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Liz Martin, Deseret Morning News

LEHI — Perfect pies are part of every cook's Thanksgiving Dinner dream.

Martha Moench, one of the expert cooks who teaches cooking classes at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, showed audience members how to make just such desserts.

The Martha's Favorite Pumpkin Pie and her Chocolate Pecan Pie can be made with either a handmade crust or a store-bought crust and still succeed, Moench said. The secret is in using fresh spices, roasted nuts and pumpkin.

"I am all for whatever works for you," Moench told her audience. "I think the cook should enjoy the holidays, too."

Moench said if you make a crust from scratch, keep it cold and be careful not to knead it with warm hands, which can make it tough.

For her pecan pie, she toasts the pecans and sometimes mixes walnuts with the pecans. "People think I have some secret, and all I do differently is toast the pecans," she said.

Martha's Favorite Pumpkin Pie:

1 9-10-inch piecrust baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Filling: 1 15-oz. can pumpkin — NOT pie filling

1/2 teaspoon Realsalt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks

whipped cream and toasted coconut for garnish (optional)

Combine the pumpkin, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, grated ginger, and grated nutmeg in medium saucepan, stir well and warm over low heat to blend flavors for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add condensed milk and coconut milk and whisk to blend well: cook until the mixture is heated through just a minute or two.

Put the eggs and yolks in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the eggs, a spoonful at a time to warm up the eggs, then add this mixture back into the pumpkin mix and whisk well.

Pour the warm filling into the pie shell, removing about 1/4 cup if using a 10-inch pie shell. Bake until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack and then refrigerate. Serve at room temperature or chilled with a dollop of whipped cream. Serves 8-10.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

dough for 1 9-inch pie crust

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

4 large eggs

1/2 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 cup packed light brown sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon rum (optional)

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon flour

pinch ground nutmeg

pinch ground cinnamon

8 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-inch pieces

Adjust the rack to the middle. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough, making a circle 1-inch large than the pie plate. Fold the crust in half and carefully fit it into the pie plate. Fold the crust in half and carefully fit it into the pie plate. Trim the edge 1/2-inch wider than the rim. Fold excess under and crimp, pinching the dough between your thumb and forefinger.

Toast the pecans in a small pan over medium high heat, about 4 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients, except the chocolate. Blend until smooth. Stir in the nuts and chocolate. Pour into pie crust, using a spatula to scrape in the chocolate if needed. Bake until set, 40-50 minutes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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