What Happens When You Melt 15 Candy Bars in a Pie Crust

Have you ever wondered what happens when you fill a pie crust with 15 candy bars* and then bake it?

* = if we're talking about Fun-Size candy bars, which I personally so often am around this time of year, you want to make that 30-36 or so. 

Well, if you have ever found yourself plagued by this candy bar quandary, you're not alone. I too have been baffled-- but lucky for you, I recently rolled up my sleeves and proactively worked to find out. 

Not only was I seeking a piece of tasty pie--but peace of mind.

First, I made up a pie crust. I used the recipe and method I mastered via King Arthur Flour. 

Next, this is where I must make a confession. I didn't specifically have the number fifteen in mind with my candy bars. Basically, I just kept unwrapping the bars I had received in the mail from Legit Organics, cutting in half, and adding candy bars til the pie crust was full.

It was full at around 12 candy bars. But it occurred to me (I'm always thinking, see) that once the candy began to melt, it would reduce in volume. So to be safe, I added three more candy bars. I'm not going to keep you in suspense: it was the right decision.

I put the whole thing in a preheated 350 degree oven. At 30 minutes it looked mostly done, but at 35 it was perfectly toasty. 

When I took it out of the oven, it looked like this. What the picture doesn't convey is that it was making a snappy bubbling sound that lasted a good minute. It was beautiful. 

I can pretty much say this is the best use ever of 15 candy bars (more Fun-Size). The pie is one of those desserts that makes you say "oh, it's too much!" but then somehow you're reaching for your second slice. Don't say you don't know what I mean.

(note: This pic had a bit of ice cream on top but I wiped it off to get a clear shot of the pie (hence the small white mark on the front).

Here's how you do it.

15-Candy Bar-Pileup Pie 

  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • 15 regular sized candy bars, cut in half, or 30-36 Fun-Size candy bars, in harmonious flavors


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place your candy bars in the crust. Pile them high enough so that they slightly form a  crown over the edges.
  3. Just for safety, put the pie plate on top of a baking sheet. Place the whole thing in the oven.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the bars are melted and bubbly and the crust is browned to your liking.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before serving. This can take up to an hour. 


Sweet Tip: You can Bake Extra Pie Filling in Ramekins

Let me say first of all that this is a public service announcement, because as a bona fide crust lover, I would never-ever suggest that you avoid crust (or carbs in general).

But, I understand that there might be times to go crust-less. For instance:

  • You need to abide by a gluten-free diet.
  • You don't like crust (I don't understand you, but I can appreciate that you exist).
  • You made too much pie filling. It's not enough to fill a second crust, but enough that you don't just want to toss it. 

OK, so now I'll tell you the little factoid I discovered that you can keep in your back pocket for the next time you need it:

You can bake your pie filling in ramekins and it will turn out just fine.

I've done this several times in the past, with pumpkin, sweet potato, and Bob Andy pie. And each time, it's turned out just fine. It occurs to me that you could make a conscious effort to do this, too, mixing up a batch of filling and baking it all in separate ramekins for a sort of sweet souffle-like dessert.

Should you want to do this, all you need to do is the following:

  1. Grab a few oven-safe ramekins.
  2. Fill them with the pie filling of your choice. Mostly, but not quite, full.
  3. Put them on a baking sheet and into the oven, heated to the same temperature called for in the pie recipe.
  4. Bake, but for significantly less time than a pie would take. For instance, if a full pie takes 45 minutes to bake, check the ramekins at 10-15 minutes or so. Look for the same signals of doneness as you would in a pie: mostly set with a slight jiggle in the center, slight pulling away from the sides, et cetera.
  5. Remove and let cool in the ramekins. Serve right in them once cooled. I like mine slightly warmed with cookies or ice cream, but it's nice plain, too.

What do you do with extra pie filling?

Adorable and Delicious: Mini Pecan Pies Recipe

Mini pecan pies

Since I recently attended the Pillsbury Bake-Off, I have been thinking about creative ways to use Pillsbury products quite a bit.

So it should be no surprise that recently I found myself eying a package of crescent rolls, thinking "I wonder if I could pie-ify that". Well, turns out it was amazingly easy--I just rolled out the crescent rolls, cut them out into circles, which I pressed into cupcake liners to form baby pie crusts. Since I love healthy eating, I filled them with a protein-rich pecan mixture (with some sugar and other stuff added, of course).

They came out awesomely.

Basically, these mini treats are like a hybrid between a pecan tassie cookie and a pecan pie. Nice and buttery, and the crescent roll crust is sturdy enough to please crust lovers like me. Bigger than a cookie but smaller than a pie, they made lovely individual desserts that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate.

