Judging a Pie Contest.
Plus the winning recipe!

When I was just a small wisp of a thing, I dreamed that one day I’d have a job I loved.  A job I would wear designing clothing to, which was fulfilling, paid scads of money,  and required that I drive a Porche like that girl who was a lawyer on the TV show Sisters did. That was the show where all the girls had boys names.

Clearly, as a child, I had no idea how to dream big.  Had I known how to dream the impossible dream I’d have dreamed I’d one day grow up to be a PIE JUDGE.

I do not have, nor do I want a Porche, but I can add pie judge to my hysterically long list of jobs.  Technically it wasn’t a job since I didn’t get paid but I did have to be there at a specific time, perform a required task and leave before everyone else got drunk and fell down.  If that doesn’t scream job I don’t know what does.

The pie judging was for the Marche Nocturne event I told you about last week.

There were 19 pies in total, but somehow when we got down to judging there were only 17 pies.   I’ve never met a food that could grow a set of legs like a pie.

I, along with my fellow judges, Lisa Picone and Jeff Goodes judged each pie according to 3 bits of criteria.  We scored each criteria out of 5, then totalled the marks.

1.  Appearance

2.  Crust

3.  Filling

I was impressed with the amount of men that entered the contest.  I was also impressed with the amount of bribing they attempted.


Lemon Meringue

Pie Contest 1
Pie Contest 2


Avocado Lime w/ coconut crust (Raw Foods Pie)

Pie Contest 3


Strawberry Rhubarb (lattice top)

Pie Contest 4
Pie Contest 5
Pie Contest 6


Blueberry Lavender Cream Pie

Pie Contest 7


The ribbons …

Pie Contest 8


… complete with picture of pies.

Pie Contest 9


The pies.  All of the pies. That’s a lotta pie.

Pie Contest 10


My fellow judges Lisa and Jeff. Two finer folks you never did meet.  

I should mention that they were a bit less um … discriminating … when it came to judging.

They were nicer.  I was a pie nazi.  I become a raging, exacting, maniacal person once you put a pie fork in my hand.

Pie Contest 12


Of the 17 pies, there were probably 6 or so Strawberry Rhubarb pies. It’s very difficult to taste that many Strawberry Rhubarb pies and have any of it make sense.  But the differences between them were amazing.  Some maintained their filling shape once you cut into them, others turned oozy and runny once you took out a slice.  Some had salty crusts, some were incredibly tart.

Other pies brought a tear to the eye.  For a variety of reasons.

Other than Strawberry Rhubarb pies there were a few cream pies and some really delicious flavour combinations.  Like the classic chocolate raspberry pie, which we deemed more of a tart.  And the raw avocado lime pie!  We all said a little prayer before trying that one.

17 pies and countless plates later we came up with our winner.  A unanimous decision.


A Strawberry Rhubarb pie with a GLUTEN FREE crust!

Pie Contest 13

Valerie’s gluten free crust was the best crust of the whole contest!


Second place went to a most surprising pie!  .  Not only was it a BOLD choice, it was really good!  Nice crust, fantastic filling, plus a well executed appearance.  AND it was a man-pie.


Raw Avocado Lime pie with coconut crust.

Pie Contest 14


Best of all … I have the recipe for you.  As it turns out the recipe was in the local paper the week before the pie contest so it wasn’t too hard to find for you.


[print_this]Island Lime Pie


Makes 12 servings

This dessert will keep for 10 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container or for up to 4 months in the freezer.

1 Coco-macadamia crust (recipe follows)

Lime slices and grated coconut, for garnish (optional)

For the mousse:

Flesh of 2 to 3 avocados

3/4 cup (180 mL) freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice

1/2 cup (125 mL) coconut butter

1/2 cup (125 mL) agave nectar

1/2 tsp (2 mL) alcohol-free vanilla essence

For the frosting:

1/4 cup (60 mL) water (approx.)

