Posts Tagged pie

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie - the shy wallflower of the pie set.

It looks pretty homely, doesn’t it? Pumpkin pie always looks like the plain Jane standing in the corner to me. It’s not like apple pie, which can tower over the pie plate, or sport a decorative lattice. And it’s not like cherry pie, whose bright red fruit can be shockingly beautiful. No, pumpkin pie is . . . well, it’s just too brown and flat to be impressive.

And I can’t say that this pumpkin pie is really any less plain – at least on the outside. But you’ll just have to trust me when I say that it really has been spiffed up – a shot of homemade caramel gives the pumpkin a boost of sweetness, with just a hint of that bitter, burnt sugar flavor. Oftentimes I don’t like pumpkin pie because the squash tastes too healthy to me, but this tasted much more like dessert.

The verdict on this pie was mixed – I took it to kittyhagan’s pre-Thanksgiving party and, while it was well received, a full three quarters of it remained by the time I left. Granted, I gave it some pretty stiff competition, in the form of a double chocolate mint pie (more on that next week)—maybe the shy wall flower can never really compete with the beautiful cheerleader, you know?

Well, in any event, if you’re looking for a way to spice up pumpkin pie for Thursday, I definitely suggest this recipe. The caramel gives an extra boost and depth to the pumpkin filling, the crust was gloriously flaky, and, for a homely pie, it certainly packed an impressive punch of flavor. Just make sure you make it the star of the Thanksgiving dessert table, which is certainly what it deserves.

Caramel Pumpkin Pie - Party Photo

Party photo of the pie. No, I'm not telling you how much wine I had when I took this photo. Not happening.

Recipe: Caramel Pumpkin Pie


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Pie Time: Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate Cream Pie 3

Nothing healthful about this little baby.

I’ve had very little cream pie in my life.

The pies of my childhood were mainly of the fruit variety – and when I say fruit I mean apples. My mother was cursed with children who were very picky eaters, and the only pie we would tolerate was the apple kind. On the whole, we are not a pie family.

But I wonder what would have happened if my mother had offered us a piece of the chocolate cream pie I made this weekend. Unlike apple pie, whose fruit filling has a veneer of healthfulness (at least, if you’re a kid), everything about this pie screams “dessert:” a chocolate crumb crust, filled with a silky chocolate pudding filling, and adorned with mounds of whipped cream and chocolate curls.

I was ambitious with this pie – I actually made my own chocolate wafer cookies from this Smitten Kitchen recipe, and then ground them into crumbs for the crumb crust. The wafers may have been more trouble than they were worth – about a third of them burnt, and, while they tasted fine, they lacked that intense, chocolatey, slightly salty flavor of Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers, which I usually use for a crumb crust. For those of you who want to try to make your own wafers, my one piece of advice is to freeze the dough log before you slice it into cookies – I chilled mine in the refrigerator for the recommended one hour, but the dough was still way too soft to slice cleanly.

I ended up making the crust slightly too thick, but it was still satisfyingly crunchy. It was the perfect foil to the creamy, chocolate pudding filling, which had a rich chocolate flavor without being too sweet. The pudding is thickened with cornstarch, giving it a silky, light texture. The whole thing is topped with a layer of whipped cream, which I spiced up with a little Grand Marnier and cinnamon.

Now, you’ll notice this pie looks a little, shall we say, un-pie like. That is because I made this pie in a tart tin, rather than a pie pan. This was not my intention, but I broke my pie pan in the process of making this pie – let’s just say that balancing a glass pan on top of my coffee maker is not the most secure situation.

So, technically, you could call this a tart. But I think you should still think of it as a pie. Its simple, unpretentious, messy soul is much more pie like.

And whatever you call it, it’s delicious. I took this to a pre-Thanksgiving party, where it was promptly devoured.

Chocolate cream pie 1

Many thanks to my taste testers!

Recipe: Chocolate Cream Pie

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Pie Time: Caramel Apple Walnut Pie

Caramel Apple Walnut Pie

It's pie time.

It’s November. We’re officially in the holiday season. It’s cold outside (sometimes). And the fruits in season – apples, quinces, cranberries – are naturally drawn to pie. Nature, tradition, and expectation declare that it’s pie time.

So my November baking project will be focusing on pie. But not just any pie – festive pie. Holiday pie. Dare I even say it – party pie.

My first offering, caramel apple walnut pie, is a regular apple pie tarted up for the holiday season. I mixed roasted walnuts with the apple filling, added a layer of caramel on the bottom crust, and a drizzle of caramel over the top.

