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Pie Noon

Pie Medley
By Lori Grossman

If you love pie, I have good news for you. Pies are hot! I don't mean the one you just took out of the oven; pies have become so popular now that bakeries and restaurants are featuring the tasty treat.

Here's an interesting statistic: in 2010, Americans ordered 722 million servings of pie at restaurants, which is 12 million more slices than 2009. Some brides are choosing to have pies at their weddings instead of the traditional wedding cake. Several eateries serve pie shakes. How do you make a pie shake? Take a slice of pie, a scoop of ice cream, some milk, and place it all in a powerful blender. No, I’m not kidding.

If a friend invites you to happy hour at a restaurant, it might be a pie happy hour. No one is sure where this trend started, but prestigious newspapers from the East and West Coasts think it started here in Texas. They may be right. Both the Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls and the Texan Cafe in Hutto hold pie happy hours.

One chef who opened her own sandwich and pie shop in California specializes in pies small enough to be eaten in several bites. She calls them "baby pies." Another cook started making what she calls "lolli-pies" in her kitchen at home. A bride asked her to make two hundred of the pies-on-a-stick to be handed out as party favors.

Here are some recipes for your own pie happy hour. But first, a few tips that will help the pie-making go smoothly:

  • Before placing the bottom crust in the pan, lightly grease the pan. I always grease a cake or loaf pan, but it took me a while to discover that this helps keep the pie from sticking.
  • Use very cold butter or shortening when making pie crust. It makes the crust nice and flaky.
  • Once you put the pie dough in the pan or tart shell, place it in the refrigerator or freezer and chill before baking. This keeps the pastry from shrinking too much while baking.

Mini Raspberry Pies

Use your 12-cup muffin pan for these little pies. Wouldn't they be just right for a bridal or baby shower?

Pastry Dough

  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (if desired)
  • In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse flour, sugar, and salt until mixed. Add shortening, pulsing until mixture resembles coarse meal.

    Add 6 tablespoons ice water (plus the almond extract if you're using it) to the flour mixture, pulsing until moist clumps form. Stop to test dough with your fingertips to see if it's moist enough to hold together. If the dough is too dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more ice water as needed.

    Remove blade and divide dough into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten each into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

    On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough to slightly less than 1/8-inch thickness. Dust work surface and dough with flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking (or roll between 2 pieces of waxed paper). Cut out twelve dough circles 4-1/2-inches in diameter, or sized to fit in the muffin cups. Reroll scraps if necessary.

    Grease and flour muffin cups. Transfer dough circles into cups, pressing dough to about 1/4-inch above the edge of the pan. Place muffin pan in the freezer or refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes while preparing the filling.

    Roll out remaining dough and cut into twelve 3-1/4-inch circles, or pieces big enough to cover muffin cups as top crusts. Reroll scraps and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.


    • 4 cups frozen unsweetened raspberries (don't thaw)
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
    • Cream or milk
    • Coarse or granulated sugar
    Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, toss together raspberries, sugar and cornstarch, making sure cornstarch is not lumpy. Divide berries equally among prepared bottom crusts. Lightly brush edges of pastry with a little water. Place top crusts over raspberries, pinching and fluting edges. Cut a few steam vents in tops. Brush tops with cream or milk and sprinkle with sugar.

    Place muffin pan on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 40 to 55 minutes, or until tops are nicely browned and juices are bubbling and thickened. Let pies cool for 10 minutes before carefully removing from muffin tin. Makes 12 individual pies.

    All right, I admit to sounding girly, but these tartlets are so cute! The no-roll coconut crust substitutes for pastry dough, which is great if you're pressed for time. I don't think mini muffin pans existed when I was little, but if they had, I would have begged my mom to make some dolly-sized pies for me and my friends when we held tea parties for our dolls.

    Chocolate Macaroon Tartlets

    You'll need a 12-cup mini muffin pan for this recipe. Invest in one if you don't already have one. It's worth it. These tartlets are best when eaten the day they're made (like you could wait until the next day).
    • 1-1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, packed
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 tablespoons unbleached flour
    • 2 egg whites
    • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1/2 cup whipping cream
    • 5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    • Confectioners' sugar (optional)
    Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, mix together coconut, sugar and flour. Add egg whites and almond extract, mixing well. Make 12 small balls of dough. One at a time, press each ball of dough into the bottom and up the sides of a greased mini muffin cup. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.

    When cool, carefully remove each tartlet shell from pan. If shells are too fragile, leave them in the pan to fill or let them cool a little longer.

    In a microwave-safe bowl, combine cream and chocolate. Microwave on High for 40 to 60 seconds, or until cream is hot and chocolate is soft and almost melted. Stir until chocolate is smooth. If chocolate is not quite melted, heat for 20 to 40 seconds more, or until chocolate is almost melted.

    Spoon chocolate mixture into cooled coconut crusts and refrigerate until chocolate filling is firm. If not serving right away, refrigerate until almost ready to serve. Lightly dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired. Makes 12 tartlets.

    These walnut tartlets (or a tart, depending on what size you want to make) are a different twist on the usual pecan pie. If you like your sweets on the rich side, add a little scoop of ice cream.

    Espresso-Walnut Tarts

    If you don't have 4-inch tartlet pans, you can make an 8-inch tart instead. The crust(s) can be prepared ahead of time and wrapped in plastic wrap. They'll keep in the freezer for up to one month.

    Graham Cracker Crust

    • 11 whole graham crackers (makes about 1-1/3 cups crumbs)
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • Pinch of salt
    Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor, process graham crackers into fine crumbs. Add melted butter, sugar, and salt. Process until all the crumbs are moistened. Press evenly into the bottoms of four 4-inch tartlet pans with removable bottoms (or one 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom), and all the way up the side of the pan(s). Pack it tightly, using your fingertips, so the crust will be even and compacted. Bake until crisp (5 to 7 minutes). Let cool completely on a wire rack.


    • 10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, firmly packed
    • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 2-1/4 cups walnut pieces
    • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
    • Pinch of salt
    Combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a medium-size heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Stir in cream, walnuts, espresso powder and salt. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer (do not boil), stirring occasionally, for about 12 minutes.

    Scrape the hot filling into the prepared tartlet shells. Let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely set (at least 3 hours and up to 1 day) before serving. Makes four 4-inch tartlets, or one 8-inch tart.

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