LIME BARS – Bursting With Flavor!

lime bars textEvery now and then, even a die-hard chocoholic such as myself craves a little tang.

These Limes Bars are bursting with delectable lime flavor, which is nicely offset by the graham cracker crust. I prefer the original Nabisco graham crackers to the Nabisco Honey Maid grahams – they have a richer graham flavor which pairs well with the lime.

Keep in mind that while this is a very easy, quick to prepare recipe, it needs to be made several hours before serving so it sets and chills properly.

NOTE:  As self-proclaimed Queen of Freeze, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t suggest freezing the unused egg white for future use.

LIME BARS – makes about 9-12, depending on how big they’re sliced

  • 5 oz (1¼ cups) original Nabisco graham crackers (or Honey Maid, if you prefer)
  • 3 T dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 1 T lime zest, packed
  • 2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1  14-oz can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk!)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • optional raspberry drizzle (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325º Fahrenheit.

Finely crush graham crackers either in a food processor or with a rolling pin. Pour into a bowl. Mix in sugar and 1/8 tsp salt. Melt butter and, using a fork, stir into crumbs.lime bars8 Grease an 8″ x 8″ pan (I use Pyrex) and pour in the crumbs. Pat firmly down on pan bottom only, as evenly as possible. To make the edges nice and compact, use a spoon to press down along sides. lime bars9Bake in 325º F oven until lightly browned – 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow crust to cool about 15 minutes.

Keep oven on at 325º F.

In a bowl, mix the lime juice, zest, remaining 1/8 tsp salt, and cream cheese by hand. lime bars10Whisk in the condensed milk and yolk. lime bars4Pour mixture into cooled crust and bake in 325º oven for 15 minutes. lime bars5Remove from oven and let cool on stovetop at least an hour. Then place in refrigerator a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

Pour on Raspberry Drizzle, if desired.


  • 10 oz raspberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 3 T granulated sugar
  • 2¼ tsp cornstarch

Combine raspberries, sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. lime bars6Over medium heat, bring to simmer. Cook until raspberries break down – about 10-15 minutes, stirring often. lime bars7Strain out the solids by placing a sieve over a bowl and pouring in the raspberry mixture. Use a spoon to press out all of the juice. lime bars11Chill the juice in the refrigerator to thicken. (You can use the remaining solids in yogurt or cereal.) Place the thickened sauce in a piping bag and drizzle onto the chilled Lime Bars.



CRANBERRY TART: A Tasty Way To Say “I Love You!”

cranberry tart text2Cranberry Tart is a beautiful dessert that can be served year-round. But I thought it particularly appropriate for Valentine’s Day…even though the only chocolate in it is the white chocolate I sprinkled on top (which doesn’t really count).

Making this tart was my excuse to finally purchase a tart pan. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it does make a pretty presentation with the fluted edges. However, a 9″ regular pie dish (like Pyrex) will work fine. By the way, I didn’t grease the pan and the tart still released perfectly.



  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 T granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour (1¼ oz – it’s always better to weigh, if you can)
  • 10 T butter, soft
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

Toast almonds either in the oven or a dry skillet until lightly browned. Let cool.

Place almonds, sugar, flour, and salt in the food processor with the steel blade. (You can use the blender, but you’ll have to mix the rest by hand or with an electric mixer.) Pulse until the almonds are a fine crumb – about 8 pulses. cranberry tart12Add in softened butter and almond extract. Pulse until mixture clumps together. cranberry tart11Place a 9″ tart pan on a cookie sheet – this is important since tart pans have a removable bottom and you don’t want to accidentally push it up when you lift the filled tart. (You don’t need the cookie sheet if you’re using a regular pie plate.) Scatter pieces of the dough around the tart pan (or regular 9″ pie pan), putting more near the edges. cranberry tart10With fingers, press down the dough starting with the sides so it evenly covers the sides all the way up the top, and the bottom of the pan. Pay special attention to the corners – push them in so you have a nice sharp inside edge with more room for the filling.cranberry tart5 Place a piece of waxed paper over crust and fill with pie weights, uncooked beans, or rice. Bake in preheated 375º F for 12 minutes. Remove waxed paper and weights by bringing corners together and carefully rocking it out – you don’t want the crust to stick to the paper. (If some of it does stick to the waxed paper, scrape it off and replace it in crust.)

