Homemade Thanksgiving Pies Simplified

Thanksgiving isn't just about the turkey and mashed potatoes. For a real feast you need a delicious dessert to end the meal, and nothing finishes a meal like a nice slice of pie. Elizabeth Karmel is the executive chef at New York's Hill Country Chicken where they're known for their decadent homemade pies. On "The Early Show," she shared how you can whip up some of her favorites -- shown below -- for Thanksgiving at your house.

"Early Show" Recipes Galore

RECIPES:

Cowboy Pie

The texture and the pure sweetness of the ingredients have made this our signature pie at Hill Country Chicken. I like to describe it as a "candy bar in a cup," and because it is so rich, we only make it in the 3-inch "Pie Cup" size. If you chose to make it in a traditional 9-inch, make the slices very thin. The real beauty of this pie is that you can customize it with your favorite combination of flavors!

INGREDIENTS:
Prepared pie shells in either 3-inch or 9-inch sizes. Can be graham cracker, Oreo cookie, shortbread or pre-baked regular crust
2 cups favorite chocolate chunks, morsels or pieces, bittersweet, milk, white, semi-sweet etc.
1 cup favorite alternative morsel or chunk, such as toffee, peanut butter, caramel, butterscotch, etc
1 cup favorite candy or extra such as, granola, dried fruit such as cherries, or raisins etc
11/2 cups sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups favorite nuts such as walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts
1-2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk or 1 can and
1 cup dulce de leche or favorite caramel sauce, depending on how dry the mixture is

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir together all filling ingredients until evenly distributed. Spoon into prepared crusts; either 3-inch or 9-inch.

Pat top of pie down with your fingers to make even and fill any holes.
Bake for about 10 minutes for little pies and 25 minutes for a 9-inch pie.
Let cool completely before serving.

Classic Pumpkin Pie

INGREDIENTS:
9-inch Pre-baked pie shell
1 can (15 ounce) Libby's 100 percent pure pumpkin
1 1/2 cups half and half
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (see below)
1/4 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt

METHOD:
Preheat: oven 350˚F.

Combine pumpkin, half and half, granulated sugar, maple syrup, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl; mix well. Pour into pie shell.

Bake for 20 minutes and check on pie. Rotate if necessary and bake for 20 to 30 more minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Serve with Bourbon Whipped Cream.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons cloves

Bourbon Whipped Cream

To make bourbon whipped cream, add 1 tablespoon super-fine sugar, a pinch of sea salt and 2 tablespoons bourbon to a pint of cream as it is being whipped. Beat until stiff and serve immediately. Refrigerate any unused cream.

Double-Nut Pecan Pie

The classic pecan pie made better with the addition of both chopped and whole pecans and a splash of both vanilla and Bourbon.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup whole pecans
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons of Maker's Mark Bourbon, depending on taste (and can be optional)

Pre-baked 9-inch pie shell

METHOD:
Preheat Oven to 350˚F.

Put chopped nuts into the bottom of the each prebaked pie shell and set aside.
Combine melted butter, granulated sugar, both light & dark corn syrups, eggs, vanilla and Bourbon.

Pour this mixture on top of chopped nuts. Place a decorative row of whole pecans on the top. Bake about 50-60 minutes on the center rack of the oven or until cooked through. The pie will spring back on top but still giggle a little until it cools. If the top is getting too dark before the center is done, tent with aluminum foil.

Cool for a minimum of three hours. The pie is best made the day before.

The Cherpumple "Monster" Pie Cake

Recipe from Charles Phoenix's website

INGREDIENTS:
1 8" frozen pumpkin pie
1 box spice cake mix
1 8" frozen apple pie
1 box yellow cake mix
1 8" frozen cherry pie
1 box white cake mix
eggs and oil according to the cake mix
3 tall tubs of cream-cheese frosting
3 8.5" round cake pans

METHOD:
Bake pies according to instructions and cool to room temperature overnight. Mix cake batter according to instructions. For each layer pour about 1 1/3 cup of batter in the cake pan. Carefully de-tin the baked pie and place it face up on top of the batter in the cake pan. Push down lightly to release any trapped air. Pour enough batter on top to cover the pie. Bake according to box instructions. Cool and remove from pans then frost it like you mean it.
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