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Pies



Whether you're craving classic apple, sugary pecan or tangy strawberry-rhubarb, there's a pie for that. As one of the most versatile desserts, pies easily shift to fit whichever season you need them to. While pumpkin may be mandatory at your Thanksgiving table, it may seem out of place at a spring picnic. And since fresh berries are plentiful in summer, a cooling strawberry pie would be more at home at a backyard barbecue than a snowy, winter night. There’s no need to limit your creativity to just taste, either—the look of a pie can be an art form, too. We've seen pies in jars, as pops, with lattice tops or piled high with toasted meringue. Food & Wine's guide to pies explores all the possibilities, from classic holiday ideas to inventive recipes from chefs around the country.

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Sweet Potato Honey Beer Pie

Sweet potatoes are on a monthly rotation in my household; even my dog, Snoopy, loved them. The different components of the pie can be prepared on different days. Here’s a suggested order of steps you might find useful, especially if you make this for Thanksgiving. Day 1: Roast sweet potatoes, reduce the beer, and prepare the pie crust, but don’t blind bake (partially bake). Day 2: Blind bake the pie crust, prepare the sweet potato custard, and bake the pie. Of course, you can also do this all in one day.

Lemon Chiffon Pie with Saltine Cracker Crust

Pastry chef Kelly Field's great-aunt Jean, who first made this pie during the Great Depression, swapped pricey graham crackers in the crust for less-expensive saltines, which play well with the tart lemon filling. To create the voluminous filling, be sure to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks; if they’re too soft, the filling will be dense instead of airy.

Honey-Pear Sweet Cream Galette

A mix of alternative flours—here, two kinds of rice flour and arrowroot—delivers a gluten-free crust that is flaky, buttery, and crisp. The floral sweetness from the honey and pears is nicely balanced by tangy cream cheese. Be sure to let the galette rest at least 30 minutes to give the filling time to firm up for easier slicing. This gluten-free fall dessert was made by Sarah Ann Hahn (who goes by "the Gluten-Free Cowgirl") as the sweet finish for a harvest feast at Big Table Farm in Gaston, Oregon.

Bourbon-Pecan-Apple Pie with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Chef and cookbook author Alexander Smalls spikes his sticky-sweet pecan pie with just enough bourbon to add a kick of flavor that accents the sweet chunks of apple. Fuji apples are perfect for this pie; they bake up soft but retain their texture. Braeburn and Honeycrisp also work well.
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Galettes Are Pie When You Can't Deal With Pie

A great way to make use of summer fruit and a dessert that looks more beautiful the messier it is.

Miso Chocolate Tart with Black Sesame–Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust

You know that episode of Sex and the City where Miranda makes a chocolate cake, has a nice big slice, then continues to go back into the kitchen to cut small slivers throughout the evening and into the next night before she eventually has to throw it away, but then fishes one more bite out of the garbage can before pouring dish soap on it and calling Carrie to suggest she be checked into the “Betty Crocker Clinic”? Well, that’s what this chocolate tart will do to a person. It lingers on your palate and in your mind, beckoning you back for more.That’s why it’s really best to make it for a dinner party. My intent with suggesting a chocolate recipe in February is naturally inspired by Valentine’s Day. But this year I’m thinking about inviting friends over, and not just couples. Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day is the worst day of the year if you’re single and looking, so wouldn’t it be lovely to have a convivial dinner party to attend—especially if there’s a decadent slice of chocolate tart awaiting at the end of it?Here a typical press-and-bake graham cracker crust is spruced up with chocolate grahams and flecked with black sesame seeds for a striking assemblage. (Side note: Once when I made this, the grocery store was out of chocolate graham cracker sheets so I used animal-shaped chocolate graham cookies and it turned out just the same.) The nutty, crunchy crust lays the foundation for a velvety-smooth filling that would have Miranda rinsing off the dish soap for just one more bite.I like desserts a little more savory-sweet than super sweet. The addition of miso mixed with melted dark chocolate adds depth and umami, an almost buttery quality, and saltiness to balance the sweetness in the truffle-like ganache. All desserts need salt, and usually more than a small pinch—remember that and all your sweet endings will be the better.

Lemon Meringue Pie with Marcona Shortbread Crust

Lemon meringue pie has always been my favorite dessert. (Fun fact: Lemon Pie was my CB handle when I was a kid. If you don’t know what that means, it’s likely because you’re much younger than me, and this clue still won’t help you: Breaker 1-9, this is Lemon Pie. I’ve got a Smokey on my tail.)I like lemon pie so much that I want even more of the bright, sunny lemon flavor to come through, so there’s less sugar and more lemon juice in this filling than you’ll find in most recipes. It’s assertively—but not aggressively—lemony, and is balanced by the fluffy meringue topping, which has the perfect sweetness and density to complement the tarter-than-usual filling.This topping is the type of meringue I love, the type that makes my mouth water and sets my heart aflutter. It is Italian meringue. It’s thicker, creamier, and heavier on the palate than the type of airy, ephemeral meringues you might see on diner-style pies—you know, the type that deflates almost immediately on the tongue. Italian meringue, by contrast, has weight and body to it that’s reminiscent of homemade marshmallows, and it’s incredibly stable, which is why it’s often used as a cake frosting, too. You don’t have to bake it—because in making it, you beat molten hot sugar syrup into the whites (easier than it sounds), which heats them to a safe temperature. I like to add a little vanilla extract to my Italian meringue, which somehow makes it seem even creamier.And oh, the crust! In place of traditional pie pastry (which would still be delicious here), I go with a pat-in shortbread crust that somehow both holds together and is wonderfully crumbly in that shortbread kind of way. But what makes it truly special is that there are little bits of salty, crunchy Marcona almonds in it.The topping, the filling, and the crust all work together in beautiful harmony, and I wanted to engineer the recipe so that you can enjoy that deliciousness faster than usual. The crust, which is made in a food processor and requires no rolling, comes together lickety-split. The filling, which I chill in an ice bath before it goes into the crust, sets in lightning speed. And the meringue, which does not need to bake, is ready to enjoy as soon as it’s whipped up—because when you want lemon pie, you want it now.