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Mar 31, 2012 09:27 AM

Cream Pie - in search of the ultimate

Take one bite & you are sent straight to heaven...that's the kind that I am looking for. Not necessairly a "cream" pie, just one that is creamy, dreamy & worth the calories. You know which one I am talking about, care to share it with the rest of us??

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  1. Banana Cream Pie ala the Joy of Cooking. YMMV, but I have never had better. It's really all about the pastry cream in cream pies for me. Some recipes are too sweet so I stick to JOC's version.
    I have never tasted a purchased cream pie that didn't at least sort of suck, IMO because of freshness and/or subpar ingredients or bad crust. I also cannot understate the yum of really good small farm organic heavy cream for the whip. It's like night and day vs. conventional or even corporate organic.

    14 Replies
    1. re: splatgirl

      You are so right about some pies being so sweet it makes you nauseated. Will look up JOC's version right now. Thanks for sharing. Wow, organic fresh cream, that is just a wonderful memory for me, nothing like that around here.

      1. re: cstout

        Since you have JOC out, try the key lime pie. You have to use real key lime juice as persian limes are not acidic enough to set the pie. An egg yolk or two gilds the lily in a great way. Most folks cook it when yolked. And I prefer it naked or with 1/2 inch merangue. I leave the mile high mounds for the tourists in Key West.

        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

          My store does not carry the real key limes very often, although I did some bottled juice labeled as "real key lime" you think that would work??

          1. re: cstout

            If it is 100% real key lime juice, not from concentrate, it should.

            1. re: cstout

              Bottled key lime juice would be the norm almost without exception--I doubt you'd find many key lime pies in FL that are made with fresh squeezed juice. They are crazy small and it takes forever to get enough juice for a single pie. I've made it that way at home and couldn't tell the difference vs. bottled juice.
              That said, I've seen key limes at Trader Joes quite often.

              I too, am a fan of the uncooked version of key lime pie.

              1. re: cstout

                HEB has Nellie and Joe's Key Lime Juice in a 1 pint jar.

                Does the "Joy of Cooking" recipe call out 3 egg yolks and 1 can sweetened condensed milk? If so, I have since started using 4 egg yolks with no other changes. It makes it richer but more important to me, it fills the pie fuller. I don't cover it with whipped cream or meringue (not a big fan of meringue). I just put some raspberry sauce on a piece and a spoonful of whipped cream when serving.

                1. re: Hank Hanover

                  Joy of Cooking key lime pie, Hank, I am not at home right now so I can't tell you, perhaps someone else can answer your question. Good idea about the egg yolks.

                  1. re: cstout

                    It calls for 4 yolks and 15oz. sweetened condensed, at least in the 1997 edition. Maybe you are using 5?
                    I'm actually not sure I've made their version now that you point it out.

                    I agree that an under-filled shell is a disappointment, as is a too-thin layer of filling. My pie pans are significantly deeper than most so more often than not I make a double batch of filling for a single shell. Whatever doesn't fit always goes nicely into a wee tart pan or two for cooks snack.

                    1. re: splatgirl

                      My 1971 version doesn't even show a key lime pie. Anyway the version on the lime juice jar calls for 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 3 egg yolks and 1/2 cup lime juice. I have since started using 4 yolks and have since discovered that Maida Heatter and Wolfgang Puck recommend it, too. Apparently, "Joy of Cooking" does, too.

                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                        Just think, some of that key lime pie & the French Silk pie too. Wow.

                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                          I just can't stand condensed milk, so I use this recipe, which gets raves always
                          but with graham cracker crust, prebaked.

                          1. re: magiesmom

                            Well.. I'm glad I like sweetened condensed milk, because your recipe calls for lots of sugar, water, flour, cornstarch and half as much lime juice.

                            As a bonus, I just have to stir it all together and bake it for 15 minutes.

                    2. re: Hank Hanover

                      Nellie And Joe's is the best thing this side of fresh squeezed. Unlike so many others, it IS real Key Lime juice (true aficionados CAN tell the difference).

              2. re: splatgirl

                A word about coconut that comes in packages. I notice that every brand I find in American stores has long hairy coconut shreds the length of an earthworm, while at my Indian grocery store I buy what they call "powdered coconut" that is grated, but very finely grated. I like it much, much, much more for baking than the hairy stuff. Just passing this along.

              3. I've made this one twice in my life, and am *always* planning to do it again. The original cook won Best in Show 2003 at a (prestigous, I think) Florida pie contest. It's got cream cheese, chocolate, and peanut butter--as well as whipped cream topping.


                "The nation's best bakers gather in Celebration, FL to enter their pies in the "grandmother" of all cooking contests."

                11 Replies
                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Well you can freeze whipped cream
                    but I don't know if it would work in this recipe.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      You could use gelatin enhanced stabilized whipped cream.

