Jordan: This recipe was, in my mind, the perfect choice for this weekend. It’s green, for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a tart, for Pi(e) Day. It uses matcha, which we’ve been wanting to use for literal years. And it looks both beautiful and delicious.
Kitra: And I was just too tired to think about how much work it was going to be, and also only like 60% sure we were even doing cake this weekend so I said “sounds lovely” without real thought.
It’s worth noting that Kitra is indifferent to tarts—she prefers proper pies—and dislikes streusel, so it’s a sign of how little she was paying attention that she agreed to this in the first place, even before she knew that it involved three different recipes.
And by the time I realized, I’d already agreed and it was too late. This tart and I had a rough road ahead of us, and things went wrong for a bunch of reasons (none of which were the tart’s fault, but rather mine for agreeing to something when I was too tired to actually follow the instructions). I didn’t check that I had the ingredients. I mixed the crust in the wrong order and the texture was all kinds of wrong. I forgot to add sugar to the streusel.
She had a minor breakdown when her crust refused to roll out, which honestly was hilarious to watch but probably not so fun to experience firsthand.
It was elastic and puttylike all at once, while also NEVER firming up even a little. I dubbed it the Green Monster, and it may be the grossest thing I’ve ever made as far as unbaked aesthetics go.
There was a lot of swearing involved.
But the tart does taste good. It’s not as sweet as most tarts (which is probably due in part to the whole “forgetting the sugar” thing) and is kind of pretty even with my weird-colored matcha.
I added blueberries to mine, while Kitra mixed some freeze-dried raspberries to the streusel. Both options give it some bright tartness (no pun intended)—
—to balance out the sweet almond filling and the lightly bitter matcha.
I do wish that for all the almond in it, there was more almond flavor to it. But it doesn’t need that, I just think it would be nice.
This would be a nice tart for a spring brunch, or some sort of afternoon tea. It’s somehow just… very charming. This is a charming tart, and what a nice thing that is to have in your repertoire.
Jordan: Well, here we are. Another Pie Month has come and gone before we knew it.
Kitra: *quiet sobs heard throughout the town square*
Look, we know that giving you a bunch of pie recipes after Thanksgiving seems counterintuitive, but hopefully last week reminded you how much you love pie.
Plus it’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s pies! (pies! Pies! Pies! PIES!)
We may put pies front and center in November, but there’s never a wrong time for pies. These pies are just as delicious on December 1 as they are on November 30.
Christmas pie! Guy Fawkes Day Pie! Arbor Day pie! Tuesday pie! Birthday pie! Bored pie! Feelings pie! Tired pie! Wired pie! Galaxy brain pie! Wednesday pie (like Tuesday pie, the sequel)! Pie is good for every day ever and I will fight you.
“Pie is good for every day ever and I will fight you”: The true meaning of Pie Month.
Also, a likely first line of my obituary for when someone takes me up on that challenge.
It’s fine, just throw a pie at them and run.
Street fight pie! There! Is! A! Pie! For! Every! Occasion!
Before Kitra uses up our weekly allotment of exclamation marks, let’s talk about these pies in particular.
Okay sure. So, generally we make many pies for not many people and this year was no different. Except technically I made these all myself and 3/10 would not recommend the dishes. 12/10 would recommend the pies.
We did a virtual Thanksgiving, so Kitra made three pies, our mom and I made a bunch of non-pie food, and then we swapped portions of each and ate it all while on a Google Meet call. While I was quite pleased with my mashed potatoes, the pies were (as usual) the highlight.
Also, the primary leftover. I’ve eaten pie 2-3 times a day for 3 days now.
Same here, no ragrets.
Breakfast: Cranberry orange pie. It’s got fruit and dairy, isn’t too sweet, and doesn’t make me want to take a nap after. Lunch: Apple butterscotch pie. Fruit! Pudding! What else do I need to say, it’s like the lunchbox of dreams. Dessert: Almond pear tart. Sweet, classy, makes me sleepy.
I have eaten all three at all times of day with no complaint, but the cranberry orange one does indeed make quite a nice breakfast.
The great thing about making lots of pies that are all very good? You can enjoy them in different ways and to different degrees. There’s no pie here I wouldn’t eat again but I think my ranking goes cranberry, apple, pear.