Continue to bake the now-uncovered crust for another 5 minutes or so until lightly browned. Carry the cookie sheet with the tart pan on top to a rack and completely cool.


NOTE: As Queen of Freeze, I encourage you to freeze the unused egg whites from the required egg yolks in the filling for future use. Waste not, want not!!!

SECOND NOTE: I wanted a deeper red color but don’t like to use commercial food colorings. So I made my own red coloring using a red beet. It’s quick to do and doesn’t affect the flavor of the curd. But, you don’t need to color the filling – it’s a pretty pink on its own – or you can use purchased coloring, if you want.

  • optional for deeper red color: 1 red beet
  • 12 oz cranberries (either fresh or frozen), rinsed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice (I use Pom)
  • 2 T lemon zest
  • optional: 2 tsp beet juice extracted from the beet
  • 8 T butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 2 eggs, whole
  • 2 yolks

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

If you want to make a deeper red colored tart:  wash, peel, and roughly chop beet. Place in a small saucepan with about 1/2 cup of water. Bring to boil and cook, uncovered, until water (which is now red) boils down to about 2 teaspoons. Let cool.cranberry tart9 In another saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, salt, pomegranate juice, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil and cook until the cranberries start to pop – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. cranberry tart3Note: Possible suggestion (although I haven’t tried this): To eliminate the above step of separately boiling the beet, try quartering the peeled beet (so you can find them easier), and add them to the cranberries before boiling. Then remove the 4 beet pieces before running the cranberries through the food mill.

Place butter in a medium sized bowl. Set food mill or strainer on top of bowl and pour cranberry mixture through the food mill or strainer. Extract as much liquid as you can. The hot liquid will melt the butter and cool down the liquid. cranberry tart4Beat the whole eggs and yolks together in a small bowl, then slowly whisk into the cranberry mixture. Add beet juice (if using).cranberry tart8 Clean out the saucepan you used for cooking the cranberries. Pour the filling through a strainer (to remove any bits from the egg and/or cranberries) into the empty saucepan. This takes some time since it’s thick! You don’t HAVE to do this step, but the curd is silkier if you remove the bits. You can see what would have been left in the curd if I hadn’t strained.cranberry tart7Over medium heat, cook until thickened, stirring often – about 5 minutes.cranberry tart6 When oven is preheated, pour filling into cooled crust. (Make sure tart pan is still sitting on a cookie sheet – you really don’t want to chance pushing up on the bottom!)

Bake at 350º F about 8 minutes, until center 3″ is still jiggly but sides are firm. Don’t wait until center is firm or it’ll be overcooked. Remove from oven. cranberry tart1While tart is still hot, remove tart pan side by very carefully scooting the tart pan from the cookie sheet onto a wide can or bowl. (Make sure the diameter of the bowl is smaller than the tart pan opening.) Gently press down on tart pan edge and it should fall right down. Don’t move the tart yet – let it completely cool before moving it. cranberry tart2Once tart is completely cooled, remove tart pan base – it may crack if it’s still warm. To remove base, run a thin, long implement (or maybe unflavored dental floss – I haven’t tried that, though) between crust and tart pan bottom. Carefully, nudge tart onto a serving plate.

Chill at least 6 hours. Making it the day ahead is best.

ENGLISH TOFFEE BARS – Sweet Indulgence!

english toffee textWhen I harken back to Christmases past, one thing that stands out is the English Toffee Bars my best friend’s mother made every year. Besides my mom’s fudge, English Toffee Bars were a favorite.

Not only are they very easy to make, but they freeze well. As Queen of Freeze – this is a major bonus for me! And, while we’re on the subject, don’t forget to freeze the unused egg white that comes with the used egg yolk.