                    2. re: blue room

                      Hah! I went to high school with Raine (the originator of this recipe). She is currently teasing us on facebook with descriptions of her entries for this year's contest. Not an endorsement of the above recipe, as I have not tried it. But great to see that someone is recommending it!

                      1. re: Cheez62

                        Cheez62, what is the contest about? Small world isn't it?

                        1. re: Cheez62

                          The pie is seriously good -- it won "Best in Show", not just a frozen pie category. Glad to hear the lady is still at it!
                          Here's a link to the contest info --

                          1. re: blue room

                            Enjoyed the link...please tell Rainey that the Chowhound folks tip their hats to her!

                            Now we can all be the Best in Show in our own kitchen.

                            1. re: cstout

                              I will pass on the message! Hope you enjoy her recipe!

                              1. re: Cheez62

                                Well, I almost ate the whole pie myself...had to go make 2 so I would have one whole one to take for someone else!! YES...I did enjoy!

                                1. re: cstout

                                  cstout, did you use Cool Whip -- or real whipped cream?

                                  1. re: blue room

                                    I used Cool Whip for the topping. Next time might try the real stuff.

                      2. For chocolate cream pie, I have not found one that could beat Joanne Chang's in Flour. I have made all the top contenders. It is just perfection.

                        I also love Cook's Illustrated's coconut cream pie.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Becca Porter

                          Hi Becca,

                          Thanks for the recc for Chang's chocolate cream pie. What brand of chocolate did you use? Also, does the cornstarch in the whipped cream make it taste strange?

                          I need to bring a birthday dessert to work tomorrow. I've been looking at Dorrie's Caramel-Crunched Chocolate Tart, but this pie looks terrific.


                          1. re: soccermom13

                            I am out of my huge Callebaut block so I used Dove dark chocolate bars. No weird taste with the cornstarch at all.... just stable whipped cream.

                            Make it!!

                            1. re: Becca Porter

                              Thanks, Becca. I ran out of time and ended up making a simple tart ---graham cracker crust, toasted chopped pecans, layer of caramel which turned out perfectly---just at the edge of being too dark and oh-so-good, topped with a chocolate ganache. It was very good. I have your recc for Chang's Chocolate Cream Pie on my "gotta make this soon" list.

                        2. French Silk Chocolate pie. No cream in the body, just on top, but the filling is luscious and creamy and silky. Definitely not for calorie counters but truly magnificent. The kry though is to make the plainest crust possible, back of the Crisco box plain. If you try to make it with a rich pastry or a crumb crust of any kind it just comes off as too sweet. That basic pastry is needed to blend perfectly with the rich, sweet filling.

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: dianne0712

                            Do you have a special French Silk pie recipe?? True bliss...when you mention luscious & creamy, we are getting close to the Holy Grail.

                            1. re: cstout

                              Why yes I do! What made you ask?LOL! I snagged it from my sister when I was13. She has a knack for finding the best stuff, but wouldn't ever give me a recipe if I asked. Recipe espionage was big in my house at the time.
                              9" baked plain pie crust, cooled
                              1/2 cup butter
                              3/4 cup sugar
                              2 eggs
                              1 oz unsweetened chocolate melted
                              3 Tbsp cocoa
                              1 tsp vanilla
                              whipping cream
                              Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add chocolate, cocoa, and vanilla. Beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 5 minutes each time you add an egg. Pour into pie shell and chill for 2 hours. Beat whipping cream with a little sugar and top pie. Shave chocolate on top.

                              1. re: dianne0712

                                Thanks for the French Silk pie recipe...don't you just love that word "silk"? Anyway, I have never made a silk pie but have seen a million recipes through out the years...bout time I just got in the kitchen & made one. And shame on your sister for being stingy!

                                1. re: cstout

                                  I stole her lemon curd recipe to! Hehe

                                  1. re: dianne0712

                                    I have a cook book called "Begged, Borrowed & Stolen" of my most favorite sources of recipes. Please give us the lemon curd recipe too. Tell your sister to look on this post to let her know the whole world now knows her secret, that is dirty pool. Better yet, thank her for sharing it with everybody.

                                    1. re: cstout

                                      sister hasn't spoken to me since I was 10. That's why I had to steal recipes!
                                      I love it when someone will give me a recipe because you know it's good because you just had some. There's no trying to guess from a description. I'm trying to train my daughter to ask for recipes but she's too shy.

                                      1. re: dianne0712

                                        That is so sad about your own sister not sharing her recipes with you...I have no family & could never understand the sibling rivalry thing. The more you give, the more you receive...I didn't make that up, it is a law of life, but some folks never learn.

                                        Yes, always ask for a recipe...what is the worst thing they could do??? Turn you down?

