Bake Yummy Pies for Special Fall, Holiday Desserts

Whether they are creamy, fruit filled or topped with pecans, pies are a delectable dessert, especially during fall and for Thanksgiving. Brown Butter Pecan Pie is pictured ready to serve for a special dessert. Photo by Ann Cipperly

By Ann Cipperly

In the fall, as ripe apples and a fresh crop of pecans are gathered, it is the perfect time for baking delicious pies with buttery crusts. Pies are yummy by themselves or enhanced with whipped cream or ice cream. As you plan menus for Thanksgiving and Christmas, consider adding a special pie or two to the dessert table.

When I was growing up in Opelika, we shelled pecans in the fall for my mother to make pies and confections. This was after shelling peas and beans during summer months on the porch or under a Chinaberry tree in the backyard. While you can shell your own, freshly shelled pecans are available at year-round farmers markets and some grocery stores. They make better pies than pecans packaged for a longer shelf life.

Years ago I was asked to judge two pie contests, with one being all pecan pies. I thought that might be difficult since pecan pies pretty much taste the same. Fortunately, one was a little different with a rich caramel taste.

The Brown Butter Pecan Pie is prepared a little differently from most recipes. Be sure to stand at the stove as the butter melts and turns a golden brown. Watch it or it will burn.

Since pecan pies are rich, they are not generally served with a sauce. We dined at a restaurant that offered pecan pie with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Our table tried it, and while chocolate is always good, we preferred it without the sauce.

While a homemade crust is the best, the rolled crusts in the refrigerator section of the grocery also work if you are too busy to make your own. The first time I used these crusts for company, I was concerned the pies weren’t going to be as good without a homemade crust. After a friend asked for the crust recipe, I felt the rolled ones would be fine.

My mother-in-law, Mom Cipperly, always made piecrusts from scratch, and they were flakey and perfect. She preferred pies instead of cakes, and her pies were generally rich.

This morning when I starting writing about pies, I got Mom Cipperly’s recipe box from the closet to see what pie recipes she had collected. The old wooden box must have belonged to her mother, as it was made by hand.

Mom Cipperly was a New Yorker, and her family was part of the DuBois Huguenots who had founded New Platz, New York. The village still remains and is open to the public.

As I pulled out each of the faded recipes, it brought back memories of dining at their home in Manhattan and northern New Jersey. Her pie recipes were different than the ones my mother made.

While Mom Cipperly was a gourmet cook, the box contained several old pie recipes with two recipes for apple pie with pieces of salt pork. They must have been from generations back since it was not in her handwriting. Other recipes were for rhubarb pie, a sesame date pie and many for cream pies laced with liqueur. A cranberry apple pie sounds good, so I am sharing that recipe.

At one Thanksgiving, Mom Cipperly made mincemeat pies. We never had those at my home in Opelika when I was growing up. Just before the pies were served, my father-in-law poured a huge amount of bourdon over the pies. He then lit a match to start a flame for burning off the alcohol. I thought he had ruined them.

Mincemeat was not what I thought, and it wasn’t the bourdon that ruined it. Mincemeat is a mixture of finely chopped dried fruit and beef suet (and may also have beef) with spices.

Instead of making mincemeat pies, I decided to make Mom Cipperly’s chocolate mousse recipe that came from their cook in Portugal as a pie filling with a chocolate crust. She really liked that pie, but the mousse was prepared with six raw eggs with the whites beaten to fold into the rich chocolate mixture. Once raw eggs were no longer considered safe to consume, I no longer prepared that pie.

Since Mom Cipperly had liked that pie so much, I tried making her a French chocolate mousse without raw eggs. The look on her face said it all. No, she did not like that light mousse.

When you are making pies or any dessert for the holidays, be sure not to use raw eggs unless they have been pasteurized. This is especially important if your guests include children, older family members or an expectant mom.

Along with pecan pies, pumpkin or sweet potato pies are popular during fall months and for Thanksgiving. To garnish pumpkin pies, roll out extra pastry and a use a cookie cutter with pumpkin or leaf designs for cutting pastry designs. These can be baked separately and placed on the pie or place them on the pie before baking Children will enjoy decorating the pie with the pastry shapes.

Chocolate and coconut pies are good to serve during the holidays. They go together quicker than cakes if you are short on time. Most pies also freeze well.

Along with pastry crusts for pies, there are other options, including graham cracker, chocolate, baked meringue, shortening bread cookie, puff pastry and crust made with ginger snaps or other cookies. You can make a creative pie trying different crusts. Cream cheese pastry is ideal for mini pies and tarts.

Treat your family to a pie this coming week, and put one in the freezer for Thanksgiving.

Brown Butter Pecan Pies

Connie King

1 stick butter

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ cups light Karo syrup

4 eggs

2 cups pecans, chopped or whole

2 unbaked pie crusts

Brown butter in a saucepan until golden, watching carefully. Remove from heat and add sugar, salt and syrup. Return to burner. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove from burner and cool. Beat eggs; stir into the mixture.

Place one cup pecans in bottom of each piecrust. Pour filling into each piecrust. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake 10 minute; reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Megan’s Caramel Pecan Pie

Julia Pipes

1 bag of caramels (about 30)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup chopped pecans

1 prepared piecrust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt caramels in butter and water in a saucepan.

Combine sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Add melted caramel mixture. Add pecans. Stir until well blended.

Pour mixture into piecrust. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust is golden.

