Traditional Pies Get a Wacky Makeover

Margaret Ross, Staff Writer

2_87dcb9YkUuCwIj45l4ac5i9NmERh7aOglhWF0Fe7_qelkBbPLAXBK8_IhYlRtgNQ=w1283-h748

This is the full array of pies that Mirador’s taste-testers evaluated. Try something new, and discover a new holiday favorite.

 

#1 S’mores Pie – Everyone loves s’mores, and everyone loves pie, so how could you go wrong?

Crust

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

6 tbsp butter, melted

Filling

2 cups milk

2 tbsp + 2 tsp cornstarch

1 cup chocolate chunks

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Topping

about 40 regular sized marshmallows

 

1. Add melted butter to graham cracker crumbs and mix.

2. Press graham cracker mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie pan, then set aside.

3. Whisk cornstarch and 1/4 cup milk together in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. Melt chocolate chips, and add to a pan with remaining milk (1 3/4 cup) and vanilla to a pan and whisk over medium heat until well combined.

5. Add the cornstarch mixture to the chocolate mixture.

6. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula.

7. Once boiling, stir continuously for about 2 minutes, until fully thickened.

8. Pour mixture into crust.

9. Place a layer of marshmallows on top of pie filling.

10 Bake at 350°F for about five minutes.

11. Turn oven to broil for 2-4 minutes, watching closely to remove the pie when the marshmallows are browned to your liking.

 

#2 Banana Toffee “Banoffee” Pie – This is the sweetest discovery I made while traveling in South Africa . . . And so simple, too!

 

2 cans sweetened condensed milk

One 9 inch graham cracker crust

3 large bananas

1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream

 

1. Place unopened cans of condensed milk into a pot filled with water. Be sure that the cans are submerged in water. Boil for 2-2.5 hours, and let cool all the way.

2. Cover the bottom of the crust with banana slices, about one inch thick.

2. Open cans and pour over the bananas

3. Top with whipped cream and grate or drizzle chocolate

 

#3 Chocolate Pumpkin Pie – For a revolutionary twist on a classic, just add chocolate!

 

One 15 oz can pumpkin puree

1 cup white sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 cup + 2 Tbsp  heavy cream

2 Tbsp dark cocoa powder

1 Oreo Cookie Crust (can be found in Safeway)

 

1. In a food processor or electric mixer, combine the ingredients for the filling and mix until well combined.

2. Pour all but one cup of the filling into the chocolate cookie crust.

3. Add cocoa powder to the remaining one cup of pumpkin pie filling and mix.

4. Drop the remaining one cup of chocolate pie filling in large blobs in different places on the pie, and gently drag a skewer through to make a swirling effect.

5. Bake the pie at 350°F for about 50 minutes, and let cool until set.

 

#4 Caramel Pear Pie – This is the perfect fusion of a summery fruit pie and the seasonal flavor of caramel.

12 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced

juice from one lime

Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup butter

3 Tbsp flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 egg white, for brushing over the crust

One 12 inch frozen pie crust (can be found at Safeway)

 

1. Peel, core and slice the pears and toss with the lime juice.

2. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and mix until the mixture turns into a thick paste. Add water, white sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon and continue stirring. Let it simmer for a couple minutes.

3. Take pastry discs from the fridge and roll out a disc so that it is 12 inches in diameter and arrange in your pie dish. Brush the pie crust with egg white.

4. Add the pears to the pie dish and pour the caramel sauce over the pears. Roll out the other disc so that it’s 12 inches in diameter and cut it into lattice strips. Arrange the lattice strips over the pears and brush with remaining egg white.

5. Bake for at 425°F  for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

 

#5 Chocolate Caramel Apple Pie – Chocolate makes everything better.

 

Filling:

6-7 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

3 Tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp lemon juice

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 frozen pie crust, top and bottom

 

Caramel:

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup sugar

3 Tbsp pure maple syrup

1/3 cup water

1 tsp salt

 

Chocolate sauce:

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup water

6 Tbsp sugar

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

 

Prepare the caramel: Have the heavy cream and sour cream measured out (separately) and ready to use. Have heat-proof bowl on hand for helping the sauce to cool faster once it’s cooked.

 

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and maple syrup with 1/4 cup water. Let the water soak into the sugar for a few minutes, then gently pat down any remaining dry sugar until most of it is moistened.

2. Without stirring, cook the mixture over medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to high and without stirring, cook until the mixture is dark amber in color, about 6-8 minutes.

