Add Unexpected Heat To Pie Crust With A Little Cayenne Pepper

When it comes to pies, the filling is usually the star of the show while the crust gets second billing. That doesn't have to be the case, though. If you want your pie to become the talk of the town, pay extra attention to your crust. Consider adding some heat to it with cayenne pepper. 

Beyond adding a sunflower crimp to your crust to elevate its presentation, putting some spice in it infuses the whole dish with extra flavor. Cayenne pepper is a good choice whether you're making a savory or a dessert pie. With a meaty filling, that bit of heat in the crust can enhance its savory taste. As for a sweet filling, it gets some balance and nuance with a mildly spiced crust that gives a nice kick to the taste buds. There's also a euphoric sensation that comes from consuming something spicy. Capsaicin, the chemical that infuses cayenne pepper with heat, brings both burning and numbing sensations to the taste buds simultaneously. Experiencing some discomfort or even pain while eating something delicious can feel thrilling, especially when it happens with something unexpected like dessert.  

When spicing your crust, a little goes a long way since you don't want the heat to overwhelm the flavor's filling. Your no-bake graham crust could use only ¼ to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder. If you're baking your pie, adding 1 tablespoon to the crust's dry ingredients requires using less flour to maintain the right ratio of wet to dry ingredients for a flaky crust. 

Cayenne pepper's heat lets the pie filling's flavor shine

There are plenty of other spices you can use to make your crust — and, therefore, your pie — extra special. Herbs, zests, and extracts can have the same purpose. If you want the crust to take on a more interesting texture, add toasted sesame seeds. However, it's best to consider if the flavoring agent you want to use for your crust would complement the flavor of your filling.

Cayenne pepper is a versatile choice since it has a neutral flavor. It won't overpower the earthy sweetness of a pumpkin pie filling, for example, and the warmth it imparts to the buttery crust will keep your taste buds intrigued. It's equally complementary to other fruity pie fillings, too, like apples, peaches, and berries. For chocolate buttermilk pie, cayenne pepper's spice sets off the cocoa richness of the filling. If you find most pecan pie recipes too sweet for your liking, adding cayenne pepper to the crust can help balance that. For a truly decadent dessert, follow our recipe for chocolate-coffee pecan pie but make the crust with a little cayenne pepper powder.

You can also combine it with other spices like cinnamon and ginger to add further depth to the crust's flavor. These extra ingredients will have your kitchen smelling warm and festive as you wait for your pie to finish baking.