ORIGINAL POST: August 2015 – Check out the original recipe and images after the recipe card. I always like to see how people have grown and evolved throughout their creative journey. Hope you enjoy! The 2023 updated recipe is below. Flameo Hotmen!
Appa! YIP, YIP!
It’s time to make the fruit pies from Avatar: The Last Airbender! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, all I have to say to you is:
“The Earth King has invited you to Lake Laogai.”
Now that only the real benders are left, today we are getting in touch with our inner Avatar and making the fruit pies that Monk Gyatso makes with Aang right before Aang leaves the temple and is trapped in an iceberg for one hundred years.
Monk Gyatso was one of the greatest airbenders of all time – and it was with his guidance that Aang was able to become an airbending master by the age of twelve (hence why he already has his tattoos at such a young age).
Right after Aang is told he is the Avatar, Gyatso and Aang share a moment where they bake fruit pies together to help distract Aang from the revelation that he is the Avatar. Aang is obviously distracted and laments that he’s not ready to be the Avatar and he’s scared.
Gyatso tells him “the secret is in the gooey center” – right before they airbend the pies off the balacony and onto the heads of the other air temple leaders.
I’ve loved Avatar: The Last Airbender since it was first aired on Nickelodeon way back in 2005 (I know I am really aging myself here).
In fact, I actually remember watching the three part series finale episode LIVE on a Saturday morning, while tucked into a pillow fort my friend and I had made. We were in high school by the time the show ended, but the Sozin’s Comet event is definitely one of my favorite core memories.
I’ve made these pies before – but it was definitely time for an update to the recipe. And thanks to dozens of requests to make these pies over on TikTok, I figured it was high time to take on the task.
Aren’t Airbenders Vegetarians?
Airbenders are vegetarians in the story, though it’s not really mentioned if they are vegan. The show creators mention that Aang’s diet is based on what Buddists consume.
However, assuming from the fact that the monks raised air bison, it wouldn’t be too far of a leap to assume they also consumed milk (from flying bison) and probably eggs too.
So vegetarian: yes. Vegan? Probably not.
Making Monk Gyatso’s Fruit Pies
Monk Gyatso was the world greatest airbender – AND cake baker.
- cream cheese – room temperature is best for making a smooth batter
- sweetened condensed milk – helps to thicken and sweeten the cheesecake, plus make the batter extra smooth
- yolks – add richness and structure to the batter, as well as provide rise to the cake as it bakes
- vanilla – for enhanced flavor
- graham cracker crumbs + butter – help to build the crust base for the cheesecakes
- coconut palm sugar – a savory sugar that is authenic to Southeast Asian cuisine
The Secret is in the Gooey Center
Each fruit pie has a different flavor fruit center. For my pies I used blueberry, strawberry, orange and lemon fillings. To really speed up the baking process, I used premade preserved, marmalades and fruit curds to use as my gooey center. These products are stable, meaning that they won’t mess up the cheesecake as it bakes around the filling – something you may run into issues with if you make the fillings yourself.
That’s not to say that you can’t make the gooey centers on your own if you are feeling extra adventurous. DIY your own compotes for the fruity centers of the pie for an extra authentic flair on this recipe!
Once the fruit fillings/preserves have baked and cooled they will once again solidify, making them gooey but not runny – or as Monk Gyatso says, “the secret is in the gooey center!”
What ficitional feasts should I make next? Let me know in the comments or head on over to TikTok to leave your request!
Air Nomad Fruit Pies | Avatar: The Last Airbender Inspired Recipes
- 3 cups graham cracker crumbs finely processed
- ½ cup butter melted
- 2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or sub brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease each springform pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the crust. Stir until a thick and crumbly mixture that clumps up into chunks comes together. Press about 1/4 cup of the mixture in each spring-form pan bottom, using the bottom of a glass to create a smooth, flat surface. Place in the freezer while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
- Using a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, vanilla and sweetened condensed milk. Blend in the yolks until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you mix.
- Pour the filling into each prepared springform pan until just is about a half inch from the top of the pan. Spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of the fruit spread fillings into the center of each pie so that the filling is just barely exposed in the center on top. The cream cheese mixture should be about a quarter inch from the top once the filling is added.
- Transfer the filled spring-form pans into a 9×13 cake pan. Fill the pan with water, about a quarter inch from the top of each pan. Place into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the centers just wobble slightly when shifted. Turn off the heat and let the oven cool down without removing the pies for an additional 20-30 minutes. .
- Remove the pies from the cooled oven and remove from the water bath. Cool at room temperature for 30 more minutes. Transfer the pies to the fridge to cool overnight or for at least 8 hours (or until no longer warm and chilled through).
- While the pies cool, place the mixing bowl for the whipped topping plus the beaters for the hand mixer into the freezer and chill. It is imporant that the bowl and beaters are very cold.
- Use a hand mixer to beat one cup of whipped cream at a time until frothy. Then add in the powdered sugar and orange juice. Continue to beat until the topping is whipped and thickened into a spreadable consistency. Beat in the color to the desired shades. Transfer the whipped topping to a gallon baggie or piping bag. Repeat with the remaining whipped cream and colors.
- Once chilled completely, remove the pies from the fridge and sit at room temperature for 15 minutes – this will help the sides release from the springform. Unlock the springform pans and carefully remove the pies from the pan bottoms with a spatula.
- Place each pie on a small strip of parchment or onto serving platters. Pipe the whipped topping onto each pie so that it covers the gooey center.
- Serve the pies immediately or the whipped topping will start to lose its shape. Or airbend the pies onto the heads of your monk leaders. Enjoy!
Check out the remenants of original blog post below!
Air nomads are known throughout the Avatar universe to be devout vegetarians and excellent bakers. Despite their vegetarian nature, the air nomads still indulge in milks and eggs, which is why I felt no qualms from the Avatar while making this variant of their nation’s famous fruit pies.
I tried to recreate the fruit pies as they are seen in one of the very first episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender when Aang is recalling his time learning he was the Avatar and training with his mentor, Monk Gyatso.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I love Avatar: The Last Airbender just as much as I love me some Harry Potter. I even went as far to create Appa and Momo clay sculptures in anticipation of the release of The Legend of Korra’s final season.
If all of that sounds like gibberish to you, then all I have to say to you is: “The Earth King has invited you to Lake Laogai.”
Even if that training was sending the fruit pies flying over the walls and onto the heads of the leaders!
I wanted to make an airy dessert worthy of air bender’s talents. I went with a cream cheese pie – which tastes similar to a cheesecake, but with a more fluffy, less creamy, texture. To imitate to colors of the fruit pies Gyatso makes, I decided to make pies that were flavored strawberry, blueberry, orange, and lemon.
I believe these pies would have made Avatar Aang very happy – and perhaps even Iroh sold them in his tea shop in Ba Sing Se in honor of the birth of a new air nation generation.
All-in-all, these pies have Appa’s seal of approval.
Restore your honor with this Fire Nation Turkey-Duck.
Dine with Katara and Sokka with this authentic tentacle soup made by Gran Gran herself.