A few months ago, while eating pretzels and Cara-Sel, I had a pie epiphany - I remembered being intrigued by a recipe in November's Bon Appetit and it struck me that I should alter it to recreate my snack in pie form. I planned on trying it out at the next "Pie Day" (a quarterly bake-fest with three of my friends) which happened to be the winter one. Perfect! However, once our list was finalized, I realized it would be too complicated to actually get this pie done along with all of the others. Weep! So, I decided to make it for a birthday party I am attending tomorrow, as I simply cannot fathom letting this dream go unrealized any longer. Dramatic? Perhaps. But the proof will be in the pudding, won't it? Sorry, couldn't resist. Ha!

The cookie crumb crust with curry and fennel became a pretzel crust. I switched out pretzels with no surface salt (so I could control the saltiness) for the vanilla wafers and omitted the spices. I ended up needing about 4 more tablespoons of butter to get the "wet sand" consistency the recipe called for and I added about a teaspoon more Kosher salt to get the level of saltiness I wanted. I then proceeded with the recipe almost exactly* as written.

*Changes I made:

  1. adding a splash of bourbon to the custard during the last bit of cooking
  2. passing the custard through a strainer on its way into the bowl to cool - a very important step, as evidenced by the egg clumps that were left behind
  3. topping the pie with whipped cream and chopped salted peanuts rather than cashews
I took care of the crust straight away, and while it was in the oven I gathered all of the ingredients for the filling. I cannot stress enough how important this is! The pudding recipe is pretty darn complicated so having everything measured out before you even turn on the stove will be your key to sanity.

I took care of the crust straight away, and while it was in the oven I gathered all of the ingredients for the filling. I cannot stress enough how important this is! The pudding recipe is pretty darn complicated so having everything measured out before you even turn on the stove will be your key to sanity.

I made one and half batches of the filling so that I could fill five ramekins for tonight's dessert. You didn't really think I would be able to wait until tomorrow's party to taste the pudding, did you?

I made one and half batches of the filling so that I could fill five ramekins for tonight's dessert. You didn't really think I would be able to wait until tomorrow's party to taste the pudding, did you?

Before heading off to the party, the pie was topped with whipped cream and chopped salted peanuts. YUM!

Before heading off to the party, the pie was topped with whipped cream and chopped salted peanuts. YUM!

A few notes now that I have eaten both the pudding on its own and the finished pie:

  1. The pudding is fantastic - not too sweet, incredible flavor - but if I were to make it solely as a pudding, and not as a pie filling, I would omit the gelatin. It is perfect as a filling, but a touch too firm when eaten as pudding.
  2. The crust, while delicious, crumbled a bit upon cutting. I think it needed a bit more of a binder. Perhaps more butter, or maybe even an egg, would help keep it intact, but that is just conjecture on my part. It is something I may experiment with further, but most likely paired with my favorite bittersweet chocolate cream pie filling instead. I say this because after further quality control tests (aka gorging) I think the butterscotch filling might actually be best with a straight-up blind-baked pastry crust, as you lose the subtle crunch of the vanilla beans and deep caramel notes with all of the pretzel hullabaloo going on. Delicious? Heck yeah! It just depends on what you are going for. 

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