Let’s say you, for some reason, only want to make one pie. Maybe three crusts, two cooked fruit fillings, a cheesecake filling, poached pears, frangipane, a pudding, and whipped cream sounds like a project for someone incredibly brave or incredibly foolish.
(I was both of those people. Brave about the horrors I was going to put my hands through washing that many dishes, foolish because I forgot to put on shoes or otherwise make standing on tile for 12 hours hurt less.)
If that’s the case, which pie should you pick? Well, the cranberry orange is bright and spunky, but balanced. It has a crumb crust (my favorite kind of crust) made of Biscoff. It contains multitudes.
If you’re the type of person who likes the idea of pie but gets hung up on the overwhelming sweetness, this is for you! (Jordan has suggested that I assign these astrological profiles, which is something I know very little about and am doing only based on gut feeling. So, Aries, I guess.)
The apple butterscotch is sweet, but not cloying. Imagine a very thin apple pie, with a layer of perfect butterscotch pudding and just-barely-sweetened whipped cream. This is your smooth, dreamy pie.
If you are the type of person who loves fruit and custard pies equally, and also is a little extra, make this one! (Gemini, clearly. Even I know that.)
Finally, the almond pear tart. A soft cookie-like crust, tender almond filling, and lovely poached pears. It’s subdued, but delicious. It feels very French and elegant.
If you’re the type of person who really likes steps, is well-organized, and loves amazing smelling kitchens—or just really likes almonds or the French—come collect your pie! This pie is a Virgo and I feel pretty good about that one. (I am a Apple Butterscotch moon and Pear Tart rising.)
Jordan: Earlier this month, a coworker whose birthday is right after mine asked what my birthday cake plans were because if our family’s everyday cake game was strong, surely our birthday cake game was over the top. She was appalled when I responded that we don’t really… do… birthday cake?
Kitra: Yeah, it’s definitely not how most of us celebrate. Our dad gets pie, I usually opt for Eton mess, and Jordan… Jordan is all cheesecake.
I can’t recall when the birthday cheesecakes started, but once it got going, it’s been pretty regular. Of the years when we’ve actually gathered as a family and bothered to do a cake for my birthday, they’ve just about all been cheesecake.
But this isn’t *cake* month. That’s everything else. This is PIE MONTH.
Pie month! Pie month! Pie month!
And I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of the cookbook event of the decade, THE BOOK ON PIE. Which, it turns out, had a Cheesecake! Pie! Erin McDowell has a brain that I want to live inside of and eat everything that it creates.
Kitra has been sending me excited snapchats from the book and truly, if you can imagine it then Erin McDowell probably has made a pie out of it. The whole thing is nothing but brilliant mashups and genius tricks.
It’s so long and detailed that I bruised my leg with the corner reading it, and what a worthwhile bruise it is.
(This is really only unusual for Kitra in that she knows where this bruise came from. She usually has at least a dozen mystery bruises on her legs.)
In my first pass of the book alone, I marked 16 recipes for Thanksgiving consideration, immediate consumption, things I absolutely must make when they’re in season, and in one case, Jordan’s Birthday.
This is a very good cheesecake filling inside a chocolate cookie pie crust. It’s thinner—and thus less overwhelming—than a normal cheesecake, and while I love a crumb crust, the solid crust means you can pick it up and eat it like a slice of pizza if you so desire.
I do. But also I ate most of the slices I came home with standing in front of my open refrigerator straight out of the container because it was delicious and I was too tired to eat anything else.
The topping is a nice raspberry coulis, which is tart and bright enough to balance out the heavier cake. That said, it would also be delicious without if you want something a little more subdued; I actually scraped the coulis layer off of most of my leftovers to focus on a more chocolatey cheesecake experience.
Look, I still ate the coulis. I just ate it first. I’m not a monster.
Truly I am baffled, because you are not the chocolate member of the family. But either way, the topping is delicious and I would eat it with a spoon so I get it I guess.
Which I made again this year for my birthday and am currently restrained from making again right this second only by a dog on my foot and my lack of energy to wash literally a single dish this week.
But also, Kitra has pie in the house already because you know what time it is?