Because the caramel is so sweet, I decreased the sugar in the apple filling – giving the apples a nice tartness that contrasts with the sweet caramel. The crunchy walnuts give a textural contrast to the soft apples, and their slightly bitter flavor helps bring out the sweetness of the rest of the filling. Actually, if I were to make this again, I think I’d up the caramel content – make some more of it and drizzle it over the apples, not just keep it in a layer on the bottom of the pie.

Still, the pie crust was flaky and crisp, the apples were sweet and tart without being overpowering, and the caramel drizzled over the top looked rustic and inviting. Pretty good for my first pie attempt in quite some time.

Many thanks to my taste testers, Nonnka and Deborahdawn, who came over on very short notice Sunday to deal with an excess of pie.

Caramel Apple Pie - Slice

Hello, pie. It's been awhile.

Recipe: Caramel Apple Walnut Pie

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It’s Not Too Late For Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie One

Pumpkin Pie! Just ignore the cracks in the middle.

I am not a pie person. Now, this is to say that I don’t like a good pie from time to time, or that I haven’t taken pride in some of my pastry creations (there was one blueberry pie I made this summer that I was rather proud of), but pie just doesn’t obsess me the way cake does.

This is not to say that I don’t like making pie. In fact, I love making pie—I love how pie crust is so simple to make and yet so difficult to perfect, I love the diverse options for fillings, I love feeling the dough yield and flatten underneath a rolling pin. But if I had to choose between eating a piece of pie and a slice of cake, I’d take the cake any day.

Still, I happily volunteered to make the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year. I used this pie recipe, which my mother found on the Food Network Web site. She chose it because it uses half and half, rather than condensed milk, to thicken the filling.

Rather than using the Food Network pie dough recipe, I stayed true to the Julia Child pastry crust recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This time, however, the dough was a little dry and was difficult to roll out. But I think that was because the dough actually needed to be kneaded a bit more. I’m always terrified that I’ll over-work the dough and end up with a greasy hockey-puck, but this pie dough actually suffered from my fear of over-kneading.

Crust issues aside, the pie tasted delicious and the seasoning was perfect. But be warned—I cooked the pie a full 20 minutes longer than the original recipe said I would have to. The recipe said that the center would be slightly loose upon removal from the oven, but it was still pretty liquid after being in the oven for an hour. Also, as you’ll see, the top did crack, which may be on account of the half and half. Still, I am rather proud of the decorative leaves I placed around the edges.

Pumpkin Pie Crust

My decorative leaves edging the filling. I used a cookie cutter and gently scored the dough with a butter knife to create the leaf designs.

The Pumpkin Pie Recipe

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Thanksgiving Hotlines To The Rescue!

Phone courtesy of
tj scenes on flickr.

I’m sure that some of you have started preparing the great Thanksgiving meal today – either that, or you’re en route home to help someone else prepare it. Wonktheplank and I are already back in Oregon to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, and today my mother and I are going to be making pies; she’ll be making the apple, and I’ll be tackling the pumpkin.

If you’re at all nervous about the task ahead of you, you’re in luck – corporate America has come to the rescue! Big companies have set up a series of Thanksgiving hotlines that offer advice to panicked cooks about everything from turkey to soggy pie crusts. Below is my compilation of hotlines that you can reach out to in the midst of a cooking crisis.

Thanksgiving Hotlines:

Butterball Turkey Talk-Line®
Tips on all things turkey.
Phone: 1-800-Butterball.

The Martha Stewart Thanksgiving Hotline
Martha Stewart is here to answer all your Thanksgiving questions.
Phone: 866-675-6675 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET.

King Arther Flour Baker’s Hotline
King Arther Flour produces excellent, high quality flour, and I expect that this hotline will offer similarly high-quality baking advice.
Phone: (802) 649-3717.

Crisco® Pie Hotline
This one is kind of cool, even though I would never make a pie crust with all Crisco (but a couple tablespoons mixed in with the butter are excellent for creating a crisp, flaky texture). Call the Crisco® Pie Hotline with all your pie questions.
Phone: (877) FOR-PIE-TIPS.

OceanSpray Consumer Hotline
Is making cranberry sauce all that hard? You just put your cranberries, sugar and other seasonings into a pot and let them all cook away. Still, if you encounter any cranberry conundrums, the OceanSpray Consumer Hotline is here to help.
Phone: (800) 662-3263 (toll free). Weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST.

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Obama Pie, My Oh My

My good friends over at Superheroes For Democracy have done a remarkable feat that fuses baking and politics. Behold, Ripley’s Obama Pie:


This pie is for change!

I am in awe of this totally awesome creation. I love her use of the blueberries and raspberries for color, and the lovely pastry cut-outs to create the famous logo. You can find out how she did it over at Superheroes (oh, and learn about other cool political things too). I think I like even more than my Obama cupcakes.

Thank you, Superheroes, for the inpsiring pic!

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