Category Archives: Pies & Pie Bars

Lemon Meringue Macaroon Tart

Lemon Meringue Macaroon TartI put a lemon meringue pie on here a few years back, and while it was good, it wasn’t great. I didn’t add enough sugar to the meringue, so it browned in a weird way, and I had a bit too much liquid in the filling. The good news is that baking is a journey, not a destination. I’ve gained experience and used it to make a truly killer lemon meringue pie filling. I’ve already updated the old pie recipe and will take new photos soon, but until then, let’s discuss this Lemon Meringue Macaroon Tart.Lemon Meringue Macaroon TartYou read that right: Lemon Meringue Macaroon Tart. Like tangy lemon filling and airy meringue layered into a giant coconut macaroon crust. Oh y’all, this is something special.Lemon Meringue Macaroon TartLemon Meringue Macaroon TartLemon Meringue Macaroon TartLet me get this out of the way: we are talking about macaroons (coconut) not macarons (delicate French almond cookies). Both are delicious, but today is all about this magical three-ingredient coconut crust.It’s made only of shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk and salt, and resembles a coconut macaroon in both flavor and texture. It’s naturally grain-free and incredibly easy to make—just stir the ingredients together, press the mix into a heavily-buttered pan and bake until golden. Unlike traditional pie crusts (and very much like a macaroon) it will stay a bit soft, but will hold up with just about any filling you like. You know, like chocolate ganache…or lemon meringue.Lemon Meringue Macaroon TartI know lemon meringue filling can be intimidating if you haven’t made it before, but I promise it’s not scary. I think it’s the color blocking that sends people running for the nearest bakery, but lemon meringue is just a marriage of two really simple recipes. The lemon portion is very similar to the grapefruit filling from the pie I posted last week. As with that recipe, if you can make pudding on the stovetop, you can make this. Heck, if you can use a whisk, you can make this. The most important thing to remember is to have all your ingredients prepared and within arm’s reach before you turn on the stove. This process goes quickly, but isn’t stressful at all if you have your ingredients ready. Just whisk, whisk, whisk and in mere moments, you’ll have made gorgeous, golden lemon filling.

As for meringue, it’s a snap to make. The key to success with meringue (and all whipped egg white things) is making sure your bowls and mixer attachments are very clean and dry before you begin; any errant drop of yolk, water or oil will keep your meringue from fluffing up properly. Just like with the lemon portion of this operation, preparation is everything. I go so far as to wipe my kitchen tools down with vinegar before whipping egg whites. Though that might seem like overkill, it’s worth it when you get billowy meringue every time!Lemon Meringue Macaroon TartLemon Meringue Macaroon TartRegarding assembly, you’ll need to have your crust baked and cooled and the meringue whipped before you make the lemon filling. The reason for this is that the filling needs to be piping hot when it meets the meringue. By doing this, we are allowing the egg whites in the meringue to bake directly onto the entire surface of the filling, helping them to fuse together so they don’t slide apart during slicing. Once filled, the tart will need to bake for about 25 minutes, just until the meringue is beginning to turn golden.Lemon Meringue Macaroon TartSome people like their lemon meringue desserts at room temperature, but I prefer mine cold. Also, I think it makes for more aesthetically pleasing slices. That color blocking though 😍 Lemon Meringue Macaroon TartOne persnickety thing about lemon meringue desserts? They need to be served the day they’re made. Meringue is a beautiful thing, but it is fleeting. If not served within hours of baking, it will begin to weep. Ew. Rest assured that even if you don’t have the time to bake and serve on the same day you can still get your lemon macaroon tart fix. The solution? Skip the meringue layer. You can cool the tart just after adding the lemon filling, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Have a great weekend, y’all!Lemon Meringue Macaroon Tart

Lemon Meringue Macaroon Tart
makes one 9- or 10-inch tart

Macaroon Crust:
1 14 ounce package sweetened flaked coconut
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Meringue:
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 large egg whites, room temperature

Filling:
5 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9- or 10- inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again.

Make the crust. Combine sweetened flaked coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold together until combined. It will be thick.

Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Lightly grease your hands before pressing mixture onto the bottom and up the sides. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until edges are browned and center is turning pale golden. Remove to a rack and cool completely.

