The American Pie Council Presents Pies, Pies and More Pies In New Book Featuring 18 Years of Award-Winning Recipes

Since 1995, amateur, commercial, and professional bakers have competed in the American Pie Council (APC)/Crisco National Pie Championships to determine who makes the best pies in America.  America’s Best Pies: Nearly 200 Recipes You’ll Love (Skyhorse Publishing, October 2012, SRP $24.95) by the American Pie Council with Linda Hoskins is a collection of 200 delicious recipes that have won awards over the 18 years of the championship competition.  The book will be available for sale this October on www.piecouncil.org and through select national booksellers and online book retailers.

From the unusual like My Big Fat Italian Strawberry Basil Wedding Pie to classic Apple (America’s Number One flavor preference (Perishable News, 2012 Pie Survey), every recipe has been reviewed by judges and determined to be an award-winning pie.  The selections in America’s Best Pies are the best of the best from amateur and professional bakers from across the country.  Recipes include:

  • Silky, Rich & Smooth Chocolate Pie
  • Lemon Raspberry Twist
  • Island Breeze Pineapple-Blueberry Cream Pie
  • Macadamia Nut Chocolate Chunk Pie
  • Deep-Dish Deluxe Banana Split Pie
  • Oreo Peanut Butter Mousse Pie
  • Pumpkin
  • Californese Raisin and Nut Pie
  • Holiday Cranberry Mince Pie
  • White-Bottomed Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie
  • Vanilla Bean Brûlée Pie

America’s Best Pies showcases an abundance of color pie photographs, many of which are the actual pies entered in the competition.  Packed with clear and concise recipes, the book is for expert and future expert pie makers alike.  Whether it’s apple, custard, strawberry or raisin, there’s a pie for every taste bud.

The APC/Crisco National Pie Championships is a four-day event held annually in Central Florida drawing the nation’s top commercial, professional, amateur and junior pie bakers.  Bakers win prizes, but compete for bragging rights. Next year’s competition is scheduled for April 26-28, 2013 at the Caribe Royal Orlando.  For more information, visit www.piecouncil.org.

The American Pie Council® is the only organization committed to maintaining America’s pie heritage, passing on the tradition of pie-making and promoting America’s love affair with pie. The APC offers personal, professional, and commercial memberships and leads the nation in celebrating National Pie Day every January 23.  For more information, please visit www.piecouncil.org

About the Author

Linda Hoskins has served as the executive director of the American Pie Council since 2000.  Along with a strong board of directors, Linda has been responsible for organizing all aspects of the pie industry for the National Pie Championships, the Great American Pie Festival, and the Pie Industry Seminar. Linda has been a judge for the Food Network and the Travel Channel, and has been named to Baking Management’s Influential 20 in both 2009 and 2011.  Linda and her husband, Richard, have two children and three grandchildren and reside in Lake Forest, Illinois.

America’s Best Pies
Nearly 200 Recipes You’ll Love
By American Pie Council
With Linda Hoskins
Skyhorse Publishing hardcover, also available as an ebook
Available at select retailers nationwide and through www.piecouncil.org
On Sale: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-62087-165-2
Price: $24.95

Chocolate Brulees Dessert Recipe

Recipe and image courtesy of our friends at Pillsbury.com.

INGREDIENTS:
2 containers (6 oz each) Yoplait® Thick & Creamy French vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons fat-free half-and-half
6 raspberries

DIRECTIONS:

1. Spoon 1 container yogurt into each of two 6-oz brulee dishes or small custard cups.

2. Place chocolate chips and half-and-half in small microwavable bowl. Microwave uncovered on High 15 to 20 seconds; stir until smooth. Spread over top of each dish of yogurt in thin layer.

3. Refrigerate brulees until chocolate hardens, about 15 minutes. Top with raspberries.

Photo courtesy of Pillsbury.com

Panna Cotta Recipe

When you’re craving the taste of Italy, you may want to consider making panna cotta (which translates into ‘cooked cream’) – a sweet treat generally associated with the Northern Italian region of Piermonte. This custard-like pudding dessert is made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar that is then mixed with gelatin. To get ideas of how to make and flavor your own, consider the following recipe:

Panna Cotta Recipe

This recipe makes six servings and should be served chilled.

Ingredients

  • 1 package unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold milk
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar (icing or powdered)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Grease six small custard cups, ramekins, or individual molds. Use melted butter or almond oil.

2. Place the gelatin and cold milk in a small bowl. Let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Combine cream and sugar in a saucepan. Bring ingredients to a boil while stirring to dissolve the powdered sugar.

