Category Archives: Cream Pies

Salted Nutella Pie

When one of my dearest flickr/facebook friends posted about these Mini Salted Nutella Tarts, she knew that I would have to come up with my own pie version. Straight Nutella is a little intense for a whole pie, so I mentioned that whipping it with cream cheese sounded tasty, much like my popular Peanut Butter Pie. Kelly agreed, her family not so much. Well, sweet Kelly, thank you for the inspiration. I am pretty sure you would love my pie.

I used the base ingredients of my Peanut Butter Pie—cream cheese, powdered sugar, and whipped cream—and the divine Nutella took over the role of nut butter.

I used a 9-inch pie pastry for the crust, but I think it would also be tasty with a shortbread or almond cookie crust. I found the salty pastry as a nice foil to the sweet Nutella, though. I am a huge fan of the salty-sweet harmony.

This is a grand pie on its own, but I had fresh strawberries on hand and I thought it would be tasty (and a tiny bit healthy) to add a layer of sliced berries along the bottom of the pie. It was quite delicious.

Salted Nutella Pie

½ cup powdered sugar
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup Nutella (I pretty much used the whole 13 oz jar)
1 tbs vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp coarse sea salt for sprinkling on top*
1 cup strawberries, sliced*
1 9-inch pie pastry, prebaked and cooled

*optional, but tasty

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in Nutella and vanilla. Set aside.

If you want to add a layer of strawberries, it is a good idea to spread a thin layer of Nutella along the bottom of the pie crust before arranging the sliced berries to keep the crust from getting soggy.

Beat heavy cream in a chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir a third of the whipped cream mixture into the Nutella mixture, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream. Spoon filling into crust (over strawberries) and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. Sprinkle the top of the pie with sea salt before serving, if you desire. (Seriously, do not be afraid of the salt. It is so, so good.)

I added a sliced and fanned strawberry as a garnish. A drizzle of chocolate syrup is another option if you’re feeling fancy.

Let’s look at some pretty pictures now.

I just had to show you how much butter goes into my pie pastry. This is for 2 9-inch pastry rounds

The simple ingredient lineup

Whip the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar in large bowl and try not to make a mess

Properly whipped cream cheese and powdered sugar

Now add the delicious Nutella. So thick and so rich, rich

I spread a bit of this mixture over the bottom of the pie crust before layering the berries

I know, right?

The strawberries are layered and the heavy cream is whipped to perfection

Gently fold the whipped cream into the Nutella mixture. You want to keep it fluffy. Where's Fluffy?

This is me trying to hold the camera and take a photo while pouring the filling in the pie

Looks delicious, but it must chill at least 4 hours

Here's the chilled pie in bad lighting

The perfect slice of pie makes me crazy happy

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Lemon-Lime Meringue Pie

Life sometimes hands you lemons, it’s true, but you have to make the best with what you’ve got. When life handed me lemons and limes, I decided to make a refreshingly tart pie. Limon!

First, a few tips. You could get away with using four, or even three, eggs for this recipe, but I happen to like the custard consistency and massive meringue I get with five eggs. Next, be sure to roll the lemons and limes between your palm and the counter to release the juices before slicing and squeezing. Finally, with any custard pie, timing is key. Over- or under-cooking will leave you with a runny filling and that’s not going to make anyone happy. Just make sure you have all of your ingredients measured and ready to go before you start cooking. Pie should not make you cry.

Lemon-Lime Meringue Pie

1¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
1¾ cup cold water
5 egg yolks (save whites for meringue)
6 tbs fresh lemon juice
3 tbs fresh lime juice
1½ tsp grated lemon zest
1½ tsp grated lime zest
3 tbs butter, cut into thirds
1 9-inch pre-baked pie crust

Preheat oven to 325°. Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in cold water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until simmering. Whisk in yolks, juice, and zest. Whisk in butter, one tablespoon at a time, until melted. Bring to boil and simmer for one minute. Filling should be thick, like pudding. Remove from heat and place plastic wrap over surface to avoid the dreaded pudding skin. Set aside and prepare meringue.

Meringue
5 egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, then add vanilla. Beat until glossy and stiff peaks form.

Remove plastic wrap from filling and pour into pre-baked pie crust. Using a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon, carefully spread meringue on top of filling, being sure to seal meringue to the edge of the crust to avoid shrinkage.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until meringue is golden. Cool on a wire rack for at least 4 hours before serving.

