High or Low? Our Food Editors Duel Over Which Is Best for Thanksgiving Pies
And the results are delicious.
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When she goes low, he goes high—with holiday pies, that is. Sarah Carey, our editorial director of food and entertaining, flat-out prefers creations that are small in stature yet big on flavor, while deputy editor Greg Lofts turns up the volume—and the drama. But here's where the two see eye-to-eye: On the Thanksgiving dessert table, variety is the spice of life.
Lemon-Cranberry Meringue Pie
"Meringue is like sweet, soft air," Greg says. It also gives this show-stopper its fluffy, bouffant look, while balancing the tart lemon filling (which is topped with cranberry gelée for another pop of flavor). A big plus: The lemon layer is whisked together in a saucepan, then chills and sets right in the crust—no tempering, straining, or other shenanigans required.
Cherry-Cheese Strudel Pie
Anyone who goes right for the pie the morning after Thanksgiving should try this strudel‐inspired confection (the extra‐large oval of it ensures leftovers). "Blind‐bake the puff‐pastry crust really well, so the bottom is airy, light, and crisp," Sarah says. Scoring gives the edge a rustic braided look, and a mix of cream cheese, ricotta, and egg, marbled with a swirl of cherry sauce, bakes into a tangy filling. To serve, slice down the center and cut it into rectangles.
Mile-High Triple-Chocolate-Espresso Mousse Pie
Greg believes in the slow reveal. Whole, this pie looks like an innocent chocolate mousse. Cut into it, and guests will gasp at the va-va-voom triple layers. The make-ahead icebox method is also a godsend when your oven is busy roasting a turkey. You bake the crushed-cookie crust, but after that you just create two mousses—one dark chocolate, one milk—and an espresso whipped cream. Fill and chill, then dust with cocoa powder before serving. Take a bite and you, too, can join the mile-high club.
Butterscotch Pie with Pecan-Shortbread Crust
If you like pecan pie, but find it too intense to eat more than a few bites, behold Sarah's butterscotch tart. The press‐in crust has ground nuts for a tender pecan-sandy texture; the filling, however, is a creamy pudding, made with brown sugar, milk, and egg yolks. And who says pies have to be round? A rectangular fluted tart pan gives this stunner a graphic look (enhanced by candied‐nut X's), and makes it a snap to cut into small servings—so family and friends can try every option on the dessert table.
Five-Spice Pumpkin Pie with Phyllo Crust
"I love pumpkin‐pie filling," says Greg, explaining the impetus for this extra-deep-dish dessert. Sprinkling in Chinese five-spice powder may seem unorthodox, but two of its components (cinnamon and clove) are already found in traditional pumpkin‐pie spice. The Iron Throne-esque crust is delightfully easy to create—just brush butter onto sheets of phyllo and layer them at angles in the pan. Finish with freshly whipped cream, and you have the finest dessert in the seven kingdoms.
Apple Rose Tart
"I've switched to baking apple tarts instead of double‐crust or slab pies," Sarah says. "They have more concentrated flavor, and you don't have to wait hours for them to cool—half an hour is plenty." Using different varieties pays off in both taste and beauty, too. A peeled Granny Smith makes a tart center; unpeeled Pink Ladies, with their thin skins, give the outer petals a delicate blush. A little grated ginger mixed with apricot jam provides a spicy‐sweet base that lets the fruit truly blossom.
Prop styling by Tanya Graff.