Category Archives: Pie

Healthified Triple Chocolate Pie

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chocolate pie healthy singleWith Valentine’s Day next week wouldn’t it be lovely to make a chocolate pie to share with those you love?  How about a chocolate pie that is fast and easy?  How about 58% less fat and 33% fewer calories than the original recipe? Now am I talking your love language? The recipe can easily be doubled to serve a crowd, or have one pie for home and one to take to work!

chocolate pie healthified ingregI have made a lot of chocolate pies through the years. A lot. But when I made this chocolate pie my Chief Culinary Consultant said several times “great pie honey!”  Now it is true, I cook for compliments.  The Chief knows this and knows he will get this pie again, anytime he asks! :)

chocolate pudding pieIt is so easy to mix up the fat-free, sugar-free pudding.  If you haven’t ever tried it, you should. It is surprisingly rich and luscious. Quite often I will just make the fat-free, sugar-free pudding, top with a dollop of whipped cream and dessert is ready!

chocolate pie mixedThis pudding is combined with softened cream cheese and vanilla.  Once it is mixed well the whipped topping is beaten in with the electric mixer.  By now there will be a line forming to see who gets to lick the beaters.

chocolate pie x 2The pie needs to chill from 4 to 24 hours before serving.  I actually hurried the process and didn’t have quite 4 hours before serving but the slices still cut pretty well.  Top with raspberries, chocolate shavings and a dollop of whip cream for the crowning touch!

chocolate pie healthy singleThis incredibly delicious pie will never give away the secret that it is actually a healthified recipe, light on fat and light on calories!  Enjoy with someone you love.

~Blessings, Catherine


Healthified Triple Chocolate Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings

Healthified Triple Chocolate Pie

58% less saturated fat and 33% less calories than the original recipe. A luscious dessert for just 160 calories per serving!


  • 1 package fat-free, sugar-free instant chocolate pudding mix (1.4 oz.)
  • 1 3/4 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 container (8 oz) light whipped topping (i.e. Cool Whip)
  • 1 Chocolate-flavored crumb pie shell (6 oz.)
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries or strawberries *Optional
  • 1 tablespoon grated semisweet chocolate


  1. In a medium bowl, prepare pudding mix according to package directions using 1 3/4 cup milk. Stir in vanilla; set aside.
  2. Place cream cheese in a large microwaveable bowl. Microwave, uncovered , on high for 15 seconds, stir. Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add half of the pudding mixture; beat until smooth. Add in remaining pudding mixture; beat until smooth.
  3. Fold in half of the whipped topping. Spread mixture into pie shell. Chill 4 to 24 hours or until set.
  4. Top individual servings with remaining whipped topping, raspberries and grated chocolate.


Adapted from

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French Apple Tart

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twd french apple tart finishedIt Tuesdays With Dorie which means I have baked from Dorie Greenspan’s book,  Baking With Julia.  I’ve never made a french apple tart and this week’s recipe got my attention. Dorie writes, “This open-faced tart is beautiful … beneath the gossamer blossom is what the French call a compote, a sweet, thick purée of oven-roasted Granny Smith apples.”  Are you interested?
mosaictwd apple french tart
In Dorie’s cookbook this recipe takes up 2 1/2 pages. That turns me off.  I took one look down through the recipe and thought it seemed so time-consuming.  My best baking projects are fast and easy and look like they took a long time.  :) Yes, I am fickle like that.  But, I am happy to report — this isn’t nearly as time-consuming as it seems at first glance.  And the finished tart is … well, worth it!  Also, my granddaughter, Tayler, is here visiting and she cheerfully helped me as my Chief Designer!

twd pie pastry squishFirst things first …the recipe calls for 1/4 recipe Flaky Pie dough.  This has become my very favorite pie dough recipe and you can get it here. I was immediately happy and “all in” because I keep this pie dough frozen for just such a moment as this!  I thawed the pastry dough over-night in the refrigerator. First thing in the morning I placed it in my 9″ springform pan and baked it.  While it was baking I started chopping apples.
twd fr apple tart applesThe recipe calls for Granny Smith apples.  I used mostly Granny Smith and a couple of Gala apples too.  Apple chunks are tossed with sugar, flour, cinnamon and fluffy bread crumbs.  This recipe calls for very little sugar but the result won’t give it away.  What intrigues me is that those apples could be cooked down in a pan on the stove or in a skillet stove-top.  But instead, it calls for spreading them on a baking sheet and roasting them.  Interesting.

