Miss Ina’s Fudge Pie

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One of my favorite things in the world is baking pies, especially pies with a rich history behind them. Miss Ina’s Fudge Pie is a recipe shared with me years ago by a precious, sweet lady named Ina Doster. I attended church with Miss Ina for many years growing up and she was always happy to share the recipe with anyone who asked. As my pie baking skills have grown, I have still not found an easier, simpler, or more consistently delicious pie recipe in all my baking forays.

Miss Ina told us that the recipe was passed down from her grandmother, Lula Carrol, from the late 1800s. Originally, Miss Ina says, the flour was pure and you had to add baking soda to the recipe. Today, you don’t need the baking soda, which brings the ingredient total down to a mere 6 ingredients, not including the pie shell.

You truly can’t go wrong with this sweet delight. I wholeheartedly encourage any first-time pie baker to try it, as it’s the easiest pie I know how to make. At the same time, experienced bakers will love its simplicity and comfort. Miss Ina, thank you for all the beautiful things I have learned from you. And thank you, for your trademark fudge pie.

 

Ingredients
1 stick melted margarine
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
unbaked pie shell

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Prick holes in the pie shell using a fork.
3. Pour mixture into pie shell.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until no longer jiggly in the middle.

Banny’s Famous Chocolate Pie

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What’s in a name? The name of this post might have drawn you to this recipe, wondering who someone named “Banny” was. Or maybe it was the pictures, worth a thousand words. Either way, you’re going to get the story, as every good recipe should have a story behind it. Banny was my great-grandmother, a tough, outspoken, petite woman of the South. You know, the type to fuss at the preacher man for not getting by to see her more often. Banny was also a dedicated woman, loyal to her faith and her family, even when it wasn’t easy. I have few things of hers today, a few jewelry pieces my mother gave me, a pair of fancy red gloves. I will probably inherit some of her old clothes my mom keeps in a cedar chest. And I still have her smell. Smells are easy memories. But perhaps the thing I have the most is her recipe for chocolate pie.

It was one of the first pies I made, and it is, at the same time, both one of the best and one of the most difficult. Perhaps that’s what family gives us: delight and joy in the midst of serious effort. Her chocolate pie takes time to cook – the pudding filling is real, not some jello-based faux pas. The pie shell must be baked ahead. The meringue must be whipped, perfectly, and remember, Banny would have made meringue with a true hand mixer, an old-timey metal contraption with a crank and two mix-hands that whirred into each other, slowly. And then it must be baked again to seal the meringue on top and finish the perfect, beautiful topping that is a chocolate meringue pie. I am proud of this pie, each time I make it, because it is a piece of my past, a piece of a strong woman who knew what it took to create something beautiful. I hope you do, too. Enjoy.

 

Ingredients

Pie filling:

2 1/2 tbsp. flour (all purpose)

2 egg yolks

3 tbsp. cocoa

2 cups milk

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 deep dish pie shell

Topping:

2 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

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Directions:

1. Pre-cook pie shell at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until golden.

2. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, putting the whites into a small bowl, and the yolks into a nonstick pot (or the top of a double boiler; I find either works).

3. Add the rest of the pie ingredients to the pot (the flour, cocoa, milk, sugar and vanilla). Cook on medium heat until pudding “consists.” (These are the original directions; this word mainly means until the pudding starts to thicken.)

4. Pour the chocolate pudding into the cooked pie shell.

5. Prepare the topping by beating the egg whites until stiff, then adding the sugar and vanilla. Pour the meringue topping over the chocolate pudding layer and spread evenly.

6. Cook on 350 for about 10 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown.

7. Allow to cool, then refrigerate to make sure it solidifies well. Keep refrigerated. Best enjoyed either slightly warmed or cold.

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Matthew’s Take: The chocolate pudding portion of Banny’s pie is the best I’ve ever eaten. What makes it even better: This pie is part of our family history. When you combine the chocolate pudding with a golden crust and the creamy, slightly crunchy meringue, you get one of the best desserts you’ll put in your mouth. This recipe gets my highest marks for taste. I will warn you that it’s not the simplest of pies to make, but just take that as an opportunity to bake and enjoy something uniquely special.

