Sure, apple, pumpkin and pecan are traditional, but why not try something new this holiday?


Even though we love our traditional pumpkin, apple and pecan pies, this year let’s try something new. Here are four easy-to-make recipes that are delectably nostalgic and at the same time conveniently modern.

A Mince Meatless Pie will deliciously replace the carnivorous standard and secretly please your inner vegetarian. It was an easy decision to keep apples on the table and bake a new recipe, or two. Butterscotch Apple Pie will make you question why you never put meringue on top of your apples before now, and the butterscotch is the perfect mid-century-esque flavor profile to make the combination swoon-worthy.

The third pick is Custard Snow Pie. No, you do not need snow as an ingredient, but it sure is tasty to eat by the fire while it is snowing. A touch of coconut wrapped in creamy vanilla custard and meringue atop a light, flaky crust, this dessert is discreetly elegant with just a touch of sweetness. The fourth pick is for the chocolate lovers, a classic Chocolate Chiffon Pie with a salted caramel sauce and dark chocolate shavings. Decadent.

If you cannot decide, why not make all four? To make it easy, they all use the same recipe for the crust. This is the piecrust recipe that I was raised eating, and I look just as forward to the cinnamon-sugar–baked trimmings as I do the pies.

Flaky Pie Crust

Makes 2 crusts for 8- or 9-inch pies

2 cups all purpose flour + extra flour for rolling

1 teaspoon dry local sea salt (ok, I added that part)

2/3 cup shortening

5–6 tablespoons ice-cold water

Using gentle hands, sift the flour before measuring. After measuring, sift the flour again with the salt. Put dry ingredients in bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut in half of the shortening until the mixture resembles course meal. Add remaining shortening until mix is the size of large peas.

Switching to a fork or your fingers, sprinkle water over dough, one tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly until dough is just moist enough to hold together. Gently turn dough onto floured surface and avoid handling too much.

Coat a rolling pin with flour and gently roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness. Carefully lift dough and place in center of pie plate and press out any air pockets that might have formed. Try not to stretch the dough; it will shrink back during baking. Flute edges of pie crust and proceed to recipe. (To learn more about how to flute, try for an instructional video.)

To pre-bake the crust before filling, prick the bottom of the pie shell with a fork and bake at 450° F for 10 to 12 minutes and cool completely before filling.

Classic Meringue

3 egg whites

6 tablespoons sugar

Beat egg whites until they form slight mountains when the mixer is removed. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until all sugar is dissolved before adding the next spoonful. Continue to beat until meringue stands in cloudlike, fluffy points. Spread gently and evenly over cooled pie filling and bake at 350° F for 15 minutes to brown.

Mince Meatless Pie

I cup stewed, pitted prunes, chopped

4 cups apples, minced

juice + grated rind (zest) of one small orange

½ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

¼ cup prune juice

¼ cup light molasses

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons coconut oil

¾ cup finely chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews

Preheat oven to 450° F. In a medium-size bowl, combine prunes, apple, orange juice and orange zest. In a separate bowl, blend the salt, sugar, flour, prune juice and molasses then add the mixture to the fruit bowl and combine. Pour filling into an unbaked piecrust-lined pie pan.

Lightly warm the coconut oil and add brown sugar and nuts. Remove from heat and sprinkle over the top of the pie. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes, then at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes. Serve with or without freshly whipped cream.

Butterscotch Apple Meringue

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup water

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (zest)

6 cups apples sliced for a pie

3 tablespoons melted butter

¼ cup all purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 recipe meringue

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a medium-sized sauce pan, bring water, zest and brown sugar to a boil. Add apples, cover the pot with a lid and cook slowly until tender, about 20 minutes. Every few minutes, gently turn the apples as they cook. When apples are soft, drain the syrup from the apples into a bowl and reserve.

In a second saucepan, blend together the butter, flour and salt. Add the reserved syrup and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add the apple back into the hot syrup. Turn into a baked piecrust and spread meringue on top of the filling and brown in oven for 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature before service.


Custard Snow Pie

1 piecrust, pre-baked

1 recipe meringue

¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

½ cup cold milk

1 cup scalded milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup shredded coconut (no sugar added)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Sift together flour, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and add cold milk. Blend wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Slowly add scalded milk. Place the mixture in the top of a double boiler and stir constantly until thick. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cool completely. Sprinkle coconut on top of the pie crust before adding cooled custard. Top with meringue and bake 15 minutes to brown. Cool before cutting.

Chocolate Chiffon with Salted Caramel Sauce

1 piecrust, pre-baked

1 recipe Salted Caramel Sauce

1 envelope (1 tablespoon) gelatin

¼ cup cold water

2 ounces high-quality dark or bittersweet chocolate

1 cup milk

3 eggs, separated

¾ cup sugar

½ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon real vanilla

2 ounces shaved dark chocolate for garnish

Pinch of salt

Soften gelatin in cold water. In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate in the milk. Add gelatin water and stir until dissolved.

In a separate bowl, beat 3 egg whites yolks? until thick and creamy then gradually beat in ½ cup sugar and a pinch of salt. Add hot chocolate mixture, stirring well to blend. Chill until mixture begins to thicken, about 25 minutes.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, then gradually beat in ¼ cup sugar. Gently fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

In a cold, dry bowl, whip the heavy cream with the vanilla and fold that into the chocolate mixture too. Turn into the whole fluffy mixture into the pre-baked piecrust and chill until firm, about 5 hours.

After plating, drizzle with caramel sauce and top with shaved dark chocolate. This is definitely a good recipe to make when you have a dishwasher on hand.

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter

½ cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons sea salt

Have everything ready before you put the pan on the stove. This recipe progresses quickly.

Using a 3-quart saucepan, heat sugar on moderately high heat. As the sugar begins to melt, stir constantly. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. As soon as all of the sugar crystals have melted, immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.

Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Wait a few seconds, then slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate. When you add the butter and the cream, the mixture will foam up considerably. This is why you started with a 3-quart pan.

Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Cool, then stir in sea salt. Pour into a glass container and store in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Recipes provided by Outer Banks Epicurean

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