About two weeks ago, I introduced a contest wherein readers could suggest pie recipes for me to make. Whoever submitted that piqued my interest the most would win an impressive gift basket from Cool Whip that features everything from Williams-Sonoma cookware to marshmallow fluff. Needless to say, the entries flooded in. There were more submissions than I could have ever expected, and the task of singling out just one pie recipe seemed difficult at the best. Plus, there was nothing fun about it for me. Sure, it would be easy for me to simply spend twenty minutes poring through the recipes and whittling the choices down to one, but where’s the joy in that? I knew I’d have to make more than one of these pies. That’s why I’ve decided to change things up a bit: I will now select three finalists, bake all three pies, and then have a tasting.

But of course, limiting to just three pies is a very difficult task. So difficult that I’ve only been able to winnow the group down to five recipes. However, I’m not sure I’m up to making five pies. I must now deliberate whether to take on an extensive pie process or simply cut down the list further. While I do that, check out the semi-finalists after the jump as well as their various pros and cons.

Penny’s Crunchy Caramel Pie:

I overlooked this option for several weeks, but tonight I realized that it looks amazing. We’ve all had apple pie, and we all know that caramel pairs with it brilliantly. What makes this intriguing is the crunchy element.

Pros: Classic, time-tested flavors; it was the winner of a Good Morning America contest; intriguing texture.
Cons: Lacking flash, sexiness (I like sexy pie).

A Different Jennifer’s Margarita Pie:

This pie jumped out at me the moment it was posted. After all, how could I deny a pie with tequila? Without the booze, however, it does appear a bit average. But who said I was making it without the booze?

Pros: Intriguing, fun; tequila; out of the box.
Cons: Could be all flash, no substance; might be more fun in theory than in execution

LynnB’s Amaretto pie:

Even though this recipe calls for strawberries (which will be omitted — thankfully they’re just a garnish), I still have been drawn to this pie the whole time. The crust, made from Amaretti cookies and almonds, sounds tasty and unique, and the presence of booze gives it a leg-up on the competition.

Pros: Sophisticated, inherently appealing; booze; good flavor profiles.
Cons: Calls for a tart pan, which I do not have; Amaretti cookies might be annoying to find (although, I’ve seen them in Santa Monica — which still makes them annoying to find)

Daner’s Turtle Pie:

People who know me know that I’m a huge chocolate fan. I couldn’t just compile a list without a chocolate entry. Enter the turtle pie. The recipe is simple and certainly very traditional, and yet it looks mouthwateringly good. Pecans + chocolate + caramel = fun times. Sometimes you can’t overlook a classic. Plus I’ve never actually had a turtle pie (only the candy).

Pros: love the flavors; classic, reliable; def need some pecan representation; IndianJones gushed about turtle pies on IM a few minutes ago and made me crave this.
Cons: Uncreative.

lbs30’s Chocolate Chili Meringue Pie:

Aha! Another chocolate entry! This one involves chili, which excites me. I love spicy food, and I’ve been going through a very chili-oriented phase lately. A fun twist on a run-of-the-mill chocolate pie.

Pros: Chocolate; spicy; interesting.
Cons: I wouldn’t say I always gravitate toward meringue pies, even if the meringue is just a topping.

So these are the options. Send me your feedback in the comments. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone has to say, and with any luck, I’ll be baking by tomorrow night!

29 replies on “Here Are Your Semi-Finalists For The Great Pie Contest”

  1. YAY – my pie is on the list! 🙂

    Some hints / tips if you do make it (and you will NOT regret it if you do):

    The hardest part is the crumb topping – make that first. Cut the butter into small cubes BEFORE you try to cut it into the rest of the topping mix. It cuts down on the time it takes. A pastry blender is best for this but you don’t have one, two knives will do the trick – one in each hand and criss cross them. If need be, use your fingers.

    Don’t bother measuring the number of cups of sliced apples – I usually peel, core and slice 7 or 8 apples and go from there. I use one of the corer /slicer thingamabobs to speed things up. I like a mix of Granny Smiths (tart and firm) and either Jonagold or Braeburn (soft and sweet). I’ve made it with all Granny Smiths too. You want to have a nice big mound of apple goodness sitting in the pie crust when you are ready to top it.

