A Delicious Legacy
Photos by Carli Wentworth
In honor of my grandmother, WillaDene Walker, I am sharing three no-fail family pie recipes just in time for the holiday season. For years, each one has been cooked with love. Generations can attest these pies are sure hits!
Chocolate lovers, look no further than this chocolate cream pie. It’s a thick, dense chocolate cooked low and slow with pantry basics. The only secret to this recipe is that you MUST use the best cocoa you can buy and whole milk. If you skimp it becomes too loose and will not thicken correctly.
Prefer pecan? I’ve been making bourbon pecan chocolate chip pie for years, and when I catered, this was my most-requested holiday pie. It’s rich with a buttery bourbon filling and a touch of chocolate, and is truly decadent yet easy to make.
Do you have little kitchen helpers? I’ve included my pear and cranberry hand pie which is perfect for “little turkeys” to create with you!
A few of my tried-and-true pie tips:
» The crust is crucial – making your own takes time and experience. To ensure you have consistent success, I encourage you to make friends with refrigerated pie crusts. They work great and are a super time-saver.
» To make perfect pie crusts for cream-filled pies, simply prick the bottom of the crust, line with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. This keeps your crust from forming bubbles and cracking. Allow to cool, remove beans and fill with your favorite custard.
» When baking pies for a long period, place aluminum foil on the edges of your crust to keep it from burning. Remove during the last 15 minutes of baking.
» Always use whole milk, unsalted butter and the best cocoa you can buy. I like Ghirardelli.
» Store pecan pies in a cool dry spot in your kitchen. Refrigeration can make your crust soggy.
» Get the kids into the kitchen – you will be amazed at how awesome kids are at crimping crusts with those little-bitty fingers. Not to mention making holiday memories!
Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Chip Pie
1 pre-cooked 9" pie crust
1 c sugar
1 c light corn syrup
1/2 c unsalted butter
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 c bourbon
1 t vanilla or vanilla paste
1/4 t salt
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 c chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 325°. Combine sugar, corn syrup and butter in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until butter and sugar are melted. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
Whisk together the eggs, bourbon, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Important: add in 1/2 cup of warm sugar mixture to egg mixture, whisking constantly. Then slowly add in the rest of the warm syrup... and keep stirring! This will keep you from having scrambled eggs in your pecan pie! Add pecans and chocolate chips. Pour mixture into pie crust. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until pie does not jiggle.
Chocolate Cream Pie
1 pre-cooked 9" pie crust
4 T cornstarch
1 1/2 c sugar
6 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 c whole milk
1/4 t salt
2 egg yolks
3 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 t vanilla
bittersweet chocolate bar
Mix cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and milk in a small bowl. Pour into the top of double boiler and whisk in milk and egg yolks. Heat water in the double boiler and allow chocolate mixture to cook until thick, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Once custard is thickened, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter until melted. Pour custard into prepared pie crust and cover with plastic touching the custard. This will help keep a skin from forming. Allow to chill overnight. When ready to serve, top with homemade whipped cream and bittersweet chocolate shavings.
Cranberry Pear Hand Pies
2 refrigerated pie crusts
1 T all-purpose flour
1/4 c maple syrup
1 T butter, melted
2 1/2 c fresh pears, peeled and sliced
1/2 c Philadelphia cheesecake filling (refrigerator section)
1/2 c fresh cranberries
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1 egg, beaten
4" heart-shaped cookie cutter
1/2" heart-shaped cookie cutter
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine the pears, cranberries, syrup, melted butter, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. Sprinkle with flour and toss to coat. Roll out the pie crust on a well-floured work surface. Cut out 8 large hearts. Using the small cutter, cut out a small heart in the center of 4 of the pies – these vented crusts will be your pie tops.
Place 1 teaspoon cheesecake filling and 1 tablespoon of fruit filling in the center of the solid heart shape. Top with the vented crusts and crimp the edges with a fork. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Make sure the edges are well sealed, and then brush each pie with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.