#12 Lemon Chiffon for Lilian

Posted by Chrisi

Chiffons are a lot of work, but some people are worth the effort. My friend and colleague, Lilian, is one of those really special people. This week she submitted her tenure file and turned one-year more fabulous. To celebrate, I cooked a light dinner (fava bean puree, roasted green beans with shallots, roasted fennel salad with caramelized pancetta) and made a lemon chiffon pie.

Not surprisingly, the lemon chiffon pie recipe came from “Pie” (see resources). I’m beginning to think that I should take up a Julie and Julia-type challenge and work my way through all 300 pie recipes in the cookbook. After all, I’ve made 12 or so pies (~4%) since June. It should only take me… calculating… calculating… 72 months or 6 years at a rate of one pie per week. Watermelon rind pie, anyone? No? Well you should definitely try lemon chiffon. The lemon chiffon turned out dreamy. A light and airy cloud of lemony goodness floated atop a graham cracker crust. It was the perfect pie for a 103⁰F day. Happy Birthday Lilian!

I made two alterations to the original recipe: (1) I reduced the total amount of sugar by 1/3 cup because I prefer the “tart” in sweet tart and; (2) I used 1/2 cup of mango lemonade instead of water or regular lemonade. Unfortunately, you really couldn’t taste the mango.

Pie Filling: 2 steps
Step 1: Custard
• 1/4 cup water
• 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
• 1/2 cup mango-lemonade
• 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
• 4 egg yolks at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• Big pinch of sea salt
Step 2: Whipped egg whites
• 4 egg whites
• 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1/3 cup of natural cane sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Garnish: Serve with whipped cream and frsh fruit, if desired

Crust: 9" graham cracker crust (see Perfect Pie Crusts)

This recipe requires proper timing to allow the custard (step 1) and mixed filling (steps 1 and 2) to set. You will need to allow 5-6 hours to make and chill this pie.

I made the custard (step 1) first. To do so, place the gelatin and a 1/4 cup of ice cold water in a small bowl. Set it aside. (Note: As my gelatin sat, it solidified, which (in hindsight) makes sense but it startled me at first). In a small saucepan, whisk together the lemonade, sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest and salt. Place the saucepan over medium to medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, ~ 7-9 minutes. (Recipe Author’s note: If you allow the mixture to boil, it will curdle). Once the custard has thickened, remove the saucepan from heat and whisk in the jellied gelatin. Pour the custard into a large bowl (you will add the whipped egg whites to the custard later) and cool for 10 minutes before placing it in the frig to set. The original recipe suggested that the custard set for 50-60 minutes. I left it in the frig for ~1.5 hours until it had a runny pudding consistency.

While the custard is chilling in the frig, make the graham cracker crust. Allow it to cool to room temperature and then chill it in the frig until assembly.

When the custard (step 1) is thick and partially set and the crust chilled, beat the egg whites (step 2) with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the cream of tartar. Then gradually add the sugar and continue to beat the egg whites at high speed until the whites are thick and glossy but not dry. Beat in the vanilla.

Remove the custard (step 1) from the frig and whisk until even in consistency. Gently fold in one-third of the egg whites (step 2) into the lemon custard (step 1). Continue until all the egg whites have been added and the mixtures are evenly blended. Pour into the chilled graham cracker crust, smooth filling with a spatula and chill for a minimum of three hours. I had a little filling left over, which I placed in a ceramic custard cup and chilled.


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