By Mike Thayer
I love pie, I'll take pie over any other kind of dessert offering, but I hate making them, namely the pie crust. Making the dough is a labor intensive project if you want a flaky, golden brown and delicious final product. It entails using chilled water and really cold butter with the flour, resting the dough, dusting the dough, rolling the dough, folding the dough, trimming the dough, pinching/decorating the edge, then finally, pre-baking the bottom crust of dough to make sure it's cooked through in presenting the final product, the pie. I'd rather put that kind of labor into grilling or smoking meat.
Enter, Marie Callender's
So this Thanksgiving, I bought two pies made by Marie Callender's, a pumpkin and a blueberry. Blueberry isn't a traditional Thanksgiving pie for most folks, but it is my favorite and it was calling to me as I pulled the pumpkin from the grocery store freezer....
"Pick me, pick me, you don't want cherry or apple, pick ME!"
Originally intending to get a pumpkin and a cherry pie, I grabbed the blueberry with hesitation, not because I may or may not have been hearing voices, but because it's a new product offering from Marie Callender's. I wondered if it had been refined enough in the company's test kitchen before making it to market. There's only one way to find out.
The directions on the packages were straight forward, nothing complicated about it.
The blueberry pie went into the oven on Thanksgiving eve, brushing the top crust with a beaten egg before baking. TIP: Baking your pies the day before or first thing in the morning on Thanksgiving Day ensures your oven is free for the main events of the day, namely the turkey and the casserole sides, which need to be served hot. You don't want to wait and bake your pies after roasting the turkey thinking they'll be done in time for dessert because they won't. Pies need time to cool and set up. The last thing you want is a runny (too hot and not set up yet) pie and the flavors just won't be there like they are with a cooled and set pie. Although to admit, hot fruit pie over vanilla ice cream, while a bit messy, IS pretty darn good....
So after baking per the package instructions, I pulled the blueberry out of the oven, hit that top crust with a little melted butter and set it aside to cool. The package recommends cooling the pie at least three hours, which I did. Perhaps not even 30 seconds past that mark, I sliced into the pie with a side of vanilla ice cream on a dessert plate standing by to receive...... When Marie Callender's suggests at least three hours to cool, they should have stated at least four. The pie was runny, filling falling aside as I plated the slice. The picture on the box, NOT taken after just three hours of cooling. So while the runny filling was a bit disappointing, the flavor was not! Even though I didn't get a full amount of filling a slice deserves, the blueberrys were plump and juicy as advertised and that crust was flaky, golden brown and delicious. Marie did a nice job on this new product offering, the only knock I've got against it is the cooling time, more patience is needed. It's a repeat buy!
The pumpkin pie was put in the oven first thing Thanksgiving morning. I pulled it out of the oven and gave it the toothpick test when the time went off, put it back in the oven as the toothpick didn't come out clean. I baked it off an additional 10 minutes to ensure doneness. Oven temps do indeed vary. Once cooled, this pie too delivered the flavor. There is a reason pumpkin pie and whipped cream is the favorite on Thanksgiving Day and Marie's pie delivers! Over the years of Thanksgiving celebrations, I've had home made pies from Moms, Grandmas, Aunts, pies from restaurants, pies from bakeries, pies from specialty stores.... I think I could put this pie in a lineup and folks would be hard pressed to pick which one was the store bought pie from the freezer in a taste test.
Thank you Marie Callender's! Your pies rock and the price is Bachelor on the Cheap friendly! I don't think you could make a scratch made pie for what I paid for these. The cost was about $5.50 each and think of all that time I saved without sacrificing flavor!
The blueberry, fresh out of the oven. TIP: Always line your cookie sheet with foil, MUCH easier clean up!