Just Desserts

Because nothing says ‘quality time’ quite like pie.

Virginia Peanut Pie

  • ½ pound crushed salted peanuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1½ cups Karo light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 unbaked pie shell

Mix eggs, flour and sugar. Then add syrup and peanuts. Add melted butter last. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 250 degrees for 1½ hours, or until center is firm.

Serves 6 to 8

Butterscotch Pie

  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • 3 cups milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1½ teaspoons plus ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
  • graham cracker crust

In a bowl, stir together ½ cup brown sugar and cornstarch. Add ¼ cup milk and egg yolks and set aside. In a saucepan, heat remaining milk and ¼ cup brown sugar and salt to a boil. Add a splash of this mixture to yolk mixture and mix well. Repeat 2-3 times. Return all to saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Strain into a clean bowl. Whisk in 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract and butter until smooth. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours. Once cooled, pour into crust.

To serve, whip heavy cream, sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla and pipe onto pie. Garnish with butterscotch chips.

Makes 1 pie

Apple Hand Pies

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup lard
  • ¾ – 1 cup ice water
  • 6 Granny Smith apples 1 lemon, zest only
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons cane syrup (can substitute honey, molasses or maple syrup)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 egg
  • 2⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • 1¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon

For dough:

Mix flour and salt together using pastry blender or fingers. Rub lard into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add water ¼ cup at a time, until dough comes together but isn’t too sticky. Shape into a large disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least one hour and up to two days.

For apple filling:

Peel, core and quarter the apples. Slice the quarters about ¼ inch thick. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add apples, brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, nutmeg, cloves and cane syrup. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples become tender but not mushy.

Combine cornstarch, vanilla extract and bourbon, then stir until cornstarch is dissolved. Stir into the hot apples and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and cool (this filling can be made ahead of time and refrigerated).

To assemble and fry:

Mix together 2 cups granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon, set aside for dusting pies after cooking. On a floured surface, roll half the dough into a large circle about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into smaller circles 6 inches across. Repeat with remaining dough (rolling out scraps) to make 10 circles total.

Mix egg with one teaspoon of water, then with a pastry brush smooth egg wash around outer edge of pastry circle. Place ¼ cup of apple filling in the center, then carefully fold the dough over the filling. Make sure no filling touches the rim of the dough. Crimp edges together firmly.

In a deep fryer, heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry pies, one or two at a time, leaving room for them to float freely in the oil. Cook until crisp and lightly browned, about 8-9 minutes.

Remove pies to drain on paper towels, and roll in cinnamon sugar while still warm.

Makes 10 hand pies

Fresh Fig Tart

For almond crust:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup pastry flour
  • ½ cup cold butter, cut in pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in food processor until it forms a ball. Chill for an hour. Using a rolling pin, roll dough on a floured surface to 1/3-inch thickness. Place dough in pie pan and cover with parchment. Weight parchment using rice or pie weights. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden. Cool.

For filling:

  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (not extract)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • enough Black Mission figs to cover crust standing up

Mix all ingredients, and cream well using a hand-mixer or mixing bowl. Pour filling into cooled crust.  Quarter figs and arrange standing up in filling. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ½ tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger; set aside. In another bowl, whisk brown sugar and oil until combined. Combine flour and pumpkin mixtures and fold gently but thoroughly until completely combined. Refrigerate batter for 20 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and use an ice cream scoop to drop batter on baking sheets, making sure whoopies are about two inches apart. Bake immediately for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven, and make sure whoopies are baked through with a toothpick; toothpick should come out clean. Let cool completely.  

For cream cheese icing:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 8-ounce container Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Slowly add confectioners sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Turn off mixer, turn icing with a spatula and mix thoroughly. Add vanilla and mix for 1-2 more minutes. Refrigerate.

To assemble:

After both cream cheese and fig mixture have chilled, gently fold the two together, leaving ribbons of the fig reduction exposed. Pipe or spread on cooled pumpkin whoopies and refrigerate. For a simpler preparation, omit the fig reduction and just use cream cheese icing. Toasted pecans can be added for crunch.

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