Make the meringue. In a small bowl, use a fork to combine cream of tartar and sugar. Set aside.

In a separate small bowl, use a fork to whisk together cornstarch, water, and vanilla. Microwave in 10 second increments, whisking with a fork in between, until mixture gels (about 30-35 seconds total).

Place egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat them on medium-high for 1-2 minutes, until frothy. Add sugar mixture one tablespoon at a time, beating until completely incorporated. Add cornstarch mixture one tablespoon at a time, until combined. Continue beating on medium speed until egg whites form stiff peaks. Set aside.

Make the filling. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to beat egg yolks. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, use your fingers to rub lemon zest into sugar. Whisk together lemon sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in water. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches a simmer and thickens. Whisking constantly, pour 1/3 of the mixture into the egg yolks. Whisking constantly, add egg yolk mixture to the pan, followed by lemon juice. Whisk continue to whisk until mixture comes to a simmer for 1 additional minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter. Push filling through a sieve to remove lumps.

Pour hot filling into prepared crust. Drop spoonfuls of meringue over the top of the filling, making sure all edges are covered. Use the back of the spoon to spread it out. Bake 25-30 minutes, until meringue is lightly browned. Let pie cool completely on a rack. Chill uncovered for a couple of hours.

Before serving, carefully run a thin flexible knife between the crust and the pan a couple of times. Release the springform. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Serve immediately.

Lemon Meringue Macaroon Tart is best served the day it’s made. Meringue will weep over time.Lemon Meringue Macaroon TartLemon Meringue Macaroon TartLemon Meringue Macaroon Tart

Grapefruit Pie with Oreo Crust

Grapefruit Pie with Oreo CrustLast Pi Day (March 14th aka 3.14 aka π), I posted a recipe for Pecan Pie Kolaches that was mostly just me saying “What is happening? What is happening? Here’s a recipe, I guess,” and trying not to have a full-scale meltdown while the world closed up. Needless to say, this year’s post is a little less dramatic.

Except for the pie. It’s bringing all the drama in the best possible way. The colors, the textures, the slightly unusual flavor combination–it’s everything I want these days.Grapefruit Pie with Oreo CrustGrapefruit Pie with Oreo Crust is out of this world delicious and a stunner to boot. Crumbly Oreo crust is filled with a soft and tangy Grapefruit filling and finished with whipped cream, chocolate curls and thin strips of grapefruit zest.Grapefruit Pie with Oreo CrustIf you think I’ve lost my mind combining grapefruit and chocolate, know that I would have turned my nose up at this just a few years ago. However, after trying key lime and chocolate together, I am sold. The tang of citrus and the bitterness of chocolate are a perfect pairing. Try it—you’ll love it.Grapefruit Pie with Oreo CrustThis pie is pretty simple to make, but as with most simple things, it does require some preparation. The filling is a play on my Lemon Meringue Pie, wherein the structure mostly comes from egg yolks and cornstarch. It’s a lot like making homemade pudding, which is really no big deal.

Cornstarch, sugar, salt and water are whisked together over medium heat until thick. This mixture is used to temper (warm) the egg yolks, before it’s all simmered with a grapefruit reduction and a hint of lemon juice. Whisk in a little butter, pour it through a sieve and voila! Grapefruit pie filling.

(I think I may have accidentally made it sound complicated by laying the method out like that, but I promise you it’s simple and comes together quickly.)Grapefruit Pie with Oreo CrustOnce the filling and crust are prepared, it’s just a matter of pouring one into the other and letting them get nice and cold together. This cannot be rushed, so plan ahead. Grapefruit Pie with Oreo CrustGrapefruit Pie with Oreo CrustWhen Grapefruit Pie with Oreo Crust is completely chilled, it will still be a little on the jiggly side, like a citrus curd with a little more body. After you add a flourish of whipped cream and the garnishes of your choosing, you’ll be treated to a tart, sweet, creamy, crumbly confluence of goodness. The cream offsets the tanginess of the filling, and the buttery chocolate crumb crust rounds it all out. This pie is rich and refreshing–the perfect way to start what will hopefully be a much simpler twelve months for us all.