                                        I have found folks on Chowhound are more than willing to share their recipes or whatever else it is you are requesting. Of course you are proof of that, I have copied your recipes down & appreciate it. Like you said, you have just tasted the food & found it to be wonderful....what is wrong with asking for the recipe???? To me, that is the greatest compliment you could give a person...asking for the recipe....go figure.

                                        1. re: cstout

                                          I love it when people ask because it means they truly loved it. I consider it a great compliment. Plus, so many of my recipes are family recipes I love to think of them spreading around the world. My daughter's friend asked for my mom's pancake recipe which she gave to her sister in the States who gave it to their colleague inGermany who gave it to her mother in Africa. How cool is that?

                                          1. re: dianne0712

                                            Too cool!! That is exactly what is supposed to happen to recipes, a gift for everyone.

                                      2. re: cstout

                                        lemon curd
                                        2 large lemons
                                        1/2 lb sugar
                                        3 oz butter
                                        3 eggs
                                        Grate rind and strain juice. Put in dbl boiler and add butter. Heat gently and add sugar. Beat eggs and strain into pan. Stir over heat until thick. Pour into clean dry jars.

                                    2. re: cstout

                                      Silk is a lovely word indeed. So evocative. You will love it, I promise!

                                      1. re: cstout

                                        let me know when you make it; I'd love know what you think.

                                  2. re: dianne0712

                                    Is this a nationally known pie? For me French silk and coconut cream pie are the be-all/end-all of pies, but no one has heard of the former on the East Coast.

                                  3. It's said that even Marlene Dietrich would indulge in a slice of this. From the historic Tea Room at Bullock's Wilshire in LA, Coconut Cream Pie:


                                    I've an old tattered copy from the LA Times somewhere. I've made this a couple of times and it's truly heaven.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: RelishPDX

                                      Coconut Cream Pie..I want to make my own heaven....thank yours a big mound like that one?

                                      1. re: cstout

                                        It would be now, but not when I've made it in the past, since I didn't have the true visual. When I first moved to LA in the mid-80s, a friend and I made the round of all the classic restaurants, cafeterias, tea rooms, etc., that were part of LA history, since that was a transitional age in LA—the Miracle Mile was becoming less of a miracle, and everything was moving towards the west, as Century City and environs were still developing, with downtown dying off.

                                        When Bullock's-Wilshire downtown finally closed, everyone clamored for the recipe for this pie. I'd remembered having had a slice on the recommendation of the hostess, but not what a whole pie looked like.

                                        I look at that recipe now, and think about what it must have been like in the 1920s and 30s—made with fresh cream delivered daily from a dairy out in Pomona, real farm fresh eggs, coconut shipped in from Hawai'i on a great Matsonliner, a crust probably made with butter and lard, rather than shortening, and it's hard to think of doing it any other way than in the grandest of styles. I'd probably make it fitting for a Busby Berkeley and the Art Deco era with a proper great dome. Silly in many ways, perhaps, but someone's got to keep culinary skills and traditions alive.

                                        You know, I might just make this for Easter next Sunday.

                                        1. re: RelishPDX

                                          Coconut Cream Pie..RelishPDX, I have never been to LA, but I have always wanted to visit there & make it a food journey just as you did.

                                          I have copied the recipe & am thinking of making it for Easter also, all these pies are sounding wonderful. You will have a good conversation piece if you do the deco dome.

                                          1. re: cstout

                                            I wonder how to cut a slice of that dOmed pie -- slowly, quickly, wet knife, buttered knife ? It should be an extra long knife, for sure.

                                            1. re: blue room

                                              Thinking this through, it would mostly come down to what density of cream was used to construct the dome. Thick to hold its shape or thin and airy so it doesn't collapse onto itself? I'm thinking the best would be rather dense. Then probably a long serrated bread knife to make the first few cuts. Then you'd need a proper pie spatula, which I have, to get the first piece out intact.

                                              An alternative could be individual coconut cream tarts, which I'm giving some consideration to now after thinking about it today. Those could be impressive presentation-wise as well. For me, that would involve buying tartlet pans, but might be a worthwhile investment since I usually cook for one. I make mini-cobblers using Corning Grab-It bowls, which are just about the right size if I don't fill them too high.

                                              1. re: blue room

                                                So I've consulted with my Easter guests, and they are actually okay going crustless with the pie filling and topping done in some large decorative ramekins that I have. "More than happy to save the calories for something else," was the consensus.

                                                I'll still do domes, but we won't have any cutting/serving difficulties to deal with. I was happy that they both gave a go-ahead to coconut, so many people shy away from it.

                                                That solution will also eliminate the need for me to source and buy mini tart pans that I may not use again for a long time.

                                            2. re: RelishPDX

                                              When you made your 80's tour, did you ever eat near Angel's Flight? Was is still operating even then?

                                              1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                                Angel's Flight was closed and dismantled by then. I didn't even know about it until they began reconstruction some years later, but I moved away from LA before it reopened.