  • 1 cup butter, soft
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed (I use dark brown)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • about 7 oz milk chocolate candy bar, broken into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped well & lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar for 3 minutes. englishtoffee8Add the yolk, vanilla, and salt. Beat 1 minute. english toffee9Add the flour and mix on low speed, just until flour is incorporated. english toffee10Place dough on a piece of parchment paper, and pat it out to 11.5″ x 11.5″, trying your best to keep it of even height.english toffee2 Slide parchment on onto a rimless cookie sheet. Place in preheated 375º F oven. Bake 11-14 minutes, rotating once, until browned. Remove from oven. english toffee3Immediately, top hot dough with chocolate bar pieces and let sit for 2-3 minutes , until chocolate softens.english toffee5Spread chocolate. english toffee6Sprinkle with toasted nuts, pressing very lightly so nuts adhere to chocolate.english toffee1 Cool bar on cookie sheet about 20 minutes so it sets. Slide parchment onto counter. Slice off uncoated edges, then cut slab into squares while still soft (if you wait until they’re hard, they’ll break when cut). Once bars are completely cool, refrigerate to firm up.

NOTE: The cut-away edges still make good eating – they’re just not very pretty.



caramel filled cupcakes text2Every now and then I get an idea for a recipe that I think will be a piece of cake (pun intended!) to develop. It never is.

The saga of my CARAMEL FILLED CUPCAKES began with an inspiration from Hostess Cupcakes and Cadbury Caramel Eggs. I envisioned biting into a firm cupcake filled with, not white fluff, but with creamy caramel. The recipes I found called for baking a chocolate cupcake, digging out divots from the tops, and filling with caramel sauce.

First of all, cutting out the divots seemed like a lot of messy work. Second of all, what to do with all the divots? (I hate waste!) So, I figured I’d just pour batter into the tins and drop in homemade caramel. FAIL! All that happened was the caramel blended with the batter during baking. Tasty, but not what I wanted.

I tried freezing the caramel into balls and adding it to the batter. Same result as before since it turns out caramel doesn’t freeze. (Who knew?) I tried dropping in the caramel at different times during baking. Same. Finally, I decided I needed to encase the caramel – like the Cadbury Eggs. It couldn’t actually be Cadbury Eggs, though, since not only are they seasonal, but they’re huge.

After scouring the candy departments of various stores (what I won’t do for my blog!), I had a eureka moment when I found Lindt’s chocolate covered caramels. They were just the right size and shape! Getting closer. I dropped them into the batter. They sank to the bottom, leaking caramel. I wanted the caramel in the middle – like Hostess Cupcakes’ fluff. How could I keep the balls suspended?

It finally hit me to bake a wee bit of batter in order to form a solid base for the balls, then add the balls, surrounding them with batter, and complete the bake. Yes!!! The last tweak was freezing the balls first so they remained intact.

NOTE: Just so you know, the many cupcakes that bombed were still eaten. I HATE WASTE!

CARAMEL FILLED CUPCAKES – makes 18 cupcakes

  • 18 caramel filled chocolate 1″ balls (I use Lindt), frozencaramel filled cupcakes 15
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli 60% bar – not chips)
  • 1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee
  • 3/4 cup (4-1/8 oz) bread flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • 6 T vegetable oil
  • 1¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60% chips)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt

The first thing to do is freeze the chocolate-caramel balls. (I store them in the freezer immediately when I buy them.) They need to be solid to prevent melting during baking.

Break up the bittersweet chocolate bar into small pieces (so they melt quicker) and put into a bowl (or better yet, a 6 cup or more spouted measuring cup – the spout makes pouring the batter into the cupcake tin much easier). Sift the cocoa powder (cocoa powder tends to get lumpy in storage) into the bowl. caramel filled cupcakes4Pour in the HOT coffee. Immediately cover bowl with a plate to retain heat in order to melt the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes to soften, then stir until all chocolate is melted and mixture is well blended. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.caramel filled cupcakes5 Into another bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.bundt2 Line your muffin tins with 18 regular-sized cupcake papers.

