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Cherries and Cream Pie

I watched a special on the Food Network a few weeks ago that was about a pie competition. At the competition, there were a number of categories for amateur bakers: apple pie, fruit pie, cream pie, etc. Just about every pie looked delicious, but the one that ended up winning the best in show award was a fluffy pie that used Cool Whip as one of its main filling ingredients. My first thought, which I am sure was shared by others, was one of wonder – how could that have been picked over the perfectly made from-scratch pies? The answer is simple: it tasted better.

My point here is that food snobbery, however you choose to define it, is prevalent in the food-loving community and everyone has it to some small degree. When it leads to using only organic ingredients and from-scratch pies and cakes fresh from the oven, it can be a good thing. But it does not mean that the dishes that don’t live up to those standards are sub-par, or unworthy of notice. I’m not going to say that they will always be as good as something that is entirely homemade – I do bake my own bread, after all – but it certainly can be delicious.

Case in point is this award winning recipe for Peaches and Cream Pie, which has apparently won the recipe writer 5 blue ribbons and a “Best in Show” award, not to mention a five star rating from more than 450 reviewers on AllRecipes. With that kind of pedigree, I knew that I had to try the pie as soon as I had seen it. It is not a traditional pie, though. It has a cake base, rather than a pastry one, and uses pudding mix in the batter. It also called for canned peaches.

I’m glad that I put aside any snobbery I might have felt and made it. I used cherries instead of peaches, but the pie was declared to be one of the best things my tasters have ever tasted.

And they have tasted a lot.

The reason that the recipe calls for canned peaches is twofold: they take less time to soften in the oven and are very consistent. Everyone has jarred or canned peaches, so the pie can be made at a moment’s notice. I used jarred Morello cherries (not cherry pie filling, but cherries in juice) from Trader Joe’s. Other berries, fresh or frozen and defrosted, would work here, too. The vanilla pudding added a ton of vanilla flavor to the base of the “pie” and made a wonderful match for the cream cheese topping. In fact, it was almost like a very unusual cheesecake, or a cake with a cheesecake frosting. It was moist, surprisingly light and very good.

I’m not saying that all recipes that aren’t entirely homemade, etc. will be fantastic, but sometimes it is worth trying them just to find out. You might be surprised.

Cherries and Cream Pie
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 3-oz package vanilla pudding mix (not instant)
3 tbsp butter, very soft
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
25-30 ounce can/jar of cherries in juice (not pie filling), see note for substitutions
1 8-oz package cream cheese, very soft
1/2 cup sugar

3 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 10 inch deep-dish pie pan or round baking dish.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder and pudding mix. Using an electric mixer, beat in butter and egg, adding milk gradually, until mixture is smooth. Pour into pie pan.
Arrange fruit on top of cake mixture.
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth, then add sugar and 3 tbsp milk and beat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spoon cream cheese mix over fruit, gently spreading it to within 1 inch of pan edge.
Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown at the edge.
Cool on a wire rack
Serve slightly warm or chilled.
Serves 10.

Note: If using frozen cherries, let them defrost before using. The same thing goes for other frozen berries. You will probably need about 1 1/2 cups fruit. Otherwise, use canned peaches, as in the original recipe.

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  • Lynda
    August 17, 2006

    Great point about how we “foodies” tend to be snobbish about never using shortcuts – everything MUST be from scratch, etc. I tend to be that way myself (for example, if a recipe includes canned cream of anything soup, I won’t even consider it).

    I have made some exceptions, though. I used to make a chocolate blueberry bundt cake. The original recipe called for cake mix. I have tried it numerous times with a variety of cake mixes as well as with a variety of scratch chocolate cake recipes. The very best turned out to be with Betty Crocker Supermoist Cake Mix (much better than the scratch cakes even).

  • Tanna
    August 17, 2006

    What? You mean I can’t judge a recipe by listed ingredients – I have to taste it too!
    When you think about the times, we’ve all done it, we pick a recipe with what looks like a great ingredient list and it turns out poorly or worse…
    I went through a long time thinking everything should be from scratch and it just isn’t so. But, I don’t think I’m going to be doing any cake mixes soon. Cool whip, OK – even as plastic as it is, tastes good but I’d have to go get it.

  • Heather
    August 17, 2006

    This looks wonderful.

  • Ana
    August 17, 2006

    It may be different from the most classic pies, but your pie looks delicious!!

  • Julie
    August 17, 2006

    I like your take on food snobbery here. Sometimes it’s good; sometimes it’s not. I was thinking that your pie sounded great, and then you mentioned the cream cheese icing, and I was sold. My husband and I LOVE it. I would like to try this blueberries perhaps.

  • Gabriella True
    August 17, 2006

    I used short cuts all the time and have been hesitant about blogging about them but last week I decided I would start doing those recipes too.

    I just added your blog to my list of favorite links on my blog.

  • Lori
    August 18, 2006

    Interesting point you have there about food snobbery, Nic. I know everyone has it, even me, though I’m loathe to admit it. :p You’re right, we foodlovers need to keep an open (hungry!) mind at all times.

  • Amanda
    August 22, 2006

    I’ve made the Peaches n’Cream version several times over, even having to have Jell-O pudding mix mailed to me in the UK to have it! It’s so simple and so incredibly delicious.

    And to those who think recipes that have canned cream soup as an ingredient are to be ignored-how DO you deal with the holiday season? 🙂 Granted, from-scratch tuna casserole is fantastic but nothing beats O’Briens casserole or the beloved Green Bean casserole, both courtesy of Campbell’s. This is why I don’t like being called a foodie; food elitism just doesn’t appeal to me.

  • Cat
    July 9, 2007

    do you think these could be made into inidvidually sized “pies” in cupcake tins? how would i adjust the time?

  • Cat
    July 9, 2007

    p.s. made the original recipe for the 4th of july party i went to. it was a HIT!

  • Sophia
    March 15, 2008

    I made this earlier today. I hope people like it!

  • Sophia
    April 7, 2008

    This was so good! I am about to make it again for my dad’s birthday tomorrow. Yum!!!!!!!!!

  • Lyra
    July 1, 2008

    I’m making this today with sweet cherries, I added some lemon juice to both the cherries and the cream cheese mixture to make up for the lack of tartness in the cherries themselves. We will see how it turns out.

  • Anonymous
    March 28, 2009

    I noticed that the recipe calls for non-instant pudding mix… would there be a large difference if I just used instant pudding mix, since it’s all I have on hand right now?
    Thanks ;]

  • Sonia
    December 27, 2011

    Made this recipe and it WON first place at a Bake-Off Work contest. Thanks for sharing!
    Will make again and again!!!!

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