twd apples  to roastBefore I started this recipe I decided I wasn’t going to take pictures except of the finished tart. As you can clearly see I went for my camera before I finished slicing the apples.  The colors are so pretty and I so want to share that with you!  The apples roasted for 20 minutes and were gooey, caramelized and wonderful! THAT picture would have gone right here … but I forgot to take it! :(

mosaictwdfrench apple taylerThe roasted apple compote is spooned into the baked pastry shell.  At this point my chief designer, Tayler, began working her magic.  We peeled apples, dipped them in lemon juice (to help keep them from browning) and she began the task of layering the apples. We had room for two circular layers and one rosette in the middle.  After brushing with melted butter and sprinkling with Turbinado sugar, our tart baked for 30 minutes.  The tart was done but the edges not quite dark enough so I turned the broiler on for just 2 minutes to give the edges the stunning black effect. The recipe suggests sprinkling with white sugar but I always keep Turbinado on hand and if you do too, then by all means use it for the sprinkling on the top.

twd french apple tart crystalOur tart didn’t stay under this cover long since it was the crowning touch to our Sunday dinner shared with family.

twd french apple tart bookThis tart is not overly sweet making it a perfect finish to any dinner.  (Only 3/4 cup sugar in the entire tart.)  The roasted apple purée is a perfect contrast to the crackle of the crust and the pure apple flavor of the topping.

The contributing baker for this recipe is Leslie Mackie.  This recipe is hosted by TWD baker, Gaye of Laws of the Kitchen.  She will post the full recipe on her blog.

As for me and my family — we will be making this again!!

Blessings and Happy Cooking!

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8 ASV

Win with a Chocolate Chip and Walnut Mini-Pie

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When my Chief Culinary Consultant won second place in his age group at the Southern Tennessee Plunge Half-Marathon on Saturday I set off straight to the kitchen.  After a cold-drizzly rain, falling temperatures, and an increasing wind I knew we would all need a good meal with a winning dessert. I started with the one ingredient I always start with when I want to give him a special treat — chocolate.  In this case, chocolate chips.
Trust me when I say it was cold — 48 degrees, drizzling rain (see the wet pavement) and you will just have to take my word for the wind.  Apparently the weather was only bothering the athletic supporters.  That would be the three M’s.  Me, Mom, and our friend Marilyn.  We are the ones shivering cold on the sidelines, but cheering none-the-less.  Lee and his running buddy Tom both love to run.  It is beyond my ability to even imagine why.  I am the one on the sidelines behind the camera and I like it that way!

I did run to the kitchen following Lee’s 2nd place win so that I could try out my first time purchase of Kirkland chocolate chips from Costco.  If you shop at Costco these chocolate chips are wonderful.  They cost less than Nestle chips and are much richer in taste and bigger in size.  They are perfect for the chocolate chip mini-pies I had racing around my head. I started with a batch of Flaky Pie Dough.  I wasn’t exactly how many mini-pies the chocolate chip dough would make and I wanted to make sure I had plenty of pie dough.  This recipe makes 4 single crusts so I knew I would have enough for my mini-pies.  My five little pies used the equivalent of 2 crusts.  I still have enough dough left for two 9″ crusts. While the pie dough rested in the refrigerator I mixed up the eggs, butter, flour, salt, sugar, and vanilla.  Oh my word this stuff is so finger-lickin’ good.  Not that I dipped a finger in there ….
I honestly don’t know how he can even be breathing let alone smiling :)

Finely chopped walnuts and my new-best-chocolate-chips go into the mix.
13.1 miles later he is smiling on the inside and very glad to be crossing the FINISH line.
One cup of chips go into the mini-pies, this handful … well, these are for the baker to taste test :)
I rolled out this lovely dough and shaped it in my mini-pie pans.  My sweet marathon runner is sleeping deeply in his favorite chair. What a surprise when he wakes up.

My mini-pie pans hold 3/4 cup.  This recipe filled 5 mini pans or one 9″ pie pan.
I sprinkled Turbinado sugar on the top of the little pies before baking.  This is totally optional, but I love the warm brown crystals shining on the top of the pie.
My sous-chef dish-washing mom, friend Marilyn, and our Chief runner.  Me? behind the camera, of course.
After the win, this chocolate chip & walnut mini-pie was a big hit with everyone!
This pie is best served slightly warmed with whipped cream or ice cream on the side.  Whether it is a regular sized pie or these little mini’s — every bite packs a flavor not soon forgotten!

VIEW and PRINT the Chocolate Chip and Walnut Mini-Pie recipe from my Tasty Kitchen Recipe Box.

~Blessings, Catherine

Flaky Pie Dough, Part 2 Tips and Tricks

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In my last blog post I shared the recipe for Flaky Pie Dough.  The dough is perfect for a sweet or savory pie.  I labeled the post “Part 1″ because there was more that I wanted to say. (Big surprise.)  So this Part 2  includes tips and tricks for making perfect pie dough.  Some of these tips comes from my Baking With Julia cookbook.  Some of the other tips come from my experience and others from a Whats Cooking America, website.  In researching for this post I have learned a new thing or two also!  Here we go!

