All posts in the Pies category

Lemon-Cranberry Pie Bars, aka Ham Pie

Published October 20, 2013 by jenmatteson

I know, it sounds gross.  But let me explain.  Over the weekend, the hubs and I went to our friends’ Slumber Party Massacre.  It’s basically a great annual excuse to get together, play beer pong, flip cup, and watch scary movies (my favorite!).  Unfortunately for us, the beer pong tournament lasted until almost 3 AM, so there was no flip cup afterwards 😦  Nate and I are pretty horrid at beer pong, but surprisingly, we did win two games, but lost two.  So I suppose we are just okay, not horrid.  Overall, it was a super fun night and we’re already looking forward to next year.

Lemon-Cranberry Pie Bars

So what’s with the ham pie, you ask?  Well, for the party, I brought lemon-cranberry pie bars to share.  I didn’t get the swirl just right, which just made for a mostly pink top.  After a while, the confectioners’ sugar seeps into the topping, and the result apparently looks like ham.  One of my friends truly thought it was an appetizer with ham on the top, coining the term “ham pie”.  I’m not sure that name really sold many people on trying them, sadly.  Nate and I both love them, so I suppose it’s everyone else’s loss.

Lemon-Cranberry Pie Bars

The bars are more or less a variation on lemon bars, with the addition of cranberry.  The acid from the lemon and the tartness from the cranberries paired with the sweet crust makes for an excellent treat!

Lemon-Cranberry Pie Bars

Lemon-Cranberry Pie Bars

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: Makes one 9×13-inch pan


For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar

For the filling:
1 cup cranberries
2 3/4 cups sugar
pinch of ground cloves
1/4 cup water
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about two lemons)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
confectioners’ sugar


1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together butter and both sugars for two minutes on medium speed.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add flour-salt mixture.

2.  Transfer dough to parchment paper lined 9×13-inch baking pan.  Press dough over the bottom and about 1-inch up the sides all around (you can cover the dough with plastic wrap and press it in with the bottom of a measuring cup).  Refrigerate until firm.

3. Bake crust for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.  Halfway through baking, remove from oven and use the back of a spoon to even and smooth the sides and corners of crust.  Transfer pan to wire rack and let crust cool before filling.

4. Make the filling: In a saucepan, simmer cranberries, with 1/4 cup of the sugar, cloves and water over moderately low heat, until berries pop and liquid thickens, about 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Transfer mixture to food processor and puree until smooth.  Strain and press the puree through a fine sieve set over a bowl and let cool completely.

5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar, eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour.

6. Mix 1/2 cup lemon filling with cranberry puree.  Pour the rest of the lemon filling into cooled crust, and swirl in cranberry mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until set.  Transfer pan to wire rack to cool.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Perfect. Flaky. Buttery. A Pie Dough for the Holidays.

Published November 25, 2012 by jenmatteson

Pies scare me.  I’ve successfully made a few pie crusts in the past, and I really didn’t have any major issues, but they still terrify me.  I really enjoyed the pie crust I used for my French silk and fresh strawberry pie, but I came across this recipe in, you guessed it, Food and Wine, and decided I must try it!  I mean, “Perfectly Flaky Yogurt-Butter Pie Dough”?  Tell me how many words you don’t like in that title?  None?  Okay, me too.

I used this crust for my bourbon apple pie, and it really lives up to its name.  Perfect. Flaky. Buttery.  While I could taste the tang of the yogurt (which was delicious), it wasn’t one of the three words flashing in my head.  Perfect. Flaky. Buttery. 

Three problems with this recipe:

1. It doesn’t tell you how long or at what temperature to bake it.  I guessed.  I guessed right!

2. While the article said that the dough should just barely hold together, it wasn’t even workable after refrigerating it overnight.  I had to add more yogurt to be able to roll it out into a crust.

3. This isn’t a terrible problem, but it was DELICIOUS!

The result truly was perfectly flaky and buttery.  Not only was I proud of myself for nailing a crust – that seemed disastrous at first, but I also checked one more thing off my 30 Before 30 list, and made a lattice top.  BAM!  I haven’t perfected it yet, so I’m not quite ready to tell you how to do it (I’m still not sure how I did it!).  Soon enough.  Anyway, back to the crust.  Perfect. Flaky. Buttery.  The key is to keep all the ingredients cold while you are preparing the dough.  PERFECT. FLAKY. BUTTERY. 

Perfectly Flaky Yogurt-Butter Pie Dough

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 1 pie crust (double for lattice top)


1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter, cold, 5 tbsp cut into 1/4-inch dice, the rest left whole
1/3 cup plain whole yogurt (not Greek-style)
1/2 tsp salt


1. Measure flour into a glass or ceramic bowl and freeze for 15 minutes.  Freeze the 3 tbsp-size chunk of butter for 15 minutes.  Place 5 tbsp of diced butter on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  In a glass bowl, combine yogurt with salt and 1 tbsp cold water and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, add flour and 5 tbsp of diced butter.  Pulse until mixture resembles fine oat flakes.  Using a sharp knife or cheese plane, very thinly slice remaining 3 tbsp of butter and freeze slices for 5 minutes.

