Desserts – State by State: Oklahoma

The last time Oklahoma crossed my mind was in the spring of 2013 when we were still in China and still a family of two for a couple months longer. A friend of ours emailed me wondering if by chance I’d be interested in joining a small number of musical fans for a ladies’ night featuring a viewing of the Royal National Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!” starring a younger, Wolverine-less Hugh Jackman. Thanks to my mother’s insistence that as children we watched mostly classic movies — a move that was likely done to ensure that there was something on TV that she enjoyed as well (genius move, btw), but in the end also provided me with a more well-rounded understanding of art and culture — I responded with “I’m just a girl who can’t say no,” and began mentally planning what to bring as a side dish (because in the Foreign Service, an event did not occur unless a side dish was involved).

A couple days later I set out for my friend’s house, side dish in tow, and upon seeing that is was a pollution-free(ish) day, decided to enjoy the mile or so walk down to her place. Apparently this was a ghastly faux pas on my part because the looks I received from the locals, particularly of the older generation, ranged from stupefied to disgusted. People were actually craning their necks around as they rode past me on their bikes. I couldn’t decide which component of my demeanor had created such shock value. Was it:
a.) I was a foreign pregnant lady (They’re just like us!)
b.) I had opted for a shirt and yoga pants instead of the local pregnant uniform of a moo-moo or animal graphic sweater over leggings
c.) I was doing a combination of a & b while exercising, which in a society where pregnant women wear lead aprons (like the kind you wear for x-rays) when sitting at the computer, making copies, or standing in the same room as a microwave, could possibly be a major no-no.

I still have no idea what I was doing wrong that day, but luckily I was coming up on our two-year mark and had grown accustomed to the baffling differences between our cultures. I laughed it off and joined my friends in snickering over Hugh Jackman’s Oklahoma accent whilst eating…come to think of it I’m not sure what we ate, but it probably fell in the cookies/brownies/chips/dip section of the food pyramid. Unfortunately I was unaware at the time that fried pies were such an intrinsic part of Oklahoma’s culinary fare, otherwise these would have been a must-bring. In fact, this may be my favorite state dessert to date. I can neither confirm nor deny that a hearty “OOOOk-lahoma!” was belted after my first bite.

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State by State Desserts: Oklahoma – Fried Peach Pies

Rank:
Fantastic: Thank you, Oklahoma, for sharing this dessert with the rest of us!

I used this crust recipe from Savoury Table (can’t wait to make these again, this time using her coconut filling recipe!). And because I had canned peaches on hand at the time (a miracle find at the grocery store), I used this recipe from Taste of the South for the filling. If you do use canned fruit instead of fresh, be sure to drain off some of the juice so your filling isn’t too runny.

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Desserts – State by State: DC

No taxation without representation!
Where Congress has failed, Slate has taken up the mantle and selected cupcakes to represent the District in its line-up of state desserts, which is fitting given the taxation many DC’ers feel when visitors come into town and request a trip to Georgetown Cupcakes. “I can’t wait to stand in a mile-long line with you in the middle of popped-collardom for a $5 flour/sugar concoction that I can now have delivered to my door,” said no Washingtonian ever. Just be sure to cover the cab fare and buy your tour guide a sweet treat or two (or dozen) for the trouble.

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As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m not really a cake person. But cupcakes? I’m totally down for those. Appropriately, so is our kiddo, who devoured this Winnie the Pooh-themed confection for her birthday. Perhaps the willy, nilly, silly old bear had something to do with it, but I’d like to think my go-to recipe from Joy the Baker was the main pull. I always leave out the rose water and ignore the organic parts but even so they are delicious…and dare I say it, better than their Georgetown cousins? Perhaps that borders on culinary treason, but something tells me DC residents won’t mind such disloyalty if it means one line less to stand in during tourist season.

State by State Desserts: Washington, D.C. – Cupcakes

Rank: Fantastic: Thank you, DC, for sharing this dessert with the rest of us!

This recipe for my all-time favorite cupcakes with the best buttercream frosting EVAH is from Joy the Baker.

 

Found a reason to show a bit more of our house.
Found a reason to show a little more of our house.

Desserts – State by State: Florida

As American as key lime pie.

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True, that’s not quite how the saying goes, but considering that Slate decided not to award apple pie to any state, and I made this delectable dish for our community 4th of July party, I figured it was only fitting to customize this idiom to suit the patriotic and comestible needs of the expat lifestyle. Perhaps at our next post cherries, blueberries, lemons or maybe-just maybe-apples will represent Americana for us, but for now, key limes are our go-to.

The small yellowish limes typically used as the basis for this dessert are ubiquitous here, so needless to say I’ve had key lime pie on the brain for quite some time. Unfortunately we have quite the opposite situation when it comes to graham crackers, so I substituted with a local snack frequently found at the fruit stand–fried animal cracker-like cookies.  They were a fine sub in a pinch, but graham crackers really are the best for this crust. I actually tested two types: the classic recipe with an egg base and another which includes the addition of sour cream. While I love tang, the sour cream version was a little too tart for my taste, but the classic version tasted, well, classic. Just remember to add a bit more powdered sugar than you normally would to the whipped cream, as even the classic version needs a bit of sweet to balance the tart.  I also added a bit of gelatin to the whipped cream so that it would hold its body in the heat.

Gabon's answer to animal crackers. Just like their western counterparts, these niblets are just sweet enough to make you come back for more.
Gabon’s answer to animal crackers. Just like their western counterparts, these niblets are just sweet enough to make you come back for more.

State by State Desserts: Florida – Key Lime Pie

Rank: Fantastic: Thank you, Florida, for sharing this dessert with the rest of us!

Yield: 1 9-inch pie

Ease of Preparation: Easy

INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • 16 graham crackers, crushed
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 lb unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh key lime juice (appx. 12 limes)
  • 2 tsp fresh grated lime peel

Whipped cream

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3-4 Tbs powdered sugar, sifted (add more to taste if necessary)
  • Splash of vanilla
  • 1 Tbs gelatin (1 packet)
  • 1/4 cup water (of which you will only use appx. 1-2 tsp)

For the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix crushed crackers, sugar and butter in a small bowl then press mixture into a nine inch pie plate. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned then place on wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling:
Beat egg yolks until thick and light yellow, being careful not to over mix. Turn mixer to low and sdd sweetened condensed milk then one half of lime juice. Once juice is blended, add the remainder of the juice along with the lemon zest and mix until just combined. Pour the mixture into cooled pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes until eggs are set. Cool completely then chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours or overnight. Whipped cream can be added once pie has completely cooled or just before serving.

For the whipped cream:
Place water in a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the water. Let sit for 1 minute then place pan on medium heat, stirring until gelatin has dissipated (there will no longer be any grains in the water). Do not let the water boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you make the whipped cream.

Chill a metal bowl and wire whisk in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Remove and add whipping cream; beat on low until large bubbles begin to form then gradually increase the speed to high. Whip on high for 4-5 minutes or until cream begins to thicken. Once cream thickens into barely soft peaks, add sifted sugar, vanilla and a teaspoon or two of the gelatin water. Continue to beat on high for 1-2 minutes or until stiff peaks form. The whipped cream will last 2-3 days in the refrigerator.