At the Vintage Club, the pies (big or small) are deliciously decadent.
Pie, that ubiquitous pastry with a delicate crust and sweet filling, is as traditional as fireworks on the fourth of July. But as mainstream America tries to turn it into the next cupcake, club chefs like Alison Murphy, Pastry Chef at the Vintage Club, Indian Wells, Calif., continue to treat pie with the respect it deserves.
“Our members are fanatical about pie,” says Murphy, who came to the club about a year and a half ago. “There’s something comforting, old-fashioned and deliciously messy about it.”
Murphy balances the club’s dessert menus—which change weekly and feature roughly a half-dozen items—with a careful mix of old-school sweets and modern indulgences. In every variation, however, pie remains a perennial favorite and a menu must, especially the signature coconut cream.
“The presentation may change—we might prepare it in a four-inch tart shell with a club logo sprayed in gold and some fresh fruit, or we might plate it as a slice,” says Murphy. “The point is that the flavor will always be the same.”
To achieve the cherished taste, she stirs toasted coconut into a homemade custard filling and pours it into a handmade pie shell. After the pie is chilled and set, it’s covered with a decadent whipped cream and
more toasted coconut chips.
Other popular pies include apple, cherry, pumpkin and even a derby pie made with pecans, chocolate chips and bourbon.
“We strive to offer members modern twists on traditional favorites, and since I tend to like things in miniature, we’ve started making mini-pies,” says Murphy, who was named the 2013 American Culinary Federation Pastry Chef of the Year. “They allow for a cleaner presentation.”
Vintage Club’s mini-pies are about two inches wide and feature the same traditional fillings members have come to love. “You can eat it in one bite—but it’ll be a big bite,” says Murphy.
Both adorable and versatile, mini-pies are frequently featured in plated trios, as well as on buffets and for banquets.
And while Murphy has no shortage of new ideas for pie, she also sees another traditional pastry having a resurgence.
“Donuts are on the rise,” she says. “It seems like a lot of chefs are trying to reintroduce them as cool and different.”