The Mad Cake Batter

sweet treats and savory deets

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A Bitter End for the Derby Pie

I love trying new food combinations to try on my tastebuds; its one of the things that makes baking/cooking fun. However, other family members are not as adventurous and for Easter, I decided to make a Derby pie. You can never go wrong with chocolate right??!

This recipe also came from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, and as always, adjustments have been made. I used 70% instead of 55% cocoa, and used Jameson instead of bourbon, and mint extract instead of peppermint. Below are the true ingredients and directions for the Derby Pie…


All Butter Single Crust aka my Coconut Oil Crust

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream2014-04-19 09.34.31
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (55% Cocoa)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 to 3 Tbs bourbon
  • Dash Old Fashion Bitters
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

Position the rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the over to 325F. Plae the pre baked pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet.

Combine the milk and cream in a heavy-bottom saucepan and bring just to a boil. Place the chocolate pieces in a large bowl and pour the hot cream over the top. Let stand for 5 minutes, and then add salt and whisk steadily until all the chocolate is melted.2014-04-19 10.18.35

Crack the eggs in a separate bowl and whisk. Slowly stream a small amount of the chocolate mixture into the eggs, whisking as you pour. Continue until the egg mixture feels warm to the touch and then mix it back into the chocolate mixture. Add the peppermint extract, bourbon to taste, and bitters. Whisk until smooth.

Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the pie shell. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30-35 min, rotating 180 degrees when the edges start to set, 20 to 25 min through baking. The pie is finished when the edges start to set about 2 inches in and puffed slightly and the center is no longer liquid but still quite wobbly. Be careful not to over bake or the filling will be dry and sandy. The filling will continue to cook and set after the pie is removed from the over. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. If desired, dust with cocoa powder. Serve slightly warm or at room temp.

2014-04-19 13.21.50I knew the 70% cocoa would mean less sugar and that it would make the pie more bitter. Well, it made it a bit too bitter… Only one person really liked the pie. Whomp, whomp. I also didn’t think the coconut oil added anything to the crust at all (made from the Pie Crust post), and since it shrunk, it was a bit chewy as well.

The only thing I was proud of was the texture of the pie. It came out perfectly!! Just need to adjust what ingredients goes in 🙂

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Strawberry Balsamic Pie

When I was first going through the Four & Twenty Blackbird book, this recipe first caught my eye. The idea of strawberries with balsamic just sounded so delicious. My family agreed and it was perfect sweet and tart for Easter brunch!


All-Butter double pie crust

  • 1/2 cup pluse 3 Tbs of granulated sugar2014-04-19 13.22.55
  • 2 lbs strawberries, rinsed and quartered
  • 1 small golden delicious
  • 2 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs ground arrowroot
  • 2 grinds black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Egg wash (1 large egg whisked with 1 tsp water and a pinch of salt)
  • Demerara sugar, for finishing

2014-04-19 10.03.16Have ready and refrigerated one pastry-lined 9-inch pan and pastry round lattice to top.

Sprinkle 3 Tbs of granulated sugar over the strawberries. Stir gently and allow fruit to macerate for 30 min to 1 hr at room temp. Peel the apple and shred on the large holes of a box grater. Drain the strawberries of excess liquid and combine with the shredded apple. Sprinkle on the balsamic vinegar and Angostura Bitters.

In a separate bowl, mix together the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, brown sugar, arrowroot, black pepper and salt. Gently fold the sugar mixture into the strawberry mixture. Pour the filling into the refrigerated pie shell, arrange the lattice and crimp as desired.

Chill the pie in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to set the pastry. Position the oven racks at the bottom and center positions. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom 2014-04-19 10.57.41rack, and preheat to 425F. Brush the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.

Place the pie on the rimmed backing sheet on the lowest rack of the oven. Back for 20-25 min, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the over temp to 375F, and move the pie to the center oven rack, continue to bake until golden brown and juices are bubbling throughout around 35-40 min longer.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm at room temp.




It’s Pie Crust Time!

Easter is finally here, and I have been dying to try pie making for a while. The recipes in the next few posts have come from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. I read about their Brooklyn shop in the second issue of Cherrybombe Mag and immediately fell in love of the idea of pies.

This post will just cover the pie crusts. I made their “All Butter Pie Crust” using the original recipe for the Double-Crust and slightly changed Single-Crust. I have an Aunt who does not like butter; so to appeal to her preferences, I substituted butter for coconut oil. It also gave me a real side-by-side comparison for the two crusts.