Happy Pi Day, y’all. Grapefruit Pie with Oreo Crust

Grapefruit Pie with Oreo Crust
makes one 9-inch pie

Oreo Crust:
24 Oreos
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Grapefruit Filling:
2 cups fresh grapefruit juice (from about 3 medium-large grapefruits)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/3 cup water
5 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon fresh grapefruit zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 drop red liquid food coloring (optional)

Whipped Cream & Garnish:
1 cup heavy cream, very cold
4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
grapefruit zest (strips or grated)
chocolate curls

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate.

Make the crust. Place Oreos in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they are crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until the mixture can be pinched together. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate (I find that a 1/4 cup measuring cup helps with this). Bake the crust for 10 minutes and then let it cool while you make the filling.

Pour grapefruit juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 10-12 minutes). Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.

In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to beat egg yolks. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in water. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches a simmer and thickens. Turn heat to low.

Whisking constantly, pour 1/3 cup of the mixture into the bowl of egg yolks until fully combined. Whisking constantly, add egg yolk mixture back to the pan. Return heat to medium. Stir in grapefruit zest, followed by grapefruit reduction and lemon juice. Continue whisking until the mixture has boiled for 1 full minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter, vanilla and optional red food coloring. Push filling through a sieve to remove solids.

Pour filling into crust. Gently tap the pan on the counter a few times to help air bubbles disperse. Pop any surface bubbles with a toothpick as needed. Let pie cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 4 hours. Filling will be set, but jiggly, when ready.

Just before serving, make whipped cream. Combine heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to whip the mixture on low for 30 seconds before whipping on high for 1-2 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.

Load whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe as desired over the top of the pie. Garnish with grapefruit zest strips and/or chocolate curls, if desired.

Slice pie with a large, sharp chef’s knife, wiping it clean between cuts. Serve immediately.

Pie is best upon assembly, but leftovers may be kept in the refrigerator for a day. The filling may weep a tiny bit over time.

Grapefruit Pie with Oreo CrustGrapefruit Pie with Oreo CrustGrapefruit Pie with Oreo Crust

Pecan Pie Bars

Pecan Pie BarsI’ve been thinking about Texas a lot lately, partially because I haven’t been to visit my family in 14 months and also because there was a devastating winter weather/energy crisis all over the state last week. Truly, I was consumed with horror listening to the news and compulsively checking in with friends and family to make sure they were alright.

Thankfully, all my loved ones seem to be “okay” (all things considered) and have handleable structural damage. I am obviously not personally affected as I haven’t lived in Texas for 13+ years, but I learned a few things about myself last week while I held my breath for everyone who does.

1) It doesn’t matter how far away I live or for how long, I will always hurt when Texas hurts.

2) If I am ever in a full-scale disaster, I’m calling my sister-in-law so she can tell me what to do. She thinks of everything and is the most prepared person I know. She ground coffee beans in her car, y’all.

3) Thinking about Texas makes me think about pecans, which make me think about pecan pie.

If you didn’t know, the pecan is the state nut of Texas (though we have a lot of men of note who might give it a run for its money). We call them “puh-cahns” in my neck of the woods and we put them in everything: chocolate chip cookies, sticky buns, Thanksgiving stuffing, you name it. The queen of all pecan desserts is obviously Pecan Pie, which (surprise!) happens to be the Texas state pie. It’s been declared by the Texas House of Representatives, so it’s legit.

I make a killer Maple Pecan Pie and have recipes for Pecan Pie Brownies and Pecan Pie Kolaches, but Pecan Pie Bars were missing from my culinary arsenal until last week. Rest assured, they were worth the wait.Pecan Pie BarsMy Pecan Pie Bars are thick and buttery, with equal layers of brown sugar shortbread and sweet pecan pie filling. While some pecan pie bar recipes have a single layer of pecans perched on top of approximately 100 feet of sugar goo that goes everywhere the second you take a bite, that’s just not my style. Nope! These babies are packed to the gills with toasted pecans and will not disintegrate before you finish them. Handheld desserts shouldn’t require a fork and three napkins, y’all.Pecan Pie BarsI prefer the pecans in my Pecan Pie (and adjacent desserts) to be chopped pretty thoroughly, but feel free to leave the pieces larger (or even whole) if that’s what makes you happy. You could also tile whole pecans on top of the filling before baking if a pretty topper is important to your Pecan Pie Bar enjoyment. As for me, I think these are pretty perfect as-is. They may not quite be the state pie of Texas, but they sure are delicious.Pecan Pie BarsIf you’d like to make a donation to help with hunger, housing or damage from the events in Texas last week, please consider supporting Funky Town Fridge, Austin Mutual Aid, or Lucha Dallas. I am seriously considering hosting a virtual baking class (either via Zoom or live on a social media platform) in the next few weeks to benefit continued relief down there. Would you be interested in participating or donating? Let me know in the comments!

