6 Sensational Pie Recipes Sprucing Up Your Holiday Dessert Menu

Pies have been a staple of the holiday menu since as early as the 11th century, when the exotic flavors of cinnamon, cardamom, and other spices became synonymous with year-end celebrations, writes What’s Cooking America. These traditions have endured — in one form or another — to this day, with almost every holiday table offering at least one buttery crusted dish with a sweet, indulgent filling. Try any of these 6 delightful pie recipes for a taste of the season that every guest will adore.

Source: iStock

1. Deep-Dish Pecan Pie With Chocolate Chunks

Pecan pie is a staple holiday sweet, offering a flavorfully nutty filling baked into a warm, buttery flour crust. Sugar Hero’s version of the treat packs in the usual suspects: brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and pecans — along with a bonus cup of chocolate chunks. The chunks melt to a sweet, gooey perfection in the pie’s center, resulting in a rich dessert that every guest will love. This Deep-Dish Pecan Pie With Chocolate Chunks takes 2.5 hours to make and yields 12 to 18 servings. Serve it warm with whipped cream or ice cream (though it’s just as good at room temperature or chilled). Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to a week after serving.

Ingredients:

For the crust

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2½ ounces cold shortening, cubed
  • ½ cup ice water

For the filling

  • 1½ cups light corn syrup
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 ounces melted butter
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups toasted pecan halves
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks

Directions: To make the crust – Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold cubed butter and shortening, and pulse in short bursts until it’s cut into the dry ingredients and the mixture has the texture of coarse crumbs. Add half of the ice water and pulse in 5-second bursts, adding the rest a little more at a time just until the dough starts to come together.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead it just enough to incorporate any dry patches of flour. Shape it into a disc, wrap it well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it an hour to let it rest and chill. After an hour, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until about ¼-inch thick. Lay it in a deep dish 11-inch pie pan and trim the excess from the sides. Prick the bottom of the crust with fork tines and put the pie in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the oven’s ready and the dough is chilled, spray a piece of foil with nonstick spray and press it, sprayed side down, on top of the pie dough. Fill the pie shell with beans or rice, then bake it for 20 minutes until the sides of the crust look set and start taking on some color. Carefully remove the foil and beans, then continue to bake the crust for an additional 15 minutes, until it is no longer raw in the center and is starting to color. Remove and let cool.

To make the filling — Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn syrup and brown sugar until smooth and free of lumps. Add the melted butter, then the eggs one at a time. Finally, add the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt, and whisk until smooth.

Put the pecans and chopped chocolate in the cooled pie crust, then pour the filling mixture on top. Tap the pie pan against the counter several times to pop any air bubbles. Place the pie on a baking sheet covered with parchment to keep your oven from getting messy in the event of any spills.

Bake the pie at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for an additional 55 to 65 minutes, until the pie is puffed, there are a few cracks along the sides, and the center doesn’t jiggle like gelatin when the pie is tapped. If the outer edges of the crust appear to be getting too dark during the cooking process, cover the edges loosely with foil strips. Once finished, remove the pie from the oven and serve after cooling.

Source: iStock

2. Salted Caramel Pie

For the perfect combination of sweet and salty flavors, try Food & Wine’s delightful Salted Caramel Pie, a recipe originating from Simplethings Sandwich & Pie Shop in Los Angeles. The pie’s filling consists of sweetened condensed milk with a light sprinkling of sea salt, baked to a thick, gooey consistency, then chilled in a buttery homemade graham cracker crust. The crust and filling for this rich dessert can be prepared 2 to 5 days in advance (refrigerate separately until serving for best results). This recipe takes 2.5 hours to make, plus 4 hours of chilling time, and yields 8 to 10 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 5 ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • Fleur de sel
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a food processor, pulse the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and light brown sugar until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly into a 9-inch glass or metal pie plate. Bake for about 10 minutes, just until lightly browned. Let cool. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scrape the condensed milk into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and sprinkle with a scant ½ teaspoon of fleur de sel. Cover the dish with foil and place it in a roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the pan to reach one-third of the way up the side of the baking dish. Bake, lifting the foil to stir 2 or 3 times, until the condensed milk is golden and thickened, about 2 hours; add more water to the roasting pan as necessary. The consistency of the caramel should be like dulce de leche. Don’t worry if it is lumpy; it will smooth out as it chills.

Scrape the caramel filling into the pie crust, smoothing the top. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with vegetable oil spray and cover the pie. Refrigerate until the filling is chilled and set, at least 4 hours.

In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners’ sugar until firm. Remove the plastic. Mound the whipped cream on top of the pie and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Cut into wedges and serve.

Source: iStock

3. Chocolate Peppermint Ganache Pie

A truly festive holiday table should offer at least one homage to the ubiquitous minty candy cane. Crazy For Crust’s Peppermint Ganache Pie infuses a creamy chocolate ganache with the light, distinct flavor of peppermint to create an indulgent and holiday-appropriate sweet. An Oreo crust ties the dish together, providing  sweet, crunchy exterior to complement the smooth, decadent filling. Garnish with crushed candy canes for a perfect holiday pastry. The recipe yields about 10 servings.

Ingredients:

For the crust

  • 22 Oreos, finely crushed
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

For the pie

  • 12 ounces (about 1 package) semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup peppermint-flavored coffee creamer
  • 2 to 3 candy canes, crushed, for garnish

Directions: Make the crust – Mix crushed Oreos and butter in a medium-sized bowl using a fork. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Chill for at least 30 minutes before filling.