3. Add butter slices to bowl.  Toss gently to separate slices.  Slices should remain cold and intact.  Drizzle the cold yogurt into the bowl, using a rubber spatula to toss as you drizzle.  Continue tossing and scraping down the sides of bowl until crumbly and evenly moistened.  Press dough into 6-inch disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours or overnight, freeze for up to 1 month.

4.  Using a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 13-inch round.  Carefully transfer dough into pie plate.  Cut overhang and roll edges under. Flute crust as desired.  Fill pie with desired filling.  Bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes.

Bourbon Apple Pie

Published November 25, 2012 by jenmatteson

Since I made the apple pie boubon, I had all these apples that I couldn’t possibly toss.  Good thing Boozed + Infused suggested making an apple pie with them!  The recipe is for small hand pies, which sounds so cute, but since I was trying out a new perfectly flaky yogurt-butter pie dough crust, I made the whole pie instead.

Nate was the only one who didn’t like this pie.  He said he didn’t like the walnuts in the filling.  If you have a picky eater, I would suggest leaving them out.  However, if you like to have a little bit of crunch to your pie, this was a great addition.  I was so worried that the apples would be to liquory to even taste good, but the 15 minutes of simmering really cooks out the booze and brings out the infused flavors.  I added more apples as I wasn’t sure that there would be enough to fill a pie, and I was right.  I added three more granny smith apples, but that still didn’t quite top off the pie.  Next time I’d add 6 or so (of course this depends on how big the apples are, and these were the tiny granny smiths).  Not only was the crust a success, but the filling was a hit, too!

Bourbon Apple Pie

Source: Adapted from Boozed + Infused
Servings: 8


4 cups bourbon soaked apples (from Apple Pie Bourbon) + 4-6 granny smith apples, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 tbsp butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp flour
2/3 c walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped


1.  Melt butter over medium heat in large saucepan.  Add apples, brown sugar, lemon juice and salt.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 15-20  minutes, stirring frequently.  When apples are tender, whisk in flour.  Taste mixture and add sugar to desired sweetness. Add walnuts and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

2. Let mixture cool slightly.  Fill prepared pie crust and bake according to directions.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

Published November 16, 2012 by jenmatteson

I have had this recipe in my “to try” list for several months and was waiting for the perfect time to make it.  I just hosted my Ladies Wine Workout and this was the perfect dessert.

I’ve never used a pre-made crust before, but it certainly made this pie a cinch to make!  I initially grabbed the 6 oz container of Cool Whip (can anyone say Cool Whip without thinking of Family Guy?), thinking it was the 12 oz container, but it wasn’t.  So I ended up getting one 12 oz container for the pie itself and one 6 oz container for topping.  When it was time to fold the Cool Whip into the peanut butter/cream cheese/milk mixture, I was worried that the 12 oz container was too much, as the filling seemed mostly white with a tinge of peanut butter (that’s a color, right?).  But, I forged ahead, and sampled a little from the spatula.  Yeah, it was perfect.  I could hardly wait to dive into this pie – but dessert wasn’t for at least another 24 hours!  But I did.  And it was well worth the wait.

The pie was so creamy in texture with a rich peanut butter flavor.  I used a chocolate cookie pie crust and topped the pie with chocolate sauce, Cool Whip, and a few peanut butter cups.  It was an excellent balance!  Best part about this recipe is that it makes 2 pies!  One for now, and one for right after.  Okay, we didn’t eat the other one right away.  It’s wrapped up in my freezer ready for friends Thanksgiving on Saturday.  Very much looking forward to it!  If you don’t finish the pie, it’s best to store in the freezer.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

Source: Adapted from Alida’s Kitchen
Servings: 16-20


8 oz low-fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky – I used creamy this time, but would be interested to try chunky!)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
14 oz fat-free sweetened condensed milk
12 oz Cool Whip lite, plus more for topping
2 ready-made chocolate cookie pie crusts
chocolate syrup, for topping
peanut butter candies, for topping


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add cream cheese, peanut butter and powdered sugar.  Beat on medium until combined and fluffy, about three minutes.  Continue beating and gradually add in milk until well combined.

2. Fold in Cool Whip until fully combined.  Divide mixture evenly into two pie crusts.

3. Place pies in the freezer until set (at least two hours).  If solid, remove from freezer and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Meanwhile, decorate with chocolate sauce, Cool Whip and peanut butter candies.  Slice and serve.

French Silk Pie

Published June 17, 2012 by jenmatteson

I had absolutely no reason at all to make this pie, but Saturday was rainy for most of the day, I was cooking away, and decided since I had all the ingredients, I might as well whip one up.  Plus, it was one more thing off my 30 Before 30 list.  Also, it gave me a chance to try my hand at pie crust making again.  The first time I did it for my fresh strawberry pie, it tasted wonderful, but I completely forgot to trim and flute my crust.  This time I felt almost like a pro, except for the fact that it slumped in one area while cooking, but oh well, it gives me another reason to keep baking pies, right?  Pie crust is much simpler than I anticipated, based on what others make it out to be, and my second time went super smooth.