Pies are extremely involved, so best be sure to read all the directions first to have a clear understanding before diving in!

Single-Crust Pie
  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (original recipe: 1 stick cold butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 Tbs cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ice

    2014-04-18 16.03.49

    coconut oil pie crust

Double-Crust Pie
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ice

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter pieces and coat them with the flour mixture with a spatula. Cut into the butter with a pastry blender until pea-sized pieces remain.

Combine water, cider vinegar and ice in a measuring cup. Sprinkle 2 Tbs of the ice water mixtures over the flour mixture, and mix and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it’s fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1-2 Tbs at a time, using the scraper or your hands to mix the dough until it comes together in a ball, with some bits remaining. Bring all the dough together, sprinkling the dry bits with more small drops of the ice water. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. For the double crust, divide the dough in half before shaping each portion into flat discs.


2014-04-18 16.47.55When the dough is fully formed, it is supposed to be somewhat dry. In the book, they showed the picture with the caption: “The dough should be marbleized with streaks of butter.” However, using the coconut oil made the dough a bit more wet. I was hesitant to continue with the crust but I wasn’t ready to give up yet. I wrapped the crust and placed it in the fridge.

The Double-Crust recipe, though I followed the directions fully, it is was slightly wet compared to the image shown and I didn’t use all of the water/cide mixture. But the crust did have the “streaks” of butter. I noticed the butter crusts were slightly darker than the coconut oil. Also, when rolling out the doughs, the one with the coconut oil was more sticky than the butter and needed more flour.

Rolling Out the Dough

After the dough has sat in the fridge for an hour, it must sit in room temperature for at least 5-10 minutes before rolling. If the dough is still too cold, cracks will form. Sprinkle flour on the work surface and rolling pin. Using a flat pin, start below the center for the disc and roll away from you, putting even pressure on the dough. Turn the dough counterclockwise and repeat the above instructions. The dough should be 2-3 inches larger than the pan and about 1/8 inch thick.

Fold the dough in half and lay it across on side of a greased pan. Unfold the disc and gently slide and fit the dough to the pan. Do not pull or stretch the dough, and make sure there are no gaps between the dough and the pan. If there are air bubbles, burst them with a fork. Trim the dough but allow 1 to 1 1/2 inches of excess. Cover the crust and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Partial Prebaking 2014-04-18 16.59.24

For the one pie I made, called for a partial prebaked crust. Pull the crust back out of the fridge and with a fork, prick all over the bottoms and sides (at least 15-20 times).  This helps prevent the crust from shrinking. Place crust in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425F and have racks on the bottom and center positions. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack. Have an egg wash ready using 1 egg and 1 TBS water to brush during baking. Place aluminum foil over the crust and use a pie weight. I didn’t have weights or beans so I used coins positions around the outer edges of the shell. Place the pan on the preheated baking sheet and bake for 20 min.

Remove the pan and baking sheet out of the oven. Remove the foil and weights, using a brush to coat a thin layer of egg wash on the crust and return the pan to the baking sheet and place it back in the oven’s middle rack to bake for three more minutes. Remove and cool completely before filling.

2014-04-18 17.26.00The coconut oil crust did shrink a bit which could have been a couple of factors. There might not have been enough weight on the crust. It also could have been the fact that it was coconut oil instead butter. Whatever the reason or reasons, it was still going to be used for the pie.

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Attack of the Green Smoothie Monster

2014-04-17 08.07.57I once again found myself leaving the Natural Food grocery store with more than I wanted to buy. This week, I bought Cacao Beans. Why you may ask? Well, the label looked appealing for starters, saying they have all these benefits such as antioxidants and iron. It also had some suggested uses on the back: trail mix, desserts, smoothies, shakes and coffee. So I thought to myself, if it says, “trail mix” then you can probably just eat it on its own. Boy was I wrong! I popped one of those bad boys into my mouth and it was bitter the entire way down.

Now what am I going to do? The bag did say you can put them in smoothies so I started to do some research. The brand, Navitas, does have a lot of recipes, but not a lot for cacao beans… Lucky for me, later that day, my roommate and I went to a new-ish juice bar. The drinks were decent, but nothing too complicated that we couldn’t make ourselves.

