Monday, June 2, 2014

Apricot Pie

Our daughter's barbecue was a two pie occasion due to my husband's feelings about rhubarb. (See Rum Rhubarb Pie) I figure if we have enough people to warrant extra desserts, go for it. We actually ended up with three pies, because one of the guests brought lemon meringue pie. I chose apricot pie because June is apricot season. They are in the supermarket briefly now, more or less for the month of June, and then that's it.
Apricot pie is pretty easy if one avails oneself of what the British call mod cons. (Modern conveniences.) The chief mod con in this pie is premade graham cracker crust, which does away with the need to crush crackers, baste them with butter and press them into a pie crust shape.
So my advice is to skip all that stuff about the crust, and get a premade one. You will be happier, and no one will be able to tell the difference. The overall pie is sweet, but tangy, due to the grated lemon rind. If you like lemon flavoring, use more. To peel the tiny apricots, drop them in boiling water and leave them there for two minutes.
This pie involves several tricky judgment calls. First, there is cook until mixture thickens. (How long, for God's sake?) Next is, cool until mixture starts to set. Well, if you misjudge this one, you get a pie with a funny consistency, like it has jello cubes of filling floating in an egg white mixture. So, my expert advice is, don't make this when you are distracted. Give it your full attention, especially, the cool until mixture starts to set part. You want to prod the mixture every five minutes or so to see if it is starting to set, or jell.
About the cook until mixture thickens part, I did not spend long minutes over the stove, mainly because I didn't have those long minutes. I wanted to go to bed. I cooked the mixture in a double boiler, which is a metal or glass bowl sitting over a saucepan of boiling water, for around ten minutes, and figured "Close enough for government work." I say this a lot when I don't want to do whatever it is I am doing any longer.  It is somewhat hard to judge thickness, because the apricot pulp makes the filling seem thick. Ten minutes should be okay.
 The guests enjoyed the pie. Definitely a worthwhile effort.

Apricot Pie

Graham Cracker crust
16 graham crackers, crushed
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
 1/4 cup melted butter
3 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups apricot pulp made by skinning and pitting ripe fruit and blending in an electric blender
1/4 teaspoon graded lemon rind
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
6 ripe apricot, peeled and halved
whipping cream

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. To prepare crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter and mix well. Press into the bottom and sides of a nine-inch pie plate.
3. Bake eight minutes. Cool.
4. To prepare filling, beat the egg yolks with one-half cup of the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the apricot pulp, lemon rind and salt and place in the top of a double boiler.
5. Heat, stirring, until mixture thickens. Soak the gelatin in the water and add to the hot mixture. Stir to melt gelatin. Cool until mixture starts to set. (Watch like a hawk, here.)
6. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar and fold into the cooled apricot mixture.
7. Pour into the cooled shell and chill. Garnish with the apricot halves and whipped cream.
Makes six servings.

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