Molly’s Take: Clearly, this pie is one of my favorites. The strategy of baking the pie shell first, as well as the limited amount of time the pie actually spends in the oven, ensures that the shell itself doesn’t burn as easily as it tends to do in many pies. So you end up with a perfectly done pie shell, a creamy, chocolate pudding center, and a toasted, sweet meringue topping. I like this pie warmed or cold. It’s truly a treat.

Simple Crockpot Apple Butter

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Imagine the scent of apples and autumn. When Matthew and I made apple butter (twice!) over the past few weeks, our home smelled gloriously like fall, cinnamon, apples and allspice. After a visit to the Lincoln County Apple Festival, we found ourselves in possession of a peck of apples. With nearly 40 on our hands, we decided to try a recipe for crockpot apple butter. An old Methodist cookbook provided us with a fantastic recipe. (We only tweaked a few things – removing cloves, for instance.) It was simple enough: peel and chop the apples to fill the crockpot, cook, measure, add other ingredients and continue to cook. The total cooking time was over 12 hours, but using the crockpot made it easy. We only had to check it from time to time. When we were finally done with both batches, we had 6 full jars (half-pint-size) of apple butter. One batch we made with green apples – the other with red. Both resulted in delicious, smooth, spreadable, sweet apple butter. If you ever find yourself with a peck of apples, we encourage you to try this recipe, too. Don’t forget to share!

Crockpot Apple Butter

Ingredients
8 cups cooked apples (takes about 15 uncooked apples)
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice

Directions
1. Peel and chop enough apples to fill the crockpot. (We found we needed at least 15.)
2. Cook on high for several hours until the apples begin to cook into pieces.
3. Measure the cooked apples and put 8 cups back in the crockpot. Mix in all other ingredients and stir.
4. Cook on high until hot, then turn down to low and cook for 8-12 hours.
5. Remove the lid and cook just until the mixture is of spreading consistency.
6. Jar and enjoy! Apple butter is delectable on a bagel, croissant, biscuit, toast and more!

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Chocolate Syrup Pound Cake

This delicious chocolate cake recipe came from a news story I did as a reporter for The Star. A couple in Shelby turned their grandmother Nell’s old home into Nell’s Farm House, a place for quiet, country lodging near Shelby and Gardner-Webb University. Included in your stay is access to some of Nell’s amazingly unique recipes, like this Chocolate Syrup Pound Cake.

I was very excited to make it, mainly because of the unique ingredient of chocolate syrup, as opposed to using the more traditional ingredient: cocoa. I wanted to see how it changed the flavor and texture. So how was it? The flavor is delicious, and the texture, dense. It is a pound cake after all. But let me tell you this – its chocolate-y taste does not need icing.

Ingredients

2 sticks butter

1/2 cup Crisco

3 cups sugar

3 large eggs

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

Dash of salt

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 lb. can chocolate syrup

Directions

1. Cream the butter, Crisco and sugar. Beat well.

2. Add eggs, one at a time.

3. Add chocolate syrup and vanilla.

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4. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.

5. Mix the dry mixture into the chocolate mixture, alternating with adding the milk.

6. Pour into a buttered and floured Bundt cake pan.

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7. Start in a cold oven. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours. Do not open the door for one hour.

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Molly’s take: I love the different taste you get using chocolate syrup in this cake. It makes it a little richer and more chocolate-y than if you had used cocoa. I also love that, unlike most pound cake recipes, this one truly is delicious enough not to need icing or frosting. Definitely one I’ll try again! Maybe with a tall glass of milk…

Matthew’s take: A thick slice of this cake and a glass of milk is the perfect pairing for a delicious dessert or snack. I believe the chocolate syrup makes the cake more moist than cocoa does, and I think that moisture helped keep the cake from getting dry after a few days. But we also didn’t have to worry about the cake getting dry because it was so good that it didn’t sit around for long. If you want a solid cake that stands alone, try this recipe.

Foodie Travels: Sweet Potatoes, Winston-Salem, N.C.

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When a line forms at a restaurant’s doors before it opens, that’s a good sign. When an artist asks if he can photograph your food for a series he’s doing for the restaurant’s wall decor, that’s another good sign. When your waitress advises you how you can work the menu to get the best sampling to please your tastebuds, that’s ultimately a good sign.