Pecan Pie Bars
makes one 8- or 9-inch pan, about 12-16 bars

Pecan Pie Filling:
1 1/3 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
2/3 cup maple syrup or light corn syrup
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Shortbread Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch rimmed square baking pan with butter. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for easy removal. Set aside.

Scatter pecans on a dry rimmed sheet pan. Roast 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside.

Make the shortbread crust. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It may be powdery, but should hold together when pinched.

Press shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using the flat bottom of a measuring cup (or the heel of your hand) to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Bake 10 minutes to set.

Make pecan pie filling. In a medium saucepan, whisk together maple syrup (or corn syrup), brown sugar, eggs, vinegar, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. Add butter. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat, just until it’s just beginning to bubble at the edges (about 7 minutes). Mixture will barely thicken.

Set a mesh strainer over a heatproof bowl. Pour filling mixture through to remove any bits of cooked egg. Fold pecans into filling.

Spoon pecan pie filling over par-baked shortbread. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the center barely jiggles when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. Chill for 1-2 hours for cleanest slicing.

Use parchment overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice into bars, wiping clean between cuts as necessary. Serve.

Leftovers will keep an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Pecan Pie BarsPecan Pie BarsPecan Pie Bars

Most Popular Recipes of 2020

Another year has come and (almost) gone, and I think we can all agree that it was a doozy! Many of us spent more time at home than ever, and that means that a lot of people (and I mean a lot) discovered the pleasure of baking. Or at the very least, they baked something, and sometimes that something was one of my recipes. *pandemic hair flip*

In that vein, this is the annual top ten most popular recipes from E2 Bakes. Many of these recipes have appeared on past lists, and I’m sure some of these will make the cut next year. Please note that, for the first time, none of the recipes on this year’s list were actually published this year. 2020 just happens to be when they hit their stride. The internet works in mysterious ways.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
10) Polenta Breakfast Bake {Gluten-Free}

Everybody loves a special breakfast, and for me, this Polenta Breakfast Bake is about as special as it gets. This is a gluten-free spin on my mom’s go-to Christmas brunch offering. Cheesy, filling and endlessly adaptable—take my recipe and make it vegetarian, use it as a base for leftover odds & ends, or eat it for breakfast for dinner! Take my recipe and make it yours.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
9) Churros {Accidentally Vegan}

Who doesn’t love churros?! These crisp and delicious Spanish-style doughnuts are easier to make than you might imagine. Mix up a quick dough in a warm pan, then pipe it into hot oil and toss the results with cinnamon-sugar. So good! And accidentally vegan!!! Make 2021 the year you make your own churros—trust me.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
8) Maple Layer Cake

I haven’t made many layer cakes in 2020–without parties, there wasn’t much point—but this Maple Layer Cake is one of my favorites. Surprisingly simple with huge maple flavor, it’s no surprise that this recipe made this list again.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
7) Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Many of my most popular recipes are vegan or gluten-free, despite the fact that I am neither. These Toasted Oat Graham Crackers? They’re both! And incredibly delicious stacked with toasted marshmallows and chocolate. Mmhmm.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
6) Banana Snickerdoodles

Banana bread may have had its moment in 2020, but I think Banana Snickerdoodles should have theirs’ in 2021. Soft, chewy and egg-free, a batch of these will make exceptional use of your brown bananas.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
5) Coconut Custard Pie

Coconut Cream Pie is great and all, but have you tried Coconut Custard Pie? Because you should. There’s a reason it’s on this list: because rich coconut custard baked into a pie crust is about as good as dessert gets.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
4) Maple Thumbprints

