Pi (or π) is that magic mathematical constant 3.14159… used to calculate a circle’s circumference from its diameter. That might not mean much to most, but it is one of the most widely-known constants both inside and outside the scientific community. Attempts to memorize its value have led brainiacs and trivia-hounds alike to be able to recall over 70,000 digits.
Instead of plopping down on a chair spouting off numbers from here to tomorrow, I suggest a compromise: just make 3.14 pies instead (for the .14, lick the spoon regularly). Here are three recipes guaranteed to get your sugar up to almost uncountable levels and to throw your waist circumference fully out of proportion.
Lemon Icebox Pie
This is my favorite pie for warmer temperatures — firstly because you don’t have to bake it, and secondly, because it’s frozen and refreshing. It has a light taste with a heavy finish, so start with small slices and work your way up. For the delicious tarty-ness and the delicate creamy texture, this pie is all the fun and none of the fuss.
For the crust:
1 package Maria cookies
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tsp. unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1.25 cups lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
8 large egg yolks
To make the crust: Heat the oven to 325°F. Break the Maria cookies into semi-fine crumbs and add sugar and salt. Pour in the butter and stir until blended and the mixture holds its shape when you squeeze it.
Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie pan and press the crumb mixture into the bottom and along the sides. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.
To make the filling: Whisk the condensed milk with the lemon juice and, once blended, add the egg yolks. Whisk until the color is pale yellow.
Pour the mixture into the cooled crust and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight. Top with fresh fruit and/or whipped cream if you’re not a purist.
This pie is slightly more labor-intensive, but only because it’s not always easy to find the ingredients. Pecans can sometimes be a bit expensive if you buy them at an organic store, so keep your eyes peeled in the nut section of your local grocery and scoop them up when you see them. For the karo syrup, the only place that sells it year-round is El Corte Inglês. Go to the baking aisle and you’ll find it there next to the vanilla extract.
Pastry dough: Save yourself the headache and just buy it already done
For the filling:
3/4 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup Karo corn syrup (light or dark)
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
3 large eggs
2 cups pecan halves (1/2 pound)
To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350°F with a baking sheet on the middle rack. This pie will leak out sometimes, so don’t skip this part unless you love cleaning your oven.
Fit your store-bought crust into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the edge and press down using a fork to decorate the edges. Chill until it’s firm, at least 30 minutes.
To make the filling: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, whisking until smooth.
Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, zest, and salt. Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk into the corn syrup mixture. Add the pecans and stir. Pour the filling into the crust and garnish the center with a whole pecan or two.
Bake on hot baking sheet until the filling is set, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool completely.
Southern Apple Pie
This pie requires more time in prep work before you’re stuffing it into your belly, but it’s worth it — especially if you’ve got a nice vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer begging to be á la mode on top of this southern American classic.
Pastry dough: Double-crust (store-bought!)
For the filling:
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
8 cups thinly-sliced peeled apples (8 medium)
2 T butter
To make the crust: Heat oven to 425ºF. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the pastry dough and press down the sides. Trim the edges so there’s a 1/2 extension from the lip edge.
To make the filling: Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Stir in the apples. Pour the mixture into the pastry-lined pie plate and dot with butter.
Flatten out the other pastry. Fold it into fourths and cut slits so steam can escape OR cut strips to do a fancy latticework top and really amaze your guests (or yourself).
Lay the top pastry over the filling and trim the overhanging edge 1 inch from rim of plate. Fold and roll top edge under lower edge, pressing on the rim to seal.
Cover with foil and Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking. Serve warm.