1 tbsp (15 mL) freshly squeezed lime OR lemon juice

1/2 cup (125 mL) macadamia nuts

2 tsp (10 mL) agave nectar

1/4 tsp (1 mL) alcohol-free vanilla essence

1/8 tsp (. 5 mL) sea salt

1 tbsp (15 mL) coconut oil, melted


Coco-Macadamia Crust:

Makes 1 crust

This will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

1/2 cup (125 mL) macadamia nuts

1 cup (250 mL) shredded coconut

2 ½ tbsp (37 mL) Date paste (recipe follows) or 3 chopped seedless dates

1/2 tsp (2 mL) alcohol-free vanilla essence

1/4 tsp (1 mL) sea salt

In a food processor, chop macadamia nuts into small pieces.

Add coconut, date paste, vanilla and sea salt and blend to obtain an evenly consistent mixture that can be formed into a ball.


Date Paste

1/3rd cup (around 9 dates) fresh OR dried seedless dates

1/4 cup  water

Soak dates in water for at least 2 hours.  Apply pressure with another bowl or dish if necessary to keep dates under water.

Once dates are thoroughly softened put dates and water in food processor and combine until they form a paste.


Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch (23-cm) pie plate with crust.

Avocado mousse: In a food processor, combine avocados, lime juice, coconut butter, agave nectar and vanilla; blend to a smooth cream of even consistency. Pour into crust. Set aside at room temperature while preparing frosting.

Frosting: In a blender, combine water, lime juice, nuts, agave nectar, vanilla and sea salt. Blend to a smooth cream of even consistency. This can take several minutes. If needed, add 1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 mL) more water. While blender is running, incorporate melted coconut oil.

Place mixture in a pastry bag with a narrow nozzle. Trace a spiral of frosting on pie from centre to rim of pie plate. With a chopstick, trace a dozen lines in frosting at regular intervals from centre to rim to resemble a spider web.

Before serving, garnish with lime slices and grated coconut, if desired.


And no.  I know what you’re all wondering.  There wasn’t a SINGLE true pie in the entire bunch.  Not one.  It was like some sort of True Pie revolt.  Speaking of revolting, I’m not sure if you’ve ever consumed 17 different pies in one sitting but I hadn’t.  It’s quite a culinary experience. Most confusing for my belly, but a whole lotta fun.

Dear little wisp of a thing Karen,

You won’t drive a Porche and you definitely won’t make scads of money.  But you’re going to love your job.


Older, wiser Karen



  1. Kat says:

    I realize this is old, but I had to go gluten free 6 years ago (& dairy free nearly 20yrs, so sad!) and last year I finally finagled a crust recipe. Doesn’t work for all pies, but will work for many different types. Here it is, crap! My phone is dying! Ok may have to add onto this later, I don’t remember what temperature it bakes at. Here’s what I do remember.

    1 1/2 cups fine almond meal
    (Up to) 1/4 cup sugar or sweetener of choice
    1/16 – 1/4 tsp (pink) salt – (Optional)
    1/4 – 1 tsp (total) of seasoning/spices. (Optional)
    (I like to add 1/4-1/2 tsp of cinnamon for example, feel free to add others, additionally, or instead of, or not at all.)
    Whisk these together.
    Melt 5 tbls of butter (or non dairy butter substance, or coconut oil).
    Pour this over dry ingredients, mix thoroughly.
    Should resemble graham cracker crust crumb at this point.
    Press into pie pan, and up sides of desired.

    Ok, my old phone with all my notes on it is going completely biserk, so I’m gonna say the temp is 375 fahrenheit. Even if it’s off a little it will still work, really. It was that or 425, never hurts to use a lower temp when in doubt though. At worst it may need a couple more minutes to bake.
    Ok, so, if your pie bakes for a long time, like a cheesecake (which CAN be made entirely from goat cheese with no cow dairy, if anyone is interested), then only parbake it for 5 minutes before adding the filling.
    For longer bake times, if you pressed the crust up the sides, check the edges for browning about 20minutes before the time is up to make sure it’s not burning. You can place foil around the edges at this point if the crust already looks done or is looking TOO done.

    For shorter bake times and no bake pies, parbake the crust for 10-20minutes, depending on how brown you want it.