When ready to fill the pie, heat the heavy whipping cream and creamer in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup until it’s very hot, just before simmering. Place chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl and pour hot cream over the top. Let it sit for 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth and thick.

Pour ganache into prepared crust. Chill until set, a few hours. Before serving, sprinkle with the crushed candy canes. The pie is best served after sitting at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Source: iStock

4. Caramel Apple Pie With Butter Crunch Topping

Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch’s Caramel Apple Pie With Butter Crunch Topping is rich, buttery, and sure to satisfy any friend or family member’s sweet tooth.  Tart Granny Smith apples make an especially wonderful complement to this cinnamon-spiced dish. The recipe yields 2 full-sized pies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (9-inch) pie crusts, homemade or store-bought
  • 10 whole apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1 cup brown sugar (1½ cups for sweeter pie)
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Crumb topping

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cups oatmeal
  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons butter, sliced into 1 tablespoon pieces

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together all ingredients for the filling and spread evenly between 2 pie crusts.

For crumb topping – Place all the dry ingredients into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on stir for about 45 seconds, until all dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time while mixing on medium low, until all butter is incorporated and the mixture looks crumbly. Split crumb topping evenly between the 2 pies and lightly press down, just so the crumbs adhere but do not crush the pie. Place the pies into the preheated oven and cook for 50 to 60 minutes. Pies are done when crust is golden and the apples are soft, yet firm when pierced with a knife. Cool for a minimum of 1 hour to allow pies to set.

Source: iStock

5. Pomegranate and White Chocolate Mousse Pie

Brightly-hued pomegranates make a splendid accoutrement to the holiday table. Their flavors are perhaps best enjoyed in Secret Life of a Chef’s Wife’s Pomegranate and White Chocolate Mousse Pie. The filling is irresistibly smooth, melding the seasonal flavor of pomegranate along with whipped white chocolate for a decadent, holiday-appropriate sweet. Garnish with melted chocolate morsels, pomegranate arils, or extra whipping cream for a truly remarkable presentation. The recipe yields 1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (9-inch) deep-dish gra­ham cracker crust
  • 1¼ cup pome­gran­ate juice + 2 tablespoons
  • 1 (¼-ounce) enve­lope unfla­vored gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy whip­ping cream + 2 tablespoons
  • 3 ounces white chocolate
  • ¼ cups gran­u­lated sugar
  • 2 to 3 drops red gel food coloring
  • 3 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate, for garnish
  • Pome­gran­ate arils and extra whip­ping cream, for garnish

Directions: Pour the 2 tablespoons of pome­gran­ate juice into a small, heat­proof bowl. Empty the con­tents of the gelatin packet into the juice. Stir slightly to help it dis­solve and let sit for 5 to 10 min­utes to soften.

Place the white choco­late into a small dou­ble boiler with the 2 table­spoons of heavy cream. Gen­tly warm until the choco­late is melted and stir to incor­po­rate the cream. Set aside off the heat until it cools to room tem­per­a­ture, but doesn’t start to solid­ify. If it’s too hot, it will clump up when it’s added to the whipped cream.

In a small saucepan, bring the rest of the pome­gran­ate juice to a boil. Pour the boil­ing juice over the gelatin mix­ture, and stir until the gelatin dissolves completely. Allow to cool to room temperature.

In a large mix­ing bowl, beat the 2 cups heavy whip­ping cream on high until medium peaks form. Slowly pour in the sugar and melted white chocolate and cream mix­ture. Mix until incorporated.

Pour the cooled pome­gran­ate mix­ture into the whipped cream and chocolate mix­ture. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Pour as much fill­ing as will nicely — but fully — fit into the gra­ham cracker shell. Make some swirls on top with the spat­ula for decoration.

Let chill in refrig­er­a­tor for at least 3 hours. Gar­nish with choco­late and/or pome­gran­ate arils.

Source: iStock

6. Cranberry-Pear Mini Pies

Miniature seasonal pies make for a sweet and unique departure from traditionally-sized holiday sweets. My Baking Addiction’s Cranberry-Pear Mini Pies incorporate fresh pears and cranberries, plus cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger for a delicately spiced finish. Bake your freshly-prepared filling in a buttery, crumbly pie crust for tantalizing results this season. The recipe takes about an hour and a half to complete and yields 4 individually-sized pies. My Baking Addiction’s method of preparation requires the use of a pie maker, but can easily be adapted using this recipe from Simply Recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds (about 4) Bosc firm pears, peeled, cored,and cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled, and finely minced
  • ¼ cup granulated vanilla sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 (9-inch) pie crusts
  • coarse sugar, optional

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, combine the pears, cranberries, ginger, vanilla sugar, cardamom, and cinnamon, tossing to coat evenly. Spoon mixture onto prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Dot the top with butter.

Roast for 1 hour or until the pears are tender when pierced with a fork, and starting to get brown and caramelized around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the pears from the roasting pan, and place in a large bowl. Stir in almond extract. Prepare pastry bases and tops according to manufacturer’s directions. Divide filling among the 4 pie wells. Close lid and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Remove the pies with a plastic heatproof spatula and cool slightly.

If desired, before serving, lightly brush the tops of each pie with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

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