Whiskeymarie mentioned that she is very thankful for pie and I have to say, that is a good thing to be thankful for. Especially this time of year. Being from the South, pie is one of the major food groups in my opinion, right up there with Fried Stuff, Things Held Together with Mayo or Cool Whip (known as salads to some of us), Biscuits and of course, Meat.
My grandmother was very good at making all kinds of pies and when the holidays roll around I always like to make a few pies, just to keep up the family tradition. In the interest of spreading the pie love, I’m going to share some recipes with you. Of course, you’re probably already waaaay ahead on your cooking for tomorrow, but if you’re looking for something for the December table, feel free to give these a try. I’m made them all numerous times and can attest to their yumminess.
Listed below are the following recipes:
Never Fail Pie Crust
Birthday Pie (redux)
Pecan Pumpkin Pie (two yummy favorites in one!)
1 pie shell, baked in advance (I’ll put the Never Fail Pie Crust recipe below)
¾ cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp sour cream
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated – hah. The tin kind works fine.)
¾ cup light corn syrup
½ cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted, cooled
2 tsps vanilla
¼ tsp finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
1 1/3 cups (5.5 oz) chopped pecans (to whatever size you like – you don’t have to chop ‘em if you don’t like)
Preheat oven to 375.
To make pumpkin filling, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, egg, sour cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pink of salt, until smooth.
Make pecan layer by stirring all the ingredients together, adding the pecans last.
Spread pumpkin mixture evenly in the pie shell, then carefully spoon the pecan mixture on top of that. Bake until crust is golden and filling is puffed (about 35 minutes at 375). Center will still be slightly wobbly – it will set as it cools.
Never Fail Pie Crust
(Makes 2 crusts - the vinegar is key.)
3 c. flour
1 ¼ c butter and/or shortening (I use both in whatever combination is handy that day – all butter makes it too stiff)
6 Tbsp ice water
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp salt
Mix flour and salt. Cut the butter/shortening into the flour with a pastry cutter. Mix the water, vinegar and egg together. Pour egg mixture into flour. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Separate dough into two balls. Chill at least 20 minutes, then roll out. (I often freeze one for up to a month or so.)
To bake the shell in advance, place it in the pie pan, fold over the edge and crimp with your fingers, prick all over with a fork, line with parchment paper or foil, fill with beans/rice/pie weights, and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes. Take the foil and stuff out and bake another 8-10 minutes.
(Perfect mouthful-sized servings of pie. With a cream cheese crust. YUM.)
½ c butter or margarine, room temperature
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup flour
Cream together butter and cheese, then add flour. Stir until it forms a ball. Chill.
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp melted butter
Mix brown sugar, egg, vanilla and butter. Mix well and add pecans.
Pinch a ball of crust about the size of a walnut. Roll into a ball and then flatten into a circle with fingers. Press one into each cup in a small 12-hole mini-muffin tart tin. Fill each until almost full with pecan filling (about a Tbsp).
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
(A tradition in our family for birthdays – it usually appears at the holidays too, although that may be because I have a December birthday)
1 graham cracker pie crust (or six of those little individual sized ones)
4 oz German Sweet Chocolate (or any other tasty chocolate)
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp sugar
3 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 container Cool Whip, defrosted (for those of you who live in non-Cool Whip countries, whip up a batch of slightly sweetened whipping cream till it’s good and fluffy – your pie will be enormously rich but along the same lines as the usual version)
Melt the chocolate in the microwave (I check every 30 seconds to see that it doesn’t over-cook). When it’s melted and smooth, stir in the milk. In a separate bowl cream the sugar and cream cheese together. Add the chocolate mixture. When smooth fold in the Cool Whip. Pour filling into pie crust and pop it in the freezer for at least 3 hours.
The nice thing about this recipe is you can ‘slim it down’ – ie, no sugar, light or fat-free cream cheese, light Cool Whip, etc – and it still tastes good. The only thing you must be sure to do is use really good chocolate. I like the Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate for tradition’s sake, but using Scharfenberger makes a tasty version.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Enjoy the pie!