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit. 

Into yet another bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, vinegar, and oil. caramel filled cupcakes6Pour egg mixture into cooled melted chocolate and stir. (You don’t want the chocolate to be too hot or it could could cook the eggs.)caramel filled cupcakes7Add in flour mixture and mix well – this is one instance where you want a little toughness to the cake so it holds up to the caramel. caramel filled cupcakes8Pour 1 tablespoon into the bottom of each liner. Don’t put in more or the caramel ball will sit too high. This small bit of batter is going to form a barrier against the caramel, preventing it from seeping into the paper. caramel filled cupcakes9Bake for 6 minutes (SET A TIMER!!!) in the preheated 350º F oven. Remove from oven. Set a frozen caramel ball on top of each baked cake bit, dead center (do your best).caramel filled cupcakes12 Then pour batter around and on top of ball, 1/3″ from top of paper. (This is where a spouted measuring cup comes in handy! Use a spoon to catch the drips.) caramel filled cupcakes13Return to oven and bake at 350º F for another 11 minutes. Remove from oven and keep cupcakes in hot muffin tin 10 minutes to set. Remove cupcakes – with papers – to a wire rack to completely cool.caramel filled cupcakes14 To make ganache frosting, place chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt in a bowl. ganache1Heat cream until bubbles form along sides – don’t let it boil.ganache2 Immediately pour over chips, cover with a plate, and let melt for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. If the chips don’t completely melt, pour mixture into a small saucepan and, over a very low heat, stir until melted. Allow to cool completely so it thickens, stirring now and then. Pipe ganache on cupcakes, or just frost with a knife.


TIRAMISU: An Elegant Dessert That Takes Minutes To Prepare!

tiramisu text2You know that feeling at the end of a filling meal when you want just a little something sweet? TIRAMISU is the perfect solution. Although it looks rich and creamy, it’s actually very light. In fact, give me a fork and I could easily ingest the entire pan. (Thank goodness for will power.)

While it’s extremely fast to prepare, and no-bake, it needs to be made at least 6 hours before serving to chill and set. To me, this is perfect for company. If I can get one thing done ahead of time, then mama’s a happy camper! (And you know what they say if mama ain’t happy!)

NOTE: This recipe can be doubled, using a 9″x13″ casserole pan.


  • 1¼ cups coffee (brewed or instant)
  • 4 T dark rum, divided
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 lb mascarpone, cold
  • 6 T heavy cream
  • 26 ladyfingers – DON’T buy the soft kind – they turn to mush. Buy the hard ones, such as Savoiardi.
  • 2 T Dutch process cocoa, divided
  • optional: chocolate shavings for decoration

NOTE: I would be remiss in my Queen of Freeze duties if I didn’t remind you that the unused egg whites removed from the 3 egg yolks can be frozen for future use!!!

