Once upon a time–in the year 2000, actually–my father-in-law pointed out that you’re really just too full on Thanksgiving to enjoy the pie. He therefore decreed that the night before Thanksgiving would be pie night; we would all bring pie and enjoy it fully, our palates not yet dulled by mounds of turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy. Pie Night has been a night-before-Thanksgiving tradition at my in-laws’ ever since.
Fast forward fourteen years? Not only is Pie Night a firm tradition in its own right, it’s also developed into a chance for cousins to have sleepovers with each other. This year both of my girlies slept at my sister-in-law’s house with the cousin who falls almost exactly between them in age, while my hubby and I slept at my in-law’s with the boy and marvelled at how strange it seemed to go back to only having one child for the night. (My in-laws live 45 minutes away, by the way, and Thanksgiving dinner is usually between 1:30 and 2; who wants to drive home and back in such a brief amount of time, thereby missing out on my mother-in-law’s biscuits-and-bacon-gravy with orange juice on Thanksgiving morning?) We were down a family this year–one of my Utah sisters-in-law was in California with her husband and kiddos for the holiday–but we still managed an even dozen pies. (I believe the record is 15.) We generally bring 3–one each for my hubby and me, since we rarely agree on desserts, and a third to be either the kids’ choice or mine, depending on the year. Here, with no further ado, are this year’s efforts:
Raspberry Patch Cream Pie: This one was a hit, even though the anti-raspberry contingent (of which my hubby is one) and the anti-cream cheese contingent (sadly, my oldest, among others) didn’t try it. I LOVED it. I’ve actually been eyeing it for years, but raspberries generally aren’t a fabulous choice in November. This year, however, I’d already succumbed to the lovely-looking flat of them at Costco, and when I was looking through pie recipes, I was totally psyched to realize this one was an option. I only had a few berries left over–it was perfect! I loved the homemade graham cracker crust (which is unusual for me), I loved the cream cheese layer, and I loved the raspberry flavor. It was actually the first pie gone on Thursday. (No pies are ever finished on Wednesday night. Ever.)
Chocolate Cheesecake: Okay, so pies and cheesecakes aren’t quite the same thing, but it seems to be generally accepted that both work for Pie Night. (They’re both round, after all.) There are always several cheesecakes in the mix. I was afraid this one would be dry, since I have an 8 1/2 inch and a 9 1/2 inch springform pan, but no 9, and I forgot to compensate for that in the cooking time; dry it wasn’t, but man, it was rich. It tasted like fudge, which is not a bad thing in and of itself, but have you ever tried to eat a pie-slice amount of fudge at once? It needs milk. (It also needs to be cut into bite-sized pieces.) Oh, and I had a miserable time finding “chocolate wafers” to make into crumbs for the crust. I couldn’t find a chocolate version of Nilla Wafers; I found chocolate sandwich wafers, the kind that are the texture of ice cream cones, and I found sugar-free chocolate wafers of some sort. (No. Just–no.) We ended up throwing a few of the sandwich wafers–I bought them in desperation–into the blender with a bunch of chocolate graham crackers. It worked just fine. (If we’d decided on our pies earlier, I might have checked another store or two, but that wasn’t going to happen this week.)
Macaroon Apple Pie: This is another recipe I’ve been eyeing for years and finally got around to making. And it was good, don’t get me wrong. The problem is that it wasn’t really any more than good–it wasn’t special. It tasted like a regular apple pie with a blondie crust, only the blondie batter had shredded coconut in it. Tasty, but not necessarily exciting. I think it would be improved by upping the apple content (there was room for more, and I was even a bit generous); I also think it would shine a whole lot more in another venue. (Incidentally, I was texting my sister about the pies last night, and I noticed too late that auto correct felt “Macaroni Apple Pie” made more sense. Luckily, she’s plenty smart enough to figure that one out on her own…)
There you have it, folks–our pies for Pie Night 2014. I also enjoyed my mother-in-law’s rhubarb pie–I really just love rhubarb in general–as well as the almond joy pie and the–I think–peanut butter marshmallow cookie pie. (There was a delicious Samoa Cheesecake, but it had the same problem as our cheesecake–too rich for the night. I kept thinking how amazing it would be if I’d had a grilled chicken salad for dinner and then just one piece of it for dessert.) Those were my favorites, mind you. There were more, and I absolutely tried them all. I’m not even going to admit to the quantity of pie I consumed in a 24-hour period.