Prior to a recent quick weekend trip to Winston-Salem, N.C., Molly discovered this restaurant with a food name and a tempting menu full of Southern delights. Let me be the one to tell you that everything we read and saw and dreamed of in regards to this place came true. Sweet Potatoes is the stuff of legend in this northwestern corner of North Carolina’s Triad region, about two hours from Charlotte. The first indicator of that fame? The place was full within 15 minutes of opening when we experienced our first brunch during our recent visit.

After being the first ones through the door, we were seated by the corner window with the accompaniment of a pleasing playlist of jazz flowing through the air. Sweet Potatoes has a story behind its name, and the food by that same name is the inspiration behind many of the dishes on the menu. Following a very hospitable consultation with our suggestive but not insistent menu expert (waitress), Molly and I both settled on sweet potato-inclusive main courses. She had the “Un-French” Toast with a sweet potato base and a delicious strawberry sauce, and I had the Chicken and Sweet Potato Pancakes, a glorious local take on the Southern favorite, Chicken and Waffles.

That left us wondering about several other almost-chosen menu items, including a Three-Cheese Macaroni and Country Ham Souffle. No problem. Our waitress suggested the modestly priced savory dish as an appetizer to share, and that’s just what we did. The creaminess of the macaroni and cheese was boosted by the high-flavor taste of the ham, and it was one of the most tasty opening dishes I’ve experienced in all my foodie travels. And it was just enough to be an opening course.

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On to the main dishes. Molly’s “Un-French” Toast had a deep sweet potato flavor and gooey interior, countered by a slightly crispy outer crust, and supplemented by a surprisingly but perfectly paired taste of strawberries and their juices.

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My pancakes were light, fluffy and had the spice and sweet of a piece of sweet potato pie, while the fried chicken tenders (read more about the chef’s delicious chicken coating here) had the best seasoning taste I believe either of us have ever had in a fried piece of chicken.

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Along with the delicious Southern culinary experience, there’s an artsy feel on all sides and senses at Sweet Potatoes. Combined with the jazz, your eyes get a sample of local art and photos from the nearby performing arts scene. Both are ideal fits for a restaurant that sits in the heart of Winston-Salem’s Trade Street art district.

During our brunch, a number of folks continued to wait outside, hoping for a seat. Some ultimately went elsewhere, while others stayed put, obviously knowing the delayed entry would be worth the wait. I was quite possibly as excited about trying this restaurant as any I’ve ever scouted online. And it was every bit as good as I hoped it would be.

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A few final tips for your visit: Arrive early. Arrive hungry. Put down your phone while you’re there. This is one of those places that every one of your senses must experience in full effect.

 

Sweet Potatoes

529 North Trade Street, Winston-Salem, N.C.

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Heavenly Butterscotch Pie

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For me, finding a new pie recipe is kind of like finding treasure. It’s never guarded by a dragon, unless you count the oven; it’s a fairly easy conquest; and the reward at the end is always worth the effort.

This time, I was entranced by a Butterscotch Pie recipe found in the First United Methodist Church of Stanley’s “Lilies of the Field” cookbook. You know the kind, one of those old-timey, spiral-bound cookbooks filled with tried and true delectable delights. This delight was no disappointment.

The pie is light and airy, with a whipped feel that doesn’t quite approach custard. This is due to the final step of folding in the whipped egg whites before baking. It certainly has a delicious buttery, butterscotch taste that I never would’ve believed was this easy to create. Without further ado, the Butterscotch Pie, which I have aptly delineated “Heavenly.”

Ingredients

1 cup brown sugar

3 tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups milk, scalded

3 eggs, separated

3 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

Directions

1. Pre-bake the pie shell at 375 degrees until golden brown.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together with a whisk, in the top of a non-stick pot.

3. Scald the milk in the microwave (I find this easier than scalding on the stove), by cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Keep an eye on it, because it will easily boil over in your microwave.

4. Gradually stir in the milk into the dry ingredients until the mixture is smooth.

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5. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 15 minutes or until thickened.

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6. Beat the 3 egg yolks until foamy. Add a few spoonfuls of the hot mixture into the egg yolks and stir. Then add the yolks to the pudding mixture. (This is very important so the mixture doesn’t cook the egg yolks.)

