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Bring the Happy


It has begun. Talk of who is bringing what, where we’ll buy the turkey, what kind of pies I’ll make, early morning texts concerning brussels sprouts.  There’s no getting around it: Thanksgiving is on its way. And with it comes the inevitable reflecting back and thinking about what we’re thankful for. And about traditions. The funny thing about traditions is that they exist because they’ve been around for a long time. Year after year after year. But then, one Thanksgiving maybe there’s something new at the table. I think as you get older this idea of traditions changing can become more noticeable. And with two grown sisters, it’s inevitable that the holidays are going to start looking different sooner rather than later. This year we have a new addition, and my sister Rachael is actually doing all of the cooking while my mom has a much-deserved break. A few family friends will join us for the first time, and Zoe and I are scheming up a very un-Thanksgiving like dessert. Newness abounds. But there are old, important traditions, too. The way my mom and Cathy talk early in the morning about how long to leave the turkey in (after 30 some-odd years of doing it on their own, I’m certain they know, but it wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving morning without the obligatory check-in), the Thanksgiving cocktail (thank you, Zoe), three onion casserole for Stefan, and the evening walk with the dogs after dinner.

It’s always kind of a chaotic, haphazard walk that begins with everyone lumbering around the house locating jackets and scarves and basketballs they may wish to bounce along the way. Dogs are leashed, dogs bark, and there’s inevitably someone who — right around this point–drops out of the walk and volunteers to do the dishes instead. On these walks I’ll sometimes turn around and look back and see “cousins” Kelsey and Elliot who have grown up before my eyes, the dogs who have slowly aged throughout the years, and the usually constant but little-bit-rotating crew of dinner guests — everyone’s shadows in the night. Well-fed, together: That brings the happy.

I recently discovered a sweet blog, Remedial Eating. In talking about her family’s Halloween this year, blog writer Molly Hays said, “And that’s when I remembered the important thing about traditions, that they’re only as good as the happy they bring. And sometimes that looks like repeating what was. And sometimes that looks like forgetting all that.” Both are important: remembering what was and keeping it if it works, but not being afraid to ditch it if it doesn’t. And welcoming the new with anticipation. This year there will be familiar happy and new happy, and I couldn’t be happier about both.

An appropriate recipe to share with you today is a pie. It’s part traditional and part completely new and innovative. I first saw it while flipping through the pages of Food and Wine while house-sitting for my mom a few weeks back, and knew it needed to happen. At its core, it’s a simple custard pie infused with apple cider, cloaked in a layer of lightly-spiced whipped cream and thin slices of baked apples. If you’re looking for a new Thanksgiving dessert, this could be a contender. If you’re set on a traditional apple pie, I might urge you to give this one a spin. You never know when a new tradition could be born.

Apple Cider Cream Pie
The pâte brisée recipe yields enough for 2 9-inch pies, so you can go ahead and freeze the second disk for future use. Without the whipped cream, the pie will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Once you put it all together it’s really best the day of although the second day is o.k., too.

Adapted from: Food and Wine

Ingredients:
1 disc
pâte brisée
2 cups apple cider
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch nutmeg
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 red apple

Directions:
Prepare the pie shell: Scatter flour across your work surface and roll out the dough to roughly an 11-inch round (don’t stress too much to get it exact). Lay it into a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate and trim any overhand that exceeds 1 inch from the rim. Fold under and crimp. Chill in the refrigerator until quite firm, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with dried beans to weigh down the shell when baking. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is barely set. Remove the parchment and pie weights and cover the edge of the crust with strips of aluminum foil. Bake for about 15 minutes longer, until the crust is just set but not browned. If it starts to puff up, prick a few holes in it with a fork to release the air. Lower the oven temperature to 350°.

Make the custard filling while the crust is cooking:  In a medium saucepan, boil the cider until it’s reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Whisk in 3/4 cup of the sugar, the sour cream, nutmeg and salt, then whisk in the eggs. Remove the foil strips momentarily, pour the custard into the pie shell, and replace the foil strips.

Bake the pie for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custard is set around the edge but the center is slightly jiggly. Let the pie cool completely.

