Pie, an all-time American dessert classic, is making a sweet resurgence in 2011. Epicurean insiders are predicting it to be one of the year's hottest food trends. On April 9-10 in Celebration, Florida, the Great American Pie Festival will showcase a national bake-off to recognize the best-of-the-best among this celebrated dessert staple.

"Pie is an emblem of Americana; this delicious treat has been around for ages, yet it will never go out of style," said Larry Blagg, Senior Vice President of Marketing, California Raisin Marketing Board. "In the heart of California Raisin country, raisin pie has been a part of Sunday suppers, holiday gatherings and family get-togethers for generations, and we are finding that there are tremendous bakers across the country who share our passion for scrumptious, just-like-mom-used-to-make raisin pie."

As one of the sponsors of the National Pie Championship contest - that is hosted in conjunction with the annual Great American Pie Festival - the California Raisin Marketing Board is providing the following award-winning pie recipes to further fuel the delicious trend toward pie popularity, as well as to provide inspiration to potential contest entrants.

For dozens of additional pie recipes featuring California Raisins, please visit: www.loveyourraisins.com. Also, check out www.piecouncil.org to learn more about California Raisins' sponsorship of the amateur, professional and commercial raisin categories of the National Pie Championships, along with contest entry details.

Chocolate Raisin Walnut Pie
By: Andrea Spring, Bradenton, FL
First Place Raisin Category and Best in Show in the Professional Category at the 2010 APC Crisco National Pie Championships

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
1/4 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
2 tablespoons hot water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch

1 cup California raisins
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 eggs
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup dark corn syrup

In small bowl, combine shortening, vinegar and milk. Add hot water; mix well. In medium bowl, mix together flour, salt and cornstarch. Add shortening mixture. Mix until dough forms. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let stand in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Then, roll out dough to fit 10-inch pie pan. Arrange in pie pan and crimp edges. Sprinkle and spread raisins, chocolate chips, and chopped walnuts evenly over bottom.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, butter and corn syrup until well blended. Add chocolate chips and walnuts; mix well. Carefully pour over raisins in pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until center of pie is set; about 30 minutes. Serves 8.

California Nuggets of Gold Raisin Pie
By: Carol Socier, MI
Second Place Amateur Division California Raisin Category at the 2009 APC Crisco® National Pie Championships

1-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter flavor all-vegetable shortening
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
3 or 4 tablespoons cold milk

1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1 small can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple packed in juice
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup California golden raisins

2 packages (8 ounces each) pineapple-flavor cream cheese spread*
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon pineapple juice
1/2 cup California golden raisins
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts; for garnish.

In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add cold shortening and butter and cut in with fork or pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat egg yolk and cold milk together and add to flour mixture, a little at a time, tossing with a fork until dough holds together. Shape into a flat round and chill 30 minutes or overnight. Roll out between two sheets of wax paper to fit a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Arrange in pan; flute edges, trimming excess dough and chill 30 minutes. Prick all over with fork or line with foil and add pie weights. Bake at 450 degrees F for 8 minutes.

Mix cornstarch and sugar together in a small saucepan. Stir in pineapple and juice. Heat and stir over low heat until thick. Add spoonfuls of hot mixture to egg until warm; return all to saucepan and heat through. Then, stir in vanilla and butter until butter is melted. Remove from heat. Finally, gently stir in chips, walnuts and raisins; spoon into baked crust and spread evenly. Chill.

Blend cream cheese spread, powdered sugar and pineapple juice. Gently fold in raisins and spread on cooled pie. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Chill and serve cold. Serves 8.
*Note: Combine 16 ounces softened cream cheese and one 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained thoroughly, if spread is not available.

Best California Raisin Pie Under The Sun
By: Janet Ropp, FL
Third Place Amateur Division California Raisin Category at the 2009 APC Crisco® National Pie Championships

3/4 cup crushed saltine crackers (about 18)
1-1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon orange zest
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter flavor Crisco®
2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup California fiesta or flame raisins
1/4 cup California golden raisins
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon extract
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, combine crushed crackers, chopped pecans, zest, cinnamon and sugar; mix together. Add shortening and butter. By hand, mix together well. Turn into lightly greased 9-inch pie pan and press evenly over bottom and up sides. Set aside.

In medium saucepan, combine orange juice, raisins, maple syrup and cinnamon extract. Cook over low heat until raisins are plump, about 30 minutes. With slotted spoon, drain and spread raisins into prepared crust. Combine flour and sugars in mixing bowl; mix well. Add eggs, syrups, vanilla extract, orange zest and melted butter, stirring until well blended. Stir in dates and spoon mixture evenly over raisins in crust. Sprinkle pecans over all.

Set pie pan on cookie sheet and cover edge of crust with strips of foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes; remove foil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until filling is set and crust is golden. Cool on wire rack. Garnish with candied orange peel, if desired. Serves 8.