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Memorable Holiday Pies

From a class taught Nov. 2010 by Rhonda,

The Crusts:
*Easy Pat-In-the-Pan Pie Crust*- from Cook’s Country magazine 1 ¼ c. all-purpose flour 1 stick butter (8 oz), softened but cool 2 Tbsp. sugar 2 oz. cream cheese, softened but cool ¼ tsp. salt Coat a 9” pie pan with cooking spray. With an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Add flour, sugar, and salt and mix 20 seconds more or until the texture of coarse cornmeal. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat until large clumps start to form, about half a minute. Set 3 Tbsp. of dough aside to use for top edge. Evenly press remaining dough onto bottom and up sides of the pie pan. On a floured surface, roll each tablespoon of reserved dough into an 8” rope, place around top edge, and make your fluted edge. Wrap in plastic and chill at least an hour. Prick crust with a fork and bake at 325 degrees until golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Cool on rack. *If you get big bubbles in the crust when it bakes, afterwards press down gently with a kitchen towel; the bubbles will settle. *To make ahead: The baked crust can be stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to a month. Thaw before using. Easy pat-in-the-pan pie crust times 4 5 c. flour 1 lb. butter (4 sticks), softened but cool ½ c. sugar 1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese, soft but cool 1 tsp. salt Follow instructions above, reserving ¾ c. dough to use for the top of 4 crusts. Crumb Crusts: 10 full graham crackers, 1 pkg (5 oz.) 2 Tbsp. sugar 5-6 Tbsp. melted butter Break crackers into large pieces, pulse in blender or food processor to make fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl; add sugar, then mix in butter. Press firmly and evenly in a 9” pie pan. Chill 1 hour OR bake at 375 degrees 6-9 minutes, til edges are brown (and it smells wonderful).

*Coconut-graham crust*: Add ¼ c. toasted fine flake coconut to crumbs. (continued) Chocolate Crust: use 1 ½ c. crushed chocolate cookies (take out crème filling). Adding the sugar is optional. Gingersnap Crust: use all gingersnap crumbs or part gingersnap, part graham. Leave out sugar. Vanilla Crust: use crushed vanilla wafers, leave out sugar. Breadcrumb crust: use dry breadcrumbs, increase sugar to ¼-1/3 c. You’d never know! Nut crust: add 1/3 c. finely chopped pecans, almonds, walnuts, or other to any crumb crust Shortbread crusts: 1 c. flour 1/3 c. butter ¼ c. sugar or ½ c. powdered sugar 1/3 c. finely chopped nuts, opt. Mix together and press in pie pan, bake about 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Chocolate Shortbread Crust: melt an extra 2 Tbsp. butter, stir in 2 Tbsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. cocoa. Add to everything else.

The Fillings:
*Preparing Pumpkin for Recipes* Thoroughly clean exterior of pumpkin, then clean out seeds and pulp. Chop the pumpkin into 1-2" pieces. (Peeling is not necessary, but will eliminate flecks of brighter color, as well as some of those vitamins and minerals! If you wish to peel it, this can be done either before or after cooking.) Place pumpkin in a large pan with 1-3 cups of water, depending on the amount of pumpkin to be cooked. Cover, bring to a boil, and let simmer until tender (20+ minutes, depending on the size of pieces). Add water as needed to keep from boiling dry. When done, fill blender ½- 3/4 full. Add only enough water to make a puree, about 1/4 c. per 3-4 cups pumpkin pieces. If refrigerating the puree, use within a few days, or freeze and label. Frozen pumpkin will stay good for as long as you can keep it from getting freezer-burned. Use heavy ziplock bags or plastic storage containers. Pumpkin can also be baked like winter squash (since it is one), then the flesh scooped out of the rind. Yields about 2 cups puree per pound of raw pumpkin. Helpful hint: small- and medium-sized pumpkins are the best for cooking. Very large pumpkins tend to be less sweet and more watery. *Pumpkin Pie*-makes one 9” pie 2 cups pumpkin 1 can evaporated milk 3 eggs, beaten 3/4 cup sugar (part brown- the more the better!) ½ tsp. ginger ½ tsp. cinnamon ½ tsp. nutmeg ½ tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and pour in an unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour, or till knife inserted off-center comes out clean (or shake the pie gently to see how much the center jiggles- when it’s done, it jiggles like Jello, not like water). Makes one very full 9-inch pie (flute the edges to hold more filling) or one 9”pie and one child-size pie. If you double the recipe, it will make 3 pies. (For doubling the recipe, use one can of evaporated milk, then fill up the same can with regular milk for the second can- this is cheaper and also lower-fat.) Honey-Pumpkin Pie: Omit the 3/4 cup sugar and add ½ cup honey to pumpkin mixture. Molasses-Pumpkin Pie: Decrease sugar to ½ cup and add ½ cup mild molasses to pumpkin mixture.

