Saturday, February 28, 2009

CSA week 12 - Canistel-molasses custard pie

This is an adaption of this sweet potato pie recipe. Beyond just a straight substitution of the canistels for the sweet potatoes I baked the canistels for a half hour at 350 first. Last time I cooked canistels I was struck by how they changed their texture, lost a lot of sweetness and developed a richer more savory flavor. Then I just ate them but I think they'd make good ingredients after that processing too. I'm writing this as I cook and I can smell them baking now. The smell is more toasty than sugary which I suspect is a good sign.

The canistels, after baking, are just what I was looking for--the sweetness is mellowed and deepened with more complex flavors and the flesh has firmed up into something easier to work with. This is, I recognize, an odd unintuitive reaction but canistels are odd unintuitive fruit.

They went into the food processor with:

* 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
* 1/2 cup molasses
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon salt, and
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
I didn't remove the canistel's skin since a) that's really difficult at this point and b) the skins are pretty tasty, particulary the crispy edges.

The mix was too thick to blend well so I departed from the original recipe by adding 1 cup of milk and processing for several minutes to smooth it out before adding the 3 eggs. Those I just mixed in briefly. The end result still isn't perfectly smooth, but good enough for government work.
I used a store-bought frozen pie crust since I decline to slave over a homemade crust and waste it on this cockeyed experiment of a filling. The packaging said to not defrost and I'm taking its word on that. So, into a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes with foil around the edges and then 30 minutes with the foil off until a knife inserted halfway between the center and the edge comes out clean. And I mean totally clean. I pulled my pie out when there was still a few tiny drops of moisture on the knife and it's just barely set. It could have used another five minutes.

But despite that, it came out light and creamy. Some structural difficulties as you can see, but nothing a stint in the refrigerator couldn't cure. The molasses and spice flavors are strong, but you can identify the canistel if you concentrate and know what you're looking for. It's good, but I feel like if I were on Iron Chef they'd take points off for not highlighting the secret ingredient. Maybe light molasses or corn syrup would let it show through a little more. Or skip the pre-cooking although I'd be surprised to see the pie set successfully if you do. It's not excessively sweet; instead it has that complex bittersweet flavor you expect from molasses-based pies. If you like that sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you'll like.


Karen said...

I used pumpkin-chocolate chip muffin recipe and made some very good canistel-chocolate chip muffins which the family is eating up. Only had to add about 2 tsp. of water to compensate for the difference in moisture.

billjac said...

I think we've developed some useful rules of thumb for adapting recipes for Floridian fruits. Substitute canistels for pumpkin or sweet potatoes. Substitute black sapote for persimmons or fruit compotes. I feel like we've done a service for posterity here.

billjac said...

Just to follow-up here, the pie did firm up nicely in the refrigerator and went over well in the office. Beyond any urge to experiment, no need to make any changes in the recipe.