Tag Archives: Portal

Rhubarb Companion Cube Pies

 

I love the idea of hand pies. It reminds me of trips to the bread store with my mum when we were children. If there was a special sale going on, which meant just a little extra money left, we would get Hostess Fruit Pies (or the off brand version of those pies). This was a highly unusual treat as my mum was very much into home-baked treats and did her best to feed us many vegetables and very little sugar.   I don’t know why we never thought to make our own little pies. Probably because Betty Crocker never suggested it!

Thankfully, one of my favourite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, recently wrote about her wonderful little rhubarb cream cheese hand pies. They looked amazing. Despite the cream cheese, my fiance was keen to try them as well since he loves rhubarb.

Since rhubarb doesn’t grow in Florida, it’s much too hot for far too long, we pay about $6.00 a pound for the wonderful stalks. I decided to cut the recipe in half, so I would have rhubarb left to make another treat with the other half a pound. I also used my own crust recipe since I had some ready to go in the freezer.

Rhubarb Companion Cube Pies (from Smitten Kitchen)

To begin, make your favourite pie crust, or use the one at Smitten Kitchen. While the dough refrigerates, make the fillings.

Rhubarb Filling

  • 1/2 pound rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I didn’t quite fill the measuring cup all the way)

Peel the tough outer skin of the rhubarb. Roughly chop into small pieces. Place into small pan with sugar. Cook over low heat about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. I let it simmer until there was a thick paste so I wouldn’t have juices running out of the pies.

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I didn’t quite fill the measuring cup all the way)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 small egg yolk

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Keep refrigerated until needed.

Now for the fun part, assembling the pies!

First, Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out your dough. You can either use a pizza cutter or a cookie cutter to cut your dough into an even number of shapes. I used a Portal Companion Cube cookie cutter since that is the sort of cookie cutters we have in our house! I ended up with 14 squares (Next time, I’m going to roll the dough a little thinner.)

Second, Place half of your squares on your baking sheet. These will be the bottom of your pies. With the remaining shapes, create a vent by cutting a plus in the top of the pie. (Next time I want to make a heart shape.)

Third, Using a spoon, place about a teaspoon of cream cheese mixture in the center of the pie bases. I smoothed it out a bit. If you have a larger shape, you could add more filling. You may want to do a test pie to make sure you don’t overfill the crust.

Fourth, Scoop about the same amount of rhubarb filling on top of the cream cheese.  Again, make sure you don’t overfill the crust.

Fifth,  Carefully place the vented crust pieces over the pie bases. With your fingers, gently but firmly press the edges of the crusts together.

Sixth, Bake pies for 15-20 minutes. The edges will be quite brown. Remove from baking sheet and place on cooling rack. I recommend letting them cool to room temperature. But I realise how hard that part of the instructions will be to follow. Store in a sealed container in the fridge, if there are any left!

You could do a light egg wash before placing the filling on the base to help seal the edges, but mine held together quite well. You could also finish with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar before baking, I may try this next time.

 

 

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The Cake is a Lie!

Since the release of Portal 2 in April of last year, I have been dreaming of making a cake inspired by the game. For those that don’t know, Portal and Portal 2 are first-person, puzzle-platform video games. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, check out the Wikipedia articles for Portal and Portal 2. You can also check out the official website hosted by Valve, the company who released the game.

In the game, you are guided by GLaDOS. Throughout the game, GLaDOS offers a cake as a reward for solving the puzzles. The cake pictured in the game is designed after a black forest cake from a bakery near the development offices. Sadly, this happens to be in Washington as far away from Florida as you can get without leaving the Continental United States. They also don’t deliver. This fact didn’t worry me in the least, I was ready for a baking challenge.

This challenge was made a bit easier by The Geeky Chef. She (or he, the blog doesn’t say) already made the cake and was wonderful enough to share the recipe. I was delighted with the results. The cake was moist and fudgy, without being too dense or brownie-like. I also discovered that using powdered sugar when whipping cream turns our much better than using granulated sugar. Why did I never know this before?

Let’s begin with the cake. Due to the disappearance of my round cake pans, I used my 9-inch spring form pan. Going this route made it necessary to make two cake batters in order to have the four layers the cake deserved. It was delightful to make such a tall cake!

Black Forest Cake:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Kirsch (cherry liqueur). I used cherry syrup instead of liqueur.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans, or line with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, the cocoa, the baking soda and the salt. Set this aside. Beat the shortening and sugar together until they are fluffy. Add the eggs and beat thoroughly. Add vanilla. Slowly beat in the flour mixture, occasionally alternating with the buttermilk. Beat until combined. Pour the batter into the cake pans. Bake for about 35 or 40 minutes (or until a fork or a wooden pick comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Because of my pan, I baked it nearly an hour.) Let the cake cool completely. The cake will be easier to cut if you keep it in the fridge for a few hours before cutting.
The Filling:
¼ cup Kirsch (I used cherry syrup.)
2 cans sour cherries (I only used one can)
3 cups heavy whipping cream (I used 4 cups since my cake was going to be larger.)
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar (I used 1/3 cup.)
3 tablespoons cocoa (I used 4 T cocoa.)
After the cake has cooled, cut each layer in half (horizontally) to make four total layers. Sprinkle the layers with the 1/2 cup of Kirsch. Drain the canned cherries in a colander to remove most of the juice. Beat the whipping cream with confectioners’ sugar until it thickens to desired texture. Put a small amount of the cream/sugar mixture aside for garnish. Mix the cocoa powder into the remaining majority of the whipped cream frosting. Place one cake layer on the serving dish you wish to use. Spread about one 6th of the whipped cream on the layer, and strew a third of the cherries on top of the whipped cream. Add the second cake layer on top of the first. Spread one 6th of the whipped cream on the second layer and 1/3 of the cherries on top. Add the third cake layer. Spread 1/6 of the whipped cream on that and add the remaining cherries. Top with the last cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with remaining frosting.
The Garnish:
1 semi-sweet chocolate bar
 At least 8 maraschino cherries (no stems)

One white candle

Use a potato peeler on the chocolate to create thin shaves. Gently pat the chocolate shaves on to the sides and top of the cake, completely coating it. Use the whipped cream you set aside earlier to place eight small circles around the top of the cake. Place your non-stemmed maraschino cherries on each one. place white candle in the center and light.

As you can see from my photos, I gave up on the chocolate shavings with only the top completed. I had forgotten that we have a micro-plain that would have made the shavings much easier.

 

The game itself offers a recipe for a cake. It begins with a box cake mix and continues with semi-normal ingredients for some time before veering into the absurd throwing in such items as rhubarb, ethyl benzene, and sediment shaped sediment.  A few people have made this cake. Someday it might be interesting to try without the crazy additives. For now, I am delighted with the cake!

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