Cold ingredients and limited handling are the key to preparing a wonderful pie crust.

The colder the better. All ingredients (even the flour) should be ice cold before mixing. It is especially important for the fat you are using (butter, lard, and/or vegetable shortening) to be very cold. Professionals say pie dough should never get warmer than 60 degrees F. If you are making the dough in a food processor you can even freeze the fat before using it.

Fats: The type of fat you use will effect flavor and flakiness, while the amount affects tenderness. Flaky crusts result when bits of un-melted fat are layered between layers of flour and melt away with baking. They can be made from a variety of solid fats such as butter, vegetable shortening, and lard. 

Butter, lard, and vegetable shortening must be chilled prior to use. If it is too warm, the flour will absorb too much of the fat and produce a tough crust. If using butter or margarine, cut into small pieces prior to adding to the flour.

Tip: Cut the butter into small (about 3/4 inch) cubes. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes. Butter Tip: Shred the frozen butter into the flour with a cheese grater.

Liquids:  For a tender crust, you want just enough liquid to moisten the flour without drenching it. Liquids should be well chilled (actually liquids should be ice cold). The mixing, after water is added, is critical in making a pie dough – water should be added gradually to the dry ingredients and not all at once.

Mix by hand with your fingers or a pastry blender Use a minimum amount of liquid and handle the dough as little as possible. Overworking the dough will make it tough. NOTE: If too much water is added, the dough will have to be mixed with more flour thus becoming overworked and tough. If too little water is added, it will cause a dry crumbly dough with poor handling qualities.

Tip: You can use the pinch test to see if your dough has the right amount of liquid. Pick up a small clump of dough and gently squeeze between your fingers. When the dough justs sticks together with small dry cracks, your dough is perfect.

Flour: To promote tenderness in your pie crust, choose a low protein wheat flour such as cake flour or pastry flour. All-purpose flour is readily available and works well for pie crusts. Unbleached flour is more tender. Always sift the flour before measuring it. In fact, all dry ingredients need to be sifted together.

Pastry-Type Flour: To make a pastry-type flour from all-purpose flour, place 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or other non-gluten flour in the bottom of the measuring cup for every cup of flour you measure.

If you want to use a whole grain flour to make pie crust, allow extra time. You will have a much more tender crust if you refrigerate the pie dough overnight before baking to allow the bran to rehydrate thoroughly.

Rolling the dough:

Pie dough benefits from a rest period after mixing. This will make the dough easier to roll and shape. Once the dough has come together, form it into a disc (approximately 1/2 inch thick) and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Place the prepared dough in the refrigerator during this resting time. As long as the dough is kept in the refrigerator, you can keep it there for as long as 24 hours. When ready to use, let the dough sit at room temperature approximately 20 to 30 minutes before rolling. NOTE: The dough may also be frozen at this point for later use. When ready to use, thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator.

If you roll out the dough on wax paper or parchment paper, it makes cleanup easier. To keep wax paper from slipping, sprinkle a few drops of water on the countertop before arranging the paper.

When rolling dough out, always start from the center and work your way out in all directions. Use a heavy rolling pin for rolling piecrust.  Don’t pull or stretch the dough — what you stretch now will shrink back later. Gently work the dough into the pan, lifting it to get a smooth fit against the bottom and up the sides.

Pie Plates: 

Pyrex glass pie plates are the best choice for baking your pies, as this type of pie pan conducts heat evenly, which allows the bottom crust of the pie to bake thoroughly. Also you can see when the bottom crust of your pie is browned. If using a glass pie plate, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees. Do not oil or grease glass pie plates.

Thin, aluminum pie pans are a poor choice because they cook unevenly. If you have to use them, double them up and use two. Dull metal pie plates are better then shiny metal pans for making pies. The shiny metal pans keep the crust from browning properly.

Hints to prevent bottom crust from getting soggy:

Refrigerate the dough (in the pie plate) for 15 minutes before adding the filling.

If pie has only a bottom crust, you can blind-bake (see #4 below) the crust and then moisture-proof it. You can brush it with a bit of egg white two or three minutes after it comes out of the oven.

A good way to keep pie crust from becoming soggy is to sprinkle it with a mixture of equal parts sugar and flour before adding filling.

Another way is to brush the unbaked bottom crust of a pie with a well-beaten egg white before filling. This keeps the berries and other fruits from making the pie bottoms mushy.

