Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

The Easiest Way to Make Pie

posted in Sweets by Kathy Maister

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No-Bake Chocolate Cheese Cake Pie

All beginner cooks are terrified of making a pie. If you have zero experience at pie making, a frozen or “no-bake” pie recipe (using a pre-made crust) is a good place to start. (The ten no-bake pies listed below are all perfect recipes for a beginner cook!)

Buying or Making The Crust

Many ice cream pies or no-bake pies call for a graham cracker crust. You can buy a graham cracker pie shell in the baking section of the grocery store or try making a graham cracker crust yourself. (These cracker crusts can also be made with many other sweet cracker/cookies like oreo cookies, ginger snaps, vanilla wafers, etc.)

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Or you can buy a ready-made pie shell, usually found in the freezer section of the grocery store.

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When making an un-cooked pie (like an ice cream pie), these pie shells will have to get baked and cooled before filling them.

For those of you ready to tackle the pie dough making challenge, our friend Heidi at the Ward Street Bistro has a wonderful pie crust recipe that does not require “rolling out” the dough.

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This “Press in the Pan” pie dough recipe looks great for anyone intimated by a rolling pin!

Easy Pie Recipes:

Ice Cream Pie
You can concoct a very simple pie without a recipe. Buy a ready-made pie crust (or make a graham cracker one) and a tub of ice cream or frozen yogurt. Set the ice cream out to soften. Once you can scoop it easily, fill the pie crust, smooth the top and add any toppings you want (nuts, whipped cream, chocolate sauce). Then put it back into the freezer until serving time.

Pudding Pies
Similarly, you can make a custom pie with pudding and fruit. Just buy a box of pudding mix – chocolate, vanilla, or another flavor – follow the directions, and pour it into a ready-made pie crust. Top it with sliced bananas, strawberries, or whatever you like. Refrigerate the pie until you are ready to serve it.

Frozen Lemonade Pie
The folks over at Baked Perfection tried this recipe (from the Food Network show Down Home With the Neely’s) for a Fourth of July party and fell in love with it. Set in a graham cracker crust, its sweet, lemony filling calls for frozen lemonade concentrate, whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk. An easy alternative to a baked lemon meringue pie!

Nutter Butter Frozen Pie
Hello, peanut butter fans? It’s your dream pie calling. This one has a crust made of crushed Nutter Butter cookies (but feel free to substitute a pre-made one) and a frosty peanut butter and cream cheese filling.

Frozen Oreo Pie
The name says it all!

Frozen Blueberry Pie
This pie is not frozen in the sense that it sits in the freezer; it’s a baked blueberry pie that calls for frozen blueberries and a frozen pie crust. I’m including it because summer is the time for blueberries (even frozen) and this is a very easy version of your typical fruit pie that calls for crust made from scratch.

Chocolate Fudge Pie
One bite of this decadent pie and you’ll never look at silken tofu the same way again. It’s one of the keys to this pie’s creamy fudginess.

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No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Banana Tofu Pie
Here’s another recipe that involves tofu. This pie uses either a homemade or store-bought graham cracker crust to hold an intense filling. It takes about 15 minutes to make, then goes in the fridge or freezer for a couple of hours.

No-Bake Mango Pie
Anything mango is great in the summer. This one contains mango puree which you can buy in a can or make your own.

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How to Peel a Mango

No-Bake Key Lime Pie
A can of frozen limeade concentrate is what gives this simple pie its lime flavor.

Easy Coconut Banana Cream Pie takes just 20 minutes to make! This pie will need 4 hours in the refrigerator to set. It’s worth the wait!

My No-Bake Chocolate Cheese Cake Pie (shown above) is a rich chocolaty cheese cake pie that will quickly become a family favorite. It does involves whipping your own heavy cream. (For a quick review on whipping cream, check out my post on How to Make Whipped Cream)

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8 Comments

Shaula said:

Some of the best pie crust I’ve ever eaten was in Japan. For a work project (long story), my two (male) colleagues and I baked 36 pumpkin pies from scratch over 5 days (after work, in 4 gas ovens, in a community center).

The men volunteered to do the pie crust: they were as meticulous with the measurements and the instructions not to overwork the dough as if they were working with high explosives. And the crust was remarkable!

I suppose the moral to the story there is that if I actually paid attention to the recipes I’m allegedly following, my food would turn out better, too!

I find that most of the pre-made pie crusts in the stores have ingredients that I don’t want or are too high in sugar. I keep meaning to experiment with phylo pastry…I’m sure there’s got to be a good way to rig it up into easy, sugar-free pastry crust, too.

I think your suggestions for freezer and refrigerator pies are thoughtful and timely. Who wants to turn on the oven in summer weather? But it is still nice to be able to offer guests a refreshing dessert.

Kathy Maister said:

How I would love to have tried those Pumpkin Pies! My Pumpkin Pie recipe would be so much better done in a home made pie crust, BUT I must say that making pie crust from scratch is one of the most intimidating cooking task a beginner could do. It does take skill and cooking know-how to get it right. It is all about the “feel” of the dough. An experienced baker will even know how to make adjustments for baking on a humid day.

Making your own Graham Cracker Crust is a good beginning, and the success rate is very high. You can substitute the sugar with honey or maple syrup.
Working with phyllo dough can also be a bit tricky. Here is a video on How to Work With Phyllo (fillo?) dough that is a good primer.
Frozen puff pastry is another pre-made option…but that’s another story…

Happy Driving Shaula!

(To follow Shaula and Neil’s adventure, head on over to Your Mileage May Vary and see what they are up to!)

Shaula said:

Kathy, I know what you mean: my mother instilled a life-long terror of making pie crust in me.

But you /wouldn’t/ have liked to try my pumpkin pies,I promise you. We couldn’t buy pre-cooked cans of pumpkin in Japan,so we had to cook down kabocha, the native Japanese pumpkins, to make the filling completely from scratch. Kabocha has an edible peel, which we left on…but the combination of the orange flesh with the dark green peel turned our filling completely brown. All of the Japanese people at the event called it “gravy pie” and they were afraid to try it! I wound up giving whole pies away as door prizes (to other foreigners) at the end of the night because we were still up to our ears in pies!

I LOVE your graham cracker crust recipe–and especially the tip to roll a can over a zip lock bag of the cookies. (I really love that I *always* learn new things here!)

(And thank you for the driving wishes. You are too sweet!)

Nancy said:

for all you pie lovers, please visit the American Pie Council website at http://www.piecouncil.org and join up!

the 2009 National Pie Championships will be held next April in Orlando, Florida.

Watch us on Food Network next month!

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks Nancy! It sounds like it is going to be a lot of fun!

Pat said:

Hi, thanks for the info. I really think it is very good.

DFD said:

Kabocha has an edible peel which we left on…but the combination of the orange flesh with the dark green peel turned our filling completely brown.

Dfg said:

These cracker crusts can also be made with many other sweet cracker/cookies like oreo cookies, ginger snaps, and vanilla wafers.