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Kansas woman’s famous pies drive donations for local charities

EMPORIA, Kan. -- Evora Wheeler of Emporia is making the world a sweeter place, one pie at a time.

Wheeler brought KSNT into her kitchen to show how she creates her famous pies, which she donates to local charities and non-profits. And those pies fetch a pretty price, too -- in one case selling at a charity auction for $700.

Wheeler said there's no real secret to her pies' appeal; just a lot of time spent dialing in her recipe.

If you'd like to try to make your own, Wheeler was happy to share her recipe.

Custard pie filling
For a 12-inch pie (parentheses denote a reduction for a 10-inch pie)

  • 4 cups milk, divided (3 3/4)
  • 2 cups sugar (1 1/2)
  • 7 egg yolks (6)
  • 5 Tbsp cornstarch (4 1/2)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (same)
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Separate yolks from the whites and salt them.

combine the sugar and cornstarch and whisk into the eggs. Adding the milk one cup at a time, whisk thoroughly.

Microwave 3 minutes; whisk well.

Microwave another 3 minutes; whisk again.

Microwave another 3 minutes; whisk, then add the butter and vanilla extract; whisk to incorporate.

For the coconut custard, stir in 3/4 cup coconut. Keep a couple of tablespoons more to sprinkle on top of the meringue.

For the chocolate pie, put the cocoa in with the egg yolks and whisk, before adding the milk.

Pie crust
Makes four 12-inch crusts

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour (Evora uses Best Choice)
  • 3 cups butter-flavored shortening (Evora uses Crisco)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water plus more

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the salve over the flour. Use a pastry cutter to cut the shortening into the flour. "I use butter flavor becuase it adds color," Evora said. The pastry will coalesce into pea-size crumbs.

Switch to a spatula and add the water in, a bit at a time, working gently until a dough forms.

Switch to a fork to mash in any dry, unincorporated crumbs. Try to work the dough as little as possible.

Finish the dough ball by shaping with hands, then divide into four portions and shape each into a ball. Keep unused dough covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel while rolling out each crust.

Trimmings from a finish crust are incorporated into the next dough ball to eliminate waste.

Meringue

  • 12 egg whites (9)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Whip the egg whites in a stand mixer, rotating the bowl while slowly adding the cream of tartar. Continue rotating while adding the sugar. Whop until stiff, glossy peaks form.