Baking a frozen pie is also a help, as the crust begins to bake before the heat thaws the filling, and the entire pie bakes for longer than it would normally.

Blind Bake the Pie Crust:

To prevent sliding by blind baking, first line the pie plate with aluminum foil. Take a piece of aluminum foil long enough so that when folded in half, it covers the pie plate. Fold it in half, then shape it on the counter by pressing your hand down in the middle and pulling up on the sides (making sort of a bowl shape.) Now put the foil in your pie shell and gently press it so that it evenly covers the bottom and sides of the pie dough. Now put your pie weights in (you can use beans, rice, rock salt – virtually any small, heat-proof items to weigh the crust down so that it neither puffs up nor slides down). Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Take out the aluminum foil and pie weights, and continue baking until lightly browned.

Another trick to weigh down the dough is to place empty pie pans on top of the dough in the pie plate. This is called double panning.

Two-Crust Pie:  Brush a little water around the edge of the bottom crust before placing the top crust. This helps create a good seal once the two are crimped together.

Before placing double-crusted pies in the oven, use a pie ring.  If you don’t have a pie ring, loosely wrap aluminum foil around the pie crust edges. This will help the edges from browning too quickly. Remove the aluminum about 10 minutes before pies are ready to come out of the oven so the crust is properly browned.

Fruit Pies:  Always make deep slits in the top crust of fruit pie. If you do not do this, the filling will be soft and soggy.

Egg Wash:  Tricks for achieving a nice golden brown top crust.

1 tablespoon heavy cream, half & half, or milk
1 large egg yolk

In a small bowl, beat cream and egg yolk together. Using a pastry brush, brush the surface of the top pie crust. Bake according to your recipe.

Cooling Baked Pies: 

Cool baked pies on a wire rack set on the counter. The rack allows air to circulate under the pie, preventing it from becoming soggy from the steam remaining it in.

Storing Prepared Pie Dough: 

Pie dough may be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Frozen, up to 3 months.

Whew!  That is a lot of information but I hope it will help you make that next perfect pie!

Happy Baking and Have A Blessed Weekend!  Catherine

Flaky Pie Dough, Part 1

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I made my first pie when I was a teenager. I knew my mom particularly liked pie of all kinds. Mom was a full-time Registered Nurse besides being mom to four fairly rambunctious kids and while she had dinner on the table every night, dessert like pie was a luxury her time could rarely afford.  As a precocious 16 year-old I had no idea that pie crust was known to be “difficult” to make and that bakers around the globe talk about the secret to making a perfect pie crust.
I only knew mom liked pie and I would make one.  Back then, the filling always came from a can of cherries or apple pie filling I would find in her pantry.  The pie dough came from a simple recipe I found in a cookbook — belonging to my mom!  I now have a collection of a half-dozen or so pie crust recipes I have made ranging from 4 to 7 ingredients!  But honestly, none gives me the consistently tender-crisp and flaky dough I found in Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking With Julia. Once I made this pie dough I knew there would be no other for me.
The butter provides the flavor while the solid vegetable shortening provides the flaky crust.  This dough can be used to make a pie or tart, sweet or savory, plain or fancy. It can be made by hand, in a food processor, or a mixer.  How flexible is that?!! This recipe makes four 9″ or 10″ pie crusts, enough for 4 open-faced pies or two double-crusted pies.  At first it seemed like too much dough to have on hand. But I quickly learned that it freezes exceptionally well for up to a month (and probably a little more.) The recipe can also easily be cut in half.
The recipe outlines the method for making the flaky dough by hand, by mixer, or by food processor.  I typically like to make pie dough by hand so I can feel the texture and not over-mix it.

I guarantee you I have made some REAL TOUGH dough through the years.  Of course, I didn’t realize it then because in the spirit of teaching her daughter to cook mom always encouraged me to “make more” rather than discourage me.  My brother’s were the only ones to complain about my baking, but that is another story for another time :)

Here it is, easy as pie. Four steps.

1. With a pastry blender, cut chilled butter into the flour and salt until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Cut the chilled shortening until it forms curds.

2. Add the ice water gradually and toss to blend.

3. When the dough is sufficiently moist — pinch it – it will stick together.

4. Lightly gather the dough into a round and chill before rolling.

If you are in need of letting off some steam, de-stressing and you want to mix it, beat it, roll it around or knead it — make bread.  This is NOT the time to make pie dough.  Pie dough requires a gentle hand, a happy spirit, and a little whistle while you work doesn’t hurt either :)   — That’s the real secret:)

View the recipe and PRINT from my Tasty Kitchen Recipe Box.

Part 2 will be all the tips needed for making the perfect pie dough. Stay tuned ….

~Happy Pie Baking, Catherine

James 1:5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.


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