In a bowl wide enough to dip the ladyfingers sideways (such as a cereal bowl), combine the coffee and 2 T of the rum. Set aside to cool. tiramisu14In the small bowl of your electric mixer, put the egg yolks. Beat on low speed about 5 seconds, just to break them up. tiramisu1Add in the sugar and salt. Turn mixer to medium speed and beat 1 minute. The yolks will turn pale and thick. tiramisu2Pour in the remaining 2 T rum and beat on medium 30 seconds. Add in the cold mascarpone and beat on medium for about 30 seconds, until there are no lumps. tiramisu3Empty mixture into a large bowl.tiramisu5 In the now-empty mixing bowl (you don’t have to clean it), pour the cream. Beat on high until soft peaks form. tiramisu4Stir 1/3 of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to loosen texture. Fold in remaining whipped cream. tiramisu6Have ready an 8″x8″ pan (or it’s equivalent), the ladyfingers, and the coffee mixture. Holding a ladyfinger at the midsection, quickly dip one long, flat side into the coffee (submerge less than 1/4″ – don’t go midway), turn it over and dip the other side. Shake off any excess liquid. (The goal is to get just the outside portion of the cookie wet so it will remain crispy in the center – you want the coffee flavor, but not the mush.) tiramisu7Then place the dipped ladyfinger in the pan. Continue on, lining up the ladyfingers in the same direction, until the bottom is covered. By the time you get to the last one, they will have become somewhat softer. You can probably shove them together to make room for one more in each row. tiramisu8Cover ladyfingers with half of the mascarpone, smoothing evenly. tiramisu9Place 1 T cocoa powder in a small sieve. Stir the cocoa with a spoon to sprinkle cocoa evenly over mascarpone. (Cocoa tends to clump – the spoon breaks them up.)tiramisu10Add the second layer of ladyfingers, dipping as above, laying them in the opposite direction of the first layer. Fit as many cookies as you can, although you may not need them all. Save the undipped ones for future use. tiramisu11Spread on remaining mascarpone evenly, then sprinkle on the remaining 1 T cocoa. tiramisu13Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 6 hours. (I make it the night before.) You’ll notice the cocoa will turn a deeper chocolate color due to condensation.

If you want to add chocolate shavings on top, run a sharp, non-serrated knife along the edge of a room temperature chocolate bar. I shave them onto a cold plate so they don’t get melty. (It’s easier to use a longer piece of chocolate, but this is all I had.)chocolate shavesKeep TIRAMISU in refrigerator until ready to serve.


CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE – No Frosting Needed!

chocolate bundt cake textIs it possible to have too much chocolate cake? I ask this because in the last 2 weeks I’ve baked 4 chocolate bundt cakes.

As many of you know, I’m a from-scratch baker. So I’ve been on a quest to adapt the Chocolate Bundt Cake my mother made from my youth. This was a recipe floating around back then, calling for, among other ingredients, boxed chocolate cake mix and boxed chocolate pudding mix.

The original cake was known for its moistness. And therein lay the problem. I found America’s Test Kitchen recipe, which required butter for the fat. While it tasted good, the crumb was very fine and dry. Since my mom’s recipe used oil, I thought I’d try half the butter and half the oil from each recipe. I, also, used dark brown sugar thinking the molasses would add extra moisture. Better, but still not there.

Since I was moving in the right direction, I omitted the butter altogether and used all oil, increasing it a little since I wasn’t using the boxed products. Much better.

My final tweak was to switch Dutch processed cocoa for the natural cocoa. Dutch processed cocoa tends to produce moister bakes plus an extra chocolatey flavor. By jove, I think I’ve got it!

So, in answer to my opening question: NOOOOO! It’s not possible to have too much chocolate bundt cake. To be honest, the hard part is restricting myself to one slice per day. (Thank goodness I have a coffin-sized deep freezer which is now full of frozen portions of chocolate bundt cake!)

Note: If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can mix by hand. Don’t use a food processor, though – it’s too powerful.

Additional Note:  You experienced bakers out there may be surprised to notice that I’m using baking soda with Dutch processed cocoa. Normally, one would use baking powder as the leavener with Dutch processed. But since this recipe has sour cream and dark brown sugar (both acidic), the baking soda will be activated.


  • 6 oz 60% bittersweet chocolate (use bar chocolate, not chips) (I use Ghirardelli)
  • 3/4 cup + 1 T Dutch processed cocoa powder, divided
  • 1 tsp instant coffee crystals
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 11 oz (2 cups, packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  • 8 oz (1 cup) sour cream
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Nestle’s)
  • 1 T butter

