The great cream pie project

I set out to make a cream pie every month for a year, and by jove, I did it. And if you want to know our “cream-of-the-crop” favorite picks, read on!

Faithful readers and friends might remember the “intention we put forth”:/news/2012/a-years-worth-of-cream-pies/ way back in 2012 to fill our year with cream pies. Our task is now complete. A year full of cream pies. Jon Boyd is satisfied. (I think.)

Inventing different flavors each month required a certain bit of inspiration, but also brought a lot of fun to the project. I got lots of great ideas from a “question I asked at TheKitchn”:http://www.thekitchn.com/help-me-brainstorm-creative-ideas-for-cream-pies-good-questions-179069 last year and couldn’t even use them all!

We took pictures almost every month, and we found that cream pies all pretty much look the same. But they taste different! I based all of my baking on the cream pie recipes from “Baking Illustrated”:http://www.cooksillustrated.com/bookstore/detail.asp?PID=247 , a most worthwhile investment. The butterscotch, chocolate, banana, and coconut pies came directly from that book. The unusual flavors were variations on the Baking Illustrated “butterscotch cream pie”:/news/2012/a-years-worth-of-cream-pies/ recipe (including the gingerbread and the maple) or the “vanilla cream pie recipe”:http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/login.asp?docid=5976 (including the peanut butter, “peppermint”:/news/2012/peppermint-cream-pie/, and lemon).

But without further ado, let me present the players in the Great Cream Pie Project of 2012-2013!

h3. August 2012: “Butterscotch Cream Pie”:/news/2012/a-years-worth-of-cream-pies/

IMG_8553 Our first cream pie of the series, it was crafted verbatim from the recipe in “Baking Illustrated”:http://www.cooksillustrated.com/bookstore/detail.asp?PID=247.

h3. September 2012: “Chocolate Cream Pie with Caramel Whipped Cream”:/news/2012/a-years-worth-of-cream-pies/

IMG_8561This pure chocolate version was topped with “caramel whipped cream”:http://www.marthastewart.com/334224/caramel-whipped-cream, a special treat for Jon’s birthday.

h3. October 2012: Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Peanut butter cream pie at Halloween.We quickly learned that, although our children are in fact human, they do not like whipped cream. Most of our cream pies received their whipped cream dollops on individual slices. The filling in this pie is essentially the vanilla cream filling with the addition of ½ cup smooth peanut butter. We adorned the pie with a chocolate ganache glaze (½ cup hot cream poured over 4 oz. chopped chocolate) and decorated it with a spiderweb top (made from a white sugar glaze, just powdered sugar and cream), in honor of Halloween.

h3. November 2012: Gingerbread Cream Pie

Gingerbread cream pie.Based on the “butterscotch cream pie recipe”:/news/2012/a-years-worth-of-cream-pies/, we infused this holiday pie with warming spices, specifically…

3 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of allspice
a pinch of cloves
a pinch of nutmeg

h3. December 2012: “Peppermint Cream Pie”:/news/2012/peppermint-cream-pie/

Peppermint Cream PieThis shocking-pink pie turned out to be a big hit on Grammie’s birthday. Next time I think I might cut down on the pink food coloring.

h3. January 2013: “Coconut Cream Pie”:http://www.food.com/recipe/coconut-cream-pie-from-cooks-illustrated-320303

Full coconut cream pie.We enjoyed this coconut pie (inexplicably) on the birthday Martin Luther King, Jr.
Slice of coconut cream pie.I really wanted to include this shot of the slice. See how pretty the custard looks underneath the cream? You can guess who scraped all the whipped cream off of their wedges.

h3. February 2013: Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie

Mexican chocolate cream pie.We doctored our traditional chocolate cream pie by adding about ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne to create this Mexican version, specially made to spice things up on Valentine’s day.

h3. March 2013: Maple Cream Pie

Maple cream pie.We honored Jon’s unbirthday with this seasonal maple cream pie. I based it off of the butterscotch cream pie, substituting 2 cups maple syrup (boiled and reduced) for the brown sugar. The custard ended up a bit loose, so I think I would boil the maple syrup even longer next time (intending to reduce to 1 cup or less). But even with an imperfect texture, the flavor of this pie was one of my favorites.

h3. May 2013: Banana Cream Pie

Banana cream pie.Okay, okay, I know — I missed a month. But April was so crazy with birthday celebrations that I was granted a reprieve and allowed to push this pie into May. Even a month late, it was a treat.

h3. May 2013: Lemon Cream Pie

Mama and Rosie cooking together.We celebrated Grandpa’s birthday with a lovely lemon cream pie, tart and creamy. To the vanilla cream pie recipe we added ½ cup fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of lemon zest while reducing the amount of whole milk to 1½ cups. Alas, we neglected to take a photo, but here you can see Rosie and Mama in the kitchen, cooking up one of the many cream pies.

h3. June 2013: Chocolate Cream Pie

Whipping the cream.Yes, this flavor is a repeat. But it truly is our favorite, and how could I refuse Jon’s request on Father’s Day? Here you can see my favorite way to whip cream, using my trusty “KitchenAid immersion blender”:http://www.kitchenaid.com/shop/countertop-appliances-1/hand-blenders-3/102020144/ with whisk attachment.

h3. July 2013: S’more Cream Pie

S'more cream pie.We made this s’more cream pie with a graham cracker crust, chocolate cream filling, and topped it with mini marshmallows (which we torched right before serving). Although it was tasty, the marshmallows made the pie a little tricky to slice. Next time, we might try it with marshmallow fluff on top.

All the cream pies were really delicious, but here are our votes for the favorites of this year. Drum roll, please!

h3. Ann’s picks
* maple
* gingerbread
* chocolate

h3. Jon’s faves
* mexican chocolate
* butterscotch
* peppermint

Jon hasn’t asked for another cream pie since July, so I guess we successfully eliminated his old “You never make any cream pies!” complaint. But now that I have all this experience, I’m ready for the next cream pie request!

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