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August 4, 2009 in desserts, PIE4 comments

currant chiffon pie

currant chiffon pie

Oh man. You have to try this. Currant chiffon pie. If you don’t have currants, sub another juice like lemon, orange, or grape or raspberry or…anything. Just make this pie, once in your life. It’s creamy, fluffy, melty, and tart, the perfect foil for a flaky pastry crust or graham cracker crust.

Seriously. Dude. Eat this pie and die happy.

currant chiffon pie, in the pan

This pie will drive you to eat when you’re not hungry. One slice is good, two better, three divine. Consume only in public or with other safeguards nearby.

reverse engineering a mid-twentieth century recipe

Grandma (Dad’s mom) used to make this currant pie, in a convenience-food version using lemon Jell-O and Dream Whip. I wanted to recreate it using less-processed foods, and it was a bit of a challenge at first.

First, we always called it currant cream pie.

Reseaching cream pies on the internet taught me three things:

1. Always turn on SafeSearch when googling phrases like “cream pie.” I cannot emphasize this enough.

2. It wasn’t a cream pie. It was a chiffon pie.

currant-gelatin mixture, ready for the fridge

3. No currant juice-specific pie recipes exist anywhere on the intertubes. They all used whole berries. Which didn’t make sense to me, as currants have nasty raspberry-like seeds. And you know what I think of those.

I turned to a cookbook I always seem to forget about: the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. It’s not trendy, vegetarian, whole grain, or frou frou, so it languishes on the shelf. What it does have, however, is basic recipes for everything, in spades. And it had a few chiffon pie recipes. The ones closest to my needs were a lemon chiffon pie and an orange chiffon pie.

The first currant chiffon pie. It looks much like the second one, except the second didn't last long enough to get a whole-pie pic

Currants are not as tart as lemons, nor as sweet as orange juice, so I had to play with the sugar amounts a bit. The recipes also differed in that one called for 4 eggs, one for 3. So I did a trial run, with 4 eggs and a cup of sugar. It filled a 10-inch pie plate to the brim, but was a bit sweet and a bit eggy.

So I tried again, with the result here, using 3 eggs and 3/4 cup sugar. Dad and I agreed you could cut another 1/8 to 1/4 cup of sugar for more tartness.

on the bright side, you’ll master beating egg whites and whipping cream

The dry ingredients for currant chiffon pie.

Chiffon pies rely on gelatin for stability…

Beaten egg whites for the currant chiffon pie, ready to be folded in

beaten egg whites for their airiness…

Whipped cream for currant chiffon pie, ready to be folded into the currant-gelatin-egg whites mixture

…and most add some whipped cream for, well, creaminess.

Look! The egg whites are folded in!

In this recipe you’ll do all those, plus fold in the egg whites and whipped cream. The links to tips for these techniques are in the recipe as well.

currant chiffon pie

Linda thinks this is still a little eggy. I think that’s due to the egg yolks in the gelatin mixture. I’ll try that without the yolks sometime, but I really like it like this too so I’m in no hurry.

prep: consider this a 3-part recipe
to table: 2-1/2 hours
servings: 8

All the ingredients:

    3 egg yolks
    1 cup currant juice
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 envelope unflavored gelatin
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup sugar
    red food coloring
    3 egg whites
    1/8 to 1/4 cup sugar
    1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, NOT ultra-pasteurized if possible
    1 baked pastry shell or no-bake graham cracker crust shell, 9 or 10 inch

1. Make the currant-gelatin mixture

Whisk together the egg yolks, currant juice, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Mix the gelatin, salt, and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir currant mixture into the gelatin mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to boil. It’s ready when the color changes from dark pink to pepto pink, and the liquid begins to “swell up” in the pan. You’ll know it when you see it.

Transfer the currant-gelatin mixture to a bowl and add 1 drop of red food coloring, if desired. Chill currant-gelatin mixture in refrigerator, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes — until it’s the consistency of corn syrup, or unbeaten egg whites.

2. Beat the egg whites

Use a stand mixer. It’s just easier. Pour 3 room-temperature egg whites into the bowl, and beat on high speed using the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. While running the mixer on high speed, slowly pour in 1/8 to 1/4 cup sugar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Fold the egg whites into the currant-gelatin mixture. This means don’t stir. Just use a big spatula and encourage the whites and the currant mixture to meld together. Imagine you’re a chaperone at a junior high school dance, with girls lining one wall and boys the other, and it’s your job to gently get them to meet.

3. Make the whipped cream

If you have two mixer bowls, consider yourself lucky. If you don’t, wash out and dry your bowl and whisk attachment, and put them into the freezer for 5 minutes. You want everything to be icy cold when whipping cream. Remove the bowl and whisk from the freezer and connect them to the mixer again.

I only mention to avoid ultra pasteurized cream because it’s not as perfect for whipping, but it will work just fine. Add the 1/2 cup of cream to the bowl, and beat at high speed until soft peaks form. Notice the picture; I went too far to stiff peaks and the whipped cream wouldn’t incorporate smoothly into the pie mixture.

Fold your soft peak-stage whipped cream into the pie mixture until it’s all happy and one color.

Spoon currant pie mixture into the pie shell, and chill until set, about 45 minutes.

Variations: Try this with any juice: lemon, orange, grape, raspberry, you name it. Adjust sugar according to the sweetness of the juice. Currant juice is about midway between lemon and orange. Add some grated lemon zest to the currant-gelatin mixture.

Nutrition information per serving: 268 calories; 14.3g fat; 94mg cholesterol; 250mg sodium; 30g carbohydrate; 1g fiber; 17g sugars; 5.1g protein; 4% vitamin A; 13% vitamin C; 2% calcium; 6% iron

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your comments

  1. Diana says:

    Thanks for including me, mwah!!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Making me drool…so hungry for this pie! I could eat the whole thing!

  3. Maggie P says:

    So happy I found this…I’m a currant fanatic! I have 8 red currant bushes (3 year olds); and 4 white currant bushes (2 year olds). I have been picking, and picking and picking…. Made my usual red currant jelly, jam, and juice. Then I tried spiced currants from an old cookbook, not so good (16 CUPS of berries!!). Yesterday made red currant syrup for pancakes, etc.. turned out great. I was going to leave the rest of the berries on the bushes, now I’m inspired to pick and make juice of remainder and freeze… for this pie!!! thanks for the website

    • Amy says:

      Oh yum! That’s so exciting. My currants are JUST about ready again. I hope you do make some juice! Currant sorbet is really really good too, and I’m pretty sure I put the recipe up here somewhere. Oh, here’s the currant sorbet recipe.

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