Recipes perfect for the season

A completed chocolate meringue pie. PHOTO COURTESY OF DURANTE VERZOLA. 

Lucia Verzola

Staff Writer

A buttery, flakey crust, layered with a decadent, custard-based chocolate filling, and finished with a fluffy topping makes for an overlooked dessert—chocolate meringue pie. My grandma has made this pie for Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember and it’s always been something I look forward to around this time of year. Being from the Midwest, I haven’t spent Thanksgiving with her for the past few years while attending USF. However, this year I spent the holiday with my siblings and my older brother tackled the recipe. Though I did little to assist in the making of the pie, I enjoyed watching it come together and, of course, eating it. 

Ingredients:

Smitten Kitchen’s Pie crust:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ granulated sugar

½ teaspoon. salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

¼ cup very cold water, plus an additional tablespoon if needed

Grandma Tucker’s chocolate filling:

1 cup sugar

¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch 

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups whole milk

½ cup evaporated milk

4 extra large egg yolks, beaten

1 ½ cups semi sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Meringue:

5 extra large egg whites, room temperature

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ cup sugar

Directions

For the crust: 

  1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. 
  3. Add cold water and stir with a spoon until large clumps form. 
  4. Use your hands to knead the dough together in  the bowl. If necessary, add a tablespoon of water to bring the dough together. 
  5. Flatten dough into a disk and cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 48 hours. 

For the filling: 

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. 
  2. Gradually whisk in both milks. Cook, whisking constantly over medium high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. 
  3. Boil for one minute, whisking continuously. 
  4. Remove from heat and gradually whisk hot mixture into egg yolks. 
  5. Continue to add hot water into egg yolks while whisking constantly until about ¼ of the mixture has been added to the egg yolks. 
  6. Pour egg yolk mixture into the saucepan and whisk well. 
  7. Add chocolate chips and cook mixture, stirring constantly over medium heat for three minutes. 
  8. Remove from the heat, whisk in butter and vanilla extract, and cover and chill until cold.

Baking the crust: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. On a floured countertop, roll the dough out into a 12-13 inch circular shape.
  3. Transfer the dough to a standard 9 inch pie plate. 
  4. Fold the dough overhang under the edge of the pie crust and crimp decoratively if desired. 
  5. Line the crust with foil and pour uncooked rice or beans over the foil to weigh it down. 
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Cool completely.

Assembling the pie: 

  1. Fill cooled pie crust with chilled chocolate filling. 
  2. To prepare meringue, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form and sugar completely dissolves. 
  3. Spoon the meringue over the top of the chocolate filling, decorating to resemble fluffy clouds. Keep the pie in the fridge until ready to serve.
[Pumpkin 1]: Pumpkin spice cupcakes, prepared by Hannah Nelson. PHOTO COURTESY OF HANNAH NELSON. 

Hannah Nelson

Staff Writer

What better way to celebrate the autumn and winter season than with the classic flavor of pumpkin spice? With its subtle sweetness, this cake will satisfy dessert lovers, as well as those who might not have a sweet tooth. The first time I tried this recipe was for an October birthday. I wanted to bake something that would celebrate both the special occasion and be a seasonal treat. The recipe was a hit, and I continue to break it out for birthdays and holidays.

I topped the cake with a pumpkin spice glaze. This dessert can be made vegan if the eggs are substituted with applesauce or a banana, though keep in mind that these replacements might sweeten the recipe.

Ingredients:

Cake:

1 package of spice cake mix (18.25 oz)

1 can of pumpkin puree (15 oz)

2 eggs

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup almond milk (or other milk or milk substitute)

Glaze:

¼ cup confectioner’s sugar

½ tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Almond milk

Directions:

Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a baking pan.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl. Add the spice cake mix, pumpkin puree, sugar, and almond milk. 
  3. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and spread it evenly. 
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  5. Let cool and serve. 

Glaze:

  1. Mix confectioner’s sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. Mix in small amounts of almond milk until you get the desired consistency. The mixture should be thick but still a pourable liquid consistency.
  2. Drizzle glaze over cooled pumpkin cake. 

Notes:

  1. You can also make these as cupcakes. If you decide to do this, they will probably cook in less time. I would recommend starting with a 15 minute timer. 
  2. This cake is also delicious with cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle cinnamon or pumpkin spice on top of the frosted cake or cupcakes. 

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