Pecans for pie

Mini Pecan Crescent Roll Pies

Makes 6 mini pies Active time: 20 minutes Total time: 1 hour

For the crust

1 tube Pillsbury Original Crescent rolls

For the filling 

  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed 
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 6-cup muffin tin.
  2. Open the tube of Crescent Rolls dough, and gather the dough into a ball. Using a knife or pastry scraper, divide into six equal parts.
  3. Using a rolling pin, roll each portion into an approximately 5-inch circle.  
  4. Press each circle into one of the greased cups, and press the sides to reach up about halfway up the sides of the cup. Don’t worry if they look small in there—the dough will rise and you’ll have a nice-sized treat at the end of the baking process. Once each of the cups have been filled, prepare your filling.
  5. To make the filling, mix together the brown sugar, salt, chopped pecans, egg, melted butter and vanilla extra with a spoon and then evenly divide it between the dough-lined cups. Try to make sure that the filling does not mound higher than the sides of the dough “cup”.
  6. Place the cupcake tin on top of a cookie sheet. Place the sheet in the oven, and bake for 14 minutes, or until the pies are golden on the sides and set in the middle. Note: The filling will bubble quite a bit during the baking process. The baking sheet below the cupcake tin is to catch any possible drips.
  7. Remove from the oven, and run a sharp knife along the perimeter of each cup to loosen any sticky bits. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Mini pecan pies

The Bake-Off is Coming: Chocolate and Coconut Pecan Custard Pie

Chocolate Coconut pecan custard pie

CakeSpy Note: OMG! The 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited early by sharing some of the finalists' recipes. Narrowed down from zillions of entries, I'll profile some of the 100 finalists--but of course, based on the subject matter of this site, I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below the post to see which ones have been posted so far. Enjoy! 

 This is one of my favorite entries yet. Why? Um, refer to the title of the recipe. It's got all things delicious! And it has only five ingredients. It practically bakes itself! THank you to Lauren Katz of Ashburn, Virginia, for dreaming it up.

Chocolate and Coconut Pecan Custard Pie  

Prep Time: 15 Min Total Time: 2 Hr 15 Min Makes: 8 servings


  • 1Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
  • 1 can Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Coconut Pecan Frosting
  • 1 can (14 oz) Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate as directed on box for One-Crust Filled Pie.
  2. In large bowl, beat frosting, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and 1/2 teaspoon salt with wire whisk until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into crust-lined plate. Sprinkle with coconut.
  3. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown, top is puffed and center is almost set. Cover crust with foil during last half of baking, if necessary, to prevent excessive browning. Cool at least 1 hour. Serve warm or cooled. Store covered in refrigerator.


SpyMom's Not So Secret Chocolate Cream Pie Recipe

Chocolate Cream Pie

Oh, that's something tasty. Can't you just tell?

This is the chocolate cream pie I grew up with. The one SpyMom always made. The one we all devoured in about ten minutes after it was served. 

I guess the recipe was never a secret, but the pie was so good that it became a mythical thing in all of our minds. And recently, when SpyMom made it after not having made it for quite a while, I got up the nerve to ask if she'd share her recipe.

She was more than happy to tell me what it was: the recipe on the chocolate pudding box! All this pie is, my friends, is a pre-baked pie crust filled with cook and serve chocolate pudding and topped with whipped cream.

There is a reason why this back-of-the-box recipe has endured. It's simple as can be, but beautiful in its own way. It is creamy and chocolate-y and simply divine. You can dress it up in any number of ways: use part almond, chocolate, or flavored milk for the pudding, add a flavoring extract to the whipped cream, or add some chocolate chip or nuts to the pudding mix.

Chocolate Cream Pie

Here's the recipe.  With this pie, I played around a bit: I used 1 part almond milk and two parts regular whole milke for the pudding, and added a dash of vanilla extract to the whipped cream. I also garnished with shortbread cookies and a few pecans, for color contrast and cuteness.

Chocolate Cream Pie

Of course, that having been said, it's tremendous simply made straight-up--you go ahead and choose your adventure! 

Chocolate Cream Pie

Simple as can Be Chocolate Cream Pie (printable version here!)


  • One pre-baked 9-inch pie shell
  • One box (5.1 ounces--the big size) cook and serve chocolate pudding
  • 3 cups whole milk (can be part almond milk, etc)
  • 2 cups freshly whipped cream


  1. Have your cooled pie shell at the ready, but to the side.
  2. Prepare the chocolate pudding according to the box instructions, bringing the milk to a boil and stirring frequently until thickened.
  3. Pour the pudding into the pie shell. Got a little extra pudding? Guess you'll have to eat it from the bowl, with a spoon. Life is hard sometimes.
  4. Let the pie set (sans whipped cream) in the fridge for several hours, 2 to 3 at least. Top with whipped cream and any garnish directly before serving. Enjoy!

Choco-Walnut Pie With a Shortbread Crust

Choco-walnut pie

If you've ever heard of a pie called Derby Pie, you know that it's a thing of great beauty. It's got nuts, it's got chocolate, all tied together with plenty of butter and maybe even a little booze. 

Yeah, it's good stuff.

And it has a great story, if I do say so myself. That story is featured in my upcoming book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts. I tell you all this because I love any chance to talk about the new book...but also because it's a nice lead-in for this recipe.

Choco-walnut pie

This recipe is not for Derby Pie. But, it is sort of like a cousin to the famous pie. Because yes, it has nuts and chocolate. But this version is special. It's ridiculously rich in toasty walnuts and chocolate, but is very special because it's baked with a shortbread base as the crust. The exposed caramelly sides form a sort of chewy crust that is sort of like the texture of Mary Janes candies. Now, this is not going to be a texture to everyone's liking, because it will make your teeth stick together. But I have always rather enjoyed that part of those particular candies, and found it a lovely alternative to the back crust on a pie with corn syrup, which can get hard (you know what I mean?). 

