Coconut-Cream Cheese Pie

The weather’s warming up here in Central Texas, so it’s time for lighter fare. This pie is perfect for warm springs days or your Easter table.

Though Coconut-Cream Cheese Pie is a quick fix, it has a rich flavor that betrays its ease of preparation. It’s well-loved by those who like coconut. Don’t serve it to folks who don’t like coconut because it’s got a whole lot in it.

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Coconut-Cream Cheese Pie

  • 3 cups sweetened flaked coconut (divided)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • juice from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 325°. Spread softened butter around a pie plate (don’t use a deep dish). Press 1 ½ cups coconut into butter. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and lemon juice and zest until blended thoroughly. Stir in 1 cup coconut. Transfer to prepared pie shell.

Spread remaining coconut around the edges of the pie. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

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Czech Apple Strudel

The recipe for this Old World delicacy has been in my family for more than 150 years. Like many dishes our grandmothers prepared, it’s labor intensive but worth every bit of effort.

Czech Apple Strudel is a stunning, memorable dessert, made with fresh apples and a stretchable dough. It takes patience to get the dough right, so don’t worry if the first strudel isn’t perfect. Practice will get you there. And your family and guests will love every bite.

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Czech Apple Strudel

Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5-6 Tbsp lukewarm water
  • 1 egg white
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter, cooled
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar

Filling

  • 2 lbs winesap or braeburn apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar
  • 1 cup breadrumbs, fried in 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup pecans, ground finely
  • 1 stick butter, melted, for brushing on the dough

In a small bowl, combine water, egg white, salt, melted butter, and vinegar.

Sift the flour onto a pastry board, make a hole in the middle, and pour in the egg white mixture. Work the dough with a broad knife. When all the ingredients are combined, work it with your hands. The dough should be shiny, not sticking to your hands or the pastry board. Knead for about 10 minutes. How the dough stretches depends on how it was worked.

Form the dough into a ball, cover it with a warm inverted bowl. Place a kettle of hot water on top of the bowl. Let the dough rest 30-60 minutes.

Place the dough on the floured board and roll it as much as you can with a rolling pin. Then pick it up and gently stretch it, starting in the middle and moving to the outsides. Allow gravity to help. Once the dough has stretched to a large rectangle, transfer the dough to a floured pillow case or old tablecloth and gently stretch it to approximately a 21 x 15 rectangle.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Using a pastry brush, spread melted butter all over the dough, and then generously cover  the dough with fried breadcrumbs. Next, cover the dough with sliced apples and then sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the apples. Top with raisins, ground pecans, and lemon zest.

Using the pillowcase, roll the strudel jelly-roll style, and press the ends together so the apples don’t fall out. Transfer the strudel to a greased baking sheet. Shape into a wide U. Brush the top with melted butter.

Bake at 350° for approximately 45 minutes, brushing with melted butter every 15 minutes. When baked, cover the strudel with paper towels and a kitchen towel to soften it.

When cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Slice and serve with whipped cream.

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