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Kitchen Mailbox: Homemade Butterscotch Pies are creamy dessert delights

Thursday, May 10, 2001

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. We did. Over the weekend, we tested three versions of butterscotch pie. We tested the pies once, and again and finally a third time -- it took some time but we got it right. Creams pies are easy to prepare but mistakes can be made, which we'll share with you.

We know now that we didn't cook the filling long enough (as a result the filling ran when the pie was sliced). Once we made the perfect pie, we had to decide which pasteurized egg product we would use for the meringue (pasteurized egg products eliminate the risk of salmonella poisoning). First we tried AllWhites and if we had noticed the warning on the carton, we would have known that this product can't be used for meringues. We found a product called Egg Beaters Egg Whites and it worked. Egg Beaters Egg Whites comes in an 8-ounce container divided into two 4 ounce cups.

Butterscotch pie is simply a cornstarch pudding made with egg yolks. The pie gets its butterscotch flavor from replacing granulated sugar with brown sugar. Cream pie fillings have to be stirred constantly (we used a wire whisk) or they'll scorch. When stirring, be sure to reach into the corners of the saucepan because the pudding tends to cook quicker in those hard-to-reach areas.

The filling for each recipe took about 10 minutes or longer to thicken.

To finish the pies, we used either meringue or sweetened whipped cream. For the whipped cream we used 1 1/2 cups whipping cream and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar.

Finally, after a long baking weekend, we were pleased with the results. All the pies turned out creamy with a not-too-sweet butterscotch flavor. There's really no comparing a cream pie made from scratch with a pie made with packaged pudding and pie filling. There are times when we wonder if we've forgotten what "fresh" tastes like.

The Allegheny County Conservation District requested a recipe for a good butterscotch pie. Here are three scrumptious choices.

The Butterscotch Pie recipe sent by Diane Larson of Cranberry is a version of her grandmother's. Diane's version is less sweet than traditional butterscotch pie.

Butterscotch Pie

9-inch baked pie shell (either graham cracker crust or traditional; we used traditional)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
1/2 stick butter or margarine (4 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 whole eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugars, 1/2 cup milk and butter; allow this mixture to boil for 5 minutes while stirring.

While this mixture is cooking, blend in a blender the cornstarch, 1/2 cup milk and the eggs, then add another 1/2 cup milk; set aside. Add the remaining 1 cup milk and the blended ingredients to the sugar mixture, stirring occasionally over medium heat until thick. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour into pie shell. Refrigerate until cold.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

The recipe is from Ruth Keenan of Glenshaw. She credits the "Better Homes & Garden Cookbook."

Butterscotch Pie

1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk, scalded
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
9-inch baked pie shell
Meringue (optional):
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten, or equivalent of pasteurized egg whites, see text above
6 tablespoons sugar

Mix cornstarch, sugar and salt. Gradually add milk. Cook in double boiler, stirring constantly, until thick. Take 1 cup of the mixture and slowly pour into egg yolks; add egg yolks to remaining mixture. Cook approximately 5 minutes longer, or until thick. Remove from heat, cool (about 5 minutes), then add butter and vanilla. Pour into pie shell.

If making meringue: Whip sugar into egg whites until firm, but not dry. Cover pie with meringue and refrigerate. Or skip meringue and serve with whipped cream.

This one is from Ruth E. McGrath of Highland Park.

Butterscotch Pie

9-inch pie shell, baked
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 tablespoons flour plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups half and half
3 tablespoons butter, melted

In a medium saucepan, mix sugar, flour and cornstarch; whisk in egg yolks, half and half, then melted butter. Cook until thickened, being careful not to scorch. Remove from heat and blend in vanilla. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then stir and pour into prepared pie crust. Refrigerate.


Squirrel Hill reader Oren Spiegler's favorite restaurant, Poli's, serves a whipped topping that looks as if it could be a salmon spread. Oren is hoping that either Larry Poli would provide this recipe or that a reader has a similar recipe.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.

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