*Coconut Cream Pie*- makes one 9”pie 1 c. whole milk ¼ c. cornstarch or ½ c. flour or 2T c.s. & ¼ c. flour 1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk 5 large egg yolks or 3 yolks + 1 whole or 2 whole ¼ tsp. salt 1 ½ tsp. vanilla ½ c. fine flake coconut 2 Tbsp. butter, cut in 4 pieces 2/3 c. sugar 1 cooled crust (coconut-graham crust is great) Heat milks and salt in a saucepan on med-hi heat, stirring occasionally. When it is nearly simmering, in a medium-sized bowl mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Whisk in the eggs until smooth. When the milk is simmering, gradually whisk some of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, enough to heat up the eggs. Put this mixture back into the simmering pan, then reduce heat to medium and whisk constantly until 3-4 bubbles break the surface and the mixture is thickened, about a minute. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and butter. Pour into a baked and cooled crust, cover with the plastic wrap on the surface (this prevents a ‘skin’ forming on your filling), and chill at least 3 hours. Top with sweetened whip cream; garnish with 1 Tbsp. toasted coconut. For another topping option, make a 3- or 4- white meringue, spread on filling (can still be hot), sprinkle on 1 Tbsp. coconut, bake at 450 degrees about 4 minutes or until golden brown. *Raspberry Chiffon Pie*- one 9” pie- from Cooks’ Country This is also delicious using blackberries instead. Fruit Layer: 1 12-oz bag frozen raspberries (2 c.) pinch salt 3 Tbsp. pectin (Sure-Jell) 1 c. fresh raspberries (6 oz.) 1 ½ c. sugar 1 9” pie crust, baked and cooled Chiffon Layer: 3 Tbsp. raspberry gelatin powder 3 oz. cream cheese, softened 3 Tbsp. boiling water 1 c. cream, chilled

Top layer: 8-10 oz. Sweetened whipped cream For the fruit layer: cook the frozen berries on med-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to get juicy, about 3 minutes. Stir in pectin and bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and salt and return to full boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour through fine-mesh strainer or a few layers of cheesecloth, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. Scrape underside of strainer/cheesecloth into bowl. Set aside 1/3 c. of this puree, cool to room temperature. Fold fresh raspberries into remaining puree. Spread on bottom of pie crust. For the chiffon layer: Dissolve gelatin in the boiling water in a large bowl. Add cream cheese and reserved 1/3 c. raspberry puree; beat 2 minutes or until smooth. Add 1 c. cream and beat, scraping down bowl, until cream holds stiff peaks, about 1-2 minutes. Spread over fruit layer. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours, or up to 2 days. Top layer: Pipe sweetened whipped cream over chilled filling. Serve.

To Top it all off:
Meringue for pies: for one pie 3-4 egg whites 1 tsp. vanilla ¼ tsp. cream of tartar (this makes it fluffier) 6-8 Tbsp. sugar (6 for 3 whites, etc.) Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla. Whip to soft peaks, then add sugar 1 Tbsp. at a time while beating. Swirl on top of pie, bake at 450 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Stabilized whipped cream- will not go runny ½ pint whipped cream (8 oz) ½ tsp. vanilla 2 Tbsp. sugar or ¼ c. powdered sugar 1 tsp. Ultra Gel OR 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin If using Ultra Gel, stir it with the sugar, then add cream and vanilla and whip until stiff. Spread or pipe onto pie. If using gelatin, put it with a tablespoon of water, let it sit a minute to soften, then microwave for 12 seconds to dissolve it. Whip cream, sugar, and vanilla until they start to thicken a little, then slowly pour gelatin in while still beating. Whip until stiff.

If you would like a no-fail traditional pie crust recipe (using a nontraditional mixing method) and basic cream pie with variations like Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie, Strawberries and Cream Pie, and Caramel Banana Cream Pie, send a request to Rhonda at