Choco-walnut pie

Choco-Walnut Pie with a Shortbread Crust (printable version here!)

For the shortbread crust

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups flour

For the filling

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (water may be substituted)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

First, prepare the crust. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add flour and mix til fully incorporated. Press dough into a well greased 8-inch springform pan.

Choco-walnut pie

Sprinkle the walnuts and chocolate evenly onto the bottom of the crust; set aside.

Choco-walnut pie

In a large saucepan, combine the corn syrup, granulated and brown sugars, and bourbon and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Remove from the heat.

Choco-walnut pie

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt. Slowly pour about one fourth of the hot mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly (if you add the hot syrup too quickly, the eggs will cook). Add the remaining hot mixture, continuing to whisk. If you notice any small lumps in the mixture, strain through a mesh sieve.

Choco-walnut pie

Pour the filling slowly over the nuts and chips, being careful not to move them around within the crust. Choco walnut pie Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until set in the center; transfer to a wire rack to cool. Immediately run a sharp knife along the edge of the pan to help loosen the sticky pie; then let it sit for at least 45 minutes before un-springing it from the pan. Serve the pie at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. To store the pie, wrap it tightly and refrigerate for up to five days. 

Choco-walnut pie

Sweet Recipe: Mom McComb’s Mocha Hot Chocolate Pie

Chocolate Stripe Pie

CakeSpy Note: This is a sweet exclusive, a recipe from Linda Hundt, owner of Sweetie-licious' Pie Pantry in DeWitt, Michigan.  The recipe is for Mom McComb’s Mocha Hot Chocolate Pie and is an exclusive recipe that has not yet been published, but will be published in Linda's forthcoming cookbook, Sweetie-licious Pies (this coming fall).

While growing up in Michigan, there were plenty of snowy days and all the fun activities that went along with the winter weather, but ice skating was a family favorite.  At the end of our street, there was a darling park that was transformed into an ice rink in the winter. The rink was fashioned with a warming house, outdoor lights and music and was surrounded by large Sycamore trees.  Afterschool, my siblings and I would race home, put on our ice skates, and skate down the ice covered street to the rink. We would meet our friends there to play crack the whip, pretend to be Dorothy Hamill, and ice dance to the music all afternoon. 

On Saturdays, after a full day of skating, and numb from the cold, we would anxiously skate home.  At times, we were not only welcomed by the warmth of the house, but also the fragrant smell of chocolate; as my dear mother had made a big pot of steaming, creamy hot chocolate.  Her hot chocolate was extra special, made with cream, cinnamon and a splash of her leftover morning coffee.  The thick and rich cocoa was always topped by a large marshmallow and served in antique teacups and saucers!  I remember our little hands wrapped around our cups, tipping the marshmallow into the pond of chocolate bliss with our tongues. I remember feeling warm with love while sipping on such a special winter treat, as you will, with this most delicious, cool version created as a pie!

Eat pie, and serve love in all you do!

Mom McComb’s Mocha Hot Chocolate Pie

Recommended: Graham Cracker Crust


  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup half & half
  • 1 ¼ cups of sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon coffee extract OR 1 rounded tablespoon finely ground espresso powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of vanilla

Garnish – Optional

  • Whipped cream
  • Marshmallow cream
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate syrup


Mix milk, half & half, sugar, egg yolks in medium pan. Sift cornstarch, cocoa and espresso powder, if using, and add to pan. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Add vanilla extract and coffee extract, if using. Pour filling into pie crust, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Garnish with whipped cream, drizzled marshmallow cream or marshmallows and chocolate syrup.

The Mystery Pie Is...


There's nothing more exciting than discovering a new dessert.

So when I found myself leafing through the book Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible: The New Classic Guide to Delicious Dishes with More Than 300 Recipes, I was delighted to come across a recipe for a pie that I'd never seen before, and furthermore, it prominently featured an ingredient, that while very well-known, is not strongly associated with pie or dessert. 


Thanks, P-Deeny!

And as it turns out, I have a very special person in my life who is just crazy about this ingredient. He always orders it as a side, and his speeches about what makes the ideal version of this dish can get quite involved and somewhat dramatic. 

So I told him to make the pie.

So he went to the grocery store, picked up some ingredients, and made the recipe that had so enchanted me...


Southern Grits Pie.

Basically a custard pie held together with grits, I personally was curious to hear what a grits lover would say about it. The final thoughts were:

"The finished product was very interesting. In the piece I had for breakfast, I could really see the texture working as a bar cookie, perhaps with a shortbread crust. The texture calls to mind a thick coconut pie, but the taste is different. Adding flavoring would be welcome--as it is with grits as a side. I am curious about how this pie might work with maple syrup added to the filling instead of sugar, or how it might taste with a sauce such as caramel or chocolate, or any fruit topping. But it was strong enough to stand alone--the first piece begged me to have another. A good dessert for someone who doesn't want way-out sweet."


