Monday, December 10, 2012

Salted Caramel Pie

The most indulgent thing I've done in ages is to eat this salted caramel pie. I actually meant to share it with you a year ago, when my sister and I first made it for Thanksgiving 2011. So I'm only a year late on this one. We never stopped talking about the pie, so I made it again for Thanksgiving 2012 and took it the family farm in Bertie County, NC. It was a hit.

And that trip, by the way? So peaceful.

But back to the pie. It's dangerous. My brother doesn't even like sweets and he had two pieces. It's easy to put together, just time-consuming. Have a slow day at home to yourself? Think about whipping this baby together. It's hands-down the best dessert I've ever made, and I'm prepared to make it for the rest of my life, if family requests are any indication.
Salted Caramel Pie
From Food & Wine
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 5 ounces)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar
Two 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
Fleur de sel
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor, pulse the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and light brown sugar until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly into a 9-inch glass or metal pie plate. Bake for about 10 minutes, just until lightly browned. Let cool. Increase the oven temperature to 425°.
2. Scrape the condensed milk into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and sprinkle with a scant 1/2 teaspoon of fleur de sel. Cover the dish with foil and place it in a roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the pan to reach one-third of the way up the side of the baking dish. Bake, lifting the foil to stir 2 or 3 times, until the condensed milk is golden and thickened, about 2 hours; add more water to the roasting pan as necessary. The consistency of the caramel should be like dulce de leche. Don't worry if it is lumpy; it will smooth out as it chills.
3. Scrape the caramel filling into the pie crust, smoothing the top. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with vegetable oil spray and cover the pie. Refrigerate until the filling is chilled and set, at least 4 hours.
4. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners' sugar until firm. Remove the plastic. Mound the whipped cream on top of the pie and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Cut into wedges and serve.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Right now there is a puppy asleep on my feet, a cat being spooned by the sleeping husband beside me, another cat on the windowsill pondering life's mysteries, and a wheezing computer trying its hardest not to die on me as I type. There's a body that doesn't feel at all like mine, but hasn't for months anyway, a brain that's crammed much too full of work to tell a proper story or be socially engaging, and deep fatigue. Eleanor just emitted one of those great deep puppy sighs, and girl, I am feeling you on that. Let's all sigh together.

I used to love the phrase "grace under pressure." I aspired to rise above whatever life threw at me in a series of triumphant Clairee Belcher moments featuring resplendent hair and heartwarming sass. My reality, however, is that I don't know how to properly blow out my own hair and I'm too tired for quick wit. My reality is that I'm working way too much in a high-pressure situation, that T and I will have one weekend alone in our house in two months' time, and that fertility medications continue to be someone's idea of a pretty crappy joke.

But. There is a Christmas tree! Our first tree together, believe it or not. It's twinkling downstairs amidst a messy living space, making stacks of mail and piles of shoes look almost charming in all its twinkly glory. A Christmas tree is like Instagram for your house, I swear. The tree's a good three feet shorter than my heart wants it to be and it happens to have many large holes that weren't quite apparent in the Eastern Market tree lot, but it's ours. What I'd love now is the time and quiet space inside my head to devote a night - or even an hour - to just looking at it and feeling peaceful. Is it possible to schedule feelings of peace and goodwill, or is that a stretch? I'm really looking for life Instagram, aren't I?

The list of things I wish I was better at right now is lengthy. Cooking. Housekeeping. Blogging. Seeing friends. Going to the movies. Reading. Making time for a haircut/facial/massage. Having energy. Any energy at all. Lately I'm good at working, medicating, and seeing family. Those are important things, but I miss the small stuff. I miss moments that don't need a filter. I know they're out there, somewhere. I'd just really like for them to make their way toward my Christmas stocking.*

*Not yet hung and currently in a pile on the mantel. But you get my drift.
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