Monday, March 14, 2011

Canistel coffee coconut custard pie

This is a variation on a Minimalist sweet potato pie recipe. I particularly liked the addition of coconut milk which I thought would blend nicely with the canistel.

The original recipe used a cracker crust but I wanted to try a vodka crust instead. Vodka pie crust, if you're not familiar with it, is a recipe that came out of Cook's Illustrated a few years back. The vodka adds moisture that doesn't promote gluten formation so you end up with a wet dough that you can hand press into the pie pan without worrying about overworking it. Then the vodka evaporates away and you end up with a flaky tender crust without all the hassle. I was fairly happy with the results with the caveats that a) it's so wet it slumps if you try to blind bake it and I wish someone had made a note of that in the recipe and b) either my pie pan is a weird size (and now that I've measured it, I think it is) or the recipe makes rather too much dough for the two crusts it says it makes. I didn't care for the thick crust but other folks liked it. Maybe it's just me.

One other thing. I've made variations on this pie twice. The first time I used 14 ounces of lúcuma pulp and the second time pulp from three canistels which was more like 10 ounces. Either works, but adjust the number of eggs: four for 14 ounces, three for 10. The original recipe calls for 2 medium sweet potatoes which isn't really helpful in pinning down the amount. Oh, and lúcuma is a close cousin of canistel that's popular in Peru and Chile.

Enough ado, here's the recipe.

2 Tablespoons ground coffee
1/2 cup water
3 or 4 large eggs
1/2 - 3/4 cups sugar, adjusted for the sweetness of your fruit [light brown if you'd like, but it makes the results taste more like pumpkin pie than canistel]
1 cup coconut milk
spices to taste [I used 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon allspice but I could have used more.]
1 large pinch salt
pulp from 3 or 4 canistels
1 pie crust

0. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Add the coffee to the water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, turn off heat and let steep for 10 minutes.

2. To a food processor or blender add the eggs, sugar, coconut milk, spices and salt. Strain in the coffee. Blend until well combined. Add the canistel. Blend until smooth.

3. Pour mixture into pie crust and bake for 40 to 50 minutes until it is mostly set but the center couple inches are still a little jiggly.

Right [minus the coffee]:

Slightly overcooked:

Again, right [minus coffee]:

and slightly overcooked:

The textures of both are very smooth and the crust came out nicely tender. The second is overcooked, so it's not meltingly creamy. The first pie had a much lower fruit to egg ratio and came out a little starchy. I've made the ajustments to the recipe so yours should come out just right.

The second pie came out a lot more mild after baking than the mixture was raw, which I should have expected given my experiments with baking canistels. Still, the flavors are all still there. It starts with the canistel up front, maybe a hint of coconut and finishes with a bitter hit of coffee. It could use an extra quarter cup or so of sugar, but that's hard to tell going in. It tasted just fine raw so make it a bit sweeter than you think it should be. The combination of coffee and canistel works really well and is, I'd like to point out, my innovation, although I'd think it an obvious one for any pastry chef with any experience using canistels. It's really easy too, so well worth a try.

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