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

Chop bittersweet chocolate into 1/2″-ish or less sized pieces. If you’re using a thin bar such as Ghirardelli, then you can break it by hand. Place pieces in a medium sized bowl. Sift the 3/4 cup cocoa into the bowl. (Cocoa tends to clump. Sifting will make for a smoother chocolate mixture.) bundt1Add in the coffee crystals and pour in the boiling water. Cover with a plate and let sit for 5 minutes to begin the melting process. After 5 minutes, stir. It probably won’t be completely melted yet. Cover with plate and let sit another couple of minutes. Stir again and let sit uncovered to cool.bundt4Into another bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. (In the picture I’ve not stirred yet.)bundt2Crack all 5 eggs into a tall glass. You’ll be adding the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Rather than cracking them one by one (and maybe getting bits of shell into the batter) as you beat the batter, you can just pour them from the glass – they’ll pour out one at a time quite easily. Set aside.bundt3Into the large bowl of your electric stand mixer put the brown sugar and oil. bundt6Turn on low to start (so the sugar doesn’t fly out), increasing to medium speed. Beat for 1 minute on medium. bundt7Add in vanilla and 1 egg. Beat for 20 seconds. Continue adding eggs one at a time, beating 20 seconds after each.bundt9Dump in about 1/3 of the flour mixture (you can just estimate) and beat on low to blend.bundt12Add in 1/2 of chocolate mixture and beat on low to blend.bundt13Add in half of remaining flour mixture and beat on low. Add in remaining chocolate mixture and beat on low. Finally, add in remaining flour mixture, beating until there’s still a little flour showing. Add in chocolate chips and beat on low, blending until all of flour is incorporated.bundt22Into a small bowl put the extra 1 T cocoa. Melt butter and pour into cocoa, stirring to make a paste. bundt8Using a pastry brush, coat the entire interior of bundt pan (even if it’s nonstick!). Use all of it – your cake will slide right out when done.bundt11Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. TIP:  Cover hole in bundt pan to prevent batter accidentally spilling into hole. The lid from a spice bottle works perfectly. So does a Dixie cup. REMEMBER TO REMOVE IT BEFORE PLACING PAN IN OVEN!!! (If you look carefully, you can see an indentation in my lid caused by me forgetting to remove it. I remembered after about 10 minutes in the oven. It melted a little, but is still usable for this purpose. And, more importantly, the cake was fine. bundt23Bake at 350º F for 45 – 55 minutes, gently rotating after 30 minutes. (Mine is done at 45 minutes, but your oven may not be as hot as mine.) Check for doneness with a toothpick. bundt18Because of the chocolate chips, there may be a little chocolate on the toothpick. Try another area to be sure it’s not raw batter (crumbs are okay). Let set 20 minutes in pan.

Using a rounded knife, loosen cake from outside edge of pan. bundt19Place a rack on top and flip. bundt20Remove bundt pan – the cake will have dropped to rack.bundt21 Let cool at least 4 hours.

Liberally sift on powdered sugar. (You can drizzle on a ganache if you like, but with the chocolate chips inside, I think it’s overkill.)






SAWDUST PIE – An Unfortunate Name For Such A Dreamy Pie!

sawdust pie textI hate wasting food! So, as the self-proclaimed Queen Of Freeze, I’m constantly freezing little bits of leftover this or that for future use. And it’s paid off many times.

One thing I always seem to have a plethora of is egg whites because so many dessert recipes call for yolks only. Unfortunately, aside from meringue (which I still have yet to perfect), there aren’t that many recipes in which to use them…..until now.

While watching a baking competition, I was ecstatic when a home cook from Kentucky made a Sawdust Pie that called for 7 egg whites! First of all, it looked amazing. And, second of all:  7 egg whites!!! I found and followed an online recipe. While I liked the general idea, I didn’t care for the coconut, wanted to change the consistency so it was firmer, add a variety of chips, and embed the pastry crust with graham cracker crumbs. I altered the recipe and made it my own.

This is a fast and easy pie to assemble, but needs to refrigerate at least 8 hours to firm up so it doesn’t gush when sliced. Thus, plan ahead!

By the way, I’m guessing the name “Sawdust” Pie comes from the abundance of graham cracker crumbs in the filling.

Note:  I strongly encourage you to make your own pie crust. Honestly, it’s simple and so much tastier (not to mention cheaper!). But, you can purchase one, if you must. I’ve included my recipe for you adventurous souls.


