Have you ever imagined what life would be like if you took every and any ingredient and made it into a pie? Can you even conceive of that many different kinds of pies?
This past Saturday, I had the fantastic opportunity to take part in Pie Party Live, a NYC food blogger event organized by the fabulous Jackie and Ken. The potluck o' pie was held at Rodeo Bar, whose fine establishment graciously provided us with space and smiling service for the whole three hours of pie gluttony. Thank you, Rodeo Bar!
The only requirement for admission to the event? Bring a pie!
Okay so, free admission. I had never baked a pie before this weekend.
I know, I know. What kind of baker/foodie/sweets lover am I? But I'll be honest with you--pie crusts scare the living daylights out of me. The cutting in cold butter, the rolling, the fiddling, the tearing...it makes me twitch just thinking about it. So what's a girl to do? While your answer is probably "Face your fear!" mine was "...I'll make a graham cracker crust. I like those better anyway. Win!"
Building off my graham cracker crust, I decided to make a S'mores Explosion Pie for the big day. It was basically a deconstructed s'more--sweet, crunchy graham crust, chocolate cream filling, and marshmallow fluff topping (with mini Hershey's kisses for good measure). And while my pie may not have looked as swanky as some of the pies you'll be able to feast (ha!) your eyes on momentarily, the taste was sure spot-on!
S'mores Explosion Pie
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 8 sheets, crushed)
1/3 cup sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Crush graham cracker sheets into fine crumbs. If you don't have a food processor (like me), stick the graham crackers in a Ziploc bag and take out your week's worth of work-related frustrations on them. You can also roll a drinking glass over the pieces to get the crumbs down to a finer consistency.
3. Whisk together graham cracker crumbs and sugar until fully blended.
4. Pour melted butter and vanilla extract over the crumb mixture and mix until all crumbs are coated and begin to stick together.
5. Press crust mixture into a 9" pie plate (I used a disposable aluminum one).
6. Bake crust for 8-10 minutes, or until crust begins to lightly brown.
7. Remove from oven and let cool completely before adding filling. (I actually baked my crust the day before I made the chocolate filling.)
For the chocolate filling:
From Baking Bites
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract (I wound up using about 1 1/2 tsp after tasting the pudding and adding a little more)
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
marshmallow fluff, mini Hershey's kisses, graham cracker crumbs, etc. for topping
1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally just to dissolve the sugar. Milk will be ready just as it begins to steam.
2. While the milk heats, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. (**Note: You'll want to use another saucepan or similar large, heat-proof container for this step, since you're adding the milk to the eggs. The container has to be big enough to hold both mixtures at the same time.) Slowly drizzle the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
3. Return the mix to the original saucepan and, while stirring, cook over medium heat until the pudding starts to become very thick (2-4 minutes--mine only took 2). Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute, then remove from heat.
4. Whisk in butter, vanilla, and bittersweet chocolate until everything comes together and looks uniform. Pour into prepared pie crust.
5. Cover filled pie with a sheet of saran wrap to prevent a “skin” from forming on the surface of the pie. Allow pie to sit and come to room temperature for 1-2 hours, then refrigerate until well-chilled, about 4-6 hours (I did mine overnight).
When the pie was cooled to room temperature, I pressed the Hershey's kisses into the chocolate filling and dolloped the fluff around the edges. I also sprinkled some crushed graham crackers over the top for good measure. :)
(I do think that if I could have a pie do-over, I might make the fluff into a marshmallow buttercream using butter and powdered sugar. The fluff melted into the chocolate layer, which I wasn't expecting, so it wasn't really the decorative border I was counting on it being. But hey, live and learn! It was still gooey and yummy.)
As I told a bunch of the bloggers I met at Pie Party Live, I think the word I'd use to describe my pie is "whimsical." If I were a five-year-old and you told me I could have a s'mores pie for dessert, I'd want it to look like something I could stick my face into. Maybe that's just me. :) But I think s'mores are a fun dessert, and I wanted them to be a fun pie, too!
And now, the real reason you're reading this post...a photo recap! Disclaimer: the lighting in the area of the bar where we were noshing was pretty awful, so pardon the mediocre quality on a lot of these photos (my poor lil point-and-shoot).
Two of the wonderful bloggers I met were Lisa of Jersey Girl Cooks and Kate of Food Babbles. How cute are Lisa's itty bitty Concord grape pies? Kate and I had commiserated the night before Pie Party Live about our lopsides pie crusts, but I still think her apple & pear pie with a gruyere crust looks incredible--check out the cookie cutter lattice on top!
Sweets by Sillianah again for the first time since the Share Our Strength bake sale back in May. (I feel like I've grown so much as a blogger since then!) Her pies were diverse and incredible--a peach and blueberry galette, an apple cinnamon galette, and Chilean beef empanadas (I could have eaten a whole plate of those babies).
I think my favorite sweet pie of the day was the salted caramel pie that Serena from Big Apple Nosh brought. Sweet caramel filling on a crunchy, cookie-y graham crust, topped with fresh whipped cream?! I may or may not have gone back for thirds on this one (true story).
And even though I'm usually not a savory pie girl, Justin from Just Cook NYC brought a bacon corn pie with a cornmeal crust that was out-of-this-world delicious.
And let's not forget about my blogger fangirl moments. In one day, I got to meet Pam from Three Many Cooks (I totally went up to her and gushed about her daughter Maggy helped me have the confidence to start blogging for real), Brownie (and Lil B!) from Blondie and Brownie, Abby Dodge, and Gail from One Tough Cookie. It was hard not to gawk like the starstruck foodie I was. I was in a room with multiple people who have written actual cookbooks! Seriously, ridiculous.
A special hello to the other friendly bloggers I met on Saturday: Georgie and her husband Jeff from GeorgieCakes, Monique from The Eatinist Bitch (LOVE her blog name and fantastic attitude), Jennifer and her friend Dana, Alissa the Glamorous Snacker, and Kelsey of World Food Travel. You're all wonderful! I hope there are many other meet-ups in our future.
Ivy Bakery to pick out my free pie. Just...maybe not for a few days just yet. :)
For a full list of the pies in attendance, check out Jackie's pie post here. I'm sure there'll be lots of other recap posts as well!