At this time of year, we want to eat pie at breakfast, elvenenses, lunch, high tea, dinner, and as a midnight snack. It’s our way of getting into the holiday spirit. But we don’t want average apple or plain pumpkin – we are looking for pies that put tempting twists on tradition or surprise us in some way. Here are nine superior slices for sweet tooths.
Pumpkin Pecan Pie at Beatrix, Chicago, Illinois
Sometimes you can’t decide between a slice of pumpkin or a slice of pecan. This twofer treat solves that dilemma by doing a layer of pecan and then a layer of pumpkin on top. Smooth and crunchy, sweet and earthy, it’s a beautiful union. Make a reservation at Beatrix.
Salted Lime Pie at The Dutch, Miami, Florida
This ain’t your usual key lime pie. Pastry chef Josh Gripper tones down the tartness by sprinkling the citrusy wedge with sea salt and pairing it with passion fruit sauce and a scoop of toasted coconut ice cream. The end result recalls an afternoon at the beach, full of tropical notes and a touch of sea air. Make a reservation at The Dutch.
Sweet Potato, Pineapple, and Toasted Honey Marshmallow Pie at Willa Jean, New Orleans, Louisiana
Here’s a twist on a Southern classic. Pineapple and toasted honey marshmallow sass up the standard sweet potato. The additions deepen the flavor while adding a level of nuance that’s not usually present in what is typically a one-note dessert. Make a reservation at Willa Jean.
Hull Pie at SpringHouse, Alexander City, Alabama
You’ve never had pie quite like this. Chef Rob McDaniel packs his pie with intensely sweet muscadine grapes, which taste similar to Concords, and the slightly less sweet, but no less flavorful, scuppernongs. A mixture of the two is folded inside a buttery crust and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Make a reservation at SpringHouse.
Brown Butter Lemon Pie at Andiron Steak & Sea, Las Vegas, Nevada
We will never get tired of lemon pie, ever. This winning rendition is graced with peaks of key lime meringue and slivers of candied lime for an extra citrus punch. Goes down best with a cup of coffee – black, no sugar. Make a reservation at Andiron Steak & Sea.
Banoffee Pie at Island Creek Oyster Bar, Boston, Massachusetts
This pie is B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Crumby graham cracker pâte sucrée crust – think of it as a combination of Honey Maids and sugar cookies – is the vessel for a silky mixture of bananas and dulce de leche. Each slice is topped off with a crisscross of roasted, caramelized bananas. Make a reservation at Island Creek Oyster Bar.
Purple Sweet Potato Pie at Blue Duck Tavern, Washington, D.C.
Pastry chef David Collier isn’t interested in simply rehashing the classics. His autumn standout is a purple sweet potato pie dappled with black sesame seeds, sweet potato chips, and dots of toasted marshmallow. A quenelle of coconut ice cream is the finishing flourish. Make a reservation at Blue Duck Tavern.
Rum Glazed Apple Pie at Brennan’s of Houston, Houston, Texas
There’s an old saying, “Apple pie without some cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.” This sweet-with-a-touch-of-savory pie has a cheddar cheese crust, which is filled by an aromatic mixture of Louisiana apples stewed with spiced rum from New Orleans, holiday aromatics, brown sugar, and Poirier’s cane syrup. It comes with a scoop of sea salted caramel ice cream and Tabasco-amped pecan brittle bits. Make a reservation at Brennan’s of Houston.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Delight at Bub City, Chicago, Illinois
Hey, you got your chocolate on my peanut butter! Consider this a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in pie form. Hefty layers of smooth chocolate pudding and sweet-savory peanut butter mousse get finished off with a speckling of crushed peanut brittle. Make a reservation at Bub City.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Noah Fecks (The Dutch); Randy Schmidt (Willa Jean).