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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

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

…and most add some Look! The egg whites are folded in!

In this recipe you’ll do all those, plus Read more on currant chiffon pie…

currant sorbet

currant sorbet

Check out this awesome bowl Dad found under the house.

Under the house, you say? Why yes, under the house. Why do you ask?

Oh, you didn’t know. My house got a new foundation this spring.

Wow, those plum blossoms in the background sure look pretty.

So yesterday Dad, his cousin, and the guy who works with him were putting new beams under the house. At one point I was out in garden, valiantly hacking at the giant weeds with a hoe, when Dad called out, “Amy…I found something for you!”

the moat and gangplank, er, the foundation

Great, I said to myself. Probably a burlap sack he wants me to turn into a dress. Sorry, family joke.

It was actually the little white bowl above, caked in dirt. It had no chips and cleaned up nicely.

get to the currant sorbet already

Isn’t that currant sorbet a lovely shade of pink? It’s super refreshing on a hot summer day, and a whiff of summer in the dead of winter. If you can get your hands on some red currants, make some currant juice and get this sorbet into your freezer posthaste.

The inherent sweetness of the berries can vary. The main liquid/sweetening agent in this sorbet is a simple syrup. Simple syrup is traditionally just a 1:1 ratio of water and sugar, heated until it forms a clear liquid. In fact, simple syrup can be used in all sorts of sorbets. If you find the sorbet a little tart, try increasing the simple syrup to 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup granulated sugar. Read more on currant sorbet…

July 16, 2009 in canning and freezing, how to10 comments

how to make red currant juice

cleaned red currants, ready for juicifying

Why would you want to make currant juice?

I can think of a few reasons, one of which is definitely going to show up here shortly.

One, to make currant jelly. Now, I’m a strawberry jam girl, so I don’t make currant jelly, but if you put some currant jelly in front of me, I won’t complain.

Two, to make currant pie. My grandma made a currant chiffon pie that used Dream Whip. I might see if I can natural that up. I wonder if you could use stabilized whip cream to do it.

Three, and this is the doozy, to make currant sorbet. Shocking pink, tangy, and sweet and icy. Perfect for a summer afternoon. And it’s quite easy. That one’s going to show up here soon.

so THATS what a ricer looks like!

By the way, these are red currants. You know, I’ve never even seen a black currant, though I’ve heard tell of them in weird cookbooks and dark recesses of the intertubes. I’ve got six currant bushes, though five of them tend to be kind of spindly. The spindly ones are up front near the white lilac and the peonies. The big bushy currant is back by the plum trees. And across from the gooseberry bush, said gooseberry bush never going to be a source of recipes here because they’re kind of a pain, and not interesting-tasting enough to me to care. Oh, why are they a pain? Why, thorns of course. The dumb bush is covered in little thorns. Yay.

currant bush

Currants, however, have none of those horrid protrusions, and they have a unique flavor. They taste just as red as they look, but there’s nothing cloying about them. There’s this added level, almost a smoky kind of depth.

Great. I just described currants as “smoky.” You’re never going to want to try them now.

You don’t want to eat them by the handful off the bush; they’re kind of tart. But turn them into juice and oo la la.

Currant juice. Check out the awesome red color

So the second time picking, I spent about an hour here and got most of a big bowl full. Mom has currants at her house too, which I neglected to prune for her this spring. Bad daughter! Strangely, I was still in the currant-picking mood, so I went to her house to get some. In half an hour my bowl was just as full as it had been before.

Her currants are way bigger. :(

Anyway, enough yapping. If you’re lucky enough to have access to currants, PICK THEM. MAKE JUICE FROM THEM. Then make CURRANT PIE or CURRANT JELLY or CURRANT SORBET from them. Freeze the juice in 1-cup containers, and you can have a taste of summer in the dead of winter, always a plus.

Oh. Any ideas how to get Dream Whip out of the currant chiffon pie? Read more on how to make red currant juice…