7. Cook for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

8. Add butter and vanilla.

9. Whip the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the pudding mix.

10. Pour into the already-baked pie shell and bake for 10 minutes (at the same temperature as you baked the pie shell, 375) until light, golden brown.

11. Enjoy!

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Molly’s Take: I don’t think I’ve ever had such a light, airy, sweet dessert as this Butterscotch Pie. It truly delights with its warm, brown sugar, butterscotch taste and the smooth texture created by the combination of the whipped egg whites and pudding. I’ll definitely keep this one on tap as one of my go-to sweet pie recipes. It truly is a praiseworthy pie!

Matthew’s Take: I’ve had all kinds of custard pies. And I’ve had a few butterscotch-filling desserts that my mom has made over the years. This Butterscotch Pie is different than all of them. It has a very tasty and unique texture that, as Molly said, isn’t quite custard. It’s not quite pudding either. The top also offers a different consistency than the tops of most pies. It has what appears to be an ever-so-thin crust on top. There’s an interesting combination of light and richness with this pie that I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced. It’s a nice choice for a different option for a simple, light and satisfying dessert.

Old-Timey Brown Sugar Pie

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This is probably one of the first recipes Molly ever made when she started baking. Pies are her favorite, and this is one of her top three choices to bake anytime. (The other two, for reference, are her great-grandmother’s recipes for chocolate pie and sweet potato pie.)

There’s nothing more amazing than pulling this pie out of the oven, freshly baked, warm and perfect, then slicing it after it cools and having a warm, custard-y slice of brown sugar pie with a dash of whipped cream on top. This pie is sooo good, and it keeps for days, so you can rewarm slices of it and they just get better every time.

Many a morning, Molly had a slice of this pie for breakfast. If you’ve never heard of it, we’re not surprised. Matthew had never heard of a brown sugar pie until Molly told him about them. The recipe came from an old (possibly a hundred years old by now) cookbook that Molly’s great-grandmother owned. But just so you can envision its deliciousness, it’s similar in taste to a pecan pie, and in consistency, to an egg custard. Here’s how it’s made.

Ingredients:

1 cup corn syrup

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 stick butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Dash of salt

1 deep dish pie crust

Instructions:

IMG_33601) Put the syrup and brown sugar into your bowl and mix together with the three eggs.

2) Melt butter in the microwave. (Try not to make it super hot, but do try to melt most of it.)

3) Add the butter, vanilla and salt.

4) Prepare the pie crust by poking it all over with a fork.

5) Pour the mixture into the pie crust (trust us, you’ll need a deep dish pie crust) and bake in a 350-degree oven until it’s done in the middle. This usually takes about 35 minutes, but it can take longer. To prevent the edges of the pie crust from getting too brown, you can cover them with foil. We also suggest not cooking it too long, since the pie has a tendency to get sticky if you do.

6) Let it cool completely before slicing. (You might want to dip the knife in hot water and wipe it after each slice for a cleaner cut each time.)

Here’s a look at the mind-boggingly delicious, soft, sweet pie with a little piece cut out of it. (It’s messy, we know. We couldn’t wait til it cooled to slice into it.)

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Matthew’s take: What a delicious discovery this was for me. If you add pecans, it’s almost the same as a pecan pie. The brown sugar pie is more custard-like, so the filling consistency is a bit different. It also has a bit of a caramelized consistency to it, so be careful if you have concerns about sticky foods and your teeth. I would highly recommend trying it, the first time without any topping to get the full burst of flavor and texture, and a second time with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. If you’re like me, you’ll feel a tad more Southern after you have a piece of brown sugar pie. I give it an A+ for taste and a B for presentation. Like pecan pie, brown sugar and many chocolate pies aren’t the prettiest in the world. But who needs pretty when you’re eating a tasty pie anyways? 🙂

Molly’s take: If you’re looking to try something different, old-fashioned and unique, I definitely recommend this delicious, sweet pie. It’s got simple ingredients (I actually have the recipe memorized) and is something almost anyone will like. (Except my mom, who’s a chocaholic and refuses any offering not made with cocoa.) We hope you’ll give it a try. Be adventurous! You just might like it. 🙂