honestly, I have no idea if it’s better or worse than other crusts, I just like butter). I also like to use a food processor to make my crust because I’m lazy, but you can also use a pastry cutter if you have the patience.

Put the flour, salt and sugar in the food processor and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour ⅛ c water through food tube, adding a little water at a time until the dough holds together.

Technically you should chill the dough for a bit before you move on to the next part, but who has time for that when there’s a question of pie? SO, go right to it, but if you’re a stickler for the rules chill the dough for about an hour.

When you’re ready to put together your pies, press pieces of pastry dough against the jars to make the crust. It’s not going to be elegant, but just smoosh it in there. You don’t want it to be very thick, so be careful to flatten it out, especially down around the bottom edge. Don’t let your dog steal your pie crusts. No matter how much she begs. 

Add your pecans and chocolate chips! Put about a tablespoon each in the bottom of the jars and then chill them while you make the filling.

The filling is really easy – just mix the remaining pie ingredients together (from the butter to the bourbon).

Once you’re done making the filling you can add it to your jars! I like to use a cookie scoop because it helps keep things tidy and prevents drips of pie filling from going all over the place. You don’t want to fill them too much, you want to leave enough room so when the filling rises a little bit while baking you can still put the lid on. Something like 4/5 of the way to the top is just about perfect. 

At this point you can do one of two things -- you can put the lids on the jars and put them in the freezer until you're ready to use them (at which point you can take them right from the freezer to a 350 degree oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour), or you can bake them (at 350 for about half an hour or 45 minutes).

You want them to be browned on top and to look like this:

They’re best served either a little bit warm (not hot) or at room temperature and with a little bit of whipped cream. I can never wait that long though, and always burn myself. It’s worth it though… it’s worth it. 

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