Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hilarie's Cream Cheese Pie

The long-awaited moment had arrived. Eric’s mother and keeper of the family recipes, Hilarie, was here to guide me through the process of making her famous Cream Cheese Pie. I was first introduced to this pie shortly after meeting Hilarie herself, and now I can’t think of one without thinking of the other.

I’d read over the recipe a dozen times and was ready with my questions. I handed her the printout of the recipe she’d typed out and emailed to me years ago after I promised Eric that I’d try to make the recipe. I pointed to a section of the recipe as I handed it to her. “What,” I said, “is a ‘redeemed’ graham cracker crust?” I’d pondered this weighty question for several years and figured it was some kind of obscure word for a kosher product that we’d probably have to go all the way to Cleveland to find.

She wrinkled her brow as she read it, holding it up to the light. “Who wrote this?” she asked.

She seemed displeased. “You did,” I answered with some trepidation.

“I did?” she repeated, then laughed. “I meant ‘ready-made!’”

Mystery of the ages solved. Even better, I had more proof to show to Eric. He seems to completely ignore the fact that Hilarie was busy raising four boys and might not have had time to prepare everything completely from scratch as if they lived in the old country.

I showed her how to make my nut pie crust and she was impressed by how easy it was. You’ve gotta love food processors. When we got to the step in the recipe that called for 6 eggs, I drew the line and got out the egg whites. If she hadn’t been there I probably would have gotten even more daring, but I wanted to be sure that the recipe was as close as possible to the real thing. Adding egg replacer powder might have ruined the whole project and turned her against GF cooking for life.  Maybe later I’ll even try it with soy cream cheese.

Joel’s mother, Grandma Jan, taught this recipe to Hilarie, who then passed it on to me. I knew my mission was accomplished when Eric went back for a second piece and Joel jokingly asked for the recipe. Neither of them complained that it didn’t taste like their mother’s.

Cream Cheese Pie
(Thea & Hilarie)

Crust :
1 cup almonds
1 cup pecans
1 tsp honey
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp margarine
1 tsp olive oil

Blend everything except the olive oil in a food processor until it resembles a paste. If it looks too dry, gradually add the olive oil. Press into pie pan.

2 8 oz. packages of Neufchatel cream cheese
½ cup white sugar
3 eggs
3 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla

Blend everything in food processor until mixture is smooth. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 350˚ for 40 minutes or until done (insert a toothpick in the middle-it should come out clean). Remove pie from oven.

While the pie is cooling, use that 5 minutes to make the topping. Turn up the oven to 425˚.

2 cups sour cream
1 tbsp sugar

Stir sugar into sour cream. Spread the topping over the slightly cooled pie and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and chill for 5-24 hours.

Hilarie's and Grandma Jan's recipe

          Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl. Press the crumbs into a glass pie pan that has been sprayed with Baker’s Joy™. You can buy a ready-made graham cracker crust shell.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE FILLING:  (Note:  If you want a thicker filled pie, use a deep dish pie pan and double the filling below.)
          9 oz. of cream cheese
          1/2 cup white sugar
          3 eggs -added one at a time
          1 teaspoon vanilla
Blend all the ingredients for the filling until very smooth.  A food processor, blender or electric mixer is best. Pour the filling into the prepared graham cracker crust.  Bake at 350˚ in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Check after 20 minutes to see if the center is firm or is still liquid.  You can take a toothpick and put it in the center.  If it comes out clean, the pie is done.  If still liquid, bake for 5 minutes more.

Mix 1 tsp. vanilla and 2 Tblsp.. sugar in 1 pint of sour cream (2cups).  Preheat the oven to 425˚.  Spread the sour cream topping on the cooled pie.  Return the pie to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Cool.  Refrigerate.

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