    I usually go 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (rather than 1 tsp) and grate some fresh nutmeg directly onto the apples. Don’t buy ground nutmeg – get the nuts and grate them yourself with a microplane or the smallest grater you have. A thousand times more tasty. Swear. Pinky swear.

    The 1/4 cup of caramel topping is just a guideline and seems a bit skimpy to me – I usually freehand it with the jar until I have nice, even coverage. It’d be hard to put too much on, I think. 🙂

    If you like it a la mode, serve with Ben & Jerry’s Hannah Teter’s Maple Blondie or Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch. You’ll DIE. LITERALLY.

  2. I say you make lbs’s pie. Chili + chocolate sounds like a good combo for you, and it’s something I’ve never heard of in a pie.

  3. I thought you would do the Avacado Pie since it is easy and uses one of the products from the Coolwhip basket. Plus I wanted you to taste it first!

  4. I’m not really a fan of meringue either, so I vote for the amaretto or turtle – because I am a huge fan of chocolate, and it just sounds that good.

  5. Chili + chocolate sounds like a winning combination for me. I’d definitely make lbs pie!!

  6. yes I vote for chocolate chilli, crunchy caramel and either of the booze ones but leaning towards margharita

  7. I’m glad to see my recipe on the list. The amaretti cookies can usually be found at Italian deli’s …..we have lots of those in Jersey LOL…and no….not all of us look and act like the Jersey Housewives!!! God Forbid

  8. I am excited my turtle pie made the list so that is my vote. My second vote is for the chocolate chili pie, that sounds interesting

  9. If you’re only going to make 3 pies I vote for the turtle pie, the chocolate chili pie, and one of the booze pies.

  10. This is a real problem. I want to make all five.

    I think I will start with the turtle at the very least because that looks super easy. Upon further review, the amaretto pie and the chocolate chili pie are actually quite similar, and I must admit that I’m more intrigued by the amaretto pie. however, I can’t deny the people the chili chocolate experience. Plus, I’m sorry, but the apple pie also looks insane.

    I don’t have a problem making five pies. I just don’t know what I’ll do with them.

    1. I am sure there is no shortage of people who are willing to help you taste-test what ever you bake!

      *poof* Five pies gone – just like that!

      1. Make the five pies and take half of each to the local homeless shelter. It could end up like the “muffin tops” episode of Seinfeld, but would still count as “well-intentioned.” Either that or you could freeze them.

  11. How about you make all five and have a tasting party. You and your guests can vote on the winners and they can take the leftovers home.

  12. I am so honored and excited to be a semi-finalist! For the margarita pie, the booze is fantastic, of course, but the pretzel crust is also very unique. The salty-sweet-tangy combination really makes it a really interesting pie. I made it over Thanksgiving and it takes less than 15 minutes to make, so lots of return on your investment.

    I would also vote for the chocolate-chili pie and crunchy caramel pie–they sound delicious.

    Have fun making the pies! Can’t wait to see how they turn out!

  13. I made something very similar to that caramel pie for Thanksgiving this year and it was possibly the best pie I’ve ever made. And I make a lot of pies.

    Brought it to my Friends Thanksgiving and it was the first pie gone. May not be sexy, but it’s DAMN tasty and crowd-pleasing.

  14. If you make meringue, don’t stick your fingers in it or it’ll fall. (That sounds kind of dirty.) My vote’s for chili chocolate, too. But it sounds like you’re more interested in others.

    I say make them all, have a tasting party with a few cocktails out of your book. Insta-good time.

  15. Yes, I have to admit, my vote for the turtle was inspired by that damn pie image you have at the top, which looked similar – where’s the recipe for that one?!? And why can’t I eat a piece RIGHT NOW.

  16. I am proud that my avocado pie entry came in at 6th place! ; ) If you ever make it, I wanna know!!!!

  17. I made the turtle pie last night because it was easy. Of course my fat ass threw in some caramels, you know – to cut the sweetness.

    I am now being told I have to make it for Christmas. It will be a nice change from my peanut butter pie I usually make.

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