4. As soon as the caramel is dark amber, remove the pan from the heat and slowly add the heavy cream. Once the heavy cream has been added, whisk in the salt. If the caramel clumps up in a few spots, return the pan to the stove and, whisking constantly, cook over med-low heat until smooth.

5. Carefully pour the hot caramel sauce into the heat-proof bowl; set aside to cool completely. As it’s cooling off, give it a good stir every now and then. While the caramel cools, prepare the apple filling.

 

Prepare the apple filling:

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the apples, sugar, nutmeg, salt and lemon juice. Stir to combine.

2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over low heat, making sure to spread it into an even layer around the pan. Add the apple mixture and, stirring occasionally, cook over med-low heat just until the apples have softened (about 2-4 minutes).

3. Remove from the heat and place the apple mixture back into the large bowl. Cool to room temperature. As the apple are cooling off, prepare the chocolate sauce.

 

Prepare the chocolate sauce: Have a medium-size heatproof bowl on hand for cooling the sauce once it’s ready.

1. Place all of the chocolate sauce ingredients into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Over med-low heat, bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally to blend.

2. Lower the heat and let the sauce simmer for about 10-13 minutes, or until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

3. Pour the thickened sauce into heat-proof bowl and let it sit at room temperature as you assemble the tart.

 

Assembly:

1. Carefully remove the tart crust from the pan and place the empty crust onto a serving plate.

2. Scoop the cooled apple mixture into the crust, and spread it out into an even layer.

3. Give the caramel sauce a good stir to loosen it up. Pour the sauce over the apple mixture

4. Give the chocolate sauce a good stir and use a fork or whisk to drizzle it over the caramel sauce and apples.

5. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the caramel and chocolate have set.

 

#6 Grasshopper Pie –  Mint and chocolate are best friends, and should always stick together, especially when it comes to pie.

 

One 10 inch graham cracker crust

2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup mini marshmallows

Brownie Pie

4 1/2 oz dark chocolate

6 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

3 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

Mint Cheesecake Filling

2 oz white chocolate

2 tbsp grapeseed oil

2 1/2 oz cream cheese

2 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

1/4 tsp kosher salt

2 drops green food coloring

Mint Glaze

1 oz white chocolate

2 tsp grapeseed oil

1/8 tsp peppermint extract

1 drop green food coloring

Prepare the brownie pie:

2. Dump 1 1/4 cups graham crust into a 10 inch pie tin and set the remaining 1/4 cups to the side.  With your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the crust firmly into the pie tin, covering the bottom and sides of the pan completely.

3. Combine the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and gently melt them together on low for 30-50 seconds. Use a heatproof spatula to stir them together, working until the mixture is glossy or smooth.

4. Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip together on high for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow and has reached the ribbon state. If the mixture does not form ribbons, continue whipping on high as needed.

5. Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment. Dump the chocolate mixture into the eggs and briefly mix together on low, then increase the speed to medium and paddle the mixture for one minute, or until it is brown and completely the same throughout.

6. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt and paddle on low speed for 45-60 seconds. There should be no clumps of dry ingredients. If there are any lumps, mix for an additional 30 seconds.

7. Stream in the heavy cream on low speed, mixing for 30-45 seconds, just until the batter has loosened up a little and the white streaks of cream are fully mixed in.

8. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the 1 1/4 cup graham crust with a spatula. These crumbs will add little bursts of flavor and texture into the pie filling.

 

Prepare the mint cheesecake filling:

1. Combine the white chocolate and oil in a microwave-safe dish and gently melt the mixture on low for 30-50 seconds. Use a heatproof spatula to stir the chocolate and oil together, working until the mixture is glossy and smooth.

2. Combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and stir together on medium-low speed for 2-3 minutes to blend. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. On low speed, slowly stream in the white chocolate mixture. Mix for 1-2 minutes, until it is fully incorporated into the cream cheese. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Add the peppermint extract, salt, and food coloring and paddle the mixture for 1-2 minutes, or just until it is smooth and green.

Prepare the mint glaze:

1. Combine the white chocolate and oil in a microwave-safe dish and melt the chocolate on low for 20-30 seconds. Use a heatproof spatula to stir the oil and chocolate together, working until the mixture is glossy and smooth.

2. Stir in the peppermint extract and food coloring.

 

Prepare the pie:

1. Heat the oven to 350°F.

2. Grab a sheet pan and put your pie tin of graham cracker crust on it.  Pour the mint cheesecake filling into the shell.  Pour the brownie batter on top of it.  Use the tip of a knife to swirl the batter and mint filling, teasing up streaks of the mint filling so they show through the brownie batter.

3. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips into a small ring in the center of the pie, leaving the bull’s-eye center empty.  Sprinkle the mini marshmallows into a ring around the ring of chocolate chips.

4. Bake the pie for 25 minutes.  It should puff slightly on the edges but jiggle in the center.  The mini chocolate chips will look as if they are beginning to melt, and the mini marshmallows should be evenly tanned. Leave the pie in the oven for an additional 3-4 minutes if this is not the case.

5. Cool the pie completely before finishing it.

6. Make sure your glaze is still warm to the touch. Dunk a fork into the glaze, then dangle the fork about one inch above the center of the pie, and drizzle to your liking.

7. Transfer the pie to the fridge so the mint glaze firms up before serving.

 

#7 Butterscotch Pie With Curry Crust – Butterscotch is a classic favorite, and a bold holiday flavor when paired with the spicy kick of curry.

 

Crumb Crust

8 oz wafer cookies

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp kosher salt

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled

 

Filling

1 envelope unflavored powdered gelatin

1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided

3 Tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1 1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, divided

1/8 tsp baking soda

3 egg yolks

2 Tbsp cornstarch

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 Tbsp molasses

1/2 tsp kosher salt

 

Prepare the crust:

1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cookies until they are in fine crumbs. Add the flour, sugar, curry powder and salt and pulse until combined. Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.

2. Transfer crust to a 9 inch pie dish and press down firmly onto bottom and up the sides. Place pie dish on a baking sheet and bake crust at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until dry and set. Let cool on a rack while you make filling.

 

Prepare the filling:

1. In a small bowl, combine gelatin and 2 tablespoon milk and let stand until softened (5-10 minutes).

2. In a medium saucepan, add granulated sugar and vanilla bean. Cook sugar stirring until melted and then continue cooking until sugar turns amber in color.

3. Remove the saucepan from heat and slowly add in the heavy cream while whisking. The mixture will bubble vigorously so be very careful. Whisk until smooth.

4. Return to heat and add 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and the remaining milk. Cook while whisking until sugar is dissolved and the caramel mixture starts to steam.

5.Remove from heat again and add in baking soda. Whisk until the bubbles subside. At this point, remove vanilla bean pods and discard.

6. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs yolks, cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Slowly whisk in half of the warm caramel-milk mixture into the egg yolks. Pour this mixture back into the caramel mixture in saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Whisk constantly and reduce heat to low. Cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.

7. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture, butter, molasses and salt. Whisk until butter melts and mixtures are smooth.

8. Transfer butterscotch mixture to a large bowl and chill until slightly cooled and thickened, about an hour. Stir occasionally during chilling to ensure a luscious and creamy filling.

9. Pour butterscotch filling into crust and smooth the top. Chill until set, at least 2 hours.

 

#8 Sweet Potato and Gruyere Pie – If you are not craving sweets, but want to get into the holiday spirit with a warm pie, this is the one for you!

 

9.7 oz rye crispbread crackers, broken into pieces

5 oz pecans

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp water

1 pound sweet potatoes

2 tsp paprika

1 small red onion cut into 1/4 inch dice, about 1 cup

2 Tbs minced ginger

1-2 tsp minced hot pepper, depending on how spicy you want it

Zest and juice of 1 orange

4 large eggs

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt

1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese

 

1. Put the crackers and two thirds of the pecans in a food processor and blend until fine.  Add 1/3 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Blend until it is a crumbly mixture. Press into a 10 inch pie plate. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool.

2. Peel the sweet potatoes and slice into rounds 1 inch thick. Put into a bowl with 1 teaspoon oil, the paprika and ¼ teaspoon salt and then mix. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy pan over medium heat.  Add sweet potatoes to the pan on one of the flat sides. Cover and cook over medium heat until they caramelize on one side, about 12 minutes. Flip, cook on the second side until caramelized and tender, about nine minutes.  At this point the potatoes should be very tender. Transfer to a plate.

3. Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the pan with the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook five minutes or until tender. Add the ginger and chili pepper and cook two minutes. Add the zest and orange juice to the pan, return the sweet potatoes, toss in the juices. Cook until the juice has reduced to a glaze. Transfer the potatoes back to the plate, leaving the onions in the pan.

4. Beat the eggs. Add the cardamom, yogurt, the onion mixture and Gruyère cheese and mix well.

5. Pour the yogurt custard into the pre-baked pie crust. Set the sweet potatoes in the custard. Arrange the remaining pecans atop the pie.

6. Bake at 350° F 30-40 minutes or until the custard is just set.