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By Laura Reiley
Published June 6, 2007


Andrea Spring's Foolproof Pie Crust

1 1/4 cup regular Crisco

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg

1 tablespoon apple cider or white vinegar

5 tablespoons ice water

- Using your hands or a pastry cutter, blend shortening, flour and salt together until the crumb resembles small peas. In a separate small bowl, beat egg, vinegar and water until combined.

- Slowly blend egg mixture into crumb mixture with fork until the dough is coming together. You may not need all the liquid. Press together until it forms a shaggy mass. Divide into two pieces. Flatten each into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes. Roll into 12-inch circles and used as directed in recipe.

- Makes enough for a 9-inch two-crust pie.

Source: Andrea Spring, Bradenton, best in show in professional category, National Pie Championships 2007

Funky Monkey

1 (11-ounce) box vanilla wafers

1 cup butter-flavored Crisco

4 medium bananas

5 squares semisweet chocolate squares, divided use

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

2 cups vanilla soy milk

2 boxes (4-ounce each) vanilla instant pudding

2 cups whipped topping such as Cool Whip, divided use

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the vanilla wafers in a plastic bag. Using a meat mallet, crush the wafers. Place them in a medium bowl. Melt the Crisco and add to the crushed vanilla wafers and mix together.

- Firmly press the vanilla wafers into the bottom and sides of a large pie tin, then place in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

- Cut the bananas in half lengthwise and then lengthwise again (quartering). When crust has cooled, place the bananas on crust. Set aside. Place 4 chocolate squares and the cup of peanut butter in a medium bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir and pour over the bananas in crust. Set aside.

- Pour soy milk in a bowl and add the vanilla pudding. Mix well, then add 1 cup of the whipped topping and fold it in so it stays fluffy. Pour that on top of the chocolate. Spread last cup of topping over all. Make chocolate shavings with the last square. Sprinkle chocolate shavings and peanuts on top of pie.

Refrigerate three hours before serving.

Source: Jordan Arcuri, Orlando, junior chef winner, National Pie Championships 2007

Berry Pie

Pie crust for a 9-inch two-crust pie (see recipe for Foolproof Pie Crust, bottom left)

1 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 cups blackberries, boysenberries, blueberries or a combination, about 1 3/4 pounds (if using frozen berries, don't thaw)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out half the dough for the bottom crust and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Roll out the remaining dough for the top crust and set it aside on a sheet of waxed paper.

- In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add the berries and toss to coat them evenly. Pile the mixture in the dough-lined pan, mounding the fruit slightly in the center, then scatter the butter over the filling. Cover with the top crust, then trim and flute edges. With the point of sharp knife, cut a few vents in the top for steam to escape.

- Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for about 35 minutes longer, or until the juices are bubbling and crust is browned.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Pie Pie Pie by John Phillip Carroll (Chronicle Books, 2005).

Strawberry Cream Delight


1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup crushed vanilla wafers

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup Crisco shortening

3 to 4 tablespoons cold water

For strawberry layer:

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups water

1 3-ounce package strawberry gelatin

2 cups frozen unsweetened strawberries

For cream layer:

1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Fresh strawberries for garnish

- To make crust: In mixing bowl, combine flour, crushed wafers and salt. Cut in Crisco shortening until pieces are size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of water over mix. Gently toss with fork. Repeat with remaining water until all is moistened. Form dough into ball. On lightly floured surface, flatten dough with hands. Roll into a 12-inch circle. Transfer into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim, flute and prick bottom and sides with a fork. Bake in 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool.

- For strawberry layer, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in water. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil and is thick and clear. Add strawberry gelatin; stir until dissolved. Add frozen strawberries. Refrigerate until slightly thickened.

- For cream layer, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt in medium sized bowl. Beat until smooth. Add whipped cream. Spoon half of mixture into prepared crust. Top with half of strawberry mixture. Repeat layers. Garnish with more whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Serves 8.

Source: Carol Socier, Bay City, Mich., best in show winner, National Pie Championships 2007