Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Puttin' on the Ritz

The hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving (and, in my house, Thanksgiving company) has passed.  I hope that your holiday was filled with family and friends, as well as a feeling of gratitude and well-being.  Although I did not make the time to write, there was no shortage of baking exploits.  I promise to fill you all in on the (culinary) trials and triumphs of the recent days.

The first is a Thanksgiving staple in my family.  I've made it just about every year I can remember; my grandmother made it before that.  I speak of the Ritz Cracker Pie.

Now, before anyone mistakenly assumes I'm referring to that "mock apple" nonsense that used to be printed on the back of the box, let me clarify.  In my book, Ritz cracker pie is a sweet and salty delight of unknown origin that I believe made an appearance in a Pink Ladies Auxiliary Cookbook in the early 1980s.  It goes a little something like this:

3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, coarsely crushed
1 cup toasted chopped pecans

1 tub whipped topping
2 T cocoa powder

1 cup heavy cream
2 T sugar
2 T cocoa powder

Whip egg whites until soft peaks form.  Continue whipping while gradually adding sugar to form a stiff meringue.  Fold in vanilla, crackers, and pecans.  Spread into a lightly greased 9-inch pie pan, forming a rough shell. 

 Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Cool completely.

Sift cocoa powder over whipped topping or cream that has been whipped with sugar.  Spread in baked pie.  serve chilled.

Literate Baker notes:  You can crush the crackers right in the sleeve before you open it.  The original recipe calls for a full cup of sugar in the pie; I think that's too much.  The original recipe also calls for "Dream Whip" for the topping; I don't know if you can even buy that anymore.

 This pie is amazingly light and the perfect end to a rich holiday meal.  It's also light enough that you can have a piece of it and another pie.  Or cheesecake.  Or whatever.  You know.  It's also super easy to make and doesn't even require a pie crust.  I should make it more often.  I do have three sleeves of Ritz crackers left.  And look how sad the last piece looks.

 It's settled then.  When it comes to your favorite recipes, you don't have to wait for the holidays to...

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