Prepare the decorative apple slices: While the oven is still hot, slice the red apple very, very thinly. Use a mandolin or work slowly and carefully with a sharp knife. You don’t want your slices to be too thin so as to be transparent, but close. Spray your baking sheet with non-stick spray or very lightly brush the slices with vegetable oil. Bake them until the edges start to curl up and they start to turn golden, roughly 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and the cinnamon until firmly whipped. Spread gently on top of the pie, cut into wedges, adorn with baked apples and a dash of cinnamon on top, and serve. If you’re not serving right away, refrigerate until you are. If there’s pie leftover, refrigerate — it will be great the next day, too.

Serves: 8

  1. Posted November 11, 2011 at 7:59 am

    This year I’m feeling like shaking things up a bit at the Thanksgiving table, and a pie like this is a great idea. I like your words on embracing the new and bringing the happy.

  2. Posted November 11, 2011 at 8:12 am

    I love the family walks after thanksgiving dinner. This year it will just be me and my husband, far from all of our family, but I am looking forward to baking pies and hopefully new traditions.

  3. Posted November 11, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Ah loved your talk on traditions. I kind of recently had the idea that when I grow up with a family of my own I want to have each Christmas “themed” by countries–like one year have a French spread on the table, another year traditional British treats. A lot of people I tell that to say, “what about tradition?!” but tradition is in there! Just not in serving up the same ham or pie every year.

    This pie looks great–saw a similar one on Lottie and Doof too. I really want to try it.

  4. Posted November 11, 2011 at 9:45 am

    This looks very good. My stomach is rumbling!

  5. Posted November 11, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I was eyeing up that pie as a potential Thanksgiving contender too, but think I’m going to try the salted caramel pie from the same story (with a few tweaks, because I can never leave well enough alone!)

    I was lucky enough to take over Thanksgiving hosting tradition that merges both my and my husband’s families, and though we can never stray too far from turkey/stuffing/potatoes/cranberry, they let me run wild with desserts. :)

  6. Posted November 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I love mixing old and new…All for it! This is my absolute favorite time of year. Your Thanksgiving plans sound splendid!

  7. momgordon
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    The three of you tucked safely in your beds once again brings happy to my house and heart. And you can bring some of that apple happy too!

  8. megang
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Kasey: My favorite, too!

    Mom: I love you.

    Casey: Thankfully, I get to run wild with desserts, too. That’s about it, but truthfully I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what to do with a turkey. I know exactly which salted caramel pie you’re talking about–looks amazing.

    Anne and Anna: Thank you (good for breakfast!)

    Amy: I LOVE your idea of themed Christmas each year. I think you’re right in that it’s traditional and new each year. Wonderful.

  9. Posted November 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I LOVE Thanksgiving. Everything about it, from our night before decadent bacchanalia with our friend Gwen and cooking a turkey or two the day of along with a tried and true stuffing to sending my husband to the bakery the next day for our own pumpkin pie to have with coffee. I wish you a wonderful happy Turkey Day, Megan!

  10. Posted November 11, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    It’d be me doing all those dishes while y’all are on the walk. It’s my happy, my time to reflect on the warmth of the day, and ponder the blessings I’ve received.

  11. Posted November 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    PERFECTION the crispy apples on top just look great!

  12. Posted November 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Your photos are gorgeous and I’ve got some serious pie envy right now. Our Thanksgiving is long gone, but this pie looks amazing. I’m always a little worried about custard pies, but I’m so curious to try this one.

  13. Posted November 12, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Holy cow! Does that ever look good – and I have apple cider – homemade from my own tree. YUMMERS. I have never heard of such a pie and CANNOT WAIT to try it!
    Thank you, Bonnie!
    :)
    V

  14. megang
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    I think you’ll really like it, Valerie. And man oh man do I wish I had fresh apple cider laying around–I had to buy mine for this pie. Happy weekend, my friend!

  15. megang
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Jeannette-You can seriously do this one. Just make sure to prebake the shell and you can really mess it up. Honestly. I always forget your Thanksgiving is before ours…but I’m now remembering from your blog. Hope you’re having a nice, fall weekend!

  16. carra young
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Holy hell this looks and sounds amazing! Making it tomorrow! Thanks for always inspiring me.

  17. Posted November 13, 2011 at 2:20 am

    happy happy happy happy.
    thank you for bringing this pie into my life.

