Best Pies to take to a Party

During the Christmas holiday season, it is easy to become overwhelmed with all of the  activities surrounding the season.  There are so many special events that only occur this time of the year, and you don’t want to miss even one.  Add in the time it takes to shop for family and friends and your schedule quickly fills to overflowing.

When asked to bring a pie to a Christmas party, there are some choices you can make that will allow you to bake up some crowd pleasing items without blowing your budget or your schedule.

At a party, guests want to taste a little bit of everything.  The round shape of traditional pie doesn’t lend itself to small two-or-three bite-sized pieces, so consider making pies that can be made in a square or rectangle pan and cut in squares.  This recipe works well and will hold up to traveling across town or across the country.

Derby Pie – made in 9X13 pan

4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven 325 degrees F.
1. Stir eggs with mixer on medium until creamy.
2. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter mixing until smooth.
3. Add flour, continuing to mix until smooth.
4. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.  Pour in to 9X13″ pan with crust (it will be thick).
5. Bake for 60-70 minutes.
6. Cool completely on wire rack.
7. Cut into 2 inch squares.

Suggestions for presentation:
*Top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with cocoa powder.
*Top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
*Dust with powdered sugar and top with a red raspberrry.

Another unique way to take pie to a Christmas party is empanadas.  These delicious hand-held pies can be made with simple ingredients, are easy to prepare, can be stored easily, travel well and with some creative presentation it will be the star of the dessert table.  Chocolate lovers will go crazy for the chocolate banana empanada and the fresh berry pie will be a hit with fruit pie lovers.

Chocolate banana filling:
4 large ripe bananas
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

*Pie crust (see below)

Mash the bananas, sugar, and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl until creamy, but not completely smooth – you should still have pieces of banana chunks. Spoon a generous tablespoon of the banana filling on the empanada pastry circles and stick a piece of chocolate on top.

Fresh berry filling:
1 cup blackberries
1 cup  strawberries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup goat cheese (can substitute cream cheese)
1/4 cup sugar
*Pie crust (see below)

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Scoop heaping tablespoon of filling onto the center of each dough circle.

*This is where the short-cut comes in.  You can certainly make your own pie crust, but frozen pie crust will work just as well for these luscious handheld  pies.

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
2.  Unroll 2 refrigerated pie crusts onto a flat surface.
3.  Using round cookie cutter, make circles in the dough (4 circles per crust).
4.  Scoop heaping tablespoon of filling onto the center of each dough circle.
5.  Fold over and pinch around the edges of each section to seal. (crimp with a fork to ensure they are completely sealed)
6.  Transfer the empanadas to the prepared baking sheet and make slits in the top of each to allow steam to escape.
7.  Brush with egg wash (2 eggs beaten with 2 Tbsp water)
8.  Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake until crust is golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
9.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool.

After arranging on a platter, drizzle each empanada with chocolate syrup or dust with powdered sugar. Makes 8 servings.

If you are really pressed for time, make use of canned pie fillings which are available in many flavors. If you use canned fruit pie filling, try to scoop out mostly fruit so the epanadas aren’t too soupy.  Christmastime should be enjoyed with family and friends celebrating and having fun; don’t get bogged down in the kitchen with complicated recipes.