Shenandoah Apple Pie

Edith SmithT Walker’s mother’s recipe

5 Granny Smith apples peeled and thinly sliced

1½ cups sugar

¼ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. allspice

¼ tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. lemon juice

1 stick melted butter

¼ cup milk

1 cup grated cheddar cheese


2 pie crusts

Place one crust in a deep-dish pie pan. Place sliced apples over crust. Mix next 9 ingredients; add a “little” flour, stir and pour over apples. Make a lattice top using second crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Gegie’s Iron Skillet Chocolate Pie

Pat Odom

I don’t have many recipes from my beloved grandmother Gegie. This is a quick, favorite one with good old-timey fudgy taste. It’s so good you might just want to forget the crust, and eat it straight from the skillet like candy.

1 Tbsp. butter

1 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. cocoa

2 Tbsp. plain flour

Dash of salt

2 egg yolks

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans, optional

9-inch pie shell, baked

Topping: Whipped cream or Méringue


2 egg whites

2 tsp. sugar

Melt butter in skillet; remove from heat. Gradually add all dry ingredients to butter while off heat. Mix together egg yolks and milk. Return skillet to heat and gradually add egg and milk to other ingredients in skillet. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add toasted pecans, if desired. Cool.

Pour in cooked pie shell, top with whipped egg whites. Return to oven until egg whites are cooked or top with dollops of whipped cream instead and omit return to oven.

Pecan Chocolate Chip Pie

Leigh Whatley

1/2 cup butter

4 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup sugar

1 cup Karo syrup

1 ½ cups chopped pecans

16 oz. pkg. chocolate chips

Two 9-inch pie shells

Melt butter; stir in eggs with whisk. Add vanilla, sugar and syrup. Sprinkle half pecans and chocolate chips into each pie shell. Pour syrup mixture over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Sweet Potato Pie

Teresa Ogletree

3 to 4 large sweet potatoes (3 ½ cups)

4 eggs

½ cup butter, softened

½ tsp. nutmeg

2 cups sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 tall can (13 oz.) evaporated milk

2 deep-dish unbaked pie shells.

Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water until they are easily pierced with a fork. Remove from water, cool slightly. Remove skins; place hot cooked and peeled potatoes in large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer until smooth.

Beat in remaining filling ingredients. Pour into unbaked piecrusts. Place pans on cookie sheet. Bake in 425-degree oven for 20 minutes; lower heat to 325 degrees and bake 30 minutes longer or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Cranberry Apple Pie with Lattice Top

Mom Cipperly

2/3 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. flour

1/4 tsp. allspice

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. grated lemon rind

½ cup honey

1 Tbsp. butter

3 cups fresh cranberries

2 cups diced apples

Pastry for two-crust pie

Milk for brushing on top crust

Mix sugar, flour, allspice, salt, lemon rind, honey and butter in a saucepan and heat to blend mixture. Add cranberries and apples and let cool.

Place one crust in pie pan. Pour filling over crust.

To make a lattice top, lay ½ inch strips one way across filling. Lay strips across the other way, and weave them in and out, one at a time, beginning in the center. Seal and make a fluted edge or finish with another strip laid around the edge.

Brush top with milk. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender.

Chess Pie

Maggie Cooper
From my grandmother, Maggie Whitlow
2 cups sugar
4 egg yolks
2/3 cups melted butter
1½ tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup rich milk
Mix together. Pour in partly baked pie shell and bake until firm in a moderate 350-degree oven.

Classic Pumpkin Pie

Serve with whipped cream.

9-inch unbaked deep dish pie crust

¾ cup white sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. ground cloves

2 large eggs

15 oz. can Libby’s pure pumpkin

12 oz. can evaporated milk

Whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. (Do not freeze as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.)

Coconut Cream Pie

Ruth Meadows

3/4 cup sugar

One-third cup all-purpose flour or 3 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups milk

3 eggs, separated

2 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

9-inch pie shell

1 cup coconut

In a saucepan, combine sugar, flour and salt. Gradually add milk, mixing well. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils. Cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Stir small amount hot mixture into slightly beaten egg yolks; immediately return to hot mixture. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Add butter and vanilla. Add coconut; stir well. Pour into cooled baked pie shell. Prepare meringue.

Meringue with Coconut:

Beat 3 egg whites with 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add 6 Tbsp. sugar, beating until stiff peaks form and all sugar is dissolved. Spread on top of pie, sealing to edge of pastry. Sprinkle 1/4-1/2 cup flaked coconut on top. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until meringue is golden. Cool.

Grandmother’s Chocolate Pie

Suzanne King Harris

2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened chocolate

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 ¼ cup hot water

1/8 tsp. salt

4 Tbsp. flour

½ cup cold water

4 egg yolks, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla

¼ cup sugar

4 egg whites

8 Tbsp. sugar

1 pie shell, baked

Melt chocolate in top of double boiler. Add milk and stir for 3 minutes. Add hot water. Add salt and flour, which has been blended to a paste with cold water. Stir constantly until mixture thickens. Continue cooking 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add beaten egg yolks, diluting them with a little of the hot mixture. Add 1/4 cup sugar. Cook 5 minutes and add vanilla. Cool and pour into baked pie shell. Make meringue by beating egg whites and ¼ cup sugar. Brown in a 275-degree oven. Bake pies for 35 to 40 minutes.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

Jamie Lazenby

12 oz. cream cheese, softened

½ cup sugar

1½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 cup canned pumpkin

2 eggs

1 graham cracker crust

Whipped cream or topping

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin pie spice on medium speed until smooth. Stir in pumpkin. Add eggs and mix until blended.

Place crust on a baking sheet. Pour filling into crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Serve with whipped cream, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Jamie Lazenby

4 eggs, slightly beaten

2 cups canned or mashed cooked pumpkin

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark brown corn syrup

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

1 cup chopped pecans

Combine all filling ingredients except pecans. Pour into pie shell. Top with pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until set.


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