The year 2020 came in like a piece of cake. It quickly turned into Minny’s chocolate pie!
It is hard to believe that 10 years have gone by since the movie “The Help” was filmed in and around Greenwood. I was fortunate to have been hired as the food stylist for the movie. All of the food that was seen in the movie was food that I had prepared. Of course, the crown jewel was Minny’s chocolate pie. I was just reading a diary that I had kept during the filming of the movie, from June until October. Those were five long, hot months of some of the hardest work I have ever done in my life.
After the movie was finished filming, I was hired by Disney Studios to travel and give interviews for the release of the DVD. One of my favorite things that I was asked to do was to travel to Atlanta to appear on several morning shows. I also did a presentation of baking the pie at an adorable little shop called Pie, Oh My! The only thing sold in the shop was — you guessed it — pies. You could buy a whole pie or pies by the slice. There were tables set up to dine in or carry out as much pie as you wanted to. A couple of years later, I read about the pie shop in Southern Living magazine.
One of the worst days of work was preparing for the filming of the “terrible awful pie.” I had to have 12 pies made for the scene, and they all had to look the same. Up until this time, I had used “store bought” pie crusts, either from the freezer or the ones you roll out from the dairy case. The actress who was to eat the pie was on a gluten-free diet and had to have special pie crusts made. I ordered the special gluten-free pie crust mix and started making the crusts at 6 on a Saturday morning. I finished that night at 7.
As I looked at all my pies cooling on my dining room table, I looked down and noticed that one of my hot pink fake fingernails was missing. I panicked because it was there that morning when I started. I assumed that if the actress didn’t want to eat gluten, she sure didn’t want to crunch down on my fingernail!
There was no time nor ingredients to start over again. I paced all over my house wondering what in the world to do, and I prayed that the good Lord would give me an answer to avoid being fired from the movie. As I went to prepare supper, I washed my hands in the kitchen sink, and there it was in the drain staring up at me, my hot pink fingernail. The Lord had answered my prayer. I quickly got rid of those pretty fingernails, and I also vowed never to make a homemade pie crust ever again.
Even though I have kept that promise for 10 years, I have some tips for those of you who do want to make homemade pie crusts. There are tons of recipes for the ingredients needed to make one.
• Keep ingredients cold.
• Refrigerate dough after each step.
• Handle dough as little as possible.
• Use as little flour as possible when rolling out the dough.
• Bake plain crusts or filled pies in a hot oven to set the crust’s structure.
• Bake pies on lowest rack of oven on a preheated sheet pan.
• Vent double-crust pies.
• Be sure to bake pies long enough.
• Use aluminum foil or pie shields to protect crust from getting too brown.
• Let pies cool before serving.
I must admit that pie is probably my favorite dessert. My mama makes me a layered blueberry pie for my birthday, instead of a cake. The best part of the pie is my grandmother’s special pie crust — two sticks of butter, 2 cups of plain flour and 1 cup of chopped pecans. This makes two pie crusts or a crust pressed into a 9-by-12-inch baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Increase oven to 350 degrees, and bake 10 more minutes. Cool and fill with your favorite pie filling. My go-to filling is for lemonade pie, which includes two cans of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk, two small cans of frozen pink lemonade (thawed), and 16 ounces of Cool Whip. Makes on 9-by-12-inch pie crust or two pies.
I’ve tried several new pie recipes in the past few months. I always top each slice with whipped cream and a red-stemmed cherry. I hope one of these pie recipes will strike your fancy and put you in the mood to make a pie. Thanks for reading.
LEMON ICE BOX PIE
3 egg yolks
1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup fresh lemon juice
Zest of a lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 graham cracker pie crust (regular 8- or 9-inch, not the deep-dish)
Mix all ingredients together, and pour into pie shell. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool, and refrigerate before serving. Top with whipped cream.
KEY LIME PIE
8 egg yolks
2 cans Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
7 ounces key lime juice
1 (9-inch) deep-dish graham cracker crust
Beat the egg yolks until pale. Add milk and lime juice, and beat well. Let stand for five minutes before pouring into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until outside edges are set. Let cool on wire rack and refrigerate before serving. Top with whipped cream.
FROZEN LEMON ICE CREAM PIE
2 cups heavy cream
1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
3 large lemons, 1 zested and all 3 juiced
1 (9-inch) graham cracker crust
With an electric mixer, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in sweetened condensed milk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Spread into crust and place in freezer for six hours or until set. Remove pie from freezer about 20 minutes before serving to make easier to cut.
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