My husband Zach and I have long said that there is something special about a dish made by someone you love. The same goes for my Nana’s pecan pie that my family has shared for years during Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings. It is a recipe my mom and I have tried to perfect since Nana’s passing, in hopes of making it just the way she did. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season brings with it time with family and time-honored recipes of dishes that have often been passed down for years. Food has a funny way of speaking to the soul and bringing families together, and it is safe to say that pie of any kind is a staple at most holiday gatherings.
With Christmas a few weeks away, our stomachs have just a short time to recover from Thanksgiving and ready themselves for the next round of delicious dishes and treats! Though those familial recipes are special, sometimes holiday signature dishes are just better when someone else makes them. This holiday season, your go-to “someone” is a quaint little pie shop called “Emporium Pies” that is making huge waves in the dessert food industry. Emporium Pies is a specialty pie store with a flagship shop in the heart of the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff. The company has recently expanded to a storefront in downtown McKinney and in another location in Deep Ellum. All the pies are handmade. Offerings change with the seasons, and the recipes contain no artificial preservatives, hydrogenated oils, dyes or corn syrup.
I have friends in both the Bishop Arts District and in McKinney who have raved over the sweet concoctions Emporium Pies offers, and if you know me and have followed my food ventures, you know that I have not a shy bone in my body when it comes to discussing my love for all things sweet! In hopes of surprising my dad with a specialty pie for Christmas (pie is his favorite holiday dessert), I decided it was time to drop in for a post-Thanksgiving sugar fest to taste a few of the store’s offered selections … you know, so I could make sure I picked a great one for my dad, of course!
Zach and I visited on a cool, late November evening, and the ambiance of Downtown McKinney Square on a late fall evening was enough to make me want to jump into a Hallmark movie! Emporium Pie’s McKinney location is just off of the square at 107 S. Tennessee Street. As we strolled up to the front door and entered the shop, we were enveloped in a quaint little space straight out of a magazine. The shop is admittedly small, but, in my opinion, it adds an element of coziness that some shops are not able to achieve. The walls are a cool, tranquil shade of light grey adorned with modern vintage photos. The wall on the left side of the shop dons an oversized, gorgeous antique mirror that displays the pie and drink menu in a whimsical, handwritten font. Bench seats line the walls with small, two-person tables that can be pushed together for parties of more than two people. An antiqued hutch serves as home for the shop’s coffee station, where patrons can further personalize their coffee orders with cream, sugars, etc. Directly in the middle back of the shop is the counter where orders are taken and the kitchen where the friendly employees ready orders and prepare the specialty pies.
As I stepped up to the counter to place my order, I was excited to see a couple of the offered pies in a small display case just to the right of the ordering station. I was greeted with the warm, friendly smile of an employee who was wonderfully patient with my thorough selection process of which pies I wanted to taste-test! A beautifully type-written printed menu is nestled just over the shoulder of the counter employee that aids customers in their decisions. With selections like “The Drunken Nut,” a bourbon pecan pie with a shortbread crust, “The Smooth Operator,” a French silk chocolate pie with a pretzel crust and the popular “Lord of the Pies,” which is a deep-dish apple pie with a cinnamon streusel, customers truly cannot go wrong in making a decision on which scrumptious delicacy to enjoy. The pie selection also boasts the “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” a spicy pumpkin custard with a gingerbread crust, “The Nannerz,” featuring bananas with a house-made vanilla custard, maple-caramel and whipped topping, the decadent “Cloud Nine,” a three-layer crème pie with house made caramel, butterscotch custard and a brown sugar meringue and “The Buttercream Gang,” which is a buttermilk pie that will take you straight back to your childhood.
In my quest for the perfect choice of Christmas pie for my dad, Zach and I tried slices of The Drunken Nut, The Smooth Operator, Lord of the Pies and The Buttercream Gang. At $6 per slice, the individual pieces of pie are served on unique porcelain saucer plates that pay homage to the home-cooked taste of the desserts and ambiance of the shop. I loved this sweet little detail.
Emporium Pies pays as much attention to to-go orders as they do in-store orders, as the individual pieces of pie are wrapped loosely in a parchment-like paper, placed in its own little individual wooden crate-like container (so cute!), tied neatly with a piece of string holding a wooden fork. Because we ordered a few to try, we opted to take a few of the pieces to-go, but enjoyed The Drunken Nut and The Smooth Operator there in the shop. The Smooth Operator was every bit as rich, decadent and sinfully luxurious as it looked (and as I had hoped it would be). The sweetness of the French silk chocolate paired beautifully with the saltiness and crunch of the pretzel crust. The Drunken Nut immediately sent me back to my Nana’s kitchen table, as I had not had a piece of bourbon pecan pie that good in years. The crust was perfectly buttery and flaky as the soft crunch of the Texas pecans juxtaposed the velvety, rich filling of bourbon, butter and brown sugar, which makes it a customer favorite. Later on, we tried the Drop Dead Gorgeous spicy pumpkin pie, which sets itself apart with its unique yet classic blend of spices, decadently thick pumpkin custard and gingerbread crust, which only adds to the flavor craze. The Lord of the Pies owns up to its name, as it is a huge piece of pie! The classic deep-dish apple pie boasts tart apples, complimented by the sweetness of the cinnamon streusel, enveloped in a thick but light crust. The Buttercream Gang proved to be a timeless classic with a rich, smooth center cradled in a flaky, buttery shortbread crust.
You just really cannot go wrong, friends. We were not disappointed with any of the selections we tried! Ever the chocolate lover, The Smooth Operator was my absolute favorite, but that does not mean I will not be back to try the rest! Emporium Pies also offers a selection of coffee and tea, and pies can be ordered in individual slices, a la mode and whole! As a small and increasingly popular bakery, Emporium Pies makes as many pies daily as possible, but they occasionally sell out. The company always encourages pre-orders for whole pies, especially around the holidays!
Whether you are looking for a date night dessert stop or hoping to find that special pie that reminds you so fondly of loved ones and precious memories, Emporium Pies is a perfectly unique little spot that reignites the senses over sweet little slices of heaven that will keep you coming back for more. If you are thinking this might be the perfect holiday dessert for your family, order soon, as they get very busy during the holidays! For more information, visit emporiumpies.com. To contact the McKinney location with questions or for ordering, call 214.491.1577. Emporium Pies’ flagship location is located at 314 N. Bishop Avenue in Dallas and can be reached by calling 469.206.6126. Check out the Deep Ellum location at 2708 Main Street in Dallas or call 972.982.2757 to learn more.