Monday, January 23, 2012

Pretty in Pink Grapefruit

Next to clementines, my second favorite winter fruit treat is pink grapefruit.  Seeing as how I think of everything in terms of pie, naturally I decided to make a pink grapefruit pie.  Just like a lemon meringue, but with pink grapefruit instead.  And the topping has to be Italian meringue, of course.  I don't know why anyone bothers with "regular" meringue anymore when Italian is SO much better!

I really like the tart-sweet bitterness of pink grapefruit and didn't want to lose that quality in the pie.  So I didn't go too crazy with the sugar and I folded in chopped grapefruit sections to drive home the fresh taste of the fruit.  To do this you need to supreme the grapefruit, which involves cutting off all the skin and cutting out the segments, which produces beautiful slices of juicy fruit with none of the pesky white membrane attached.  You can get a quick lesson on how to supreme in this video by Elishia's Kitchen.

This pie is easy to put together and provides a fresh, beautiful addition to any winter meal!

1 9" graham cracker pie crust
2 cups freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
pinch of salt
zest of one grapefruit
few drops red food color, optional
2 Tb. unsalted butter
1 grapefruit, supreme and chop

Italian Meringue
3 egg whites, saved from the yolks used in the filling
1 cup sugar
2 Tb. corn syrup
1/4 cup water
pinch of salt

For the filling, combine the grapefruit juice, cornstarch, sugar, salt and egg yolks in a small, heavy pot.  Stir well to dissolve the cornstarch.  Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.  When the mixture is thickened, remove from the heat.  Stir in the zest, butter, grapefruit sections and food coloring, if using.  I used just a few drops to produce a dark pink color that resembled the fresh fruit when cut.  Pour the filling into the prepared crust and press plastic wrap directly to the surface to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until cold, about 4 to 6 hours.

For the  Italian meringue, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small pot and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side and cook over high heat until the thermometer registers 240 degrees.  While the syrup is coming up to temperature, whip the egg whites in a stand mixer until soft peaks are formed and then whip in the salt.  When the syrup is done, pour it slowly down the side of the bowl into the whites while the mixer is running.  Avoid pouring into the whisk, as it will fling the hot syrup all over the bowl.  Continue whipping on high speed until the mixture has cooled and is fluffy, firm and glossy, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Pile the meringue onto the pie and make decorative swirls and peaks.  Toast in the hot oven until lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Chill about 30 minutes before serving.

Beautiful inspiration!

Adding the meringue to the cooled pie.

So simple and beautiful

Oh, a slice for me!?  Aw, you shouldn't have!

The perfect Winter sweet treat.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crazy for Coconut!

My birthday was in December and I fully intended to make myself my personal favorite, Coconut Cream Pie.  I even  bought all the ingredients but when the day rolled around, I realized I was too lazy and scrapped the plans.  Luckily, my dear friend Lindsay made me two delicious pies herself!  I tell ya, having someone else make pie for me was just about the best birthday gift I could get.  She made a fabulous peanut butter and jelly pie and, to my delight, a coconut cream pie.  Now that is friendship!

Fast forward to the New Year and I still have the ingredients in my cupboard.  Might as well make that pie now.  This one is full of the namesake ingredient - I use coconut milk and plenty of shredded coconut in the filling and shower the top with a thick layer of toasted coconut as well.  If you're like me and crazy for coconut, this one won't miss!

1 9" graham cracker pie crust
1 can coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
6 Tb. cornstarch
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 bag sweetened shredded coconut, divided usage
2 cups heavy cream
3 Tb. powdered sugar

For the filling, place the heavy cream, coconut milk and sugar in a small, heavy pot over medium high heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  While the milk is heating, whisk together the cornstarch and eggs.  When the milk has boiled, add a ladle full of it to the egg mixture and whisk well.  This will temper the eggs so they do not curdle when you add them into the hot milk.  Whisk the egg mixture back into the pot of milk and lower the heat to about medium.  Bring to a boil, whisking constantly to avoid forming lumps.  When the filling is thickened, remove from the heat and stir in half the bag of coconut and the vanilla extract.  Pour the filling into the crust and press plastic wrap directly to the surface to keep a skin from forming.  Put in the refrigerator and chill completely, about 4 to 6 hours.

Toast the rest of the coconut in the oven until golden brown.  You will need to stir it around frequently so it toasts evenly.  Watch it carefully to be sure it doesn't burn.  Let cool completely before putting on the pie.  Whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar together to stiff peaks.  Cover the top of the cooled pie with the whipped cream and toasted coconut.  Enjoy!

Just some simple ingredients.

Make a coconut custard for the filling.

Creamy and chocked fully of coconut!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cutie Pie

You're probably wondering where I've been.  No place fantastic, unfortunately.  I've just been busy.  The holidays, work (during the holidays!!), moving to a new house... You know, life stuff.  I really did plan on delving deep into holiday pies for the blog, but I never made it past the Cranberry Meringue pie.  Oh well.

So I was staring at our box of Cuties (California clementines, my winter favorite) the other day and it hit me, Cutie Pie!!  Damn, I am so clever I practically can't stand myself.  In my mind cutie pie looked like a fluffy mousse-like cloud, decorated with cutie segments.  Oh yes, it will be mine.

I found some recipes for clementine pies on the internet to inspire me.  I ended up making a clementine curd (based on the fruit curd master recipe in The Pie and Pastry Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum.).  To the hot curd I stirred in gelatin and after the mixture cooled, I added heavy cream and whipped it up.  Perfection!  Sweet, a tiny bit tart, creamy and fluffy, my Cutie Pie is the picture of perfection!  Not a bad comeback, I'd say.

Cutie Pie
1 graham cracker crust, store-bought or your own
1 cup freshly squeezed clementine juice (I use Cutie brand)
Zest of 4 clementines
2 Tb. lemon juice
1 packet unflavored gelatin
heavy pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tb. butter

1 cup heavy cream
2 Tb. sugar
clementine or mandarin orange segments for garnish, blot dry on a paper towel

Stir the gelatin into the lemon juice and set aside to let bloom.  In a small, heavy pot combine the sugar and egg yolks, whisking well to combine.  Stir in the clementine juice, salt and butter.  Set the pot over medium heat and cook ,whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon.  Be careful not to get it too hot, or your eggs will scramble.  Add in the gelatin and zest, stir until the gelatin is dissolved.  Scrape the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate until the curd is thickened and partially set.

Put the clementine curd into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add one cup of heavy cream and whip on high speed until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes (this may take more or less time depending on the how cold and set the curd is).  The mixture is still not fully set at this point, so don't worry if it seems a little soft.  Pour the mousse into the prepared pie crust and smooth the top.  Refrigerate until set, about 2 or 3 more hours.

Whip the heavy cream and sugar to stiff peaks.  Decorate the top of your Cutie Pie as desired with whipped cream and orange segments.  Enjoy the sweet, creamy goodness!

Start with some beautiful clementines.
Make a delicious clementine curd.

When it's thick and looks like this when you stir it up, whip it with heavy cream.

Pour into a pie shell and refrigerate until set.

Cutie Pie!
Sweet, creamy citrus.  So beautiful and delicious.