You know you have a friend for life when their first response to seeing a beautiful cookbook of pies is, “Let’s buy this and cook through it.”
So we’re gonna.
First Prize Pies is a pie bakery based in Brooklyn and run by Allison Kave. As far as I can tell Kave doesn’t have a storefront, instead selling her pies at shops and markets throughout the city. Her eponymously named cookbook came out in March and it’s beautiful. Literally – it’s well laid-out and pleasing to the eye, and the photography’s off the chain. Plus it’s got that super nifty binding where when you open it the pages lay flat and you don’t have to weigh them down with a rock, which I appreciate. The pies are arranged by month, so you can always do either doing a seasonal fruit thing or a seasonally appropriate flavor thing. There are fruit pies, cold pies, no-bake pies, and so on and so forth. There are pies for all levels of skill. We are excite.
I’m going to do my best to chronicle our pie journeys here. Hold on to your whatever you hold on to, no one wears hats anymore. We decided to start with Rocky Road Pie.
This was an ambitious fucking pie, which we did not necessarily realize when we chose it. Rocky Road Pie consists of a mixture of chocolate ganache, marshmallow fluff and chopped almonds, served in a chocolate cookie crust and topped with more fluff and almonds. For those of you keeping score at home, that means we had to: make chocolate cookies, make them into a chocolate cookie crust, make ganache, make fluff, and assemble. And bake. We could have bought fluff in a jar, I guess, but that sort of defeats the point. So we made fluff. All of that means that, like the chocolate beet cake (remember the beet cake? of course you remember the beet cake), this pie had an inherent handicap. Or maybe it had the opposite of a handicap? I don’t golf. Or bowl. Whatever. The point is that by the time this fucker went in the oven we had already been baking for like two hours and we felt very strongly that if the pie didn’t taste like unicorn jizz we’d have been robbed.
Well, it doesn’t taste like unicorn jizz. But it is pretty damn good.
* Both of us felt there was something of an imbalance-of-elements problem in the finished pie, most concretely, too much crust. This is probably our fault – the chocolate cookie recipe explicitly says that it makes more cookies than you need for crust, and we missed that and just threw them all in. So this specific imbalance (don’t worry, there are more) is on us. That said, while the cookies that comprise the crust are insanely delicious – I may start making them on their own, just as a thing to have in my house to eat – I’m not a huge fan of the flavor once they get mixed with a stick of butter and pressed into a crust. It’s not that the flavor is bad, it’s just … kind of too sweet and too buttery and not what I wanted to be tasting predominantly. This may well be mitigated by correct crust-to-pie ratio.
* There wasn’t enough ganache. We were skeptical about this when we mixed up the filling in a bowl, but it filled both our pies to the brim, so we put our skepticism to bed. And yet the finished pies are insufficiently ganache-y. I’m not sure what to do with this. Maybe some of it baked up solid and bonded with the crust? (This isn’t a no-bake pie.)
* I’m also just not a huge fan of ganache in general. I think I’d prefer a chocolate pudding filling, which would make it a no-bake pie (save the crust).
* Marshmallow fluff is almost certainly what they use to make rubber cement, and the recipe in the book makes a metric fuckton of it. I have a tupperware of fluff sitting in my closet and no idea what I’m going to do with it. (I’m also deeply creeped out by keeping it in the closet, but I can’t think of a reason not to. It’s almost certainly shelf-stable. There’s nothing in there that was ever alive. ::shudder:: )
* Serving slices of the pie is a nightmare. The crust basically doesn’t cut. There’s huge chunks of it left in the dish that is currently soaking in my sink.
* All that said, there’s a handful of bites in this pie that perfectly balance the fluff, nuts, ganache and crust, and those are pretty outstanding – not too sweet, not too buttery, not too ganache-y. Perfect.
I’d give Rocky Road Pie a solid B. It’s a pain in the ass to make and there’s definitely some weirdness with the proportions of ingredients, but seriously, those perfect bites. There’s true beauty in them.
And look how pretty:
Because of the extent to which I intend to blog about this cookbook, I will not be publishing the recipes. However, if a particular pie speaks to you, let me know and I’ll be happy to send the recipe along privately.