Thursday, March 10, 2011

Butterscotch Pie

I love pie.

In fact, its probably my favorite type of dessert. (Unless ice cream is a category. Then we might have a draw.) Fillings for pies are so broad that I'd have to say, I don't know that I have a true favorite. Instead I have a list....(I love lists too.) The top three are cherry pie, butterscotch pie, and my mamaw's pecan pie (my Great Aunt Debby makes the same pie...Aunt Debby knew I liked it so much that when I was little she used to make one special for me on occasion when she came into town.) I also love key lime pie, caramel apple, blueberry with a hint of lemon.....ok I have to stop here or I'm going to have to get pie before I can finish this post. Maybe the best part about pie is all the happy things it reminds me of ....

   Aunt Debby or mamaw making pecan pie and how excited I was about the pleasant surprise.

   The first pie I ever made...cherry from the cherry tree that used to be in the orchard below my parent's house,

   Making key lime pie with Mel and learning how much I loved lime flavored things

You get the idea.

Today's butterscotch pie post is by special request and has been delayed more times than I care to admit. The original recipe is from my godmother, Mamaw Nell. However, this recipe came from an old church recipe book. The details were pretty scant and if you'd never made a meringue before you couldn't have from this recipe. I'd made meringue before but not the filling so I followed the filling bit as written but the final result didn't have the deep butterscotch tones that I had looked forward to enjoying. Others enjoyed it greatly but I was pretty disappointed. I'd had this pie when it was great though. I remade it and used what I have learned this past year from making a lot of caramel and butterscotch sauces as well as a fair few meringues to redo the recipe. As they say, the tough part is the details.

The following heavily adapted recipe was definitely what I was looking for in a butterscotch pie. Its creamy with deep butterscotch flavor worthy of savoring each bite. Its perfect for picnics, potlucks, family gatherings, making a weeknight supper special and even for supplying your butterscotch fix for St. Patrick's Day.

Butterscotch Pie (after a massive overhaul from the Cross Community Cookbook submitted by Nell Crosswhite)


1 single crust pie crust (I recommend this link if you don’t have one that works well for you)
1 c. brown sugar (I prefer to use dark brown as opposed to light brown)
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. milk
2 eggs, separated
1 Tbsp. butter
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 c. white sugar

How to make the Filling

Arrange the pie crust in your pie pan as desired. Prick with a fork or place pie weights inside and bake for 10 minutes at 350 F.

Meanwhile, place brown sugar, flour, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a small sauce pot and stir together on medium heat.

When the brown sugar has melted, add 3/4 c. milk and cook until mixture thickens. The thickening should take 3-5 minutes. (There is a balance here. If you cook longer, you extend the caramelization process but if you burn the caramel, you have to start over. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon thickly.)

Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining 1 c. milk. Add the beaten egg yolks and butter. (The whites are for the meringue).

Pour into your prebaked pie shell.

How to make Meringue

Place the two egg whites in a medium bowl and beat 3-5 minutes until soft peaks form.

Add 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/4 c. white sugar gradually to the beaten whites. Beat until you have stiff peaks. Spoon the meringue on top of the filling and lift the spoon up to create meringue peaks on top of your pie.

Bake the pie in the oven at 325 F for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool uncovered at room temperature to prevent drips in the meringue. Once cooled, place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours prior to eating.

Notes: (What's this business of soft and stiff peaks?

Poke your beaters into the mixture and pull them back out again. If a peak rises and sags back down, its a soft peak.

If a peak rises and holds its form, its a stiff peak. Typically you need to run your mixture close to high to get stiff peaks.

If you overbeat, you'll get butter. If your mixture breaks and you start getting fluid and chunks, its time to start over with new egg whites.

Meringue is best when using very fresh eggs. If they've been in the fridge more than a week, I'd get new eggs. I've made it with older eggs but the results can be disappointing.)


This pie got rave reviews, immediate requests for recipes, continued requests for recipes over a month later, and a couple requests to make it for other people. One person thought it reminded them of their favorite butterscotch pie from a restaurant in Southwest Virginia. They wondered if I got the recipe from there. I told them Mamaw Nell was originally from the general area they described so it was possibly a regional recipe. Growing up, butterscotch pie was a staple at picnics and potlucks. I always looked forward to it. In addition to everyone else liking it, I liked it too. It was just right!

What's your favorite pie?


  1. My favorite pie? Lemon Meringue. Or Chocolate. Or Lime Meringue. I'm not huge on cooked fruit pies, but now that I've had some real ones, I'm coming around. I'm not convinced on butterscotch pie though... I think I'll have to let someone else make one for me before I'm willing to make one myself. But you sure did make this one look purty.

  2. Its kind of like eating lemon meringue in texture but the flavor is caramelized sugar. I'm realizing this might be hard to imagine. I think I know someone that would make one for you to try sometime. ;)