[Photograph: Tina Rupp]

Salted caramel has certainly used up its fifteen minutes of fame. But before you become skeptical of this First Prize Pies recipe, ask yourself this: how many pies have you made with a pretzel crust? And did "salted caramel" extend to include a rich layer of chocolate cream sprinkled with sea salt? This pie possesses both, as well as a brown-butter filling sweetened with honey and thickened with mascarpone and heavy cream. Plus, its namesake is Daily Show correspondent and avid at-home baker Samantha Bee. Don't skip this one.

Tips: The nutty richness in the filling comes from the addition of 1/2 cup of brown butter. It's very easy to make: Simply melt 1 stick of butter over low to medium heat on the stove. The butter will turn from a pale yellow solid into a mostly transparent liquid, then as further heat is applied, the milk solids will brown, and it will smell toasty and delicious. Take it off the stove once it's reached that point and let it cool, then prepare the filling as instructed.

Tweaks: For the pretzel crust, the book recommends crushing the pretzels in either a plastic bag, with a rolling pin, or in a food processor. The latter is definitely a faster, easier, method, but we've found it works best if you use both: first, crush up the pretzels in manageable chunks with the rolling pin and sealed bag, then add to the food processor. It makes short work of the task.

As always with our Bake the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of First Prize Pies to give away.


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