A few more baking notes:

  • I used Quaker Grits Quick 5 Minutes 
  • The idea of whisking for 20 minutes was daunting, but I decided I'd just do it til they were done--less than 10 minutes. But at that point, the mixture was fairly solid so I stopped it there. Once the butter was in, it was easier to work with. But the mixture definitely wasn't pretty. The flour clumped when mixed in; I tried to use a whisk, but it was too thick. I had to mix quite a bit. It might be a good idea to sift the flour before mixing it in. 
  • The baking was straightforward; I had to put foil around the edges to keep the crust for baking more rapidly than the filling. I baked mine for 38 minutes.

Southern Grits Pie (Printable recipe here)

Adapted from Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible: The New Classic Guide to Delicious Dishes with More Than 300 Recipes

Total time: 1 hour. Makes 8 servings.


  • 1/4 cup quick-cook grits (not instant)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup butermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • whipped cream, fruit, or whatever topping you'd like.


Preheat the oven to 325.


In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Slowly, whisk in the grits and salt. Cook for 20 minutes (see note, above), whisking constangly. Add the butter and cook for an extra minute. Set aside to let cool slightly.

Pie Pie

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir into the cooked grits. Pour the grits mixture into the unbaked pie crust and bake until set, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Post-Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie with Shortbread Cookie Crust

Pumpkin shortbread pie

It's considered good form to know when it's time to leave a party.

But what if you stayed and it ended up being mega-fun?

Sometimes erring on the side of caution is just no fun. I figure this is probably true when it comes to baked goods, too. Even though Thanksgiving was last week and in many people's minds, Pumpkin Pie Season has come to an end, I guess I'm just not ready to let the good times end. I still want to get high on pie.

...aaaand, I happened to have an extra can of pumpkin. So I decided to make a sort of cookie-pie hybrid with all of those Walkers shortbread cookies I still have on hand (they sent me samples and I've already made Million Dollar Shortbread Bars and Holiday Magic Bar Cookies).

So I followed a basic graham cracker crust recipe, but used crushed-up shortbread cookies instead. And then I filled it with my favorite (simple) pumpkin pie recipe, with a dash each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. I sprinkled the top with almonds and baked it up. When it came out of the oven, I thought what the hey--and sprinkled it with more shortbread bits.

Pumpkin shortbread pie

Now, I've got to say, even after Pumpkin Pie Prime Time, this pie definitely knew how to warm up a cold winter night. Impatient, I served it still slightly warm--the sweetened condensed milk helps it stay kind of solid even while slightly warm--and topped with some ice cream which promptly began a beautiful melting process. Good Thanksgiving Spirt of the Mighty was this thing good! This is a fantastic pie-to-cookie-season hybrid. Enjoy. 

Pumpkin shortbread pie

Pumpkin Pie with Shortbread Cookie Crust

For the crust

  • 2 boxes crushed Walkers Highlander shortbread (or similar)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

For the filling

  • 1 can unsweetened unspiced pumpkin puree
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • a mighty dash of cinnamon
  • nutmeg and cardamom to taste
  • A handful of almonds, and a few more crushed shortbread cookies, for topping


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press into the bottom and up the sides (as much as possible) of a 9-inch pie plate.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and spices until smooth and incorporated. Pour into the pie plate on top of the crust, taking care not to disturb the freshly pressed crust.
  4. Sprinkle the almonds on top. I added the shortbread cookies AFTER baking, but I don't think it would hurt to add them before baking.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until just jiggly in the center but set on the sides. 
  6. Let cool as much as you can before serving.

Lemon Meringue Pie in a Chocolate Cookie Crust


Here's the thing about Lemon Meringue Pie. It's beautiful. It's like a skyscraper of a pie. A pie-scraper? It's an architectural feat of a dessert, and it even has clouds on top. It looks very pretty in diner cases. 

But when it comes to eating it, I so often find it a disappointment. The lemon part is way too sweet, the meringue part just has a weird texture, and the crust is gluey. It's like eating a slice of homework, that's about how much joy it gives me.

Chocolate Cupcake and Lemon Meringue Pie

But while working on my upcoming book (to be released in spring of 2013, but in the meantime, please buy book #1, CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life), one of the recipes I worked on and researched was lemon meringue pie. It has a very long and interesting story, involving Quakers, Italians, watchmaker's wives, the Parker House Hotel, and diners. But you'll have to buy the book for that. Right now we're talking about the pie itself.

Lemon meringue pie in a chocolate cookie crust

In baking this pie multiple times, I had a chance to experiment a little bit with it, and had one version that I tried mostly as a lark, because I had no regular pie crust on hand and didn't feel like making it. I thought, I wonder what the pie would taste like made with a cookie crumb crust? And then, even further, I thought, why not try it with a chocolate cookie crumb crust? This thought was likely brought on because I had about a dozen whoopie pie cookie shells which were slowly and gently becoming stale on my counter.

Well, I figured at least it would be interesting. 

So I crumbled up the cookies, mixed them with butter, and baked the crust until crispy. Then I topped with the usual lemon custard and meringue topping and baked it up. I thought that visually, it was quite pretty.