    The almond flour can also be replaced with crushed gluten free cookie crumbs (like Pamela’s gingersnaps, Glutino “oreos”, or Enjoy Life sugar cookies. These are ones mom or I have tried. )

    Last time we used something like 6 sugar cookies and 4 gingersnaps, and added some (I’m not sure how much, 1/4-1/2cup maybe?) of the pumpkin pie filling, after mom had mixed all the pumpkin pie filling ingredients together, and parbaked it about 7minutes. It worked pretty good! I think we used about 1tbls each of date sugar and turbinado – for that particular mix of crust.

  2. Nicola Cunha says:

    How was the blueberry lavender pie? Sounds like a nice combo


  3. Sarah A says:

    What a fun job! I can’t wait to try to avocado lime pie, I never would have thought to try that combination. I was already planning to make pie this week (apple & strawberry rhubarb) but perhaps my planned fillings have just changed! Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Sara says:

    I do believe you are the Simon Cowell of pies. :)

  5. Susan says:

    I have spent a lovely afternoon reading your blog archives after stumbling upon it on Pinterest. You are a fabulous writer and very entertaining.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Susan! I remember when the same thing happened to me reading The Pioneer Woman a few years ago. I’m very glad you found my site. ~ karen!

  6. carol says:

    Love you, Karen, but that recipe looks gah-ross.

    • Karen says:

      Understandable. We were all a bit worried just looking at it. But it was really, really good. ~ karen!

  7. Jeannie B says:

    Well, after thinking about pie all day, I decided to make one for supper.Filling was blueberry, rhubarb and strawberry with a buttery sweet crust. Free form and rustic. Served with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream. Totally delicious. If it wasn’t for your blog Karen, I wouldn’t have made it. And the house is still cool, despite the heat outside. Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      All this pie talk and I’m actually starting to crave it. All I have are some frozen mini goat’s cheese tarts in my freezer. I wonder what they’d be like with ice cream. ~ karen!

  8. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    A True Pie Revolt..lol..I hope you have informed him of this..17 pies in one sitting..sounds like a dreamy kind of day to me..Dear Wispy Little Karen..please listen to Older, Wiser Karen..she’s gonna take you to a good place..

  9. nancy says:

    I am going to make that lime avocado pie for sho. But, ooh you gave me a turn when the mousse recipe started with “flesh”. That crust is a lot of work, I might skip that and have pudding with frosting. I live in Seattle so I am sure there is coconut butter at every corner store. And lard, I remember when McDonald’s was a scourge on the earth cause they used beef tallow and lard for their fries. Now, everyone wants a lard connection. This weekend, I spent 6 bucks on fries cooked in lard and covered with a Bechamel/blue cheese/bacon gravy with lotsa garlic and a little bit of green onions. They are 1st on the True Fries list. And re: agave nectar, I was big into that until I read this: http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad, I also read it was high in arsenic, but who knows. Can’t believe everything you read.
    One last comment, once I made apple pie and tasted the raw apples mixed with cinnamon and sugar, well, what’s the point of cooking them? So delicious raw!!!!

  10. Zoe says:

    I’d like to echo all the gluten-free crust pie requests :)

    Thanks muchly!

  11. Dagmar says:

    Thank you Laura…uhm, Karen, too.

  12. jess says:

    Oh Karen, please do the world of us deprived gluten free eaters a big favor and GET that receipe. You are already a semi-hero with the sock iPhone holder, but this will really put you up there. Please do a whole blog about it so I don’t miss it. Bread and such is no longer fun now that I must eat gluten free

  13. Jeannie B says:

    Karen those pies all look so delicious. The only pies that I’ve made lately, are chocolate custard in a graham wafer crust and an ice cream pie, with a rice Krispie crust.. For fruit pies, I used to thilnk the vegetable shortening was healthier than lard, but now, that’s not the case. So, now I go half butter and half shortening . It’s way to hot to turn the oven on, but perhaps when it’s a bit cooler, I’ll make a “rustic” pie. One crust on a cookie sheet wrapped around fruit. And served with French Vanilla ice cream. AND whatever happened to raisin pie? When I was a kid, my mom used to make raisin pie. But, her apple was my favourite. A number of years ago, we had guests from England. It was October and I made a delicious pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream. They thought it was disgusting. And they were MY relatives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *