It’s the Fourth of July tomorrow, when Americans celebrate their Independence Day. It’s a family holiday, marked with parades, fireworks, fairs, concerts, picnics and barbecues.
Take your cue from this holiday by holding an American-themed braai this weekend – hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill accompanied by colesaw and potato salad. Round off the meal with a slice of one of these quintessential American pies.
Three of the pies use crushed biscuits as a base. Just place the biscuits in a food processor and pulse until they resemble breadcrumbs.
If you don’t have a processor, put the biscuits in a heavy plastic bag and whack them with a rolling pin.
MISSISSIPPI MUD PIE
200g digestive biscuits, crushed
100g dark chocolate, grated
80g butter, melted
80ml brown sugar
150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
45ml golden syrup
strawberries for decoration
grated white chocolate for decoration
Combine the biscuits and chocolate with the butter and mix well. Press into the base and halfway up the sides of a 20cm spring-form cake pan. Refrigerate until set.
Combine the chocolate and butter and microwave on medium for 2-3 minutes until melted and smooth. Allow to cool.
Beat the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy. Mix in the cream and fold through the cooled chocolate mixture.
Spoon into the crust and bake at 160°C for 40-50 minutes until just set.
Remove and cool completely.
The pie will collapse slightly.
For the topping, combine the chocolate, cream and syrup in a bowl and microwave on medium for 1-2 minutes. Stir until smooth.
Pour onto the pie and refrigerate for a few hours until firm.
Remove the pie from the pan and decorate with strawberries and white chocolate if desired.
COCONUT CREAM PIE
200g tennis biscuits, crushed
30ml desiccated coconut
100g butter, melted
400g can of coconut milk
250ml full cream milk
125ml castor sugar
125ml desiccated coconut
pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
5ml vanilla essence
3ml vanilla essence
coconut flakes, lightly toasted
Combine the crushed biscuits with the coconut. Add the butter and mix well.
Press into a 20cm pie plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
FILLING: Put the coconut milk, milk, sugar, coconut and salt in a pot. Heat gently for |5 minutes until just boiling.
Mix the cornflour and egg yolks well.
Add some of the hot liquid to the yolks and mix well.
Return the mixture to the pot and cook, stirring constantly, over a medium heat until the mixture thickens and boils.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla essence.
Pour the mixture into the cold crust. Refrigerate for a few hours until set.
TOPPING: Beat the cream with the sugar and vanilla essence until thick.
Spoon on to the set filling and sprinkle with coconut flakes.
45ml castor sugar
150g butter, cubed
1 egg, beaten
ice water to mix
225g brown sugar
2ml vanilla essence
200g pecan nuts, roughly chopped, reserving a few whole for the top
PASTRY: Put the flour, castor sugar and butter into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the egg and enough ice water to bring the dough together to form a ball.
Wrap the dough in cling-film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out on a floured surface large enough to line a 22cm shallow pie dish.
Line the dish with the pastry and bake blind by placing a sheet of non-stick baking paper on the pastry. Cover with dried beans.
Bake at 180°C for |15-20 minutes.
Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for 10 minutes to dry out the base. Remove and cool.
FILLING: Melt together butter, sugar and syrup. Do not boil.
Beat together the eggs, vanilla essence and a pinch of salt.
Stir this into syrup off the heat. Fold in pecans and pour into the pastry case.
Arrange the whole pecans on top.
Bake at 180°C until the filling is set and the top is brown, about 35-40 minutes.
1x23cm unbaked shortcrust pastry shell
2ml ground ginger
5ml ground cinnamon
3ml ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground allspice
3 large eggs, beaten
250ml cooked and |mashed pumpkin
250ml evaporated milk
3 ml vanilla essence
60ml chopped pecans (optional)
Combine the sugar, flour, salt and spices.
Mix in eggs.
Stir in the mashed pumpkin, evaporated milk and vanilla essence.
Turn the mixture into the pastry shell. Sprinkle with pecans, if using.
Bake at 180°C for 30 to 40 minutes, or until set.
The filling may crack slightly.
The pie is baked when a knife inserted in the filling comes out clean.
Serve with a generous helping of whipped cream or even some ice cream.
KEY LIME PIE
200g tennis biscuits
80g butter, melted
385g can of condensed milk
10ml grated lime zest
125ml lime juice
5ml vanilla extract
lime slices, for decorating
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place biscuits in a food processor and pulse until they resemble breadcrumbs.
Add the melted butter and mix.
Press the crumbs into the base and sides of a 20cm pie dish.
FILLING: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except the lime slices and whisk well.
Pour into the pie crust and bake until filling sets to a consistency of soft custard, about 15-20 minutes.
Remove and cool completely.
Decorate with lime slices and serve with whipped cream if desired.