The Miami Herald
"I Brake for Pie" should be my bumper sticker. One of my pastimes is to search out fabulous pies at roadside stands and diners and standalone bakeries. My favorite pie sign said "Ho' made Pie" just outside Zion National Park in Utah, and my favorite bite was a warm peach pie with a cobbler-type top with fresh peach ice cream from an orchard off Interstate 81 in Georgia.
I'd rather eat pie than cake, and so my birthday wish is always for a peach pie. Or a blueberry pie. Or a chocolate pie. So I always approach pie cookbooks with enthusiasm. Two new ones stand out:
The Nutella Pie recipe here is from "First Prize Pies" by Allison Kave ($29.95, Stewart, Taboori & Chang). The author entered a pie contest in Brooklyn on a whim, stole the show, then founded a successful bakeshop. These pies are approachable, inventive and enticing -- 85 recipes in all -- and the photos alone will make you want pie.
"Ms. American Pie" by Beth Howard ($28, Race Point) is a little more kitschy with its subtitle: "Buttery Good Pie Recipes and Bold Tales from the American Gothic House," referring to the iconic Grant Wood painting. Howard once baked pies for celebrities in Beverly Hills (Steven Spielberg liked coconut cream), but went back home to Iowa, where she runs the Pitchfork Pie Stand in the house that's in the background of the painting. Her recipes are a fun mix of standbys like apple and Shaker lemon, but there's also pie in a jar and slab pie plus intriguing anecdotes and name dropping.
EASY NUTELLA PIE
1- 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs
5 to 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
1- 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
Make the crust: Crumble the cookies (Kave makes homemade for this but I settled for store-bought) into the work bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground, or whack with a rolling pin until finely crushed. Pour the butter into the crumbs and mix (hands are best for this) until the butter is fully incorporated and the texture is that of wet sand. Firmly press the crumbs against the sides of a 9-inch pie pan, then against the bottom of the pan. Chill for at least 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake crust 10 minutes, then let it cool completely.
Make the filling: In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat together the Nutella, mascarpone and salt until light and fluffy. Spread the filling into the pie shell, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Top with the chopped nuts. Makes 8 servings. May be refrigerated for up to 1 week, covered in plastic wrap.
Per serving: 826 calories (66 percent from fat), 61 g fat (23.7 g saturated, 9.2 g monounsaturated), 77 mg cholesterol, 12 g protein, 59 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 269 mg sodium.
Source: "First Prize Pies" by Allison Kave