4. Once the cream becomes very hot, remove the saucepan, and then stir in gelatin mixture and vanilla until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Sometimes it is necessary to return the pan to the stove over low heat to make sure all gelatin particles have dissolved.

5. Pour the cream into prepared molds. Transfer the dessert cups to the refrigerator. Chill for 2 to 4 hours, or until the dessert has set. When you are ready to reveal your tasty treat, dip the mold into hot water for a few seconds, and then invert onto a plate.

Ways to Flavor Your Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is typically served with caramel, wild berries, chocolate sauce, and other fruity accompaniments, such as poached fruit. Strawberries and raspberries are a popular fruit paired with the sweet treat. Sometimes, panna cotta is flavored with spices.

Fruit Soup Recipe

In Scandinavian and Slavic countries, they make lovely creamy concoctions from fresh fruits. They make an excellent dessert, as they are both cold and sweet, but traditionally they were a first course, as a way to awakening the taste buds and giving the diners a preview of things to come.

Fruit soups are served in soup “plates”: shallow bowls that hold just about a cup, and generally have a wide flat edge.
This recipe goes back to Poland. It is made here with fresh peaches, but you can substitute tinned, if necessary. Fresh is definitely better.

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photo courtesy of ulterior epicure

Peach Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

1. 2 pounds of fresh peaches or nectarines
2. 2 cups water
3. ¼ cup sugar
4. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
5. the zest of one lemon
6. 1 teaspoon corn starch
7. 1 tablespoon cold water for garnish
8. sliced artisan bread with sunflower seeds
9. butter (to make croutons)
10. sour cream

Directions:

1. Peel, halve and pit the peaches. Reserve the pits (they give a lovely almond flavor. But do not eat them alone. They can be poisonous). Tie the pits in a piece of cheese cloth. They will be picked out later.

2. Put the peaches and the larger amount of water in a pot. Cook, partially covered, on a low boil for 20 minutes. Remove the cheesecloth with the pits and discard.

3. Using an immersion blender, puree the fruit, then add the sugar, lemon and zest. Return the the heat on medium to low, being careful not to allow it to scorch.

4. Mix the corn starch with a small amount of water. Add it gradually to the soup as it comes up to the boil. Once it is clear and thick, remove from the heat and cool. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

5. Just before serving, remove the crusts from two slices of artisan bread with sunflower seeds. Butter the bread liberally on both sides. Place the bread in a heavy skillet and fry on both sides, until it becomes crispy and golden. Cut the bread into small cubes.

6. Ladle into soup plates. In the center of each plate, put a large tablespoon full of sour cream. Use a toothpick to draw the sour cream out into pretty patterns. Place several of the croutons around the main dollop.

Tips:

  • You can do this same soup with apricots or cherries. It is not necessary to peel either of these fruits, but if you are using cherries, you may want to put the fruit through a food mill to remove the tougher skins.  Berries of most any variety may also be used.
  • You can also mix the  fruits up, like mango and peaches, or use different types of melons. Experiment, have fun with it.
  • If you do not have sufficient fresh fruit available, you can use canned fruit. Reserve the juice and use in place of the water and sugar. If using canned fruit in syrup, double the amount of lemon juice.
  • Just for fun, you can serve them in Margarita or martini glasses, and garnish with some fresh fruit.

How to Make Your Own Baking Mix

You see about four or five different brands of baking mix in the stores. More if you count the pancake and waffle mixes. They are all pretty much the same: flour, leavening, shortening. Imagine if you could have this on hand all the time, and never have to think about going to the store to buy it? Imagine, too, if you could have it for about a quarter of the cost!

You will need one very large bowl to do this, and clean hands. No other tools are required other than some jars or bags for storage.

5 pounds of all purpose flour
– 2/3 cup baking powder
– 2 cups powdered (dry) milk
– 2 tbsp salt
– 2 pounds shortening. DO NOT USE BUTTER OR MARGERINE. Butter flavored shortening would work though.


Directions:

1. Mix together the dry ingredients.

2. Add the shortening, and begin to mix and squeeze with your hands until it is well mixed and the shortening pieces are no larger than peas. Do not over mix though, or it will turn into a giant wad.

3. Store in airtight jars or bags until needed. So long as it is kept at room temperature or below, it will pretty much keep forever. However, if you do not have air conditioning, it may be advisable to keep it in the refrigerator in summer.