Lemons are pretty, so I made them pose

I love how cheerful lemons look

Zest first, then juice the lemons and limes

Juicing by hand will give your arms a workout

Slowly pour cold water into the dry ingredients

After adding the egg yolks, you'll have a glorious yellow filling

Seriously high and marvelous meringue

Dark Chocolate Mocha Pie

I also call this my Epiphany Pie because I realized that I can just start making this stuff up and it will come out delicious. Baking is indeed a science, but once you understand the equations, you have the freedom to play around in the lab without fear of explosions. It is a great feeling.

My official pie-taster declared this my best pie yet. It is crazy delicious, with lots of chocolatey goodness and a hint of espresso to give it a mocha kick.

While we are fans of meringue, you could easily top this with homemade whipped cream instead. Just fill the pre-baked pie shell, cover with plastic wrap (to prevent pudding skin), and chill for about four hours. Then top with fresh whipped cream (after removing the plastic wrap, silly!) and serve. No baking time necessary.

Dark Chocolate Mocha Pie (Epiphany Pie)

½ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 heaping tbs espresso powder
4 egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue, recipe follows)
2 cups milk
½ cup heavy cream
3 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 9-inch prebaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 325°. In a large saucepan, combine cocoa, espresso powder, cornstarch, and sugar. Stir in milk, cream, and egg yolks. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk, until just boiling. Reduce heat to medium, continue stirring and cook for 3 minutes, until large bubbles come to top and filling is thick, like pudding. Remove from heat, stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into prebaked and cooled pie shell. Now, make the meringue.

Meringue
4 egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Using an electric mixer, whip egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and whip until soft peaks form. Continue to whip, while slowly adding sugar, until stiff peaks form.

Using the back of a wooden spoon, cover pie with meringue, sealing the meringue to the edge of crust. Bake 16 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack, at least four hours.

Time for pretty photos.

Ingredient lineup

Mix dry ingredients together before adding the liquids

Slowly stir in milk, cream, and eggs

This is the perfect consistency for cream pie filling. Look how glossy, too!

Perfectly stiff peaks of meringue

Be sure the meringue meets the edge of the crust to prevent shrinkage

Golden meringue and a mug of hot buttered rum. Yum!

My first slice rarely looks perfect, but it always tastes delicious

Coffee Lovers Pie

I am a bit of a coffee addict. I love the smell and the anticipation of the first sip in the morning. I love it hot or iced. I like my coffee how I like my men: strong and sweet. Cream and extra sugar, please. I’m on my third cup right now.  No decaf, thanks. Buzzzzzzzzzz!

I will admit that I started drooling when I came across a recipe for Coffee Cream Pie in the Martha Stewart’s New Pies & Tarts cookbook I checked out from the library. I immediately made a list of ingredients I needed and then put it aside because it sounded complicated. Hey, I’m just being honest. I like Martha, but sometimes she just makes things harder than they need to be. (Yeah, that’s what I said.)

I made some adjustments to her recipe, simplified things a bit, and my pie came out perfectly. I noticed that people left comments on her recipe post about the cream filling not setting correctly. I had no problem whatsoever. Please refer to my cream pie tutorial for tips on how to achieve perfect results.

Chocolate Cookie Crust
26 chocolate wafers
5 tbs. butter, melted
3 tbs. sugar
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Use a food processor or a Ziploc bag and a rolling pin to make cookie crumbs. Pour crumbs into a medium bowl and add butter, sugar, and salt. Stir until well combined. Press mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie plate. You can used a flat-bottomed measuring cup to evenly press the crumbs across the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Bake about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Coffee Cream Pie
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
2½ cups milk (I used 2 cups 2% milk and ½ cup heavy cream because that’s what I had on hand)
2 tbs. instant espresso powder (I used Café Bustelo, the only instant espresso powder I found at Publix)
4 egg yolks
¼ cup Kahlua (one mini bottle will suffice)
1 tsp. vanilla
4 tbs. butter

Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and espresso powder. Cook over medium-high heat until thick and bubbling, whisking constantly for about 5-7 minutes. You will know it’s done when big bubbles form and the whisk leaves a nice trail along the bottom of the pan. Do not overcook!

Whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl and slowly whisk in milk mixture in a steady stream until incorporated. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat until just boiling, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add vanilla and Kahlua. Stir in butter 1 tbs. at a time, whisking until melted. Let cool, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes. Pour custard into cooled cookie crust. Press plastic wrap on surface of custard (to avoid the dreaded pudding skin) and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. Prepare whipped cream right before serving.

Real Whipped Cream Topping
1¼ cups heavy cream
1 tbs. powdered sugar
1 tsp. espresso powder

Whip cream, sugar, and espresso powder in a chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Spread over top of chilled pie. You can crush regular or dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans to add as a garnish atop the whipped cream but only if you are serving/eating the pie immediately. The beans get mushy in the cream overnight and take on an unpleasant texture.

