Every era has its signature dessert: The 1960s were all about Jell-O, molten chocolate cake swept the country in the '90s, and the early aughts brought us the cupcake trend.
What will be the dessert of our Instagram-obsessed age? It just might be the PieCaken.
For those who missed the initial hubbub: Craveable Hospitality Group executive director of pastry Zac Young created the Thanksgiving-inspired mashup back in 2015. His sweet riff on the turducken layers pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and spice cake with cinnamon buttercream, plus a crowning touch of apple pie filling and oat crumble.
Since then, Young has created various spinoffs—and built a whole bakery around the concept in Rosedale’s reimagined food court, Revolution Hall. The “OG Thanksgiving PieCaken” has a place of honor in the bakery case, but we recently learned there’s a special Frankenpastry for the holiday season: the PieLogen.
It’s nothing if not decadent. Like the PieCaken, it starts with a pecan pie base, in this case flavored with toffee. Next comes an eggnog cheesecake, and finally, there’s a “Yule log” made with chocolate cake and caramel buttercream. The whole thing is frosted to look like a tree stump, complete with a tiny chocolate woodland creature perched on top.
“It’s ridiculously labor intensive,” Young says. “We make the pie, the eggnog cheesecake, this ridiculous Yule log. I have classic French bakery training, this is actually similar to entremet mousse cakes. It’s a callback to that style, but in a typical over-the-top American way.”
Although Young created the PieLogen in 2015, the dessert hasn’t been available since due to robust demand for the PieCaken. Opening a physical bakery has given him the capacity to bring the PieLogen back for the 2018 holiday season. “It’s hard to play favorites with your children,” Young says. “But actually, I do like the PieLogen better than the original PieCaken.”
“It was made in the throes of passion,” he continues. “The way I do product development, the idea doesn’t change. There isn’t much tweaking. The work is in how to make a pecan pie with the right texture to be at the base, but still be gooey and crumble when you cut into it. How do you make a cheesecake with a light texture that can be the middle layer? The idea comes into my head, and then I have to figure it out.”
Because we are always in search of excuses to eat over-the-top things and label it “journalism”, we drove out to Roseville to give the PieLogen a try. A single slice has a respectable heft to it—you could definitely split it with a friend... or two.
Each layer easily holds its own. The pecan pie has a deep caramelized flavor that keeps it from veering into saccharine sweetness. The cheesecake has a light fluffiness and just enough nutmeg to hit the right eggnog note. The chocolate cake with caramel buttercream would make for a fine birthday cake.
We did cram a little bit of each layer into one bite to see if they came together into some sort of Christmas flavor symphony, but no such luck. Eggnog cheesecake doesn’t pair particularly well with pecan pie or chocolate cake, and texturally it was a muddle. The PieLogen is best enjoyed when you channel your inner three-year-old and eat each layer separately.
If you want to try it for yourself, the PieLogen is available through December 31 and can be purchased whole or by the slice. PieCaken Bakeshop’s other holiday treats include an Old Fashioned-inspired bourbon caramel cheesecake with Luxardo cherries, eggnog macarons shaped like snowmen, a candy cane red velvet PieCupen, and the “Rudolph PieCupen,” a carrot cupcake with pineapple filling, chocolate antlers, and a glittery truffle nose.
“I think it kind of looks like Liza Minelli in a moose costume,” confides Young. “Those sparkles!”