Lemon meringue pie in a chocolate cookie crust

I was genuinely surprised by the end result. The chocolate crust gave the pie a certain depth--a dark contrast to the sweet, tart lemon. It was intriguing, and I enjoyed my slice thoroughly.

Don't get me wrong, if you are not a lemon meringue lover, this will probably not turn you around. But if you do like lemon meringue pie, this is a solid recipe, and the chocolate crust is something to try. 

Note: this picture was taken the morning after I baked it, and some of the condensation made little drips on top. Let it cool and dry completely before refrigerating!

Lemon Meringue Pie in a Chocolate Cookie Crust

For the crust:

  • 2 cups' worth of crumbled chocolate cookies or wafers (I used unfilled, crumbled whoopie pie cookies)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

For the pie filling

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • 1½ cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2-3 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
  • 3 cups Meringue Topping

Meringue Topping

  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Prepare the crust. In a large bowl, combine the crumbled cookies with the melted butter. Mix by hand until it's incorporated. Press into a well greased pie plate. 
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crispy. Let cool completely before filling.
  4. To make the filling, in a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork. In a 2-quart saucepan, mix the sugar and cornstarch; gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue stirring for 1 minute, until the mixture thickens.
  5. Immediately pour about half of the hot mixture into the egg yolks; when well combined, pour this mixture back into the saucepan. Boil and stir for 2 minutes; remove from heat. Add the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and food coloring. Stir until the butter is melted and everything is well combined. Pour the hot filling into the pie crust.
  6. In a very clean medium-size bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Beat in the vanilla.
  7. Spoon the meringue onto the filling. Spread it evenly over the filling, carefully sealing the meringue to the edges of the crust to prevent shrinking or weeping. Using a knife, form the top meringue into little peaks (think punk hairdo) or make swirls on the top for a pretty finish.
  8. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the meringue is light brown. Set the pie on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool in a draft-free place for about 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate the cooled pie until serving. Store any leftover pie in the refrigerator.

Blueberry Pie Recipe from SpyMom

SpyMom Made a Pie

Guess what? SpyMom (that would be MY mom) made a pie. A glorious pie. One so simple and sweet, delightful to eat. SpyMom dubbed it "perfectly imperfect" in its final look, but judging by the little heart-shaped dollop of blueberry juice on top (do you see it?), I'd simply call it "perfectly lovable".

SpyMom made a pie

Happily, she was willing to share the recipe, which she has adapted from a version (I'm not sure which) of the Boston Cooking-School Cookbook.

Oh, and as an aside about the final result: it's the type of pie that is perfect with ice cream, but it also makes for fantastic breakfast-eating, too.

Of course, as SpyMom cautions, this pie was made with fresh New Jersey blueberries, and that's really what makes the pie. Since it's so simple, use the best blueberries you can--you won't regret it! 

Blueberry Pie by SpyMom

Blueberry Pie

  • 1 double-crust pie dough, unbaked. 
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries, washed
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees f. 

Line the pie pan with half of the dough (for a bottom crust).

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the blueberries and lemon juice and toss well.

Pile the mixture into your prepared bottom crust, and dot the top with cut-up pieces of butter.

Roll out the top crust and drape it over the pie. Crimp or flute the edges to form a seal. Make several vents on top to let the steam out while baking.

Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30-40 more minutes, or until the top is browned.

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Carrot Cake Tart

CakeSpy Note: I am beyond ecstatic to announce that I have been invited as a media guest to the 45th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off in Orlando, Florida! The event will take place in late March; til then, I am going to feature several of the sweets finalists here in anticipation of the big day!

Laura Majchrzak of Hunt Valley, Maryland, is clearly a genius. Need I say much more than the blessed, wonderful, lovely words "Carrot Cake Tart"?

As Laura puts it, "Love carrot cake? Love pie? Bake them together in an ultimate dessert with cream cheese frosting and over-the-top caramel drizzle!"

Carrot Cake Tart

Serves 12

For the tart

  • 1Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
  • 1/4cup LAND O LAKES® Unsalted Butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 1cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3cup light corn syrup
  • 2LAND O LAKES® Eggs
  • 2/3cup Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
  • 1teaspoon McCormick® Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2cup raisins
  • 1/2cup Fisher® Chef’s Naturals® Chopped Pecans


  • 2 packages (3 oz each) cream cheese, softened  
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract


  • 12 whole Fisher® Praline Pecans
  • 1/2 cup Hershey’s® caramel syrup
  • 12 carrot curls, if desired*


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place large cookie sheet on middle oven rack. Unroll pie crust; place in ungreased 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press crust firmly against bottom and side of pan; trim edges.
  2. In large bowl, beat 1/4 cup melted butter, brown sugar and corn syrup with electric mixer on medium speed until blended; beat in eggs until blended. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; beat on low speed until blended. Stir in carrots, raisins and chopped pecans. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of crust-lined pan. Place tart on cookie sheet in oven.
  3. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until filling is set and deep golden brown. Cool completely on cooling rack, about 1 hour. Remove side of pan; place tart on serving plate.
  4. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and 2 tablespoons butter with electric mixer on high speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat on low speed until creamy. Frost cooled tart. Place praline pecans evenly around edge of tart. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  5. To serve, cut into 12 wedges. Drizzle each serving with 2 teaspoons caramel syrup; garnish each with carrot curl. Store covered in refrigerator.


Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Orange Cream-Chocolate Tarts

Image: Pillsbury Bake-OffCakeSpy Note: I am beyond ecstatic to announce that I have been invited as a media guest to the 45th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off in Orlando, Florida! The event will take place in late March; til then, I am going to feature several of the sweets finalists here in anticipation of the big day!

Riddle me this. When a creamsicle and a fudgesicle and a pie all come crashing together, what do you get? 

Probably something like these orange cream chocolate tarts, a sweet invention by Lenore Klass of Koloa, Hawaii, whose creation is a finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off this year.

As Lenore puts it, "Wow! Here's an individual dessert guaranteed to dazzle! Flaky pastry holds a hidden chocolate layer topped with a creamy orange filling."

To which I respond: "Wow! Get in my mouth, you beautiful thing." Here's the recipe. 

Orange Cream-Chocolate Tarts

Makes 6 tarts

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water  
  • 4 Egg Yolks, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/4 cups whipping cream
  • 1box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate baking chips


  1. In small bowl, soften gelatin in cold water. In 2-quart heavy saucepan, stir together egg yolks, sugar, 1 tablespoon of the orange peel, orange juice, lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. Cook over low heat, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly, or until slightly thickened; remove from heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter, gelatin and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla; stir until butter is melted. Fill large bowl with ice water; place saucepan in water. Cool egg mixture, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until thickened.
  2. In medium bowl, beat whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Reserve 1/2 cup of the whipped cream; refrigerate. Carefully fold orange mixture into remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate while preparing tart shells.
  3. Heat oven to 425°F. Cover outsides of 6 (6-oz) custard cups or ramekins with foil; spray with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray. Place cups upside down on 15x10-inch pan with sides. Unroll pie crusts; roll each into 12-inch round. Using 4 1/2-inch scalloped or round cookie cutter, cut 3 rounds from each crust. Place dough round over back of each custard cup, pressing dough to fit around cup. Prick dough several times with fork.
  4. Bake shells 10 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Carefully remove shells from cups; place open side up, on cooling rack.
  5. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and remaining 1 tablespoon butter on High 10 to 20 seconds, stirring every 10 seconds, until smooth. Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Brush thick coating of chocolate mixture over bottom and up side of inside of each shell. Let stand 5 minutes or until set.
  6. Evenly divide orange filling among shells. Top tarts with reserved whipped cream and remaining 1 tablespoon orange peel. Refrigerate 1 hour (filling will be soft). Store covered in refrigerator.

Scouting Sweetness: Neapolitan Cream Pie in a Samoas Cookie Crust

Baby got back

Recently, I was handed a secret spy mission by a super-sweet establishment.

Oh, you've probably heard of them...or at least their cookies.

Yup: I'm talking about the Girl Scouts. Of Western Washington, to be specific. When these sweet Scouts announced their recipe contest, in advance of their cookie sale to the public (March 2-18, and you can find them via cookie locator, as well as an app, which will be updated closer to the date of the sale), I knew I had to be part of it.


But before anything else...I received a super secret spy package (spoiler: it included cookies). Cue the "Mission: Impossible" music, and off to baking.

Would I make a grasshopper pie, using a Thin Mint crust? Would I make Samoas cupcakes? Would I make 'em into milkshakes and call it a day?

No, no, no.

First, I tried a lemonade cake festooned with the lemony crescent meltaway cookies known as Savannah Smiles...and while it was tasty, it was a little garish, and not quite special enough.

Girl Scout Cookies

And then, it hit. Perhaps inspired by recent CakeSpy contest winner Molly, mixed with a little bit of these candies that I adore, I decided to go for a Neapolitan Triple-threat. 

Neapolitan Samoas Pie

And O.M.G. was this thing good. Employing a Samoas cookie crust, which became crisp and caramelly and so rich it almost (but not quite) hurt, it got even better with three flavors of milky, creamy pudding on top--and then got even more delicious (and cuter, in my opinion) with a garnish of whipped cream and even more cookies on top.

If you're scouting sweetness, you've certainly found it with this recipe!

Samoas Pie

Neapolitan Cream Pie in a Samoas Cookie Crust

For the Crust:

  • 2 boxes of Samoas cookies--save 4-6 cookies, but with the rest, ground coarsely by hand or in a food processor
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 1 large package instant vanilla pudding (5.1 ounce size)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chocolate milk
  • 1/2 cup strawberry milk

To Finish: Whipped cream, and lots of it.


