The collection of CIC students' pies

A bounty of Thanksgiving desserts include Bourbon Pecan Pie (from left), Cranberry Chocolate Orange Hand Pies, Apple Slab Pie, gluten-free Meatless Mincemeat Pie (top), Pumpkin Chess Pies with Gingersnap Crust, Poached Pear and Frangipane Tart with Press-in Short Crust, that were made by Culinary Institute of Charleston student. Wade Spees/Staff

Even at the most casual Thanksgiving gatherings, dessert portioning can be problematic.

Will you look like a glutton if you ask for slices of pumpkin and pecan pies? Will the host be offended if you’re too full of turkey and potatoes to even contemplate trying his apple pie?

Students at The Culinary Institute of Charleston have ingeniously licked that last course issue by devising a collection of holiday sweets that include an apple slab pie expansive enough to feed a crowd without trouble; individually sized cranberry orange chocolate hand pies; Mason-jarred pumpkin pies; and a poached pear frangipane tart so rich that a sliver should satisfy.

“The U.S. just isn’t a pear country,” sighs Greg Vanderker, who created the tart. “It’s not a fruit that’s popular here, probably because everyone uses canned pears.”

As it turns out, Vanderker’s tart can be made with canned pears, just as Jazmine Melette’s chess pies call for canned pumpkin.

“I love pumpkin everything,” says Melette, who came up with a gingersnap crust for her Mason jar pie. “Pumpkin cheesecake is my favorite.”

Personal histories also shaped Brittany Burkett’s bourbon pecan pie, made in honor of Burkett’s grandmother, a pecan fan who passed away earlier this year; and Suzy Walton’s slab pie.

“I’m from Wisconsin, so I used to pick apples every year with my mom,” Walton says. “And with a slab pie, it feeds more people. It’s a pie you can just grab with your hands.”

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