This mix is good for almost everything! Here are some quick and easy recipes:

Biscuits

Ingredients

– 2 cups of your own baking mix (see above)
– 2/3 of a cup of water mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice
– 2 cups of Master Mix.

Directions: Knead lightly and cut out. Bake at 400°F / 205°C for about 20 minutes.

Cookies

For chocolate chip, use the following ingredients:

– 2 cups baking mix
– 2/3 cup brown sugar
– 1 cup chocolate chips
– 1 egg.

Directions:

1. Mix it up together and drop by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet.

2. Bake at 350° / 176°C for 10 to 15 minutes.

The same standard goes for any other cookies. For sugar cookies, use granulated sugar. You can add half a cup of peanut butter, or use one cup Master Mix and one cup rolled oats for oatmeal cookies. Have fun with it.

Because this mix already contains milk, there is no need to add extra. You can make waffles, pancakes or dumplings by adding water and an egg.

Southern recipe for fruit dumplings

It is sort of like a cobbler, but made on top of the stove. This is a great dessert to make when Blackberries come in.

Ingredients:

– One quart of blackberries or strawberries; you can use fresh or canned fruit, depending on what you have at hand.
– 1 1/2 cup sugar
– 2 cups Master Mix
– 2/3 cup water
– 1 egg

Directions:

1. Put the berries and 1 cup of sugar in a large pot with a tight fitting lid place; alternatively, you can substitute a large can of sliced peaches in syrup for the berries and sugar.

2. Let set for about half an hour, or until the berries begin to make juice.

3. Turn the heat on low and allow them to cook. If there is insufficient juice to fully cover the fruit, add a little water. Once you are certain that they won’t burn, increase the heat no higher than medium and let it come barely to a boil.

4. Meanwhile, mix together:

– 2 cups Master Mix
– 2/3 cup water
– ½ cup sugar
– 1 egg

5. Once the fruit is boiling, drop the dumpling batter by spoonfuls over the top.

6. When all the dough is in the pot, put on the lid. Reduce the heat to medium low. Set the timer for 20 minutes and walk away.

7. After 20 minutes have elapsed, remove from the heat. Remove the lid and sprinkle a little sugar over the tops of the dumplings and put the lid back on.

8. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream. Yum!

Ideas for Easy Peanut Butter Sweet Treats

From pie topped with whipped cream and chewy cookie bars, peanut butter is a popular flavor for many sweet treats. Depending on the recipe, you could wind up spending a great deal of time and money deciphering the instructions. If you like uncomplicated baking with easy-to-find ingredients, consider the following ideas that incorporate the likes of Jif, Skippy, or Peter Pan.

Peanut Butter Cake

A quick and easy way to make peanut butter cake is to use a package (around 18.25-ounces) of butter cake mix as your base. First, cream together ½ cup smooth peanut butter and ½ cup softened butter until they become light and fluffy. Add 4 large eggs (one at a time) – making sure to mix well after each addition. Add in the cake mix alternately with 2/3 cup of water. Stir the ingredients until they are combined.

Pour the batter into two prepared 9-inch round cake pans (greased and floured). Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for 10 minutes on a wire rack. To further cool, turn out the pans onto the rack. Frost when completely cooled.

To make a peanut butter frosting, cream 1 cup of peanut butter and 1/2 cup softened butter until light and fluffy. Add 4 cups of powdered sugar. Slowly add in the milk until frosting is spreadable.

Ways to enhance a peanut butter cake recipe include:

  • Chocolate as an ingredient
  • Chocolate frosting
  • Chopped nuts as a topping

Peanut Butter Cookies

When you’re looking for an uncomplicated, traditional treat, peanut butter cookies are a favorite of all ages. To make about 2 dozen cookies, you will need 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter (at room temperature), 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 egg, 1 1/4 cup flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

First, cream the butter for two minutes, and then add in the sugars. Cream the ingredients for 2 additional minutes. Mix in the peanut butter and egg. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt), and then stir into the creamed butter/sugar mixture. Wrap the dough in plastic and put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough into balls measuring 1 1/4 inches. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Use a fork to imprint the cookies with the signature crisscross pattern.  Bake the cookies until they turn light brown – about 9 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for one minute, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool. If you prefer chewier cookies, bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.

Peanut Butter Balls

Residents of Ohio know peanut butter balls all too well – nicknaming the treat “Buckeyes.” The recipe for this confection calls for basic ingredients to create quite a tempting treat. After mixing the ingredients together, you basically roll the treats into small balls, chill, and then dip in melted chocolate. Many say that the sweet treat resembles a homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. With a chocolate coating and creamy peanut butter filling, the texture of the candy slightly resembles fudge.

