Baked Sunday Mornings: Tolling up pie’s sweet rewards

Nothing matches the satisfaction of making a pie. Cakes are showstoppers. Cookies are always welcome. But they rarely feel as accomplished a feat as setting a humble dish of freshly baked pie, still warm from the oven, on your countertop. The baker’s glow is a different kind here.

Perhaps it is because you follow in line of the American tradition of other bakers who rose early on warm mornings to roll out their pastry crusts, crimping the edges in hopeful aim (isn’t there all the hope in the world in the pinching and circling that happens ‘round a pie plate?).

And while that crimped pie crust chills, you discover the joys of a new type of filling, one near cookie-like that brings a different contender to the rich, nutty-fudge category where pecan pies reign. This Tuscaloosa Tollhouse Pie (the name alone just screams laid-back summer potluck), from “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito (recipe link here), conjures a filling akin to chocolate chip cookies, buttery and brown-sugar laden, with a heavy dose of toasted walnuts and semisweet chocolate chips. I was fully on board with this recipe and all its decadence, but I did make a couple adjustments on my end: I added 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the flour and sugars when they were whisked; and, I left out the whiskey, instead subbing in about 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon rum extracts.

This soft cookie dough/batter/filling was spread evenly into the unbaked chilled crust and sprinkled with — yes — more chocolate chips. What sweet promise as I slid this cookie pie into the oven, summoning the ghosts of my childhood summers of chocolate chip cookie-baking magic.

The baked Tuscaloosa Tollhouse Pie emerges, golden crust and toffee-rich, to sit like a trophy on the counter. The triumph of pie! If I never ate any of it, I’d still feel like a winner. But, oh, I’m gonna eat it…

The suggestion of this pie to be served à la mode by its authors was not a hard sell (I was always going to top this one with a cold scoop of vanilla bean). Just a small slice of the rich, still slightly warm fudge of a favorite cookie or brownie (melty from the oven) in a buttery crust, and a favorite vanilla ice cream to soften all those chocolatey edges. Just the right thing, pie is, always.

You’ll find the recipe for Tuscaloosa Tollhouse Pie here:

Blogger’s Note: I whisked in 1/2 teaspoon salt with the flour and sugars. I substituted 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon rum extracts.

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