  1. Make the crust. Directions Mix the cookie crumbs and melted butter until well blended . Press mixture into a 9 inch greased pie plate (you need more butter or shortening to grease it because the caramel from the cookies will make them stick to the pan!). Also, you might want to flour or wet your hands first, because this business gets sticky. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 5-7 minutes. Cool for at least an hour, or until the shell is at room temperature. You can put it in the fridge to chill more rapidly, too.
  2. Divide the pudding mix into three equal portions. Place each portion in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. First, mix 1/2 cup of strawberry milk with one portion of pudding mix, whisking until smooth; pour on top of  baked pie shell.
  4. Next, mix 1/2 cup of regular whole milk with a second portion of pudding mix, whisking until smooth; pour on top of the chocolate pudding layer, and gently spread to cover the layer entirely.
  5. Finally, mix 1/2 cup of chocolate milk with the final portion of pudding mix, whisking until smooth; pour on top of the milk layer, and gently spread to cover the layer entirely.
  6. Finally, top it all off with a very generous helping of whipped cream right before serving. Garnish with your left-over Samoas!

Connect with the Girl Scouts of Western Washington online: http://www.facebook.com/GirlScoutsWW and https://twitter.com/#!/GirlScoutsWW; the Twitter hash tag is: #GSCookieRecipe.

Batter Chatter: Interview with Christy Beaver, Co-Author of Mini Pies

Mini Empire Bakery pies

Curious about the life of a pie-maker and cookbook writer? Here's an interview with Christy Beaver, co-author of Mini Pies: Adorable and Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite Treats (you can find a recipe from the book here!):

So. Your book is out. How does it feel? It's surreal. I can't imagine how new parents feel, because I was totally overwhlemed with joy holding a cookbook.

What was the hardest part about developing recipes for a book? once you get past the standard flavors, developing creative flavors that push the boundries (just enough but not too much) was a fun challenge.

I have a friend (really, I do) who doesn't like Pumpkin Pie. I know, I know. What other pies might you suggest for Thanksgiving? I agree with Morgan (read her interview here). And the savory sweet potato might work for them.

What is your personal favorite recipe in the book? Aunt Jimma's chocolate pie. Its SO freakin' good and totally worth the effort. My second favorite is Verry Berry.

If your partner, Morgan, is expanding Mini Empire to the east coast, and you have a book now, does that mean it's a Maxi-Empire now? It will always be mini and adorbale. That way no one will see it coming when we take over the world.

Any advice for people who want to pitch / write a cookbook, now that you've had the experience? It's a lot of work, and totally worth it. You have to find a balance between being emotionally invested in your project and not bursting into tears once the editor gets ahold of it and changes everything.

What's next? More cookbooks, hopefully. :) We want to write one for mini cupcakes and one for scookies.

Batter Chatter: Interview with Morgan Greeseth, Co-Author of Mini Pies

Mini Empire Bakery pies

Curious about the life of a pie-maker and cookbook writer? Here's an interview with Morgan Greenseth, co-author of Mini Pies: Adorable and Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite Treats (you can find a recipe from the book here!):

So. Your book is out. How does it feel? It feels amazing and surreal to finally hold the book in my own hands.

What was the hardest part about developing recipes for a book? Not gaining 10 lbs from testing all the pies! Luckily we had many volunteers to sample our batches and give feedback.

I have a friend (really, I do) who doesn't like Pumpkin Pie. I know, I know. What other pies might you suggest for Thanksgiving? Bourbon pecan works wonders, and many have stated that they haven't liked Bourbon Pecan until they tried ours. Sweet potato is a good alternate as well. Otherwise, chocolate pie because chocolate is delicious at any occasion.

What is your personal favorite recipe in the book? Very berry, hands down. The first time I tried it, I exclaimed "Holy crap this is good!" Well, more like "hum mum mmm mm uh mmd " because my mouth was full, but I had to let it out.

How did Susanne become such an expert on lemon meringue? I'm intrigued by the recipe intro. Susanne is my mother, and as they say, mothers know best. I grew up with this pie and it was the only pie I liked for years.

If Morgan is expanding Mini Empire to the east coast, and you have a book now, does that mean it's a Maxi-Empire? Although our empire has reached a vast audience, our operation is still as bite-sized as our treats ;)

Any advice for people who want to pitch / write a cookbook, now that you've had the experience? We were fortunate enough to have been asked to write the cookbook, so we don't have experience with pitching. But for those who want to write, I'd say three tips: 1. Make sure you have friends who'll test your treats. 2. Failed recipes are good things. They're help you create an even better recipe. 3. Mothers and grandmothers give some of the best baking advice.

What's next? We have a few secret things in the works and possibly a mini pie kit. 

Buy the book: Mini Pies: Adorable and Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite Treats.

Hop to It: Grasshopper Pie in a Brownie Crust Recipe for Serious Eats

Comprised of a boozy, creamy mint filling in a chocolate cookie pie crust, Grasshopper Pie is a deliciously refreshing summertime dessert.

But when you swap out the chocolate cookie crust for a crumbled brownie crust, you've got something even more amazing. When you pour the hot filling onto the rich brownie crust, they meld together beautifully when chilled. If you serve it with a big scoop of ice cream on top (not excessive at all) it verges into brownie sundae territory, in the best way possible.

