Butterscotch Pie has a gooey toffee filling with a flaky crust. Served with a dollop of whipped cream, this mini pie delivers big flavor!
I love Pi Day (March 14th, or 3/14), a day fully created to make my math tutor/chef’s heart skip a beat.
Not to bring back nightmares from Geometry, but pi (∏), an irrational number representing the ratio between the circumference and diameter of a circle, is 3.14159…).
This is definitely a day for Math nerds.
I, of course, also love pie, and math plays a part in that, too. For instance, how do you adjust a recipe for a full-sized pie to a mini pie for two?
(Why would you want to do that?)
Since I'm only cooking for my husband and myself, I want a pie that won't call to me from the fridge for the rest of the week.
Hmmm…there's only one way forward for me: MATH!
Kitchen calculations for pie
I see you cringing in your seat, don’t worry! I only needed to calculate the volume of a 7-inch pie pan and the volume of a 9-inch pie pan, then divide the two answers and adjust each ingredients weight by the result.
(Ummm…pie pans are sloped)
To the Interwebs! Except, an internet search came up empty. I found various answers for the volume of a 9-inch pie pan but none for the 7-inch pie pan.
Ok, new plan. Just fill each pan with water and pour that amount into a measuring cup.
The result? A 9-inch pie pan holds 4 cups of water and a 7-inch pie pan holds 1½ cups, so the ratio to adjust the ingredients is ⅜.
You know what? Just divide the recipe ingredient amounts in half and have done with it!
(Do you see what goes on in my head? It’s combat in here, folks.)
Simple ingredients for big flavor
Now that the math section is over, let's get back to our regularly scheduled recipe in progress.
This pie uses basic ingredients. and you don't have to do much to them. Really, the filling is just a butterscotch sauce recipe that's set with eggs.
Choosing dark brown sugar deepens the toffee flavor, but light brown sugar works as well.
How to make Butterscotch Pie
A Butterscotch Pie recipe has two major parts, making the crust and making the filling, and they're almost done concurrently.
Let's break it down.
Step 1: Par-bake the pie crust
You can make a homemade pie crust or get one at the store. I prefer my all butter No Recipe Pie Crust, using a 6-4-2 recipe ratio of flour-fat-liquid for half of a double pie crust. It makes enough for this smaller pie pan without too much waste.
Freezing the unbaked pie shell and wrapping it in foil will help hold it in place during the par-bake so you won't need baking beads. This is the same technique used for the Basic Shortcrust Pastry.
Step 2: Make the filling
While the crust is freezing, start the butterscotch filling.
Making butterscotch is essentially cooking butter and brown sugar together, then adding in cream. At this point you have a homemade butterscotch sauce. If you were to omit the eggs, you'd have a delicious sauce to pour over ice cream!
But since the filling needs to have a gooey yet solid structure, add in the eggs and the vanilla after the mixture has cooled a bit.
Step 3: Fill and bake the pie
You'll par-bake the pie crust wrapped in foil while the filling is cooling down (before adding the eggs). Finish up the filling just before taking the par-baked crust from the oven.
Carefully pour the filling into the hot par-baked crust. The pie will bake just until the center as a slight wobble, like when making a pecan pie.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions that you might have...
Caramel sauce is made by cooking granulated sugar, then adding cream, butter, and flavoring. Butterscotch is similar, but it's made with brown sugar instead. giving a deeper toffee flavor from the molasses. Also, with butterscotch, the brown sugar is cooked in melted butter rather than adding it at the end.
Sure! Just double the filling ingredients and use a 9-inch pie pan, making a single pie crust using the 9-6-3 recipe ratio. The baking times will be longer, so check the recipe notes for those.
Nope, I'm done...for now...
Small size with big flavor
Butterscotch Pie is quite delicious. It had the gooey consistency of pecan pie filling with a lovely butterscotch flavor from the salt and vanilla.
I almost wish I had made the full recipe just so it would call out to me. Anyway, I consider this year’s Pi Day well celebrated, with pie and math!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
p.s. We lost Dr. Stephen Hawking, that eminent astrophysicist, on Pi Day, 2018. Hobbled in body, Dr. Hawking's mind soared in the universe using math as his spaceship. I think Pi Day is a fitting day to celebrate his life, don't you?
Pies can be sweet or savory, and there are so many fillings from which to choose. From fruits to nuts and custards, there's bound to be a pie that catches your fancy! Here are a few choices to try.
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Butterscotch Pie for Two
For the crust
- ½ recipe double pie crust, homemade or store bought, see Recipe Notes
For the filling
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¼ tsp sea salt flakes
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- whipped cream, lightly sweetened, for garnish
- Heat oven to 400°F.
- For the crust: Prepare a half recipe for a double pie crust (see Recipe Notes). Ease the crust into a 7-inch pie pan. Trim the edges to about ½-inch. Fold overhang under edge of pie crust and crimp decoratively. Prick the bottom with a fork. Save any scraps in fridge, just in case. Freeze the crust for 15 minutes while you make the filling.
- For the filling: Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and salt and stir to combine (it will be clumpy, not smooth). Let the mixture simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the cream and remove from heat. Let the mixture cool for 15 minutes.
- Par-bake the crust: When the pie crust is solid, coat a piece of foil with butter or nonstick spray and press tightly against frozen pie shell, covering the dough and rim and molding it to fit the shape of the edges.
- Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes, then carefully, gently remove foil. If any parts have puffed, just press them gently back into place. Patch any tears or cracks with reserved dough scraps. Leave the oven on.
- Bake the pie: Whisk in the eggs into the cooled filling, one at a time, then the vanilla. As soon as crust comes out of oven, pour in the filling and return the pie to the oven.
- Let the pie cool completely. Serve chilled or at room temperature with lightly sweetened whipped cream (especially if you have any imperfections to hide).