  18. lori bowermaster
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 10:48 am

    i so love your posts megan. thanks for sharing your brilliance (in baking, cooking AND writing!)

  19. Posted November 13, 2011 at 10:59 am

    First off, what a gorgeous pie! It seems so luscious and airy, the perfect ending to a hearty meal. My family also experiments with new renditions of the classics on Thanksgiving. The only thing we’ve all agreed can never be altered is my mom’s stuffing. Your holiday plans sound heavenly — enjoy every minute of it!

  20. Posted November 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Megan, this is such a lovely post on so many levels. As with most people, I have so many memories around Thanksgiving and I love the idea of bringing the happy. We have dishes that are a must on our table and others that can rotate and our guests are VERY clear on which is which. (I will never attempt any other stuffing than Pepperidge Farm for that reason). I’m excited for you in this next phase of your life and the beginning of mixing traditions.

  21. megang
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Dana! I died reading this. My mom is a die-hard Pepperidge Farm stuffing fan. Every year, I try a new recipe to try and outbeat it and every year hers wins. This year, I’ve given in :)

  22. megang
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Hi Elizabeth-Thanks for your sweet comment! Yes, stuffing seems to be a biggie for people in terms of the way they do it. I always really, really want to love cornbread stuffing or a wild mushroom stuffing and end up just really loving my mom’s too. Hope you had a lovely weekend!

  23. megang
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks, Lori! So nice to see you here, and I’m so happy to know you’ve been reading and enjoying the blog! xox

  24. Posted November 13, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Old traditions meeting new = totally awesome. Lovely recipe… will have to give it a try. Thank you! :)

  25. Mary
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I agree with Dana’s comment: “such a lovely post on so many levels.” I also like the blog you recommended – Molly’s blog won me over w/the name alone: remedial eating {at the stove, burning learning} – that’s me. Finally, I am very excited about having a Marge Bakery pie on my family’s Thanksgiving table.

  26. Posted November 16, 2011 at 12:25 am

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! Just wondering does the pie need to set or be refridgerated at all before it is served?

  27. Posted November 16, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Hee – “Lovely” is the word that came to my mind, too.
    Also, at first glance in my Reader I thought, “ehh, I’m not really interested in making that” but by the end I was thinking, “It looks and sounds so good – I wonder if I could slip it by the Thanksgiving Pie Police?”
    Thanks!

  28. megang
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Hi Lindsay-
    Good question. Yes, keep it refrigerated. I’ll add that to the notes to make sure it’s clear. Happy baking!

  29. Posted November 17, 2011 at 11:13 am

    i have that food and wine, and i too saw this recipe and wanted to try it! i love seeing your step by steps, think its exactly what i need to actually make it instead of thinking about it. i am all about changing up old standbys this year….i will let you know how it comes out! thank you!

  30. Posted November 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I know this pie would make me happy.

  31. Posted November 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    First off so glad you found Molly’s blog. She is incredible. Secondly this pie. Pretty sure my life will never be the same after reading about it. I can’t wait to try it!

  32. Posted November 22, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Why I did not think to visit your blog in my moment of crust-making duress is beyond me! You’re the second person I know to recommend Ms. Stewart’s pate brisee. Hope you have the loveliest Thanksgiving, M! Perhaps someday I can watch you expertly make pie.

  33. Posted November 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I LOVE this post! This is my first year to host my family’s Thanksgiving celebration and I wanted to change things up a bit. Some family members weren’t too thrilled, but when I asked them if they truly LOVED that green bean casserole recipe and they said “no,” they gave me their blessing to bring in some new dishes – yay! This is such a beautiful blog with amazing photography. Thanks for the inspiration!

  34. Posted December 1, 2011 at 11:32 am

    looks yum yum!!!! gonna try it!

7 Trackbacks

  1. [...] caramel apples… I think it's safe to say that apples and Fall go hand in hand. This recipe for Apple Cider Cream Pie from A Sweet Spoonful has taken my 2 favorite apple recipes – pie and cider – and combined them [...]

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    [...] her own photography I decided that I loved them all. But the best one to feature would be “Bring the Happy“. A lovely post where she talks about herself, family, traditions and of course Thanksgiving. [...]

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