Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday followed very closely by Saint Patrick’s Day. Maybe it is because both celebrate excessive behavior, or maybe because both have been twisted, for the better, from their original meanings. I mean the first Thanksgiving was about not starving to death, surviving the previous winter and having enough from summer harvest to survive the next winter. It was probably a simple and small meal shared between close families who depended on each other to survive. Now it is an excuse to make enough food to feed a small country (China) and then waste most of it and pass out. Saint Patrick’s is still a holy day in Ireland, but here it is an affront to any god except Bacchus, but I digress.
So my wife and I had a small group of people over to share dessert after Thanksgiving. Aside from the standard pumpkin and pecan pie offerings (well pumpkin cheesecake and deep dish rye pecan pie to be exact), we decided to try a lemon chiffon pie with cranberry glaze. What I liked the most about this pie, and why I am writing about it instead of the other two show stoppers, is that it balanced the heavy meal and heavy desserts much like a sorbet cleanses the palate. I also liked the fact that the filling was extremely airy unlike most lemon pies which get heavy and difficult to finish toward the end.
A quick note. I used an electric hand mixer to beat everything except the egg yolk mixture. I find whisking by hand over a double boiler works better with eggs, but if you are not used to it you will feel it in your arm after awhile. To this I have to go with my insane third grade gym teacher and say pain builds character. The recipe is from Bon Appetit’s November 2003 edition. The only change was theirs called for a shortbread crust.
Lemon Chiffon Pie with Cranberry Glaze
- 2 cups ground cinnamon graham crackers
- 4-5 ½ tbsp melted butter
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 ½ tsp unflavored gelatin
- 4 large eggs separated
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- ½ cup currant jelly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pie pan. Mix graham crackers and enough butter to hold the mixture together. Press into bottom and sides of pan. Bake until golden and set, about 20 minutes, then let cool completely. Make the filling. Put warm water in small bowl and sprinkle gelatin evenly over top. Let set till absorbed and gelatin softens, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile whisk egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, lemon juice and zest continuously in a double boiler over low heat until liquid foams and then thickens, about 6 minutes. Set top of double boiler over a bowl of ice water and add gelatin. Whisk till the mixture just starts to thicken but not set. Quickly beat egg whites in another bowl till soft peaks form. Add 1/3 sugar slowly and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into custard in 2 batches. If custard has thickened too much do it in three batches using the first to beat the mixture back into a pudding consistency. Try and fold as gently as possible to leave as much air in the mixture as possible but make sure to mix completely. Beat whipping cream in another bowl till stiff peaks form. Fold into custard again. Pour into pie crust. Let set at least 4 hours or overnight in fridge. Make the topping. Stir sugar and water over high heat till dissolved. Add cranberries and cook till half pop. Add jelly and mix together. Cool to room temperature. Spread over top of pie and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.