From the December 2017 issue

Jeni’s Ugly Pies in Highland

A Highland mom of two dishes about her family business and shares her recipe for peppermint cream pie.

For my sister-in-law, creator of Jeni’s Ugly Pies, baking runs in the family. Jeni Von Buskirk learned the ropes from a long line of grandmas.

“I remember my Great Gramma Ryan baking, like, every day. My Gramma Dee Engel was a wedding cake baker,” she says. “Grandma Rita D’Amico taught me pies – our apple pies and pumpkin are direct descendants of those original recipes.”

It’s no wonder when the Highland mom of two (Gino, 20, and Ella, 13, who both help with the baking) unveiled her newly remodeled shop last month, the design included a huge photo of Great Great Gramma Nellie in a ruffly apron, a bread maker she eventually donated to a village in Africa and a generations-old cookie jar. “Stop by and ask me the story sometime!” Jeni says.

The men of the family, meanwhile – including her husband, Trevor, and his brothers and dad – handled renovations to prep for the shop’s biggest season yet, with some 3,000 pies expected to sell.

You’ll still find Jeni’s sweet and savory concoctions, including cream, fruit-and-nut and gluten-free pies – quiche, too. Plus, try “Jen’s Faves” from other Michigan brands, like Scotty O’Hotty hot sauces, Tall Paul’s Pickles and loaves delivered to the store every Thursday by Davisburg Bread Co.

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“Most are friends of ours whose businesses kind of grew up alongside us at markets and festivals,” Jeni says. She hopes her homemade pies relieve some stress for folks who aren’t prepared to bake for their own holiday meals.

“Go spend time with the family. Let me take one little thing off your plate,” she says. “I cook for your family like I’m cooking for my own.”

Peppermint Cream Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust Recipe

If you do have the drive to bake this season, Jeni Von Buskirk shares a recipe her daughter, Ella, 13, has helped her make. It’s a perfect – and pretty – holiday treat.

Crust

  • 9 oz. chocolate wafer or Oreo-type cookies, pulsed until fine in Ninja or processor
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 stick melted butter

Mix above, press into 9-inch pie pan, bake at 350 degrees, 5-7 min.

Filling

  • 1 envelope gelatin, plain
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 cup soft peppermint candy, crushed or Ninja’d; make extra to top pie

Directions

  1. In small bowl, mix water and gelatin, set aside.
  2. Put 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1 cup peppermints (crushed), in small saucepan. Cook over low until candy is dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat, add peppermint extract and gelatin. Cool until room temperature, but not too long; maybe 20-30 minutes.
  4. Beat 1 1/2 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into peppermint mixture.
  5. Spread into pie crust, let chill for about 2 hours. Sprinkle with topping.

Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • Crushed peppermints

Blend sugar and cream until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle crushed peppermints on top.

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