An example of ingredients used to make peanut butter balls includes 2 cups creamy peanut butter, ¼ cup unsalted butter (at room temperature), ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and 2 to 2 ½ cups of confectioner’s sugar. The chocolate coating is usually made out of melted semisweet chocolate and shortening.

Lemon Swirl Cream Cheese Pie Recipe

It’s time to feature another winning recipe from the APC/Crisco National Pie Championship! This “Lemon Swirl Cream Cheese Pie recipe won the 2010 Best of Show Amateur Winner. Big THANK YOU to the American Pie Council for sharing the recipe! And remember: National Pie Day is January 23!

Lemon Swirl Cream Cheese Pie
Kate Stewart Rovner, Plano, TX

Lemon Curd
• 1 t finely grated lemon zest
• ½ c fresh lemon juice
• ½ c sugar
• 3 eggs, lightly beaten
• ¼ c butter, cut into small cubes

Vanilla Wafer Crumb Crust
• 1½ c vanilla wafer crumbs
• ¾ c almonds, finely ground and toasted
• 2 t lemon zest
• pinch of salt
• 7 T melted butter

lemon swirl cream cheese pie recipe
lemon swirl cream cheese pie recipe. photo courtesy of APC

Lemon Cream Cheese Filling
• 2 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
• 2/3 c sugar
• 2 eggs
• ½ c sour cream
• ½ t vanilla
• ½ t lemon extract
• Reserved Lemon Curd

Garnish
• ½ c heavy whipping cream
• 2 T powdered sugar
• ½ t vanilla
• About 12-15 fresh raspberries
• 1 lemon, cut into thin slices and quartered

Directions:

Prepare Lemon Curd: In a 1½-qt saucepan, whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar. Whisk in eggs and butter. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking frequently for 7 minutes or until curd is thick. Remove from heat and use a food mill or sieve to strain curd into a small bowl. Remove ½ cup of Lemon Curd, reserving remaining Lemon Curd. Press plastic wrap directly onto surfaces. Cool 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with Crisco No-Stick spray.

Prepare Vanilla Wafer Crumb Crust: In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to toss together vanilla wafer crumbs, almonds, lemon zest, and salt. Stir in melted butter. Press mixture onto bottom and sides of prepared pie plate.

Bake for 12 minutes on bottom oven rack. Remove from oven and set aside.

Prepare Cream Cheese Filling: In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar at medium speed for 2 minutes or until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat at low speed until incorporated. Beat in sour cream, vanilla, and lemon extract. Beat in reserved Lemon Curd. Pour into baked crust. Dollop remaining ½ cup Lemon Curd onto Filling and swirl into Filling with a small knife.

Bake for 30 minutes or until center is nearly set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Cool for 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Prepare Garnish: In a chilled, medium mixing bowl, beat whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla with a hand-held electric mixer, starting at lowest speed and increasing gradually each minute, until stiff peaks are formed. Using a #32 tip, pipe whipped cream decoratively around border of pie. Decorate with fresh raspberries and lemon slices. Refrigerate until serving time.

Chocolate Raisin Walnut Pie Recipe

National Pie Day is coming on January 23rd. Are you ready? In the following days we’ll be featuring a few award-winning pie recipes courtesy of the American Pie Council®.

Chocolate Raisin Walnut Pie
Best of Show Professional Division, 2010
1st Place Raisin
Andrea Spring, Bradenton, FL

photo courtesy of the American Pie Council
CRUST
1-1/2 cups Crisco shortening
1 tsp white vinegar
2 T milk
½ cup hot water
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 T cornstarch

Combine shortening, vinegar and milk.  Pour in hot water.  Mix well.  In separate bowl, mix together flour, salt and cornstarch.  Combine flour mixture with shortening mixture until dough forms.  Separate into four equal balls.  Wrap in film wrap and refrigerate 1 portion and freeze remainder for future use.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling out.

FILLING
3 eggs
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup dark corn syrup
¾ cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup dark raisins
¾ cup chopped walnuts

Mix eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, cinnamon, butter and corn syrup until well blended.  Add chocolate chips and walnuts, mix well.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 °F.  Roll out one portion of pie dough.  Place in 10” pie pan.  Sprinkle raisins over bottom of pie shell.  Carefully pour filling over raisins.  Bake for 10 minutes at 400°F.  Lower temperature to 350°F for 30 minutes or until center of pie is just set.