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Easy Home Baking
Add Your Own Special Touch to Winter Desserts

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Not-So-Cookie-Cutter Pumpkin Pie
Can't Top This Cheesecake Delight
I Spy Apple Pie

(Family Features) - Let's face it. Martha Stewart you're not. But creating magazine- worthy desserts that will charm company as you entertain this winter doesn't have to be as difficult or time-consuming as it looks.

How? By starting with store-bought desserts from your grocer's freezer. With a few deft touches and simple yet gorgeous garnishes, you can tweak a frozen pie or cheesecake into an artful confection so luscious it will seem like you slaved for hours.

Use your favorite jam or jelly to spread over the top of a plain cheesecake for a special flavor and gleaming gourmet look, and then serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and flaked almonds. Give your pumpkin, pecan or apple pie a personal, home- baked touch by using leaf, heart or star-shaped cookie cutters to cut out shapes from prepared pie crust, and then creatively place them on the filling or around the rim before baking.

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination, but here are some recipes to get you started. Serve any of the following with a steaming cup of coffee, hot chocolate or spiced cider. Visit saraleedesserts.com for more easy ideas for transforming store-bought desserts.

Making Store-Bought Pies Look Homemade
  • Thaw pie slightly, and then work crimped crusts so they look slightly irregular before baking. Crust uniformity is a store-bought pie giveaway.
     
  • Brushing pie crust or fruit filling with an egg wash, apricot glaze or apple butter is an easy way to add luster to a store-bought pie.

  • Replicate Grandma's lattice top by reconfiguring a top crust like those on Sara Lee Signature Selections varieties. Thaw pie until crust softens, and then remove top crust and roll flat. Using a crimping tool or sharp knife, cut strips from the flattened crust and weave across pie filling, working strip ends into the perimeter crust to blend.

Additional Pie Tips

  • Check frequently on pumpkin pies while baking. Outer edges of the filling should be firmly set and slightly brown. The inner 4- to 6-inch filling should be more softly set and shake like gelatin.

  • To keep edges from over-browning, place aluminum foil around pie perimeter prior to baking. Remove foil for the last 15 minutes.

  • Always preheat the oven as instructed. For best results, preheat baking pans with the oven.

  • Avoid baking holiday pies with turkey or ham. Pies require a higher temperature, so try to bake pies the night before.

Not-So-Cookie-Cutter Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients
  • 1 Sara Lee Signature Selections Traditional Pumpkin Pie
  • Unbaked pie crust dough
  • Food coloring
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon water

Preparation
    1. Remove pie from package. Using seasonal design cookie cutters, such as leaves, stamp shapes from unbaked pie crust dough to be used on pie in a perimeter overlay. Stamp larger cutouts to use to embellish pie center. Roll remaining dough scraps into acorn shapes.
    2. With small art brush, decorate dough shapes with food coloring as desired. Details such as leaf veins can be created by scoring dough with a butter knife. "Glue" perimeter shapes to crimped crust using mixture of egg, milk and water. Arrange center shapes as preferred.
    3. For golden brown finish, brush another thin layer of egg wash on perimeter overlay and center adornments before baking. Bake pie as instructed. Acorns should be baked beside pan on aluminum foil. After pie has cooled completely, position acorns as desired.

Can't Top This Cheesecake Delight

Ingredients
  • 1 package Sara LeeĀ® Original Cream Classic Cheesecake
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ounce white or milk chocolate (optional)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Preparation
    1. Remove cheesecake from pan according to package directions and set on serving plate.
    2. Pour cream into microwave-safe bowl and cook on HIGH 44 to 55 seconds, or until cream begins to simmer. Add chopped bittersweet chocolate and let stand 1 minute. Stir until smooth consistency. Pour chocolate-cream mixture on top of cheesecake. Tilt plate gently back and forth to allow chocolate mixture to cover top evenly and drizzle over sides of cheesecake. Let stand 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature.
    3. To melt white or milk chocolate, place in microwave-safe bowl and cook at 50% power 1 minute, stirring every 30 seconds. Drizzle on top of cheesecake, then garnish with raspberries. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

I Spy Apple Pie

Ingredients
  • 1 Sara Lee Orchard Apple Pie
  • Unbaked pie crust dough
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons apple or apricot jelly

Preparation
    1. Remove pie from package and place in baking dish. Allow pie to thaw approximately 1 hour, until crust softens.
    2. Using cookie cutter, remove shape(s) from top pie crust to reveal underlying filling. Stamp unbaked pie crust dough into shapes and place on pie to further embellish. Combine egg, milk and water. Brush thin layer on center of crust (avoid crimped edges, which bake faster, to prevent over-browning). Bake as instructed.
    3. Allow pie to cool fully. Heat apple or apricot jelly in microwave- safe bowl 5 to 10 seconds, or until soft. Stir and heat 5 to 10 seconds more, or until liquid consistency. Brush onto pie crust to glaze before serving.

SOURCE: Sara Lee



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