A Tale of Two Pies

I love pie.

More than any other treat, even chocolates, there’s nothing like a good piece of pie to make a bad day suddenly better. And put a good day completely over the top. Basically, there’s never a bad time for pie. But what often holds me back is the labour-intensiveness of the pie-making process. It was always so much easier to head into Kensington Market and grab a slice at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky. However, now that’s not really an option. Wanda’s is a bit too much of a trek.

Hot on the heels of my galette-baking success, and at the urging of my husband’s cravings, I decided to try my hand at hand at two favourites yesterday afternoon. First, my husband’s pie of choice: Pecan

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I used my grandmother’s recipe from the beloved Women’s Institute cookbook, but with a couple of tweaks to try to make my own mark on it.

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I replaced the white sugar with dark brown sugar, which I tend to do with most recipes because I’m not a huge fan of white sugar. Too gritty, and nowhere near the same depth of flavour you get with the darker varieties. Also, I used a regular corn syrup instead of the light syrup the recipe called for. I wanted that super-gooey, dark dense filling that – to me, anyways – is the mark of a proper pecan pie. It worked well, if I do say so myself.

The next pie was a bit of a challenge for myself. And therefore, much more terrifying. In every diner I eat at, I well order a piece of it if I see it on the menu. To me, it’s perfection on a plate. I give you my favourite pie: Coconut Cream

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It was nerve-racking, to be sure. But I got through it in the end, thanks mainly to this excellent recipe here. The pie crust recipe, which happily yields two disks of lovely dough, is remarkably easy to make. And for the most part I kept to the recipe. But it wouldn’t be me to not put my own spin on it. For the custard filling, I swapped out two cups of whole milk for coconut milk, which gave me the distinctive coconut flavour I was hoping for. Next time, I might even substitute coconut milk for all three cups of milk. As for the whipped cream topping, I opted for 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract because the custard was quite rich on its own and I didn’t want anything to compete with that coconut flavour. That’s the basis on which I judge a good coconut cream – by how much actual coconut flavour is involved. Some pies that I’ve had in the past are too eggy or may as well be vanilla pie, save for the sprinkling of toasted coconut on top. Which brings me to my last substitution: I went for untoasted, unsweetened coconut overtop the whipped topping in place of the more traditional toasted. Aesthetically, I find it more pleasing. Like fluffy white clouds against a clear blue sky, or freshly fallen snow.

And now that I’m waxing all poetic about pie, I think that it’s time to wrap this up. Besides, I’m feeling so good about yesterday’s victory in the kitchen that I just might use the leftover egg whites to take another crack at my arch sweet-making nemesis: the Macaron.

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