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The Cookstr 10: Ten Holiday Pies, and 1,000 Recipes

November 17, 2010

Did you know that Thanksgiving is two weeks away? Yes, it is. And while we are all anticipating scarfing down our plates of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and sweet potatoes, we’re all quietly thinking about pie: how many kinds there will be, which one we’re going to try first, whether or not there’ll be enough of that one with the thick streusel topping to go around. But if you’re lucky, at this time of year, there will probably be another pie just around the corner. So happy pie day to you, my good friend. Here are 10 to kick off pie season.

Greg Patent's The Original Shoofly Pie

Oh, wait! Before we move on, we’d like to take a moment (drum roll, please) and note that this is our 100th issue of THE COOKSTR 10! That’s 100 themed newsletters, 1,000 top-notch recipes, 100 weeks of inspiration for your kitchens. We couldn’t have done it without you, our ardent home cooks, and we thank you for your support, and for all the feedback you’ve given us over the two years we’ve been building Cookstr.

1. Rick Rodgers’ Pumpkin-Hazelnut Pie. The hazelnuts are the key to this cheeky twist on one of the mainstay pies of the holiday season. Sweetened whipped cream, the perfect partner, is piped or spread over the top, and if you want to get super decorative you can top each piece with minced crystallized ginger and a sprinkle of finely chopped hazelnuts.

2. Flo Braker’s Flag-Raising Apple Pie. All apple pies are not created equal. This one stands proudly above the masses, fragrant with all of the spices one wishes for, like cinnamon and nutmeg, and a blanket of crunchy streusel on top. This is a pie to make two of.

3. Greg Patent’s The Original Shoofly Pie. This Pennsylvania Dutch pie was invented for the U.S. Centennial in 1876, and gets its name from the Shoofly Molasses Company, which made the molasses originally used in the pie. (We love a little history with our dessert.) Its flavor and texture are reminiscent of real old-fashioned firm gingerbread.

4. Robb Walsh’s Marilyn Johnson’s Buttermilk-Lemon Pie. This pie is a nice counterbalance to some of the richer offerings at the end of a holiday meal. Buttermilk provides a creamy tanginess and along with the fresh tartness of the lemon, this dessert has a simple elegance about it.

5. Sheila Lukins’ Sinful Chocolate Tart. We have to admit, the phrase “Serve a dollop of crème fraîche alongside each wedge of tart to cut the richness,” sends pleasant shivers up our collective spines. Find a chocolate that you love, since it’s the linchpin of this polished dessert.

6. Hans Rueffert’s Ginger-Cream Pecan Pie. Many people don’t consider it a real Thanksgiving unless a sticky, dense pecan pie makes an appearance. This one is given a fresh nudge with some grated ginger.

7. Eric V. Copage’s Sweet Potato and Praline Pie. The lightly sweetened and spiced earthiness of the sweet potato filing is topped with a crunchy praline topping. One more time, slowly: Crunchy. Praline. Topping.

8. Diane Morgan’s Bosc Pear and Toasted Hazelnut Tart. Mixing in a tart with your assortment of pies give your dessert selection a bit of flair. This one is a full-on beauty: concentric circles of thinly sliced pears rest on a custardy filling infused with hazelnuts, which also flavor the rich tart crust. You can make the tart in stages, so that there’s no day-of pressure to get it all done.

9. Tish Boyle’s Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger-Pecan Crust. A cheesecake in a pie? Is this like the Turducken of desserts? No, not quite, and it’s not exactly a pie pie, but the Ginger-Pecan Crust made us feel like it tipped slightly into pie/tart territory. Plus, we just thought it sounded rocking, what with the pumpkin cheesecake filling and all. We only allow ourselves to use the word showstopper every several months or so, but we think that with the garnish of sugared pumpkin seeds and whipped cream, this dessert deserves the accolade.

10. Julie Hasson’s Mississippi Mud Pie. Even though most of us think about baked pies for the holidays, the appeal of an ice cream pie is not to be questioned at any time of year, especially if there are small people at your feast.  A chocolate crumb crust is filled with layers of ice cream, fudge sauce, and chocolate chips, and you can play around with the flavor combinations until you find the medley that calls your name.

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