Friday, September 18, 2009

Lollipop Pies: Simple Concept, Difficult Execution

I was most intrigued by the adorable lollipop pies at Luxirare. Not just the pies, but the blog and step-by-step arty pictures that go along with it. (Not to mention her gorgeous packaging. How does she find the time?) It makes me realize that I really need to improve the visual part of my blogging skills. Even though I have a nice camera, I have never learned how to use it properly and to its full advantage. Maybe the Visuals Track at BlogHer Food ’09 will do the trick. But I digress….

I love little bite-sized morsels of any kind, but particularly those that are sweet. I regularly make my chocolate chip cookes in one-bite pieces, mini-mocha brownies are a holiday standard, and I love these cute little mini cinnamon macaroons for a tea party. And I always use part of my cupcake batter to make mini-cupcakes. (I feel less guilty eating the smaller portions.) So I thought I would give lollipop pies a try. I had gobs of homemade jam and fresh fruit, and it calls for store-bought pie crust rolls, so the ingredients really are not that complex. The construction, however, was another matter.

The original post on Luxirare just showed the simple steps with no real recipe. Fortunately, at some point the author was kind enough to post some guidelines to at least help us along. Although for the life of me, I cannot find that link. Thankfully, I did cut and paste the tips into a document (which are provided for you below).

Getting to work, I rolled out the prepared crust, I carefully cut the circles and went about putting dollops of filling in the center. I inserted the lollipop stick (wrapped in foil to prevent burning), sealed the edges, brushed with egg wash, and popped them in the oven. I did this 5 o 6 times, each time varying my technique. I tried:
  • Jam filling and thickened fresh fruit filling, both seemed to leak
  • Understuffed and overstuffed, leaks
  • Hand sealing the edges, using a fork to seal the edges, and using both techniques to seal the edges, all three seemed to leak
  • Egg wash to help seal the edges, still leaks
It didn’t matter what I did, leaks kept appearing, which caused the edges to burn. Out of probably 30 lollipop pies, I had maybe 8 that did not leak. Working in batches of 5 or 6 with different variations and techniques, I just couldn’t get the rhythm of it. So, while I love the concept and the fun of eating them, the amount of work to get it right took the joy right out of it. Rather than seeing it as a task to master (like feet on macaroons), I saw it a huge frustration that was not worth the trouble. Not like me to give up, but that’s the honest truth.

If you are going to try to make your own lollipop pies, here are the hints to make it a bit easier. And I wish you the best of luck!
  1. Place tin foil over the stick before you stick it in the oven, it will burn if you don't.
  2. Try to get your store bought pie dough as THIN as possible. Roll it out so it doesn't break, but don't use the pie crust as is. Otherwise you will not be eating pie pops. You'll be eating cooked pie dough.
  3. Cornstarch; better known as "cheaters powder" is good for a reason; it helps thicken things when it needs to hold its shape. You shouldn't over do it with the cornstarch, but you do need to balance the watery-ness of the pie filling so that your pops hold their shape. You can use jams, but I would mix it with fresh fruit too. I cooked the filling before I wrapped it with the crust.
  4. Try to fill your pops as much as possible. Its not easy, you might break them but as I said it takes a couple times before you get the hang of it.
  5. Don't be afraid to use other shapes, Bakerella went as far as using Hearts.
  6. I cooked these at 375 for 15 minutes. If you want a toastier crust, go longer. If you like a light crust, stay short. Keep an eye on these.
  7. Let them cool before wrapping them.
  8. You can also freeze them uncooked ahead of time, and bring 'em out when guests are over. As I said, very rarely do dinner guests EVER finish their dessert because they are already full, and most women want to fit into their jeans tomorrow morning so this is a good option for a light finish.
  9. Make sure to flour your surfaces so that nothing sticks.
  10. Make sure to slather egg whites onto pie crust so that it browns nicely.
  11. If you have a small toaster oven, its better to cook your pie pops in these instead of a big oven.

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