I brought two slices to my parents this morning; another treat they got to enjoy for Father’s Day.  I had to try a few bites myself, to make sure it wasn’t poisoned or anything.  The chocolate was rich, but not heavy, and the fresh whipped cream kept the entire pie nice and light.  The crust was flakey and buttery, perfect pie crust in my opinion (can you say that about your own pie crust?).  I didn’t have any chocolate for shaving, so I just finely chopped some dark chocolate chips to garnish.  It looked amazing, and it sure tasted amazing, too!

French Silk Pie

Source: Adapted from What’s Cookin, Chicago?
Servings: 8


1/4 cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups whole milk
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
dark chocolate shavings for garnish (I used finely chopped dark chocolate chips)


1. Make homemade pie crust recipe (find mine here) and set aside to cool.

2. In a medium sauce pan, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.  Over medium-low heat, slowly whisk in whole milk.  Increase heat to medium-high, and let mixture come to a boil while continuously whisking.  Allow to boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla extract until smooth.

3. Pour chocolate filling into pie crust.  Cover with plastic or foil, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

4. Just before serving pie, whisk heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar together in a stand mixer until it forms stiff peaks, about 3-5 minutes.  Spread whipped cream over chocolate filling, and garnish with chocolate shavings.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Published April 22, 2012 by jenmatteson

Before attempting my lattice top pie on my 30 Before 30 list, I figured I’d better try making a basic pie crust first.  I found this recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker; she makes some amazing looking desserts!

This was so much easier than I expected, and I’m now feeling more and more confident about the lattice top, which I know is NOT easy at all (but confidence is a good thing when attempting a new feat).  However, you’ll notice that my crust isn’t very pretty, which is because I got distracted with all the men in my house and chatting.  After taking the pie out of the fridge, I just threw it right into the preheated oven, and completely forgot to trim and flute my crust. Oops! 😮

But, one lesson that everyone learns in life is not to judge a book by its cover.  And here’s why…the crust tasted amazing!  It was crisp, but not hard, and had the perfect buttery flavor that complimented the tartness of the fresh strawberries.  The entire pie was flipping amazing!  It was so good, there was plate licking and second servings.  I’m not kidding; Nate (not mine) actually licked his plate.  Here he is looking longingly at his plate…

And here he is post-licking…

He also said that I needed to say he gave the pie “rave reviews”, which is a super nice complement for my very first pie.  I’m disappointed about the crust, but there’s always next time, right?  I’m not sure if I should perfect the basic crust first, or just jump into the lattice top.  What do you think?

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Source: Brown Eyed Baker
Servings: 8


For the Crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup chilled vegetable shortening (I used butter flavored Crisco)
1/4 cup ice water

For the Filling
4 pints (about 3 lbs) fresh strawberries, rinsed, dried and hulled
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp Sure-Jell for low sugar recipes (the pink box)
pinch of salt
1 tbsp lemon juice


1. Pie Crust: Process 3/4 cup flour, salt and sugar in food processor until combined.  Add butter and shortening and process until dough just beings to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (it should resemble cottage cheese).  Scrap down sides of processor bowl and redistribute dough evenly.  Add 1/2 cup four and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed throughout bowl and dough is broken up, 4-6 quick pulses. Transfer into a medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 1/4 cold water over the mixture.  Begin to fold together and press down using a rubber spatula until dough begins to become slightly sticky.  Flatten into a 4-inch disc and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.  Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

3. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously (seriously, really generous!) floured work surface.  Roll out into about 12 inches round, 1/8-inch thickness.  Loosely roll dough around rolling-pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang.  Working around the circumference, ease the dough into the plate by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand, and pressing into the plate bottom with the other.  Leave overhanging dough in place.  Refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes. Let cool in pie plate to room temperature.

4. Trim overhang to about 1/2 inch beyond the lip of the plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with the edge of the pie plate.  Flute dough or press fork tines against the dough to flatten against the rim of the pie plate.  Refrigerate dough lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat to 425 degrees.

5. Remove pie plate from refrigerator and prick bottom with fork a few times.  Line dough with foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove weights and foil, rotate plate, and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until crust is golden brown and crisp.

6. Filling: Select 6 ounces of misshapen or unattractive strawberries, halving those that are large, you should have about 1 1/2 cups.  In a food processor, process the berries to a smooth puree, scraping down bowl as needed.

7, Whisk sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell and salt in a medium saucepan.  Stir in berry puree and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, and bring to a full boil.  Boil for 2 minutes to ensure the cornstarch is fully cooked; stir and scrap down sides frequently to prevent scorching.  Transfer to a large bowl and stir in lemon juice.  Let mixture cool to room temperature.

8.  Pick over the remaining berries and half any extra-large ones, you should have about 2 lbs.  You can quarter the berries if you like, but I think the pie is more attractive with whole berries.  Add berries to glaze and fold gently to evenly coat all berries.  Scoop the berries into the pie shell.  Rearrange berries so no cut sides are facing up and there are no holes, making an attractive mound in the pie.  Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

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