This easy cream pie uses pretzel crumbs as the base, and is dressed up with pretty pink whipped cream peonies. The whipped cream technique is adapted from Stella Parks’ recipe on Serious Eats, and it produces a thick, stable whipped cream that tastes great and is easier to pipe with. You can also just scoop the whipped cream on top of the finished pie and skip the flowers all together. For details on the peony piping technique, be sure to check out the full article. —Erin McDowell
Test Kitchen Notes
Featured in: 4 Tricks to Be a Pie Overachiever. —The Editors
- Prep time 1 hour 20 minutes
- Cook time 2 hours
- Makes a 14 x 5 1/2 rectangular pie
(213 g) pretzels, ground into crumbs in the food processor
(57 g) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups
(605 g) whole milk
(121 g) heavy cream
vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped
(198 g) granulated sugar, divided
(37 g) cornstarch
large (135 g) egg yolks
(28 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
(10 g) vanilla extract
- Whipped Cream
(15 g) freeze-dried raspberries (available in the health food section of most grocery stores)
(453 g) heavy cream
(66 g) granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, stir the pretzels and melted butter together to combine. Press the crumb mixture into a 14 x 5 1/2 inch tart pan (this can also be made in a 9-inch round pie plate). Bake the crust for 15 minutes. Cool completely.
- In a medium pot, combine the milk, cream, vanilla bean, and half of the sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat.
- When the milk comes to a simmer, whisk the remaining sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks to combine. Temper the mixture with a small amount of the milk (you can gently pour it in from the pot), stirring constantly.
- Pour the tempered yolk mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk, and whisk constantly over medium low heat until the mixture begins to boil. Immediately remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract.
- Strain the custard into the cooled crust and smooth into an even layer. Cover the surface of the custard directly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight.
- To make the whipped cream, place the freeze dried raspberries in a food processor and pulse until the mixture forms a fine powder.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the cream, sugar, and raspberry powder to soft peaks. Whisk in the vanilla.
- Start by piping a circle where you’d like the first peony to go. The peony will end up being slightly larger than this circle—so consider that when piping it (I piped my circle about 2 1/2 inches wide and ended up with 3 inch peonies). To pipe the circles, the rounded portion of the tip should be facing up. Hold the pastry bag at a 45-degree angle and spin the pie as you gently apply pressure to create the circle. Don’t worry if it’s a little wonky—it will be totally covered up later!
- To pipe the petals, you’ll continue to hold the pastry bag in the same way, with the rounded portion of the tip facing upward. Pipe the first petal right on top of the circle you piped. Pipe a short petal by applying gentle pressure to the bag and making a very small U-shape with your wrist.
- Place the next petal so that it overlaps the first. Continue this process until you’ve fully covered the circle. Do the same process again, this time piping the petals on the outer edge of the circle – these petals should overlap the first round slightly.
- Finally, pipe the outer petals. For this, you’ll want to change your pastry bag angle a bit so that the curved edge of the tip is facing away from the flower. Follow the same U motion, this time making petals that stand straight up on the outer edge of the circle. This is one of those ones that you sometimes just have to add as many petals as feels right to get it to look right! Once you finish piping one peony, you can pipe another circle next to it and keep going!
- Repeat until you’ve piped all the peonies you’d like. Refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 6 hours).