First a cake and now the thumbprints- y’all sure do love maple syrup! And to state the obvious, so do I.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
3) Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Grain-Free}

This five ingredient Chocolate Macaroon Tart was a hit from the moment I hit “publish.” It’s super simple to make, completely grain-free, and while I originally made it for an Easter dessert, it’s perfect for any occasion including New Year’s Eve.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
2) Silky Smooth Sweet Potato Pie

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato Pie was my most popular recipe of 2019 and is the second most popular of both 2018 and 2020. It’s a classic with a textural twist, and so, so delicious.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
1) French Apple Cake

This simple cake was far-and-away my most popular recipe this year, and for good reason. It’s easy to make, requires ingredients you probably already have, and is the perfect finish to any meal. Pandemic or no, this basically my favorite kind of recipe.

Have you made any of these recipes? What was your favorite E2 Bakes recipe this year? Let me know in the comments or on social media!Most Popular Recipes of 2020

Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists

Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsI never know what to post during Thanksgiving week. I assume your menus are set and that you’ve already shopped and everything—I mean, mine is and I have. Still, I always like to leave you with one last recipe before the holiday.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsIn years past, it’s been cheese-related, but this year, I’m going straight for dessert. I know I will be making a pie (or two) in the upcoming days, and maybe you are planning to as well, but also…? You might be a little burnt out and not particularly feeling like going through the trouble of making a whole pie for a very small Thanksgiving gathering, even though you’ve already made a bunch of pie dough.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsWell, my friends, that’s where Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists come in. Where you’d normally roll out your pie crust, fit it in a pie plate, fill it, chill it several times and finally bake, this recipe takes super buttery pie dough and transforms it into a flaky cinnamon-scented dessert that you can make with minimal ingredients and tuck into in under an hour. It’s the dream.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsPie Crust Cinnamon TwistsStart by rolling out your disk of pie dough (this is my All-Butter Pie Dough) into a 12-inch square(-ish shape). Brush the whole thing with melted butter, then scatter cinnamon-sugar on the center 4×12-inch section.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsFold one of the outer thirds over the cinnamon-sugar, then brush on more butter and sprinkle on more cinnamon-sugar. Fold the last blank third of dough over (like a letter) and then refrigerate for 20 or so minutes while the oven preheats. Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsPie Crust Cinnamon TwistsOnce the oven hits 375F, slice your dough into strips, brush with more melted butter, and twist them do that you can see the two layers of cinnamon swirling all the way down the length of the twists. Yum!Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsAfter that, bake for 22 minutes or so until your kitchen smells like butter and cinnamon and everything else that’s good in this universe. Then wait just long enough so that you don’t burn your mouth before digging in, with ice cream if you are better-prepared than I am.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsI know I am not the first person to write a recipe for Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists, and I won’t be the last either. Some people just spread the cinnamon-sugar right on and skip all the folding and whatnot, but in my experience, this extra care results in a triple-layer twist that is favorably compared to churros. Churros! I don’t know about you, but the one thing my Thanksgiving menu is missing is a flaky, churro-esque finish.Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists

Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists
makes about 1.5 dozen twists

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 recipe All-Butter Pie Dough, or other good single crust pie dough recipe
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar and cinnamon.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Roll pie dough out to a 12-inch square. Paint a thin layer of melted butter onto the dough.

Mentally divide the dough into thirds (perhaps with the help of a ruler), 4×12 inches each. Scatter half the cinnamon-sugar over the central third. Fold one of the outer thirds over the center to cover the cinnamon-sugar, then paint melted butter on top. Fold the remaining third so that it covers the cinnamon-sugar. Use your rolling pin to tamp down the ends so you don’t lose filling, then roll the whole thing so it’s about 6-inches wide. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line 2 rimmed sheet pans with parchment.

Flour a surface and a large, sharp chef’s knife. Unwrap the folded dough and brush the top with butter. Slice it into 3/4-inch strips. Twist each one a few times and place 2 inches apart on prepared sheet pans (I like about 10 per pan). Bake 21-23 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Let cool a few minutes before serving. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for a few days.

Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsPie Crust Cinnamon TwistsPie Crust Cinnamon Twists