Recipe research is a winding road that twists up and down all sorts of tantalizing cul-de-sacs. A recipe request from Karen Kritz of Pemberton, NJ for the Horn & Hardart pineapple cheese pie her 81-year-old-father dearly missed, kicked off this latest journey. But first a spoiler alert: This story does not end with “the” Horn & Hardart pineapple cheese pie. But it does lead to two very good tribute versions. With clues from Kritz’ dad—Al Hartsough– about the pie he remembers, I have put together this pie, a light and creamy no-bake cheesecake over pineapple in a blind-baked pie crust–and on a separate page, another, sturdier ‘40s style baked Pineapple Cheese Pie with a Lattice Crust made with farmers cheese and cream with a lovely pineapple glaze on top. I’ve also included a third, German-style Pineapple Kasekuchen very much in the spirit of the German cheesecakes that German-born Frank Hardart and his partner Joseph Horn would have known. But first, Al’s story:
Al Hartsough grew up in Philadelphia, the city where Horn and Hardart opened their first ever automat in 1902. A huge fan of the coin-operated eatery, Al ate at lots of the Philly automat locations during the 40’s and 50’s. He enjoyed orange-glazed upside down cupcakes…chocolate eclairs…baked macaroni and tomatoes…creamed chicken over rice. But above all this, in Hartsough’s world, the pineapple cheese pie reigned supreme. Sadly, in the mid-50s Al moved to NJ and had to feed his H&H cravings less often. On one visit back, he purchased several pineapple cheese pies, hoping to make them last. Packaged in boxes and tied with string the pies made a hefty bundle. Fumbling for keys, Al set the pies down to open the door. Driving on the highway later minutes later, he was startled by another driver weaving along side him, frantically honking his horn. “My father looked over at this crazy person in the other car and there’s this guy, pointing,” says Kritz. “Turns out Dad was driving down the highway with the pineapple pies stacked on the roof! ” Fortunately for Al, the pies survived to be enjoyed then, and talked about now. Here’s a recipe in honor of all that.
Makes One 9-inch pie
Use your favorite pie crust, or, this old-fashioned one: Pie crust Ingredients
- 1 cup sifted flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp ice-cold shortening
- 1/4 cup ice-cold butter
- 1 to 2 Tbsp ice water
- egg wash (1 small egg, 1 Tbsp milk, whisked–you won’t need all of this)
Cheese filling Ingredients
- 1 can crushed pineapple in juice, very well drained
- 1 1/2 tsp plain gelatin (Knox)
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- 4 egg whites, beaten until peaks form
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
- Make pie crust: Sift flour, sugar and salt together. Cut butter and shortening in with pastry blender or 2 knives. Sprinkle water over, mixing just enough to make dough stay together. Round up into a ball; flatten, wrap in plastic and chill. Roll out on lightly floured cloth-covered board to fit in deep-dish pie pan. Place loosely in pie pan, leaving 1/2 inch extending over the edge of pan. Build up fluted edge. Place in fridge to chill very well.
- Blind-bake crust: Preheat oven to 425. Fill pastry-lined pie pan with parchment paper; fill paper with pie weights or beans. Bake crust at 425 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush bottom of crust lightly with egg wash. Reduce heat to 375 and bake for another five minutes or until nicely browned. Cool pie crust.
- Drain one can of crushed pineapple, being sure to squeeze out any remaining juice. Chill.
- Make cheese filling: Soften gelatin in cold water. Mix egg yolks, sugar, salt and milk in a small, heavy pot. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium/low heat until mixture coats a spoon. Add gelatin and stir to dissolve. Cool slightly. Whip egg whites until the form peaks. Set aside. Whip cream until it forms firm peaks. Chill. In stand mixer, whip cheese and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat egg yolk mixture in gradually. Fold in whipped egg white and whipped cream, using an over/under motion with a spatula, slowly, until all of the cream and whipped egg whites are incorporated. Spread chilled drained crushed pineapple over cooled pie crust. Spread cheese filling over all. Sprinkle with light dusting of cinnamon. Chill for several hours until firm.