I feel like San Gabriel Valley, with its streets dotted with Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Spanish, and maybe English signs, is not like most of the rest of America. In addition to having good Mexican and Chinese food whenever we wanted, we also had a good deal of Marie Callender’s pies.
A few months out of the year, Marie Callender’s would have pie sales where all the pies were a flat price, and during strawberry season we would stock up with strawberry pies for a special price, too. In retrospect, the bright red syrup that accompanied those pies probably had tons of food coloring in it. I have good memories of seeing the signature Marie Callender pie box in the fridge, and whenever we had some pie, I would have a slice for breakfast! 🙂
Our family had its favorites that we got all the time- lemon cream cheese and Kahlua, as we affectionately called it. I learned, much later on, that Kahlua was the name of the liqueur that gave it its flavor. The Kahlua cream cheese pie, with its chocolate cookie crust and elusive filling, got me every time, and it was definitely my favorite! I remember often eating it layer by layer.
I would start with my least favorite part- the sour cream topping, then I would scrape at the cheesecake part to reveal the naked crunchy chocolate cookie crust for last. Sometimes, someone would make an imperfect slice that would leave some crust behind- jackpot.
The sour cream fudge drizzle topping was only okay to me at the time, but thinking back, its semi-tartness made it perfect to accompany the remaining cheesecake below it.
Recently, my sister called me up and asked if I had a good recipe for Kahlua. Not having tried to make it since my college days, where I only made the cheesecake part (who needs sour cream, anyway? Just kidding!), I told her I wasn’t sure but started hypothesizing about what re-create our childhood taste memories. We decided that we’d make it together when I visited her!
So, the first pie was a joint effort by the Tsui sisters, which was a bunch of fun! We worked side by side, each taking over a different task, and tasting and making judgment calls as we went along (I took notes on the recipe).
We didn’t have sour cream, so we used Greek yogurt. I think it is just as good with the Greek yogurt, if not better, but you can decide..After two versions, I am quite happy with the recipe. y.
Even if you have never had the sweet experience of eating a slice of Marie Callender Kahlua Pie, I guarantee you will be a fan of it once you taste this. So. Make some pie and eat it, too.