I made this pie on the Fourth of July weekend, but it's perfect for Pink Saturday.
This week's pie is inspired by half a watermelon Our Son bought for a party, and left in the fridge after that.
You know how watermelon can get mushy and grainy, and then it's no fun to eat anymore. I thought this would be a good way to use a watermelon past its prime. The recipe is from Ken Haedrich's book "Pie."
Watermelon Chiffon Pie
1 pre-baked pie shell - graham cracker crumb recommended. You can use pre-purchased.
6 cups (approximately) of watermelon flesh
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
2 egg whites
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup confectioner's sugar
Even though my intent is to practice making traditional pie crust, the graham cracker crust recommended in this recipe sounded like a better fit. So I made my own by pulsing graham crackers in the food processor, adding brown sugar and a touch of cinnamon, and mixing the crumbs with melted butter. Press it into the pan, chill it a few minutes, then pre-bake it for about seven minutes.
I scooped all the meat out of the watermelon, and put it into a big bowl, and mixed in 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and let it sit. Then, as the recipe instructed, I smashed it up with a potato-masher. Then I put it through a strainer, pressing down on it to force the juice and small bits of flesh through the mesh, leaving behind the seeds. I ended up with about 3 cups of juice - which is great, because the recipe called for 2 3/4 cups.
Put 1/4 cup of the juice in a small bowl and sprinkle the two envelopes of gelatin over them and stir to dissolve.
Bring 1/2 cup of juice to a boil, then mix with the gelatin and juice mixture. Finally, add in the remaining 2 cups of juice. Add the tablespoon of lime or lemon juice, stir, and put it in a bowl in the fridge.
The recipe called for whipping two egg whites until they formed stiff peaks. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer and bowl, which meant that I had to wash the bowl and beaters for the next step. I whipped a cup of whipping cream until it formed soft peaks, then added 1 cup of confectioners sugar and continue to whip until stiff.
I set aside the egg whites on the counter and put the whipped cream in the fridge to chill. Then I had to wait about 45 minutes for the watermelon juice and gelatin mixture to gel up.
The next step said to mix the cream, egg white, and firmed gel together. I was a little leary about this - I wasn't sure how firm the gel should be. Should it be jiggly-firm, like molded Jello? Or should it be softer, so when you blend it you don't get chunks of jelly?
Partly due to impatience, and partly because I wondered how long the whipped egg whites would stay good, I took the gel out of the fridge at the "kinda gloopy" stage.
I put the gel and 1/4 of the whipped cream in the mixer bowl, whipped it up with the wire whisk, then took the bowl off the stand and folded in the rest of the cream and the egg whites. I folded it together until there were no big blobs of white, the mixture was a creamy pink flecked with darker pink bits of watermelon.
I poured it into the shell and put it in the fridge.
I used a disposable foil pie-tin because I couldn't find my old Pyrex pie pan, and couldn't find one in the stores I went to. The lucky thing about the foil pie tin was that it was sold in packs of 3. The recipe said to cover the pie loosely with a tented piece of foil - in my experience, that usually doesn't work to protect the delicate surface. But instead, I just covered the pie with one of the other pie tin, upside down, and used a crimped bit of foil to hold it on.
I had a good amount of mixture left over, so I poured it into two ceramic ramekins and chilled them, too.
After an hour or so, a spoon dipped into the ramekins yielded a scoop of delicate, foam tasting of watermelon, shuddering and wobbling voluptuously in the dish.
I chilled the pie overnight. The next day we tried a slice.
The first slice was a mess. The cookie crust needed a firm hand on the knife, yet the delicate filling needed a light touch.
I also realize a spatula isn't a very good pie server. This is a pie to eat with a spoon.
If you could get a pretty, un-marred slice onto a plate, it would be a pretty, elegant pie for a summer luncheon. Its subtle flavor is intriguing, and the color is like a pink cloud.
Watermelon chiffon pie. For Pink Saturday.