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roasted hazelnut pie base… aka your favorite pie, but better…

pumpkin pie with hazelnut crust

When it comes to good food, Thanksgiving really gives us a chance to shine. There are a few things I make that seem to create a lot of interest. Earlier this year I finally responded to the requests about how to make homemade yogurt, and this time it’s my pie. The great thing about this recipe for Roasted Hazelnut Pie Base, is that it’s simply an addition, and it will enhance nearly any pie. It’s your favorite pie, but better!

Roasted Hazelnut Pie Base works wonderfully with pumpkin (my favorite), apple, and berry pies. And being that I do live On The Nut Farm, it’s just possible that I may have more recipes featuring hazelnuts than your average Joe. 😉 

Roasted Hazelnut Pie Base  aka… Your favorite pie, but better

3/4 c. toasted and finely ground, hazelnuts  (about 3/4 – 1 c. whole nuts)

1/3 c. brown sugar, firmly packed

4 T. butter, softened

1/4 t. vanilla

salt, just a pinch

Mix the ingredients, just until they come together into a paste. Press into the bottom of you favorite pie crust. Bake at 450˚F for 10 minutes, until bubbly. Allow to cool completely, then bake your pie as usual. Your favorite pie, but better!
* this makes enough for one deep-dish 9-9 1/2 inch pie.

The details…

toasting hazelnuts –

This is a super simple process that greatly enhances the flavor of the nuts, so don’t be tempted to skip this step 😉 Oh, and you may want to have more nuts on hand than the recipe calls for, because they are oh-so-yummy, when toasted!

Spread the nuts in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toast in a 350˚F oven, shaking the pan every few minutes, until the nuts are lightly browned and fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. You will know they are almost ready when the skins begin to crack. Be careful not to let them burn 😉

roasted hazelnuts with cracked skins

Pour the warm nuts onto a kitchen towel (one that’s a little rough is best), and rub the warm nuts vigorously to loosen the skins.

roasted hazelnuts skinned

This is one of those recipes where making substitutions will not give you a good final product. Please don’t be tempted to use margarine in this recipe. The water in margarine does not play nicely with the oils from the nuts, and you will have a disappointing mess.

hazelnut pie base ingredients

grinding hazelnuts –

Again simple, but a little care is needed. You can grind the (cooled) nuts in a blender or food processor, the key is to do just a few at a time.  Go slowly, just a few pulses, otherwise you will end up with hazelnut butter, which is super tasty, but not what you’re looking for in this recipe.

ground hazelnuts hazelnut meal

Press the hazelnut base evenly into the bottom of your pie crust.

hazelnut base pressed into crust

Get ready for the most intoxicating smell! Oh my goodness, this is the best part. Watch the baking time closely, and you may want to place some aluminum foil, or a pie crust guard, around the edges of your pie crust to keep it from burning.

baked hazelnut pie crust

Once your pie base has cooled, use as you would any other pie crust.

pumpkin pie with hazelnut pie crust

That’s it, simple and sumptuous. Enjoy!

until next time, keep the green side up,


how to make homemade yogurt…

how to make homemade yogurt with blueberries, raspberries and strawberries

my breakfast – homemade yogurt with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and some Grape-Nuts

updated: March 2020

How do I make homemade yogurt?

People who know me, also know I’ve made my own yogurt for years (decades) now. Some have asked in passing about a yogurt “recipe”, but for some reason I never got around to it. So, as Laura recently told me “give the people what they want!”.😂

Making your own yogurt is easier than you think, and the taste can’t be beat! My family of four goes through 1-2 batches (a batch being eight, six-ounce jars) a week through the winter months and 2-3 batches per week through the spring and summer. In the spring and summer there is so much fresh fruit available to mix in, plus we make a ton of smoothies, and I use the yogurt in place of mayo and/or sour cream in some recipes, especially dips and sauces. Everything you need to make homemade yogurt, you probably already have on hand (with the exception of the yogurt maker, if you go that route). Simple recipe, simple ingredients. In some of the pictures you’ll see the Donvier Yogurt Maker and jars. The Donvier is now away at college with Thing 2, so I now use my oven and canning jars, and prefer it. There are a lot of different methods out there, this is mine…

Items you will need to get started…

  • clean, sterilized jars(*) I use 1/2 pint, and pint canning jars
  • milk (6 cups for this recipe)
  • yogurt starter (2 T.)
  • a large bowl that is easy to pour from (I use an 8 cup Pyrex glass measuring cup)
  • a small bowl
  • whisk
  • candy or other cooking thermometer
  • a consistently warm place such as an oven with a light you can leave on (optional: yogurt maker)

 how to make homemade yogurt - jars for homemade yogurt

note: If you choose to buy a yogurt maker, it will most likely be your only real expense in undertaking your own homemade yogurt. If you buy a yogurt maker, get extra jars, you will need them. Otherwise you will have to empty all of your jars every time you want to make a new batch, and it’s a pain. Yogurt makers can generally be found at specialty kitchen stores, and of course, online. I originally chose the Donvier yogurt maker because:

  • 1.  it was recommended to me (I’m big on listening to people I trust)
  • 2.  it held 8 jars instead of 6 or 7
  • 3.  it has very simple operating instructions

Milk:  use what ever milk you usually drink as long as it is pasteurized. You must use pasteurized milk because yogurt is all about growing the specific yogurt bacteria, and you don’t want to grow anything unintended. I drink fat-free milk, so that is what I use.

how to make homemade yogurt - Chobani yogurt

Yogurt starter:  you need about 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt. This is probably the most important part of this process. If you want to make yogurt you like, you need to start with yogurt you like. Novel concept, huh? 🙂 If you don’t like it when you start, you will not magically like it when you’ve finished. You MUST select a plain yogurt with NO artificial anything.  NO added sugar or fruit, nothing.  PLAIN yogurt. That means the ingredient list should consist of cultured pasteurized milk, and live and active cultures. That’s it. Personally, my favorite is Chobani Plain Greek(**). I LOVE the flavor of this yogurt, and I really can’t overstate the importance of finding a yogurt you like. You can also find a selection of powdered starters in some specialty stores (or order online). While this is a perfectly viable option, it is not the course of action I would recommend unless you really have no other choice, since you have no idea how this yogurt will taste until you’re done.

