July 26, 2017

Creative Pies To Wow Your Next Potluck

A well-made pie isn’t just a delicious dessert, it’s an eye-catching piece of edible craftsmanship. Online culinary certificate students should consider these innovative ideas to offer up a new, different and exciting flavor and visual presentation the next time they head to a potluck, barbecue or similar gathering.

The Shaker lemon – or orange – pie is in a class by itself

Not quite the creamy consistency of key lime pie nor the chunky or whole styles of fruit filling seen with many other classics, the Shaker pie stands on its own. It uses maceration – soaking to soften and release and combine flavors – to reach the end result. The crust is standard, but the filling is rare in the world of pies.

This dessert, with its roots in the historic Shaker community, uses thinly sliced lemons, oranges or a combination of both to create a filling similar to marmalade. The key is slicing the fruits very thin and using sugar, for at least a few hours and optimally overnight, mixed with the natural juices of the oranges or lemons to create the filling’s base. From there, specific approaches vary, but mixing in eggs to craft the final product is common.

This unique pie offers a sweet citrus flavor that can be adjusted based on the many types of fruit available. For full recipes, consider Martha Stewart’s Shaker citrus pie and Eat The Love’s blood orange lemon vanilla-infused version.

Pies come in far more varieties than the old classics seen in your local baker's case.Pies come in far more varieties than the old classics seen in your local baker’s case.

Millionaire’s pie is a deliciously adaptable treat

Millionaire’s pie lacks the clear lineage of the Shaker lemon pie, to the point where even the spelling isn’t standardized: Some recipes use the possessive S, others don’t. That doesn’t make it any less notable or tasty, however.

Plenty of recipes for this dish exist, and regional variations are many. Besides the extreme outliers, millionaire’s pie tends to consist of a base that includes some mixture of cream cheese, frozen whipped topping and sweetened condensed milk – although it’s not too common to see all three combined. Other frequently seen base ingredients include lemon zest and juice as a way to cut some of the pie’s sweetness and balance the flavor, as well as the crust, of course.

The flavor of the pie is improved with a variety of fruits and nuts mixed in. The possibilities are many, although pecans, maraschino cherries, pineapple and coconut are some of the most frequently seen. Strawberries and many other fresh fruits, alongside some other relatively soft nuts, can be used depending on the desired flavor profile for the dish.

A relatively easy recipe to make, the major timing consideration to take into account is the need for the pie to sit and chill for several hours, if not overnight, after it’s finished. Want to take a look at a few of the many different versions of millionaire’s pie available? The New York Times has a recipe based on cream cheese and heavy cream, while Eagle Brand has a variation using its sweetened condensed milk.

With one of these pies in hand, you’ll be sure to attract some intrigued eaters as your next potluck.