Single pie crust

  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 cup Crisco shortening, chill if it’s a hot day
  • 4 – 5 T ice water
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs – about 2 rectangles

Preheat oven to 425º Fahrenheit.

You can either use a food processor or a pastry cutter to mix the Crisco and flour. (I prefer to use the pastry cutter since it’s easy and I hate to wash the food processor just for this.)

For the pastry cutter method, put the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl and mix with the pastry cutter. sawdust10Add in the Crisco and use the cutter to combine the flour and Crisco. sawdust11 Work until it resembles a coarse meal.sawdust12For the food processor method, put the flour, salt, and sugar in work bowl and pulse a couple of times. Add in the Crisco and pulse several times, until mixture forms a coarse meal. Empty into a mixing bowl. You are NOT adding the water in the food processor – your dough will be tough!!!

Sprinkle 4 T ice water into the flour mixture. Using a fork, gently slice with the side of the tines to mix. The goal is to use enough water to incorporate all the flour so it forms a ball, but not be too wet. You may need a little more water – I usually do. Don’t overwork the dough or it will be tough. sawdust5Form the dough into a tight ball and chill at least 30 minutes to make it easier to roll. sawdust6Sprinkle flour, then 2 T graham crackers on a flat surface to prevent the dough from sticking. sawdust7Place the dough ball in the center. With floured hands, push down the dough with one hand while pressing in the sides with the other. This will help keep the edges from fraying. sawdust8Sprinkle some flour on the flattened dough and spread it around so the rolling pin doesn’t stick. sawdust1Using a floured rolling pin, begin rolling the dough from the center out in all directions. When it gets to be about 8″ in diameter, push in the edges again – they’ll probably be fraying again. Lift up the edges and brush the graham cracker crumbs underneath. sawdust2Roll until the diameter is about 12½”. Sprinkle 2T graham cracker crumbs over the top of the pastry and lightly press them in with your fingertips. (Don’t use the rolling pin – the crumbs tend to stick to it.)sawdust3Place the pie pan next to the circle. Fold dough in half towards you, then carefully lift it to pan. Unfold and center it, gently adjusting pastry so it fits into the corners.  If the dough splits, just overlap it and press it together. Leaving a 1/2″ overhang border from the pie pan edge, cut away excess dough with kitchen scissors. Crimps edges by rolling this 1/2″ border in on itself, then pinching with thumbs and forefingers. sawdust4Cut a piece of waxed or parchment paper about 2″ longer than diameter of pie pan. Place on top of pastry and fill with pie weights or raw beans (that’s what I use). Very gently work the paper and beans into corners so the beans weigh down the entire bottom. sawdust14Parbake at 425º F for 7 minutes. Remove the paper and weights by pulling one corner of the paper slowly towards the center, then the opposite corner towards the center, then one of the other corners, and the final one. Grab all 4 and lift it out in a rolling motion – don’t pull straight up or the center may still be stuck. Bake another 5 minutes, then remove and cool.sawdust13 Filling

  • 7 egg whites
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs – about 5 oz (10 rectangles)
  • 1/2 cup raw oatmeal (OR 1/2 cup all-purpose flour)
  • 1½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1½ cups walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

NOTE:  The oats or flour are a thickener. Either will do, but I prefer the oats just a wee bit.

If using oats, grind them finely in a food processor or blender.sawdust9Using an electric mixer or rotary egg beater, beat egg whites until frothy on medium/low  speed about 30 seconds – just to break them up.

Add in the graham cracker crumbs, ground oats (or flour), brown sugar, and salt. Mix on low speed just to blend.

Stir in walnuts, milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chips, and butterscotch chips.

Pour into pie crust and bake at 350º F for 25-30 minutes. I find 28 minutes is perfect for my oven. You’re looking for a slight wobble in just the center, not the whole top. sawdust15Cool on rack completely, then refrigerate at least 8 hours.