Here we are in the dog days of winter – dark, cold and sometimes dreary. Christmas is long past and spring is still weeks away. Even the next official holiday, Valentine’s Day, is completely overrated. That’s why it’s so spectacular that we actually have something to celebrate in late January.
Jan. 23 is “National Pie Day” – not to be confused with “National Pi Day” on March 14. Both holidays celebrate pie, but January’s version has nothing to do with math, which frankly is why I prefer it. (Children plug your ears and repeat after me “Math is great, math is great.”)
According to the “Denver Post,” National Pie Day was created in 1975 by Boulder, Colo., teacher Charlie Papazian who told his students that he was declaring his birthday, Jan. 23, to be National Pie Day. Apparently, he liked pie so much that not only did he eat it and bake it, he put candles on his birthday pie every year. The day caught on and soon it was officially registered with “Chase’s Calendar of Events.”
Anyone can bake an apple, cherry or blueberry pie. But this week on “The Great Indoors” I want to be like Charlie and think outside the box. I’m sharing recipes for three pies that are a little more unusual, but nonetheless delicious. I chose these three because they reminded me of winter the same way that strawberry rhubarb reminds me of summer. They’re rich in flavor and give you a cold weather option (besides pumpkin pie).
Snickerdoodle pie topped with vanilla ice cream tastes a lot like coffee cake and was my family’s favorite. Despite being a cold cream pie, cinnamon pie with its bold spicy flavor warms the palate. Spiced cream coffee pie is based on my new favorite cold brew from Starbucks. While, it too is a cold pie, the mulling spice in the beverage gives it a winter feel. Happy Pie Day!
Yield 1 pie
1 single unbaked pie crust
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons butter, melted
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup butter
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1½ teaspoons vanilla
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup milk
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
Vanilla or cinnamon ice cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out the single pie crust and line a 9-inch pie dish with the crust. Crimp edges as desired. In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon sugar and ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon. Brush the 2 teaspoons of melted butter on the bottom of the pie crust, then sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon sugar mixture over the butter. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, ¼ cup butter, water, corn syrup and remaining ¾ teaspoon of cinnamon. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the brown sugar. Let the mixture boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in ½ teaspoon of vanilla, and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the ¼ cup softened butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat in the ½ cup of granulated sugar, powdered sugar, baking powder, salt and cream of tartar. Beat in the egg and the remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Slowly beat in the milk, just until combined. Add in the flour, and beat to combine. Spread the cookie mixture evenly into the pie dish. Slowly pour the syrup over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture. Cover the edges of the pie with foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue to bake until the top of the pie is puffed and golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean – approximately 20 more minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. If desired, serve with cinnamon ice cream or vanilla ice cream dusted with cinnamon.
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens “New Cook Book, Sixteenth Edition”
Yield 1 pie
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pie crust, homemade or store-bought
Powdered sugar for dusting
Whipped cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll and fit a pie crust into a standard 9-inch pie dish. Crimp the edges and place the pie crust in the refrigerator.
Place the cream cheese and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high until light and fluffy– approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl, then beat in the eggs. Scrape the bowl again, then set the mixer on low and mix in cream, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and nutmeg until very smooth.
Pour the cinnamon filling into the prepared pie pan. Bake for 35 minutes, until the center seems set when giggled, but not totally firm. Bake another 5 minutes if needed. Cool completely. Cover and chill.
Take out of the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Dust top of the pie with powdered sugar. Cut and serve with whipped cream if desired.
Recipe from “A Spicy Perspective”
Spiced Sweet Cream Coffee Pie
Yield 1 pie
1 (3.4-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup Starbucks spiced sweet cream cold brew coffee
½ cup milk or cream
1 ½ tablespoon coffee extract
1 (8-ounce) tub Cool Whip, thawed
1 prepared Oreo cookie crust
Whipped cream, for garnish
Dark chocolate-covered espresso beans, for garnish
In a large bowl, whisk together the instant pudding dry mix, coffee, milk and coffee extract. Whisk until combined and slightly thickened – approximately 1 minute. Fold in the Cool Whip completely. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and smooth out the top. Freeze for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Just before serving, pipe on whipped cream and garnish with dark chocolate-covered espresso beans.
Recipe based on “Easy Cold Brew Coffee Pie” by Hayley Parker, The Domestic Rebel