Recipes: Pies for the holiday table

The Detroit News

What comes after turkey or ham and all the trimming? The pies, of course. And these two wonders — Chocolate-Sesame Tarte Soleil and Red-Currant Poppyseed Linzer Torte — will add flair to your holiday menu.

Left, Chocolate-Sesame Tarte Soleil is created by dividing the dough into sections and just twisting each piece three times. Right: Linzer torte appears to be elaborately latticed, but looks are deceiving: You merely snip the ropes of dough to expose the uncoated interior before baking.



To avoid creating water pockets in your brisée (which will wreak havoc in your dough), make sure to strain the ice out of the water before drizzling it in and processing.

Active Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Makes: Enough for one 9-inch double-crust pie, or one 10 1⁄2-by-15 1⁄4-inch single-crust slab pie

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

7 to 8 tablespoons ice water

1. Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces remaining. Drizzle 5 tablespoons water over mixture; pulse several times to combine. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until mixture holds together when pinched.

2. For a 9-inch pie, shape dough into two disks and wrap each in plastic. For a slab pie, shape dough into a rectangle and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day, or freeze up to 3 months; thaw overnight in refrigerator before using.


With semisweet chocolate and tahini frangipane layered inside, this radiant tart takes its cue from the candied, nutty flavors of chocolate-covered halvah. The sesame lends a complex, almost bitter edge that keeps the filling from being too sweet.


Use a serrated knife to finely chop the chocolate: The finer it is, the easier it will be to shape the tarte.

Active Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Serves: 8 to 10

Unbleached all-purpose flour, for dusting

Pate Brisée, divided into two disks

Sesame Frangipane (recipe follows)

4 ounces semisweet chocolate (61% cacao), finely chopped (3/4 cup)

1 large egg

Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

1. On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out one disk of dough to a roughly 14-inch round (a scant 1/8 inch thick). Use an inverted bowl or cake pan to cut out an 11-inch round. Transfer dough round (still on parchment) to a baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled, 30 minutes. Repeat with second disk.

2. Remove first round from refrigerator and spread with frangipane in an even layer, leaving a 1⁄2-inch border. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate. Whisk egg with 1 teaspoon water; lightly brush border with egg wash. Place second round over filling, pressing edges to adhere. Place a small cup upside down in center of tarte to make an impression (being careful not to cut through dough). With the glass still in place, cut tarte into four equal sections, then cut each in half to make 8. Cut each eighth evenly into thirds to create 24 sections total. Working with one at a time, carefully lift a cut section, then twist three times to create a “ray.” Repeat with remaining sections, making sure to twist all in the same direction. (If dough becomes too soft during twisting, freeze until workable.) Freeze tarte until solid, about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 F with a rack in middle. Brush tarte with egg wash and lightly sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake until edges start to set and top is lightly golden, about 25 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 F and continue baking until tarte is golden brown and firm at center, 20 to 25 minutes more. (If it’s browning too quickly, tent with foil.) Let cool completely on a wire rack before serving. Tarte can be stored, loosely covered, at room temperature up to 1 day.


Active/Total Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 1 1⁄2 cups

1⁄2 cup blanched whole almonds, toasted

1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg

1⁄4 cup tahini, well stirred

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt

1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place almonds and sugar in a food processor; process until finely ground. Add butter, egg, tahini, flour, salt and vanilla; process until smooth. Frangipane can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 day; return to room temperature before using.


A one-ingredient pie filling? It’s a Thanksgiving miracle. In this modernized linzer torte, ruby-red currant jam goes on the inside, poppy seeds provide crunch and ground pecans give the crust a buttery, cookie-like delicacy.


The rope trimmings from this recipe can be baked into cookies: Roll them into 1/2-inch-thick ropes and cut them into two-inch pieces. Arrange on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, snip each piece into a wheat-stalk shape, and bake until lightly golden, about 12 minutes.

Active Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 3 hour 45 minutes

Serves: 10

1/2 cup pecans, toasted and cooled

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup poppy seeds

3/4 cup red-currant jam or fruit spread, whisked until smooth

Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

1. Place pecans, flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and process until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and process until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add yolk and pulse until dough just begins to come together. (Dough will be soft.) Divide in half; shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

2. On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out one disk of dough to an 11-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom (patch with pieces of excess dough, if necessary). Trim dough flush with rim; refrigerate 30 minutes.

3. Divide second disk into 8 pieces. On an unfloured surface, roll each piece out into a 1/2-inch-thick rope, about 10 inches long. (If dough becomes too soft, refrigerate until firm.) Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle poppy seeds on another rimmed baking sheet along one long edge. Working with one rope at a time, roll to coat in poppy seeds. Refrigerate until just firm, about 10 minutes.

4. Heat oven to 350 F. Spread bottom of crust in tart pan with jam. Arrange seed-coated ropes over crust; trim edges flush with inside. To create the wheat stalk, using scissors, make shallow snips in the ropes at 1/2 inch intervals, at a 45-degree angle. Cut about three-quarters of the way through (being careful not to cut all the way through each rope). Move each cut piece to one side to expose bare dough, alternating sides with each cut.

5. Bake torte until golden brown and bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Remove from tart pan and serve, with whipped cream. Torte can be stored in refrigerator, covered, up to 2 days.

PRO TIP: Why not make multiple batches of piecrust a few weeks before the holiday, when the kitchen is quiet? It’s important to do it one recipe at a time, but there’s no need to wash the food processor in between — just be sure you remove as much of the dough as possible after each batch. Then form the dough into disks (one per crust), wrap in plastic and freeze in resealable plastic bags for up to three months.

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