It’s PIE time we ate some pie. (Get it? Like high time? I say this to my self every time I cut a slice of pie and chuckle alone in my apartment, which is a great example of why I live alone.)
I apologize for setting Kitra up for that pun. It was unintentional.
Also there is often pie in my house. I love a hand pie in the freezer, or a quiche for dinners, or tarts, or a galette, or just eating crispy bits of dough in my kitchen standing over the stove and burning my fingers slightly.
You can understand why I saw Pieometry at my local bookstore and decided it would make a great birthday present for Kitra.
She didn’t even know it was a book I was aware of and intended to buy but had forgotten to add to my cookbook wishlist.
I’m often dubious of beautiful food. So often, an intricate topping on a dessert is there to hide the fact that the dessert itself is… fine? But in this case, I flipped through the recipes and wanted to eat every single one.
So I sat down and flagged with my cookbook sticky-tabs all the ones that sounded like potential fall pies.
And that led us here. Last year we made a pumpkin chocolate cheesecake, which looks kind of similar to this pie—multiple layers, pretty colors, creamy pumpkin deliciousness—but that’s about where the resemblance stops.
While that one is unreservedly indulgent, almost impossible to eat a whole slice of, and frankly takes a bit of work, this one is balanced in sweetness and comes together pretty easily (2 bowls, no real work other than making crust).
Pumpkin pies can be a little on the sweet side, but the black sesame gives the bottom layer a nice bitterness.
The seeds in the crust make it feel like a charming bagel crust, definitely not something that’s going to make you take a nap immediately, right?
To me the crust is kind of cracker-like, but same idea either way. But don’t worry, the pumpkin layer is sweet enough to balance it all out. (There is a full can of sweetened condensed milk in this recipe, after all.)
It’s creamy and smooth, soft and silky, and all the other platitudes you can imagine about pumpkin pie. But just less boring and better than most of them are.
You could serve it with whipped cream, but—unlike those other boring pumpkin pies—it really doesn’t need it, so you can instead decorate with cute pie crust shapes and letters celebrating mmm, nothing in particular I’m sure.
We certainly were not influenced in topping choices by the whooping and hollering that lasted all day on Saturday in DC, an air of collective joy unseen in years.
They must have known that it was Pie Month, I guess.
Kitra: It’s November, which is when we reveal ourselves to be traitors.
Jordan: The truth is, we both prefer pie to cake in almost all cases.
I feel that way about cake compared to… Most desserts. Ice cream? Hell yes. Flan? Sure. Cookies? Totally. Cake? Eh, depends.
Which is actually part of why this project exists. We’ll make pie on our own, given even the slightest reason to do so. But cake? We really would only make cake for birthdays (of people who don’t like pie), and we had a few go-tos that we didn’t stray far from.
We weren’t developing a massive backlog of unmade pies. But we both had dozens of cake recipes that seemed interesting but we had no occasion for.
However, in November we shake it up. It’s almost Thanksgiving! No one is making cake in November. November belongs to pie.
It’s the perfect excuse for us to unzip these human suits and reveal ourselves to be the pie lizards that we actually are.
This creme brulee pie turned out to be on both of our “to make” lists. I love a good custard pie, and Kitra loves setting things on fire.
That is wildly incorrect.
But it was funny. In reality, Kitra hates fire but puts up with it for the sake of creme brulee.
We made this week’s decision over “breakfast” (it was noon, okay) in my local cafe/spice shop, where the idea of not throwing a handful of spices into an otherwise classic creme brulee seemed like a PROBLEM.
This was the result. Imagine a cross between your favorite chai latte and a perfectly smooth pumpkin pie, and then cover it in not-quite-burnt sugar.
Or, imagine creme brulee, and I guess put some pastry around it so you can pick it up in your hand and get it into your body faster. 10/10.
Kitra’s first words upon taking a bite were “I love this. This is a perfect pie.” And while there is room in this world for many perfect pies, I agree that this is definitely one of them.
If you don’t already have a deep need to be eating creme brulee pie, please reassess your priorities. Because you’re wrong, and probably a bad person. I don’t make the rules.
We’re signing off here before Kitra gets even more aggressive, but we’ll leave you with the recipe. Enjoy.