My Favorite, Unbeatable Holiday Pies

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My Favorite, Unbeatable Holiday Pies

A friend posted on her Facebook page the other day asking which pie is your favorite. Pumpkin, apple, pecan? Hm. None of the above is my answer.

I won’t snub pumpkin or pecan (but apple, blegh…I don’t like slimy apples), but they aren’t my first choice. Cake is my first choice. Ha. But if it’s going to be pie, it appears my tastes are a little fancier than the average American.

This first recipe I ran across eons ago in Woman’s Day magazine, back when I subscribed to multiple magazines because Pinterest did not exist and most food blogs didn’t either. It’s a fairly simple recipe, but the lattice crust gives it a special flair and I’ve never had anyone complain about the taste! (I was, in fact, forbidden from coming to Thanksgiving without it at one point.) I prefer to use ALDI canned pie filling because there is no dye in it.

Cherry Cheesecake Pie

yields 1 pie, 8 slices

Ingredients

  • 1 box refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 16 ounces cream cheese (2 blocks)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 1 egg white, beaten

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Let pie crusts rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Fit one pie crust in the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan.
  3. Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in the bowl of your mixer or a large mixing bowl. Add cream cheese and beat with electric mixer until smooth. On lower speed, add egg and almond extract. Spread the cheesecake batter onto the crust, smoothing out with the back of a spoon. Spoon cherry pie filling evenly over cheesecake layer.
  4. Cut the second pie crusts into 1-inch strips. Place the strips on top of the pie in a lattice pattern. (You can actually weave them or not, I usually don’t.) Crimp edges together with the bottom pie crust and cut off any extra. Brush the pastry with beaten egg white.
  5. Bake 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. If it is getting too brown, loosely place aluminum foil over the top to keep it from burning.

Note: For a prettier touch, press sliced almonds onto the outer rim of the pie crust before baking. Use egg white to stick them on if needed. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold!

This second recipe was in Southern Living in 2013, and I think I came across it a few years ago on their Facebook page. It was a big hit with my family, and last year I sold upwards of 20 of these pies as a way to sell pecans for the Chattanooga Boys Choir pecan sale. Not everyone wants to buy a bag of pecan halves, but a lot of people will buy a beautiful, homemade pie made with those pecans! This year I’ve made another nine, and will tell you that I’ve never had less than rave reviews. The salted caramel really puts this pie over the top in deliciousness.

This recipe is maybe for a little more experienced bakers, but I firmly believe everyone can do it with some practice! The only hard part here might be making the caramel sauce. If you want to buy some instead, or use dulce de leche, I won’t judge you a bit.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie

Makes 1 pie, 8 slices

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 9-inch deep-dish pie crust

for salted caramel

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt

for topping

  • about 2 cups pecan halves
  • coarse kosher salt or flaky salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, white sugar, flour, cocoa, corn syrup, and vanilla. I usually melt the butter over very low heat in a large pan and just mix all the ingredients up in there. Just make sure your mixture is not too hot before you add eggs or they will scramble.
  3. Whisk in eggs until uniform. Stir in chopped pecans. Spoon this mixture into the pie crust and smooth with the back of a spoon. Bake for 35-40 minutes. The filling will still be a little jiggly when it’s done, but will set up as it cools.
  4. While the pie bakes, make the salted caramel sauce. Put the 3/4 cup white sugar, lemon juice, and water in a saucepan. DO NOT STIR IT. Cook over high heat, swirling the pan occasionally after the sugar melts, until the caramel is a dark amber color. DO NOT WALK AWAY. Caramel can go from amber to burnt really fast, so make sure you take it off the heat as soon as you get that color. Immediately add the heavy cream and butter and whisk continually for about a minute, until all the butter melts. Stir in table salt.
  5. When the pie comes out of the oven, arrange pecan halves on top in a pretty pattern. (I use concentric, layered circles of pecans.) Drizzle with the caramel. Wait about 10 minutes, then sprinkle with coarse salt.

Note: This pie freezes really well, so make it well in advance of any celebrations and just pop it out of the freezer to defrost at room temperature the day of. If you are happening to triple this recipe like I usually do, just double the caramel. It makes plenty. Any leftover caramel can be used to top ice cream or just eat with a spoon.

What’s your favorite holiday dessert?

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