Spicy Apple Pie with its crumbly topping is delicious served with aged cheddar cheese or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

In a departure from my usual schtick, this column is all about pies, thanks to a suggestion from one of my readers. It wasn’t difficult to decide which pies to include, either. There are others in the repertoire that appear from time to time, but these are the three standards.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

Each of these pies has a little twisty tweak, just enough to make them special, yet they are all easy to make. Prepare a 9-inch bottom crust for each using your favorite recipe (or buy those premade refrigerated ones). Whatever pastry you use, be sure that it’s well chilled when you add the filling.

All these pies can be made a day ahead and only the pumpkin pie needs to be kept in the fridge. The others will be fine tucked away somewhere cool with a clean kitchen towel or foil tented over them, preferably somewhere high enough where the pets and children can’t get into them.

This spicy apple pie was my mom’s go-to recipe. (In upstate New York we grew up surrounded by an apple orchard so we had apple everything.) I favor Cortlands for pie-making, but if you have a similar local variety of apple that you like, use those. A wedge of room-temperature aged cheddar cheese is so good alongside and is the way Mom served it.

Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie is my son-in-law’s specialty. Each Thanksgiving eve he very carefully creates this divine masterpiece with a perfectly fluted crust and decorative pastry leaves. I’ve witnessed him making this more than once, and believe me, he puts a lot of love in it.

Kentucky Derby Pie may not be familiar to some Mainers, but in the South it’s a thing. Yes, it’s decadent, and you can make it even more so by drizzling warmed caramel sauce and adding a shake of sea salt over the whipped cream you pile on top of each serving.


After all, it’s Thanksgiving, so you might as well go for it. This is a day to have your favorite everything.

Spicy Apple Pie

6 cups Cortland apples, sliced and peeled
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Spoon into a pastry-lined, 9-inch pie dish. Add topping (recipe below) and spread evenly over apples. Bake for 10 minutes then lower oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 45-50 minutes or until apples are tender and the top is golden. Yield: 8-10 servings

Crunchy Topping

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup butter, softened

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and proceed with directions above.


Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat pumpkin and sugar in a large bowl until well blended. Add eggs, lemon juice, spices and vanilla, then beat until blended. Add mascarpone cheese and beat just until mixture is smooth. Transfer filling to a 9-inch, pastry-lined pie dish.

Bake pie until custard is set, about 55 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool. Tent with foil and chill. Serve with mascarpone whipped cream. Yield: 8-10 servings

Mascarpone Whipped Cream

1 cup chilled whipping cream
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients in a medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until soft peaks form. Cover and chill.

Kentucky Derby Pie

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
3 large eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
10 ounces dark chocolate chips
1 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
Whipped cream
Caramel sauce, warmed (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, flour, eggs, butter, bourbon, vanilla and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and chopped nuts.

Transfer filling to a 9-inch, pastry-lined pie dish. Place in the oven on the lowest rack. Bake until the center is firm and the top is golden, about 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream and caramel. Yield: 8-10 servings

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