In the 2007 film “Waitress,” love, hate and all the feelings in between are swirled together in eye-popping, candy-colored pies. Jenna, the main character and a gifted pie maker, stirs together simple ingredients to make gorgeous pies, each with an autobiographical name. It’s beautiful to watch, and it makes baking pies look like a cinch, which it can be if we don’t overthink it.
One of the many takeaways from this charming film with a cult following of amateur bakers, is that pie-making comes from the heart. The main character pours a few ingredients into a crust, tells whoever is listening a story about how the pie got its name, and that’s that: easy as pie. Kick in the Pants Pie is a cinnamon-spiced custard, Bad Baby Pie is a quiche with brie and smoked ham, and Car Radio Pie and Jenna’s First Kiss Pie were favorites of Jenna’s that her mom used to make. Southern accents abound, and Andy Griffith plays the grumpy owner of the cafe; then there are all the mouthwatering pies.
My personal favorites are Baby Screaming its Head Off in the Middle of the Night Pie and I Hate My Husband Pie; Jenna’s feelings shine through the ingredients, which mirror her fear and anger. Bitter, unsweetened chocolate drowned in caramel says a lot. There are pies named for good times, too, like Marshmallow Mermaid Pie, a throwback from her childhood mermaid phase, and Fallin’ in Love Chocolate Mousse Pie. The bad ones are just so good, though: Pregnant, Miserable, Self-Pitying Loser Pie includes lumpy oatmeal mashed together with fruitcake, “flambeed of course.” Just brilliant.
The viewer doesn’t get to see much crust-making, which I think is part of the magic behind the movie. Making crust causes problems for beginners and is a step many choose to skip. We just see the good stuff layered, poured and sprinkled in the crust. Making pie crust is worth it to me because I love a simple, flaky, buttery crust. I really appreciate a press-in crust, though; they aren’t pretty, but they’re tasty and easy. If it’s not worth it to you, don’t sweat it. You are the master of your pie.
The movie inspired a hit musical, which inspired a cookbook titled “Sugar, Butter, Flour: The Waitress Pie Book.” So it’s not just me. The movie is a delight and will make a cook want to get creative in the kitchen. At the very least, you’ll really want pie.
Try these recipes inspired by “Waitress,” and then give some thought to titling some of your own creations.
I Can’t Have an Affair ... Marbled Chocolate-cheesecake Pie
Chocolate cookie crumb pie shell
1 3/4 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 36 cookies)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the pie shell: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss together the crumbs and butter in a medium bowl to moisten. Press the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to firm up the butter. Bake in the center of the oven for about 10 minutes or until just set and fragrant. Place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
For the filling: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Warm 1/4 cup of the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edge. Pour over the chocolate and let stand 1 minute to soften, then whisk until smooth.
Melt the white chocolate in a large glass bowl in the microwave at 50 percent power in 20-second increments until the pieces begin to lose their shape, and then stir until smooth. Let stand to cool to room temperature. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cream, the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer on high speed until smooth. Pour into the pie shell. Pour the chocolate mixture over the cream cheese mixture and then swirl slowly with the end of a spoon to marble the filling. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm.
Recipe adapted from www.vulture.com
Marshmallow Mermaid Pie
9 graham crackers
1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut, toasted
5 tablespoons butter, melted
34 large marshmallows
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, grated
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine coconut and graham crackers in food processor until coarse crumbs form. Combine crumbs and butter with fork. Press to bottom and side of 9-inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes and cool on wire rack. Heat marshmallows and milk in a saucepan over low heat until smooth, stirring constantly. Remove saucepan from heat. Cool completely.
In large bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold marshmallow mixture into whipped cream with grated chocolate. Spoon filling into cooled crust. Refrigerate pie at least 3 hours or overnight. Top with mini marshmallows, maraschino cherries and rainbow sprinkles.
Recipe adapted from www.innerpacific.com
Baby Screamin’ Its Head Off ... Pie
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup cornstarch
1 ounce amaretto liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Bring all ingredients to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap outside of 9-inch spring form pan with foil. Generously butter inside of pan. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in sugar and cornstarch. Blend in sour cream and whipping cream. Add amaretto and vanilla. Stir in eggs and egg yolk one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition. Pour batter into pan. Place pan in another pan at least 1 inch wider and add water to outside pan (prevents cracks). Bake on center rack for 70 minutes. Turn oven off and let cool with door open for 1 hour. Remove cake from water and chill at least 3 hours before removing cake from pan. Top with crushed pecans and dust with nutmeg.
Recipe adapted from www.innerpacific.com