Summer is rolling by.
If you made a resolution so many months ago that in 2016 you’d learn to do a better job in the kitchen baking, just relax. I’ve found a variety of ways to satisfy that desire without the need for great expertise — but with delicious results.
Take the pie crust, for example. No, really, don’t put the paper or your iPad down and run away. Nobody said you had to make one from scratch. Just put a few to good use.
In my experience judging pie contests, it has been hard sometimes to distinguish a scratch pie crust from one that unrolled out of a box, a la Pillsbury. I apologize now to the bakers who are mighty proud of the work they put in to make a homemade crust. I applaud your desire to follow tradition, but I think there should be no guilt using the store-bought variety.
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Plus, who says you have to use pie crust to make something that looks, well, like a pie? Not me.
I’ve found four classy recipes that make creative use of crust. One you roll to look like cannoli, filled with tangy lemon curd, marshmallow fluff and whipped topping.
Another turns pie dough into crispy wedges for Cherry Pie Dessert Pizza — crispy wedges of cinnamon-sugar coated pie crust topped with cheesecake fluff and cherry pie filling.
A third recreates crust as ravioli-like and filled with a berry mix.
And the fourth is almost as classic as using a pie pan: Hand pies. Choose your favorite filling and go to town.
Lemon Meringue Pie Cannoli
1 box refrigerated pie crust, thawed
1 teaspoon water
3/4 cup lemon curd
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
Optional, 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 8 cannoli forms* with non-stick baking spray.
Unroll pie dough and cut four 4 1/2-inch circles from each crust.
Make an egg wash by whisking the egg and water together.
Wrap one pie dough circle around each cannoli form sealing the edges with egg wash. Set on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.
Remove and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then carefully remove them from the cannoli forms. Let them cool completely.
Stir together lemon curd and marshmallow fluff. Stir in the whipped topping. Pour into a disposable pastry or zip top bag.
Just before serving, snip the tip off the pastry bag and pipe the pie filling into the pie crust cannoli shells.
If desired, sprinkle lemon zest onto pie filling at ends of cannoli.
Makes 8 servings, each with 92 calories, 6 grams fat, 52 mg cholesterol, 24 mg sodium, 8 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams sugar, 2 grams protein.
*To make your own cannoli forms: Cut the base of a disposable foil pan into rectangles, shape each piece around a dowel rod, then slip them off to form hollow cylinders. By creating your own, you can adjust the width however you like before shaping the dough around it.
Cherry Pie Dessert Pizza
1-2 teaspoons flour for dusting cutting board
1 refrigerated pie crust, thawed
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar
CREAM CHEESE FLUFF:
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 can (21 ounce) cherry pie filling
1 white chocolate bar (2 ounce)
To make the crust: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dust cutting board lightly with flour. Unroll thawed dough on cutting board.
Whisk together the egg and water. Brush a thin layer of egg wash over the dough.
Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over top. Cut dough into 12 equal wedges. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Remove and allow to cool completely.
To make the cream cheese fluff: Use an electric mixer set on medium high speed and beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add whipped topping and beat just to combine.
Assemble the pizza: Arrange chips on a serving plate. Spread or pipe cheesecake fluff on top of the pizza chips. Spoon cherry pie over top. Grate or shave white chocolate over the pie filling and serve.
Makes 12 servings, each with 198 calories, 7 grams fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 167 mg sodium, 31 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 6 grams sugar, 3 grams protein.
Mixed Berry Pie Bites
2 boxes (2-count each) refrigerated pie crust
1 jar (10 ounce) jam blackberry
1 packet (12 ounce) mixed frozen berries
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg, well beaten
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unroll two pie crusts. Slice rounds in half, then turn the curved edges facing each other. Layer two vertically and two horizontally on a parchment-lined baking sheet to form a rectangle. Roll with a rolling pin until layers have mashed together. This will be the bottom crust.
Repeat with second box of pie dough rounds, placing on a large piece of parchment paper. Set aside. This will be top crust.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave jam until softened, about 30-45 seconds on high. Stir in frozen berries, 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch.
Score the rectangle of pie crust on the baking sheet into 2-by-2-inch or 30 ravioli-size squares. Do not cut completely though. Spoon berry mixture into the center of each square, just 3 or 4 berries in each. Take care to not let the filling ooze toward the scored lines of your squares.
Brush a small amount of egg on the scored lined of each square, and around the edges of the pie crust. Gently place second pie rectangle on top of the berry mixture.
With your fingers, firmly press down between the seams of each square, pressing the top and bottom layers of pie dough together. Cut between each square with a pastry cutter or sharp knife. (Have this layer be room temperature. The dough is softer and more malleable once it’s been sitting out of the fridge for 20-30 minutes.)
Cut a small “X” in the top of each pie square or use the tip of a small metal icing tip to create a star-shaped cut-out.
Brush the tops of each square with egg, sprinkle with sugar. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until pie squares are golden brown. If they ooze a little bit, that’s OK.
Cool completely before serving. To serve, use a knife to cut through the lines, separating each square.
Makes 30 squares, each with 177 calories, 2 grams fat, 32 mg cholesterol, 35 mg sodium, 39 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 30 grams sugar, 2 grams protein.
Note: If you’re a dipper, here’s a simple twist: melt canned vanilla buttercream frosting and serve it alongside.
See step-by-step photos at tablespoon.com/recipes
Feel free to substitute your favorite pie filling. Just remember not to put too much filling in each pie.
1 box refrigerated pie crust (2 crusts)
1 cup fresh blueberries
Zest of 1 large lemon
Juic from 1/2 large lemon
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
Coarse sugar (regular sugar works, too)
Combine filling ingredients and set aside.
To assemble the pies: On a well-floured surface, roll each disc of dough into a 9-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut each rectangle into thirds, creating 9 (3-by-4-inch) squares. Refrigerate the first set of squares while you roll out the second disc of dough. Keep that dough cold!
Brush the first set of squares with the beaten egg. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling mixture into the center of each square. Top with another square of dough, and seal the edges with a floured fork. Use the fork to create vent holes in the tops of each pie. Place the pies on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
Put the pies back in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
Combine the Glaze 1 ingredients. Drizzle over the pies once they have cooled. Or, using Glaze 2, brush hand pies with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.