Bowls:  a large bowl that will hold at least 6 cups of milk plus a couple of tablespoons of starter and leave you plenty of room for whisking it all together. Unless you are extremely talented at pouring liquid from bowls, I would advise something with a spout. You will also need a small bowl to mix the starter and milk. You can use one of the yogurt jars for this, but I prefer to just use a separate bowl.

Whisk:  any medium to large size whisk will do, as long as it fits in both of the bowls you will be using.

Thermometer: any cooking thermometer that will register as high as 185ºF and as low as 110ºF.

Step 1:  you will need to scald your milk (bring it to 185ºF-190ºF). You can do this on the stove-top with a double-boiler, but most of the time I just use my microwave. If you choose to use your microwave, it will take a little trial and error on your part to figure out the exact timing. My microwave is rated at 1100 W and I heat my milk for 5 minutes, take it out and stir it, and then another 6 minutes, and stir it again, to reach the necessary 185ºF.

how to make homemade yogurt - hot milk for homemade yogurt

Step 2:  once your milk has reached 185ºF, remove it from heat, place it on a hot pad or trivet, and put it in a safe location to cool down to 110º-115ºF, stirring occasionally to keep a skin from forming. Make sure you check frequently so you don’t miss the “temperature window”. For me this takes about 40 minutes in a 68º-70ºF house.

homemade yogurt starter in small bowl

While the milk is cooling spoon about 2 tablespoons of your chosen yogurt starter into the small bowl and let it come up to room temperature. This is also a good time to set out your jars, and make sure everything is ready.

cooling milk for homemade yogurt

Step 3:  when your milk reaches the 110º-115ºF temperature window, pour a small amount of the cooled milk – just a couple of teaspoons-  into the yogurt starter and gently whisk until you have a smooth even consistency.

homemade yogurt

Repeat this step until the yogurt/milk blend is a very runny liquid.

homemade yogurt

Step 4:  slowly add your starter/milk blend to the remaining milk, whisking constantly until it’s fully incorporated. Whisk enough to blend well, but not so much as to create foam.

homemade yogurt

Step 5:  pour your milk into the jars and place the lids on top.

homemade yogurt in Donvier yogurt maker

Step 6:  place jars into a baking dish with 1-2 inches of hot tap water, and place into oven with the light on <or> put the jars into your yogurt maker, and select the length of time you wish for the yogurt maker to run and press Start!  It’s that easy! 🙂

homemade yogurt

Step 7:  when your yogurt has finished, place it in the refrigerator to chill for 8 hours or overnight.

Step 8:  enjoy!  Stir in your favorite fruit… make a smoothie… use it on your tacos instead of sour cream…

Random tips:

  • making your own yogurt has all sorts of awesome benefits, which I’m sure you already have looked into. But one amazing benefit that no one tells you about…? how amazing fresh, warm yogurt smells!  Mmmm… It’s almost as good as the smell of fresh bread.
  • for reasons I have yet to understand (freshness of the milk, cycle of the moon…) occasionally my yogurt has more whey separate  than usual. Whey is a thick, clear-ish liquid along the sides or on top of the yogurt. If it bothers you, you can strain it off (but you will lose the protein contained in it), or just stir it back in when you are ready to eat. Remember, you just made fresh yogurt without all those chemical interventions, it might look a tad bit different than you are used to. 😉

  • when you are ready to make your next batch, just use 2-3 tablespoons of your last batch as the new starter.
  • when I get an unexpected result, I buy a new container of yogurt for starter, and start over.
  • if you want to use your yogurt to replace mayonnaise or sour cream, you will want to strain it first to give it a thicker consistency. I place a coffee filter set into a mesh strainer, spoon in the yogurt, and set it all in the refrigerator until it’s reached the right thickness. I don’t use yogurt to replace ingredients that need to be cooked as it tends to break down.
  •  yogurt will get tarter and firmer the longer it develops so if you like a softer, sweeter yogurt, you might want to ripen your yogurt for about 7 hours and see if that’s about right for you. If you like your yogurt a little firmer and tarter start at around 10 hours. I really don’t like sweet yogurt, so I let mine go for 12 hours.
  • I frequently let my yogurt develop overnight, and it’s ready to pop in the fridge the next morning.
  • fresh, plain yogurt can be stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

So that’s it.  Pretty easy huh?  I’ve never created a recipe for something I just “do” before, so if there are any steps that need a little clarification, please ask! I’m happy to answer any questions you have, and hope you tell me all about your first batch of yogurt! Oh, and send pictures of course! I’d love to add any of your experiences to this post. 🙂 Thank you to those of you who requested this, it was a lot of fun to put this all together for you!

keep the green side up,

*  I sterilize my jars by running them through the sanitize cycle on my dishwasher.

**  Greek yogurt is yogurt that has been strained of its whey for a thicker consistency and higher protein. Unfortunately, as greek yogurt becomes more popular some companies are cutting costs by using thickening agents and protein powders to mimic the taste, texture and high protein. The latest information I can find says Chobani and Fage still make their greek yogurt by straining it.

***  If you have the Donvier Yogurt Maker it comes with a handy-dandy little thermometer that has two little lines to let you know when you’re in the right range.

originally published March 2013