So as you can probably tell since I am blogging about it, I decided to make a smoothie of my 2014-04-17 08.02.10own. Most of what I read about green smoothies, they had leafy greens, a citrus “conductor” to boost your metabolism, fruit, and some other ingredients. Again, not too complicated so here is what I used:

  • Leafy green (I have taken a break from kale and used 2 stalks Romain lettuce and 1/2 cup arugula)
  • 8-10 cacao beans
  • 1 tsp of chia seeds
  • 1 ripe banana
  • fresh squeezed lemon
  • 1 cup of pineapple (I really wanted to put in blueberries as well or other berries, but this is what I had in my kitchen at the time)
  • 1/4 of avocado
  • 6-8 ounces water

I mixed it in the blender for a bit until everything was well incorporated. You can definitely taste the banana and at times the arugula as well, but, all in all, it was pretty good. Salud!


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Coconut oil: Is is all True?

This winter has been the most brutal winter we have seen in a while, at least on the east coast. I for one struggled with keeping my skin hydrated. I was constantly putting on lotion, but no matter how often I reapplied, my skin was still very dry… and I never had this problem in previous winters. I started looking for other things to that could help with my skin woes. Coconut oil has been named as a “cure-all” for these types of issues. Can it be true? Can this oil be the solution to all our problems?

It is said that Coconut oil helps with digestion, heart disease, immune system, weight loss, etc. I am not suggesting to start eating spoonfuls of the stuff (that would be just gross), but can this oil really have these many benefits? And if so, what about the other oils? I set out to do some research on the Google machine and a little experimentation of my own….

Cooking and Baking: I bought coconut oil on a whim last year. Not having a lot of knowledge on the product, I decided to use it to sauté veggies one night for dinner. I used a couple of tablespoons with veggies and put them with some pasta. My boyfriend and I found the end result…. interesting. It didn’t have a coconut taste exactly but it definitely created a different taste to the veggies. I then started substituting it for butter and vegetable oils when baking and, as you have seen in my previous posts, I have loved the end result.

Coconut oil can also sustain a higher level of heat and not have a negative effect like extra-virgin olive oil which will lose its taste if heat is used.

Skin Care: Coconut oil is found in certain chapstick ingredients, soaps, etc. I tried some coconut oil on my hands, especially on dry areas, and it worked! It leaves your skin slightly oily and eventually dries, but the dry patches were gone later that day and lasted a couple of days until it eventually came back.

We have heard olive oil is a good moisturizer as well. It is also used in a lot of lotions and soaps. When I gave olive oil a try, it left my hands oily and saturated. My hands definitely felt soft but I didn’t like touching things after using the olive oil and leaving oily fingerprints.

Replacement for coffee creamer (source: well&goodnyc): I put about a tsp into my coffee and swirled it around. It left an oily line on top of the coffee, and didn’t add any additional flavor to the coffee (good thing I don’t mind it black). I later read you need to throw it in a Nutribullet or blender for it to take effect…

Kitchen uses (source: well&goodnyc): Spread a bit on your knives and scissors, and slicing will go a little more smoothly for sticky ingredients. Wipe some oil on your pans and skillets instead of non-stick spray or use it instead of Crisco when greasing a baking pan/muffin tray.

Hair Care (source: refinery29):

Protect Your Strands From Summer Fun Stylist Mark Townsend says be sure to pack some coconut oil in your bag. He tells his clients to coat their hair in coconut oil before a dip in the pool or ocean. “The oil will coat your hair and protect it from the damaging effects of chlorine [and saltwater].” Townsend swears the oil will absorb into the hair, so you don’t have to worry about it looking like an oil spill when you get into the water.

Supercharge Your Conditioner Townsend’s favorite trick with oils is to make customized conditioners for his clients. “Oils with small molecules, like macadamia and almond, penetrate into the hair, so they can replace lost lipids and fatty acids inside the hair shaft,” he says.  His Recipe: Take a bottle of moisturizing conditioner, pour it into a big bowl, and then add in 1/2 cup of unrefined coconut oil and two tablespoons each of vitamin E, almond, macadamia, and jojoba oils. Mix all of this together, and pour it back in its bottle for the most hydrating, reparative concoction around.

A good reminder: you don’t need to completely switch to coconut oil, because then you will lose the other benefits of more traditional oils and dairy products. In fact, I would go so far in saying that it should be used in moderation just like everything else. Other oils, such as olive oil, also help prevent heart disease and may help in weight loss (palm oil).