At Thanksgiving this year, Mark and I made our two favorite pies on Wednesday evening, caramel apple pie and pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust. This has become one of my favorite evenings of the year-- pie baking with Mark-- since Pat left for the Army in June 2020. I don't recall us baking these pies together when Pat was still home, but we have been enjoying them for years.
When Mom arrived for lunch on Thanksgiving, we talked about the pies, which we all enjoy. She then casually mentioned that she missed having a pecan pie, so I asked her a few questions about it, which led to me learning that pecan pie is her favorite pie. I was astounded to learn this, Dear Reader. I knew she ate pecan pie, but I didn't realize it was her favorite. I don't care for pecans, and it's much too sweet for Mark. I know I've made pecan pies over the years, when my dad was still living and our Thanksgiving gatherings often included many more people than our current gatherings. At some point in the downsizing, the pecan pie got cut. What to do?
I turned to my most trusted baking advisors, King Arthur Baking, and came across a blog post about downsizing pies by PJ Hamel. I talked to Mom about it, and she gave me a bag of pecan pieces. I then added mini pecan pies to the Christmas menu.
Our Christmas Eves are usually low-key, so Mark, Pat, and I planned to bake brownies, a pumpkin pie, and mini pecan pies in the afternoon. [Super delightful: baking with my guys!] Pat took the lead on the brownies, and Mark started on the pumpkin pie crust while I put together the filling and topping. While those baked, I studied PJ's post about the mini pies and realized I had planned to use the bun pan (pictured above), but she had used a muffin pan. Luckily for me, somebody else had asked the question about converting to the bun pan in the comments, and there was a very helpful answer from one of the King Arthur Baking team. Basically, I needed two pie crusts and a whole recipe of filling. No problem!
I made a batch of double pie crust and followed the family recipe for pecan pie filling. An unexpected delight-- no rolling out dough! I divided the crust into six quasi-equal parts, placed one into each well in the pan, and then followed PJ's instructions to use a glass to press the crust into the well. I then filled each, snapped the photo above to send to Mom, and put them into the oven to bake.
Another delight-- they looked beautiful when they came out of the oven and cooled! And then I got to arrange them on a Hadley Pottery Christmas Tree chop plate, which was yet another delight!
I'm tickled to report that Mom enjoyed one of the mini pecan pies yesterday after our big meal and reported that the crust was short and the filling delicious. I packaged another in cling wrap for her to enjoy sometime over the next few days and the other four in cling wrap and individual Ziploc bags because PJ said they freeze and reheat beautifully. This means Mom will get to enjoy her favorite pie four more times over the next few weeks or months. Another delight!
Reminder: our January #SharedDelightsGrow practice starts on Monday, January 1
Each day, January 1 through 31, I am going to note a delight and share it on a thread in our Kitchen Forum. It may be a photo, short note, fuller note, or essayette.
Then, on January 1, we'll begin sharing our delights on the thread in the Kitchen Forum, and when February 1 rolls around, we'll trust what is (or isn't) emerging and decide if we'd like to continue or not.
If you have any interest at all in playing with this practice, I hope you'll join us. You never know what you might notice. Maybe, like me, you'll be delighted by investigating, baking, and sharing a pie you don't even like with a loved one.