Watermelon Chiffon Pie

This has not been a good week for me, for several reasons, mostly all of them dealing with the pain in the ass that is my regular, paying job.

Due to these stresses,I was looking forward to this recipe. As regular readers here know, pie is my paxil, my “go to” food when I need to make sense of the world. It is also the bane of my doctor’s perspective on how I approach my life, but that’s a different post.

It also seemed a bit exotic. I mean who uses watermelon in a pie recipe? And how does one incorporate a highly volatile fruit into a solid pastry format? The answers to the above rhetorical questions are “Fans of chiffon pies” and “you use gelatin, and a fair bit of it”.

So, using a recipe found in my “Go to” pie cookbook, (Ken Haedrich’s Pie:300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie) I set upon the task of making my week a little better.

The result? A Pie that I’m still unsure about. I taste’s okay, don’t get me wrong. But it a tad bit disconcerting to have watermelon flavor come from a slice of pie. My mind simply wasn’t ready to make the correlation between seeing a slice and expecting the flavor of the summer fruit. It’s as if my mind can only allow for a specific set of flavors to be used in pie, and when faced with a new one, it treats it as if it’s some sort of rare novelty.

And it takes a pretty horrible picture to boot. A slice is unable to hold its own weight for any length of time, and physics then dictates that the slice of watermelon chiffon has to collapse upon itself. Thus this picture above, where the pie tin has the task of ensuring a decent looking slice.

But here’s the thing…It’s not that bad. In fact it’s pretty good. But if you’ve never had watermelon in anything but the natural watermelon format – slices at a barbeque- you may be bound to say “Well that tastes weird…but in a good way”.

  • 1 2/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 6 cups of watermelon flesh
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 envelops of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
  • Egg whites from 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • Whipped cream (home made or store bought, your preference) for garnish

For the Crust:

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until well-combined.

Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate or tin.
Place in the oven and bake the crust for 7 to 9 minutes. Place in the regrigerator to chill.

For the Filling: Place the watermelon and the granulated sugar into a large bowl. Using a potato Masher (Mr. Haedrich’s method) or immersion blender (my method), liquify the flesh as fully as possible. Set aside for 15 minutes. Then strain the mixture, ensuring you have 2 3/4 cup of sugared watermelon juice. Discard the pulp and any extraneous liquid.

In a medium sized bowl, pour in 1/4 cup of watermelon juice and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Set aside for 4 minutes, allowing the gelatin to dissolve. Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup of the watermelon juice in a sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Whisk the hot juice into the gelatin mixture.

In a larger bowl, place in the remaining watermelon juice, and stir in the watermelon gelatin mixture. Add the lime juice, and then cover and place in the refrigerator.

Using an electric beater, beat the egg whites in a medium sized bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In yet another bowl (that’s # four) that has been chilled, pour in the heavy cream and beat with an electric beater until peaks form. Add the sifted powdered sugar, and incorporate until smooth. Place in the refrigerator.

When the watermelon gelatin starts to firm (my took about an hour) remove and add 1/4 of the whipped cream. Whisk the contents with the electric beater until smooth. Fold in the egg whites and remaining whipped cream, ensuring consistency of the filling. You want to avoid pockets of white from either the egg whites or whipped cream. Pour into the chilled pie shell. Cover with aluminum foil and allow to chill overnight.

Serves 10

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