Suzi's Blog

Jalapeno and Apple Pie

The calendar says that fall is two weeks away. The abundance in our farmers markets says that fall is here. All those apples. All those potential pies. I blogged this pie two years ago. I’m doing it again.

We went to a party this weekend where our gracious hostess invited people to bring dessert, specifically pie. Her Labor Day party is famous for ending with the delicacies that 50 guests have brought.

Suzen and I had a discussion about what to bring. Not that either of us is competitive, but …

“My Coconut Cream Pie is the best I have ever tasted. We are doing it,” I said.


“It’s the best, Suzen.”


“We need something new.”


“We’ve done this before,” I gave it a last shot.

“Yes, and people rave.”

This is Suzi’s favorite apple pie, hell, favorite pie period. It is, in a word, spectacular. One of the ingredients is jalapeno jelly, which gives you remarkably leeway. We have used a very hot, brown-colored jelly in the past. This time, we went for color, using a deep green jelly from our local “chain” market, Adams Fair Acre.

You can depend on one thing. The jelly you use, the amount of pickled jalapeno peppers, and their sweetness, will make your pie distinctively different.

So, with fall here. With apple around you. Here is the apple pie you want to try. I will warn you: addiction is possible.

The photos above show you the pie before baking, after the streusel is on, and then at the end. Ah, we topped this pie off with some jalapeno jack cheese for one more layer of heat.


Apple and Jalapeno Tailgate Pie

Yield: 1 Pie


The Crust:

  • 1 Recipe Best Butter Pie Pastry, Refrigerated [recipe follows]

The Pie Filling:

  • 8 Cups peeled, cored and sliced Granny Smith or other tart, juicy apples
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ Cup jalapeno jelly, stirred to loosen
  • ¼ Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2-3 Tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeno peppers [optional, check  the intensity of you jelly first]

The Cornmeal Streusel Topping:

  • ¾ Cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ Cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • ¾Cup sugar
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt
  • ½ Cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut in ¼-inch pieces


If you haven’t already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate it until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pasty into a 13 ¼-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Center it, then peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry down into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge. Place the pie shell in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling, mix the apples, sugar, and lemon juice together in a large mixing bowl. Add the jalapeno jelly and mix again. Stir in the cinnamon and flour. Mix in the jalapeno peppers, if using. Set the filling aside for 10 minutes.

Heat oven to 400° F.

Turn the filling into the frozen pie shell. Smooth the filling with your hands to even it out. Place the pie on a large dark baking sheet covered with aluminum foil and bake on the center oven rack for 30 minutes.

While the pie backs, make the toping. Put the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt n a food processor and pulse several times to mix.  Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine repeatedly, until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Empty the crumbs into a large mixing bowl and rub them between your fingers to make large, buttery crumbs. Refrigerate.

After 30 minutes, remove the pie from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 375° F. Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie, spreading them evenly over the surface with your hands. Tamp them down lightly. Put the pie on the baking sheet back in the oven and bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, an additional 30 minutes. Loosely cover the pie with tented aluminum foil during the last 15 minutes of backing if the top starts to get too brown.

Transfer the pie to a cool rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Best Butter Pie Pastry

Yield: 1 9” Pie Shell


  • 1 ¾ Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • ½ Cup (1 stick) butter cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼- inch pieces
  • 1 Large egg yolk
  • 3Tablespoons cold water


Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine repeatedly — 6 or 7 one-second bursts — until the butter is broken in a very small pieces.

Place the egg yolk in a 1-cup glass measure and add just enough of the water to equal ¼ cup liquid. Using a fork, blend the water and yolk. Remove the lid of the processor and pour the liquid over the entire surface of the dry ingredients. Don’t, in other words, pour it into one spot. Pulse the machine again, in short bursts, until the pastry starts to form large clumps. Don’t over process, or the butter will start to melt rather than stay in small pieces. Tear off a sheet of plastic wrap about 14 inches long and place it nearly.

Empty the crumbs in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, pack the dough as you would a snowball. Knead the dough 2 to 3 times, right in the bowl. Put the dough in the center of the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disk about ¾ inch thick. The edges will probably crack slightly; just pinch and mold them back into a smooth disk. Wrap the dough in the plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

To mix by hand: combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients and cut them in, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, until the butter is broken into very fine pieces; the mixture will not be quite as fine as with the processor. Blend the yolk and water as directed above. Sprinkle about half of the liquid over the flour, mixing it in with a fork. Life the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl and press down on the down stroke. Add the remaining liquid a little at a time until the dough coheres. You may need to 1 to 2 teaspoons more water.


Source: Apple Pie Perfect by Ken Haedrich


Coconut Cream Pie ala Zachary from Paris


There may come the day when you begin to think that your spouse is as smart as you are. Or, smarter. It’s a matter to reflect on.