Now for some pretty pictures.

Cookie Crust Ingredients

Here's what you need for the chocolate wafer crust

mini food processor

Making cookie crumbs in the mini food processor

pinch

Look! A pinch of salt! My mom found the cute mini measuring spoons for me

cookie crumb crust

Making the cookie crust and recreating the photo in Martha's book

Ingredient lineup

Ingredients for the coffee cream filling

whisking

See the trails left by the whisk? This is how you know the custard is done

Coffee Cream Filling

Carefully pour the cooled filling into the cookie crust

Cover in plastic wrap

Press plastic wrap over filling to avoid the dreaded pudding skin

Coffee Cream Pie, anyone?

Praline Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Can you believe it? Since I have not eaten turkey since 1988, I am all about the sides and pies of the feast. I make a mean twice-baked stuffed butternut squash, a sublime sweet potato souffle, and fantastic cranberry sauce. And then there are the pies.

It is pretty hard to decide on the pies, but pumpkin needs representation and so does pecan. By combining the two, I now have room for other varieties.  This Praline Pecan Pumpkin Pie recipe is adapted from one I got from a friend I worked with in Miami. With its crunchy pecan topping, sweet pumpkin filling, and slightly salty, flaky crust, this pie will be a hit at any feast.

I like to use dark brown sugar for the topping, but light brown sugar works just fine. Freshly ground nutmeg is superior to jarred stuff, but use what you have. As with most pies I bake, I like to put a cookie sheet on the rack below the pie to catch any possible drips and save myself from having to clean the oven too often.

Praline Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Praline Topping
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup flour
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup butter, cut into small bits
½ tsp cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a small bowl with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.

Pumpkin filling
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Whisk pumpkin, spices, and sugars in a large bowl. Whisk in eggs one at a time. Whisk in melted butter and vanilla. Pour into prepared, unbaked pie crust.

Sprinkle praline mixture on top of pumpkin filling. Bake in a preheated 375° oven for about 50-55 minutes or until top is golden and filling is set. Cool on rack for at least two hours before serving. It is even more awesome topped with real whipped cream.

Let’s look at pretty pictures now!

Chopping pecans

Ingredient lineup and chopping pecans

Praline topping

This is what the praline pecan topping should look like when combined

nutmeg

Freshly ground nutmeg is the best. Where's the eggnog?

egg

Add the eggs one at a time. Why? Because I said so!

filling

Carefully pour the pumpkin filling into prepared, unbaked pie crust

 

praline topping

Sprinkle the praline topping evenly atop the pumpkin filling

Ready for the oven

Looks pretty, right? Oh, you just wait

 

Ta da!

Hot from the oven and ready for lovin'

 

home slice

The perfect slice of pie makes me happy

 

Confession time: I only post photos of perfect pie slices. I know, it’s wrong. I should show you the sloppy pie slices, too, because pie perfection is not as easy as it looks. I also tend to eat my pie later in the evening, which means bad lighting and laziness. Excuses, excuses. I will try to be better about posting photos of my home slice.

 

Butter-Bourbon Meringue Pie

What started out as an attempt to make the best Butterscotch Meringue Pie ever for my love’s birthday, turned into the best Butter-Bourbon Meringue Pie ever. After making this pie three times (yes, that’s right; practice makes perfect), I finally came up with the “Winner, Winner, Fake Chicken Dinner” recipe that you’ll find here.

If you recall from my Chocolate Meringue Pie experience, cream pies can be tricky. The filling needs to be thick, like pudding, before you bake it because the baking is really just to brown the meringue. Patience and practice make for perfect pies. It is also important to have all of your ingredients measured before you start baking. Things start to move quickly and you don’t want to burn your butter or brown sugar, which I have done, and it’s not pretty. It smells bad, too. And it makes you cry, until you remember that “pie should not make you cry.”

You will need a pre-baked pie pastry, which you can either prepare and blind-bake yourself, or you can go the refrigerated/frozen pie crust route. I won’t judge you, but others might.

Note: The pie needs to cool at least four hours before slicing or it will just mush apart. It can be refrigerated overnight, which actually makes it taste even better.

 

Butter-Bourbon Meringue Pie

2¼ cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 tbs unsalted butter
1¼ cups dark brown sugar, packed
4 egg yolks
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
1 tbs bourbon
1 whole vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1 9-inch prebaked pie shell

In a large saucepan, whisk together milk and cream over medium heat. If using vanilla bean (recommended), slit the bean, scrape out seeds, add to milk and cream and bring to a simmer. Yes, add the split pod, too, just remove it after simmering. Do not boil milk, just bring to simmer then remove from heat.

Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed (tee hee!) saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in brown sugar and continue to stir constantly until caramelized, about 3-5 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK! Once you start to smell a caramel aroma, it is done.

Slowly whisk the sugar into the milk until mixture is smooth.

Put egg yolks in a medium bowl and slowly whisk in about a half cup of the milk. (You are trying to avoid cooking the eggs, so a slow drizzle while whisking is preferred.) Whisk in cornstarch and and salt until combined. Whisk the egg mixture into the saucepan of milk. Whisk in the bourbon.

Continue to whisk constantly while cooking over medium-high heat until big bubbles form and filling is thick, like pudding. DO NOT OVERCOOK!

Remove from heat and pour into prepared pie pastry. Set aside and prepare your meringue. I like Paula Deen’s Mile-High Meringue, but you can cut it down to four egg whites and 8 tbs. sugar, if you prefer the 3/4-mile-high meringue.

Top pie with meringue and bake at 325° for 15 minutes, or until meringue is nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack for at least four hours or refrigerate overnight.

Since the cream pie baking goes so quickly, I don’t have as many photos for this one. I’ll try to add more after I bake this one again.

Make sure to measure liquid ingredients in liquid measuring cups, mkay?

 

Split the vanilla bean pod, scrape out the seeds, and toss it all in the milk pot

 

Remove from heat when the sugar mixture looks like this

 

The perfect meringue pie

Chocolate Meringue: Three Pies a Charm

Pardon my absence, again. I heard the call of the cool Carolina mountain air and had to run. Glorious, it was. Low temps, lack of humidity and mosquitoes, a gorgeous mountain man to pitch a tent and light my fire. Twas all good.

Hello, pie lovers. I’m here to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of cream pies, or How I Lost My Shit While Trying to Reach Pie-vana.

Remember when I told you how pie should not make you cry? Yeah, well, I am speaking from experience. Pie made me cry, ruined my evening, and made my love look at me funny. It’s pie. Don’t cry. Please learn from my pie mistakes.

The first pie on my One Pie a Week journey (yes, the basis of My Piary), was Chocolate Meringue. Easy, I thought. I even cheated and used a frozen pie crust because I wanted to perfect a filling and meringue before moving on to perfecting the pastry. Oh, I am so glad I did. The first pie was such a huge FAIL. In the trash it went, as tears dripped off my cheeks and curses blew from my lungs. Stupid pie. Stupid, stupid pie.

It was and it wasn’t my fault. I accept responsibility for not reading more about cream pies before attempting this, but I also blame a crappy recipe for not explaining more about the cream pie process. If only I’d read my mother’s cookbook first.

How to cook cream pie fillings

Both cooking time and temperature are important when preparing cream pie fillings. Under- and overcooking can cause runny fillings. Set a timer for exact minutes specifies in recipe. Cook fillings over moderately high heat. Too high a heat cooks mixture too quickly; too low a heat results in excessively long cooking.

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

If only I had read that first. If only. Le sigh.

Here is the Rich Chocolate Meringue Pie recipe I used with my own twists, like using dark cocoa powder instead of the regular and cutting back on the sugar. Thanks to Paula Deen for the excellent Mile-High Meringue recipe, but not for the vague cooking instructions of the pie filling. I will fill you in on the details of what to look for in your cream filling for doneness, so don’t you worry. I guess Ms. Deen was too busy licking the butter off her fingers to make sure her minions wrote a proper recipe.

During my first attempt, the mixture was too runny. I needed to bump up the heat and look for bubbles and a certain thickness that Paula failed to tell me about. It was my first pie. I messed it up. I was very upset. I cried. Pie should not make you cry.

Rich Chocolate Meringue Pie

1⁄2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1⁄2 cups whole milk
5 egg yolks, slightly beaten; reserve whites for Mile-High Meringue
2 tbs butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie crust; homemade or store-bought

Oven 325°

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine cocoa, flour, and sugar. Gradually stir in milk and egg yolks. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until mixture is bubbling. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes, until big bubbles rise to the surface and the whisk leaves trails along the bottom of the pan. The cream filling should look like pudding. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Pour mixture into baked pie crust. Prepare Mile-High Meringue. Using a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon, spread meringue over hot filling, sealing to edge of pie crust. Bake for 20-23 minutes, until meringue has golden peaks. Cool completely on a wire rack. The filling will run if you cut into the pie while it is still warm, although it will taste delicious. Store in refrigerator for up to three days. It is even better the next day.

Make pretty peaks for sticking it in the oven