Aimee’s Pretty Palate: Pie Season

Photos by Aimee Broussard

It’s officially baking season, and believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking about those holiday menus. Lucky for you, I’ve got three pie recipes that are sure to wow your guests with the expected flavors of the season but with unexpected twists to the classics.

You’ve had sweet potato pie, and maybe you’ve had s’mores pie, but have you had a Sweet Potato S’mores Pie? It is the perfect update to our friend, the tried-and-true Thanksgiving sweet potato staple.

Perhaps Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving without an apple pie. Have no fear! Why not surprise your family with a layer of cream cheese hiding beneath those apples in my Cream Cheese Dutch Apple Pie. The combination of tart and sweet apples provides the familiarity of apple pie you’re accustomed to, and the cream cheese is an unexpected indulgent treat.

And if a traditional pie is just not on your radar because you’re looking for something different this year, then say hello to my Blackberry Pie Bars. They’re easy to create, and with a bit of homemade whipped cream and a sprig of mint, they’re pretty enough to replace a pie any ol’ day.  Bonus points for ease of serving!


CREAM CHEESE DUTCH APPLE PIE

1 prepared pie crust (pre-packaged or homemade)
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese (softened)
½ cup sugar, divided
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
6 cups apples, peeled, thinly sliced (I use a combination of Gala and Fiji)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup butter, cold, cubed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place prepared pie crust in 9-inch pie plate. (If using pre-packaged crust, you’ll use only 1 crust of a 2-crust package). Prick bottom of crust with a fork, and set aside.
Beat cream cheese and ¼ cup sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until blended. Add egg and vanilla. Spread onto bottom of crust.
In a medium bowl combine ¼ cup sugar, ½ cup flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss in apples and lemon juice, making sure to evenly coat with sugar mixture. Spoon apples over cream cheese layer.
Prepare streusel topping by combining 2 Tbsp. flour, brown sugar and oats in medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apples. Cover with foil. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until apples are tender. Use a pie shield if it looks like edges of pie crust are browning more than you would like.

SWEET POTATO S’MORES PIE

1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt, divided
2 (4-oz.) semisweet chocolate bars
2 cups cooked, puréed sweet potato (about 3 to 4 sweet potatoes)
¾ cup condensed milk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups miniature marshmallows
Chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, 2 Tbsp. sugar, ½ tsp. cinnamon, and ¼ tsp. salt until combined. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, firmly press mixture into bottom of pie plate and slightly up the sides. Bake until light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate in 30-second intervals until melted, stirring between each interval. Spread melted chocolate evenly over cooled crust. Freeze until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together sweet potato, ¾ cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. salt, condensed milk, eggs and nutmeg until smooth. Pour over chocolate layer.
Bake until center is set, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Sprinkle evenly with marshmallows.
Bake at 350 degrees until marshmallows are lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. For a deeper toast, set oven to broil, but watch carefully to prevent burning.
Garnish with chocolate shavings if desired.

BLACKBERRY PIE BARS

1½ cups sugar, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cubed
1 egg
4 tsp. cornstarch
1½ cups fresh blackberries (can use frozen)
Homemade whipped cream and fresh mint for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and lemon zest. Using a pastry blender, incorporate cubed butter and egg into dry ingredients until crumbly. In another bowl, combine lemon juice, cornstarch and ½ cup sugar. Gently toss with blackberries. Pat half of dough mixture into pan. Top with blackberries, then crumble remaining dough over berries. Bake until top is golden brown, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then place in fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Cut into small bars and garnish with homemade whipped cream and mint (optional).
Makes 10-12 servings.

Aimee Broussard is a Southern food blogger and award-winning author. Her recent cookbook Picnics, Potlucks & Porch Partiesdebuted exclusively on QVC. Join Aimee for weekly recipes with a side of Southern hospitality on her blog, aimeebroussard.com.

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