I do not like apple pie.
Yes, yes, yes, BLASPHEMY! Before you yell at me, hear me out. I have tried many apples pies over the years. I try. Seriously guys, I really really try. Am I missing something? Why does everyone love apple pie? I have eagerly tried this pie and that hoping that maybe this would be the one that would reveal to me the mysteries of everyone’s adoration. But each time I take that first bite, I immediately know that I still would really much rather just eat a raw apple, cored and sliced, fresh as can be, along with some flaky buttery crust on the side. Does that exist? We should invent it.
So many pies reduce one of my favorite eating fruits to a soft mushy mess of no texture and cloying sweetness, nullifying the purpose and reason of the apple’s existence. And even TK’s mom whose pie definitely doesn’t do that still doesn’t quite make me want to eat it over a raw apple. Her pie retains a nice texture. It isn’t overly sweet and has a lovely bit of tang for contrast. The crust is flaky and buttery just as all pie crusts should be. In short, it is a perfect apple pie. TK LOVES this pie. But even here it’s a situation of it’s not you, it’s me.
For a while, I assumed this is how I felt about all pies. But then I had pumpkin pie for the very first time and I thought whoa there are multiple categories of pies! (P.S. pies aren’t a thing in Chinese food, just in case you think duh there are many categories of pies). After that revelation, I thought maybe I just don’t like cooked apples. But I had apple cake and apple tart and found out that I love those. The dispersal of fruit within the batter in a cake and the roasting of the exposed apples on a tart creates a totally different apple dessert. I have now come to the conclusion that it is the density of cooked fruit in a pie, combined with the layer of dough covering said fruit that creates a boiling. And that boiling is what I do not like. By the way, I also feel this way about berry pies. I LOVE pies. But an apple pie will never be my first choice.
Alright, now you can yell at me.
In late September during the Saveur Blog Awards, I and several other bloggers (Betty, Thalia, and Claudia) finally made it to Four and Twenty Blackbirds, a great pie shop here in Brooklyn. We ordered an assortment of basically all of the pies that they had that day (what did you expect?). Out of all of the pies that we had, everyone LOVED the Salty Honey Pie the most. It disappeared so fast that I almost cried. This golden custardy pie was wonderfully balanced with rich honey flavor and generous fat flakes of sea salt. Eye-rolling heaven! My kind of dessert!
I really wanted to make my own version and so I thought pears would be the perfect addition. I personally feel that pears really lend themselves to cooking, more so than apples. Cooking intensifies the subtle flavors of a raw pear and yet it is still light enough that it serves as a wonderful canvas for whatever flavors you want to throw at it. I also did not feel like making a pie crust so this is a free form custard pie that still stands up on its own. You can thank me now. To serve, I made a coconut, ginger whipped cream. You can of course make a dairy version if you don’t like coconut.
Hope you enjoy this recipe and Happy Thanksgiving! I promise your family will absolutely love this dessert.
S A L T Y H O N E Y P E A R C U S T A R D P I E W/ C O C O N U T
G I N G E R W H I P P E D C R E A M
makes 1 9-inch pie, adapted from this recipe
for the pie
3-4 bartlett pears, cut each into 8 wedges
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup white cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup raw honey
3 large free-range eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
flake sea salt, for finishing (such as Maldon)
for the coconut ginger whipped cream
1 half carton of 11 oz coconut milk, make sure to shake well
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly butter a shallow 9-inch pie pan, set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, add the melted butter and gradually whisk in the sugar. Next add in the cornmeal and salt. Drizzle in the honey and mix well. Fold in each egg one at a time and then the cream. Scrape in a fresh vanilla bean.
Fan out the pears around the pan, you may need to overlap the edges a bit. Place the pie pan on a sheet tray. Carefully pour in the custard mix. Bake in the center of the oven for 35-4o minutes. Depending on the evenness of your oven, you may need to rotate the pie halfway through. Make sure to start checking at the 35 minute mark. You do not want the edges of the custard to burn. The finished pie will puff up in the oven but still have a slight wiggle when done. It will deflate slightly as it cools. Allow to cool fully before serving. Sprinkle over with the sea salt.
To make the coconut whipped cream: add the coconut milk and ground ginger to a mixing bowl. Gradually add in the sugar as you whip into soft, fluffy peaks. You can do this by hand or with an electric mixer