The Creamsicle, in Pie Form
I am off my beat, man. I usually write about beer or Game of Thrones, but I am here today to write about another passion of mine: pie.
One of my favorite pies to make is Key Lime Pie. It’s sour, sweet, and custardy. So, over an excellent meal of Italian food, my good friend and I (you’ll know him as Kris “Captain K” Randazzo) were discussing this wonderful dessert. I have a pretty stellar recipe from a trusted source – it rhymes with Looks Facilitated – and it never fails. At some point over the scallops in butter sauce, Kris wondered aloud, “Why couldn’t you make an orange pie?” I immediately began excitedly describing the simplicity of altering the Key Lime Pie recipe to accomplish this. Kris responded, “Could you throw a little vanilla in there, make it like a Creamsicle?” I guess the point of this anecdote is that this is Kris’s idea; I am merely the channel through which this deliciousness entered this material plane.
As I thought about the practical matter of swapping out limes for oranges, I realized that part of what sets the custard is acid, and oranges just don’t have as much. I needed to add some back, so I threw some lemon juice in there. Problem solved. Additionally, orange is a mellower flavor than lime, so I needed to add more zest into the filling to compensate..
When I set to work, I fell into two happy accidents. First of all, the best looking oranges in Whole Foods were Cara Cara Oranges, of which I knew absolutely nothing. It turns out that they are mellower and sweeter than most oranges, which actually works in my favor here. Secondly, Whole Foods didn’t have Nabisco graham crackers. The closest to what I wanted were a brand called Mi-Del’s Whole Wheat Honey Grahams. These are not nearly as sweet as you’re used to, and the whole wheat gives the crust a nuttier flavor which is pretty fantastic in this application. Eating them, on the other hand, is not the most pleasurable experience.
This pie works. The finished product has a mildly acidic, sweet, and nutty flavor. It tastes like a creamsicle if a creamsicle were made with real orange and milk. The texture was slightly different from the lime pie I’m used to and I may let the filling sit for 40 minutes instead of 30 next time, but that is a nit-picky thing. It’s delicious. Go make it. Now.
Orange Cream Pie
For the Crust:
5oz. Mi-Del 100% Whole Wheat Honey Grahams
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted and kept warm
For the Filling:
4 egg yolks
6 teaspoons orange zest (Cara Cara Oranges are preferred)
1 14oz. can condensed milk
1/2 Cup less 1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the Topping:
1 Cup heavy cream
1/4 Cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Crust:
- Preheat oven to 325.
- Run the graham crackers through the food processor until they looks like coarse crumbs.
- Add the sugar and pulse to mix.
- With the food processor running, drizzle the butter in and run until it looks like wet sand.
- Butter a pie dish (not deep-dish), add the graham crackers and, using your thumbs and the back of a teaspoon, spread them evenly across the bottom and up the sides, pressing until it stays in place.
- Bake the crust until fragrant and just beginning to brown, 15-17 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
For the Filling:
- In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the zest into the egg yolks for about 2 minutes until the mixture has a pale orange color and appears frothy.
- Add the condensed milk followed by the the juices, mixing each time until blended.
- Let the mixture stand for 30 (or 40) minutes to set.
- Pour mixture into shell, and then bake at 325°F until the center is set, but jiggles when shaken, 15-18 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
For the topping:
- Pour cream and vanilla into a chilled metal bowl. Using a hand-mixer with the whisk attachment, beat until soft peaks form.
- Add the confectioner’s sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until soft peaks form.
- Spread over the cooled filling and garnish with an orange slice.