For the full writeup and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Sweet Summer: Apple and Bing Cherry Galette Recipe from Macrina Bakery

Image: Macrina BakeryHappy July, indeed: it's time for Macrina's recipe of the month! This time, it's for something that sounds delectable even to those (like me) who are wary of fruit-based desserts: Apple and Bing Cherry Galette. Sweet with a bit of sour? Sounds pretty summery, and perfect to be paired with ice cream. Here's the recipe introduction:

I have fond memories of the first time we made this dessert. My friend Kay Simon, wine maker and co-owner of Washington's Chinook Winery, had stopped by the café with some bottles of Merlot that we'd ordered. She also brought along a surprise gift - five pounds of sweet, sun-ripened cherries from her neighbor's farm in Prosser, Washington. We popped a few into our mouths and started daydreaming of all the wonderful pastries we could make with the fruit. The end result was one of my favorite desserts.

Apple and Bing Cherry Galette Recipe

Serves 8 to 10

  • 6 Granny Smith apples 
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups fresh Bing cherries, stemmed and pitted
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 recipe Flaky Pie Dough, chilled (recipe follows)
  • Egg wash made with 1 egg and
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 tablespoons coarse raw sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel and core apples and cut into 1/2-inch slices (approximately 12 slices per apple).

Place apple slices and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add sugar, flour and cinnamon and toss until slices are evenly coated. Spread apples into a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and dot with pieces of butter. Roast on center rack of oven for 15 minutes to release some of the juices and intensify the flavors. Set aside to cool.

Increase oven temperature to 385°F. In a large bowl, combine cooled apples, cherries and vanilla extract. Mix gently with a wooden spoon and set aside.

Coat your hands with flour and shape the chilled piece of dough into a ball. Working on a floured surface, flatten the ball slightly and roll it into a 14-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Gently transfer rolled dough onto a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet.

Pile fruit onto center of the dough, leaving excess liquid in the bowl, and spread to cover about 8 inches, leaving a 3-inch border of dough around the filling. Lift border on top of the filling, tucking and folding the dough to create a gathered or pleated finish. Lift each of the folds up and brush underneath with egg wash to seal the crust. Brush all exposed dough with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse raw sugar.

Chill in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Place tart on center rack of oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and bake for 40 minutes more or until crust is golden brown. If the apples start to burn before the crust is ready, cover them with a small piece of aluminum foil. Let cool on the baking sheet for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Flakey Pie Dough
Makes enough dough for 2 double-crusted (9-inch) pies, or 2 (10-inch) rustic galettes or tarts.


  • 5 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4 - inch pieces
  • 1 3/4 cups solid vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 1 cup ice water


Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and toss together.  Add butter and cut it into the flour until the texture is coarse and crumbly.  You can use a pastry cutter or your fingers, but I like to use 2 forks.  Break up the shortening and add it in small pieces.  Cut in the shortening until the dough is crumbly again.  Add ice water and mix just until the water is incorporated and the dough sticks together when pinched.  This dough will be quite sticky, so dust your hands with flour before handling it.  Pull dough from bowl onto a lightly floured work surface (chilled marble is ideal) and pat it into a block.  Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using.  Since this recipe makes enough dough for 2 pies or tarts, I recommend cutting it in half before chilling.

Flakey Pie Dough will last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator and for up to 1 month in the freezer.  If you freeze half or all of the dough, it’s a good idea to double wrap it.  Frozen dough needs to be fully defrosted before it’s used, and my preferred method is to transfer the dough to the refrigerator 1 day before I plan on baking with it.  The dough can also be defrosted at room temperature, but it needs to be re-chilled in the refrigerator for 1 hour prior to using.

Peeping Yum: Leftover Peeps S'more Pie Recipe for Serious Eats

Easter is over, which means that all of the Easter candy is available at extreme discount (so glad!). And here's a perfect way to use those surplus sugarcoated marshmallow creatures: Peeps S'more Ice Cream Pie.

Made by filling a buttery graham cracker crust with rocky road ice cream, this frozen delight gets a sweet finish with broiled Peeps nesting on top, making for a treat that is as much eye candy as it is sweet to eat.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

CakeSpy Undercover: Cake Gumshoe Lanis Visits Sugarpie Bakery in Calgary

CakeSpy Note: The sweetest kind of correspondence? A letter that comes with love...and a good bakery tip. And here's a good one I recently received from Cake Gumshoe Lanis in Calgary, Alberta, Canada:

Dear CakeSpy,

I am writing you from Calgary, Alberta Canada. No lie, it has snowed 15 cm here today, on April 2nd. Being the good Canadian that I am, I trekked out to our Kingsland Farmers Market and what I found was awesome and I knew I had to share it with someone.

Here is the rundown: I leisurely walked into the market and came across Sugarpie Bakery. At first, I thought they were selling cake and cookie pops. I immediately asked the lady at the counter and she said, “Oh no, these are actual little pies, we call them pie pops.”

They were adorable and the April special was Key Lime Pie. I happily scooped one up and then bought my fruits and veggies and headed home. After supper it was the moment of truth, and I sunk my teeth into a delicate pie crust that was actually very sturdy. It was light and held the mini pie like a precious gift. There was a tart, delicious lime middle. I was impressed, and it was the perfect snack. The use of natural ingredients made all the difference. I shared with my sister, and she commented on the flaky goodness. I can't wait to go back and try their other flavours.

Sending love from the Great White North, Cake Gumshoe Lanis

Want more? Discover more sweetness at sugarpiebakery.ca.