I know Suzen is smarter than I am. I simply refuse to acknowledge it. It’s not that she has an ego. I just don’t want to open the door any wider than it is.

Yes, husbands have pride, too.

Suzen has a very deep philosophy about cooking, about the power of the kitchen as the ideal place for communication and learning. I have seen her develop teambuilding programs for adults, using the kitchen as a metaphor for life. I’ve seen and I’ve believed, but now I’ve experienced.

How do you bond with a little kid? That boy in the picture is Zachary, the son of Suzen’s cousin-one-removed from Paris. [If you don’t know what cousin-what-removed means, then look up cousins in Wikipedia. Zachary is not a second cousin. That’s if I understood the mathematics in the Wikipedia article correctly!]

It’s my second time with Zachary and at two years of age, he’s naturally shy. So, again, how do you bond? After extensive experimentation, Suzen has determined the food that is best for bonding with young children. You may have heard of it before: whipped cream.

I got to Zeva’s place with a lug holding the core pie, a bowl of whipped cream, and a bag of freshly toasted coconut. “Zachary,” I said, “I need help. We need to complete this pie.”

Living in Paris, I doubt that is a sentence the two-year old had heard before. Not even if you substitute “tart” for “pie.”

I needed to demo. I took up a big spoonful of whipped cream and dropped in on the pie and spread it out with the back of the spoon. Zachary watched. I took another. Then another. Then, as proof of his great intelligence, and with no verbal prompting, Zachary literally grabbed the spoon from my hand, scooped up a mountain of whipped cream and plopped it on the pie. I had to do the spreading, actually. That’s how you learn: one motor skill at a time.

Further to his credit, all the whipped cream went to the pie. None to his mouth. I don’t have that control.

In the picture above, we are past the whipped cream stage and Zachary is helping me spread the toasted coconut. Zeva took the picture and I think she had the speed wrong, which is why my hands are blurry. I don’t shake that fast at all.

I would bet, bet a lot, that you have never made your own coconut cream pie. This recipe, from Pie by Ken Haedrich, is awesome. On my first bite, I honestly thought this is best pie I have ever made, ever tasted. It’s so easy, I feel like an idiot for only having tried cream pies from restaurants or bakeries before. Some were good, some were old. This was heavenly and fresh.

Everyone at the table, and I mean everyone, said this pie was a wonder. That crust picture is the graham cracker crust, also from Pie but my thicker version, that I blogged early.

As I said, everyone loved the pie. Zachary said something to me. It was in the French of a two-year old but it sounded remarkably like “more.”

Ah, two notes. This recipe calls for coconut extract. You have some, right? Neither did I. So, I used some caramel extract, from one of those unopened bottles in the back of my shelf. It was right there next to the purple food coloring I bought for some reason. Anyway, caramel was fine. You can always improvise.

And, the recipe here calls for toasted coconut. Ken Haedrick has ideas about that and I’ll post that tomorrow. In the meantime, yes, 10 minutes in an oven at 325⁰.

Coconut Cream Pie

Yield: 1 9-inch pie, 6-8 slices, 1-8 people [some people like a lot of pie]


In advance:

  • 1 graham cracker crust, baked and cooled [see the blog post on this site for a great recipe]

For the filling:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup sweetened flacked coconut

For the topping to be applied just before eating:

  • ¾ cup cold heavy or whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted


Whisk the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a medium-sized heavy saucepan, preferably nonstick. Whisk in the milk and egg yolks. Place over medium heat and cook, whisking virtually nonstop, until the mixture thickens and starts to boil, about to 7 minutes.

[Note, the heavier and wider your saucepan, the sooner it will boil. Mine did in 4+ minutes. Keep the heat on medium to medium-low so things don’t scorch.]

Continue to cook, whisking nonstop for about 1 minutes.

[Note, you will know, don’t worry. The cornstarch will kick in and the mixture will thicken very rapidly. You may want to lower the heat a tad, again to prevent scorching. And, as it thickens, the mixture will begin to cling to the sides of pan. That’s the reason for wanted a non-stick pan if possible. The parts that do stick may scorch so you want to be careful about what goes in the pie and what stays in the pan. Remember, you can always lick the pan before cleaning.]

Whisk in the vanilla, coconut extract and flaked coconut. Immediately pour the filling into the cooled pie shell and smooth the top with a spoon. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly over the filling, leaving no gaps or air pockets to prevent a skin from forming. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool, thoroughly, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

[Note, this is one place where I take exception. After filling the pie, I would let it cool to down towards room temperature before covering with plastic wrap. The thought of very warm filling in contact with plastic is not one I’m happy with.]

When you are almost ready to serve the pie, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until stiff but not grainy. Spread the whipped cream over the pie, as decoratively as you desire. Dust with the toasted coconut.

This pie will save well in a cold fridge for a day or two, but that is an unlikely experience.

Source: Pie by Ken Haedrick