I made a lilikoi (passionfruit) meringue pie a year or so ago, following Alton Brown's lemon merinque pie recipe from FoodNetwork.com and substituting lilikoi pulp plus a little OJ for the lemon juice. It was quite good, although meringue pies in general don't get more than a toe-hold in my favorite desserts pantheon. If you love lemon meringue pie, I highly recommend making a lilikoi version sometime.
So I had all these lilikoi from the farmer’s market, and thought I would make a pie again. But not a merinque this time. Something like a key lime pie (i.e., curd-ish, no topping).
I made the crust by grinding up most of a package (I ate some) of Newman’s Own Ginger-O cookies in the food processor with ½ cup of unsweetened shredded coconut. I didn’t quite trust that to hold together, so added an egg white for structural stability. That turned out maybe a little too structurally solid. Next time I’ll try a few TBSP of boiling water instead (can't imagine that all those cookies require any additional fat to hold together!), see if that works.
With hindsight I see this would have been better as a tart, but I don’t have tart pan and didn’t feel like messing with trying to get a cookie-crumb crust to stick to the vertical walls of a springform pan, so took the easy way out and used a glass pie plate.
The filling is lilikoi curd, enriched (as if curd needs enriching!) with cream cheese. That bit was inspired by a key lime pie I had many years ago at Mangoes on Duval Street in Key West. When in Key West, one eats a lot of key lime pie. I did, anyway. Mangoes’ version was halfway between a typical KLP and a lime cheesecake. And it was very, very good.
So I read up on lemon curd and its various permutations in Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking (a great resource for any dessert-obsessed home baker) and came up with a plan:
1) Mix 1 cup lilikoi pulp (seeds strained out; or buy it frozen) with ¾ cup cane sugar and 1 T cornstarch and bring to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring so it doesn't lump up.
2) Cut 6 oz. of cream cheese into 5 or 6 pieces and pulse in the food processor to soften. Add about ¼ cup of the hot lilikoi-sugar and blend until very smooth.
3) Add 4 eggs + the yolk leftover from adding a white to the pie shell, one at a time, pulsing to blend after each4) Add the rest of the lilikoi-sugar and blend well.
5) Scrape it all into a 2-qt. stainless steel bowl and whisk over simmering water until temperature reaches 160.
If you stop here you've made lilikoi curd, which would be delicious instead of vanilla custard under a fruit tart, or between cake layers, but it's very soft, and needs oven time to firm up. So:
6) Pour the curd into the pie shell and bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
Here is it, ready to go into the oven:
Here is it, ready to go into the oven:
7) Cool on a rack to room temp., then into the chill chest for several hours.
I followed the plan: 0h, yum! So smooth and creamy, and what a divine flavor!
As you can see, the filling didn’t quite fill the shell (I used a 9.5” deep-dish pan, will stick with the slightly smaller/shallower 9” one next time). Presentation would benefit from a corona of whipped-cream rosettes around the edge, but I didn't buy heavy cream and piping rosettes is the kind of thing I think about doing but rarely bother with.
Verdict: Extremely delicious!! A bit of a production if you start, as I did, with a heap of lilikoi to pulp and strain, but very worth the effort.
… but not perfect. To be improved next time:
* The crust is very tasty (the ginger-cookie flavor goes so well with lilikoi!), but you can’t taste the coconut at all, so why bother. Next time I’ll leave it out.
* The crust is too thick. Use fewer cookies: 18 instead of 26? Or maybe I'll make a different crust next time, just for variety: something with macadamia nuts in it, maybe? Or even chocolate???
* The filling is divine, but I might cut back on the sugar just a bit.
* Either 15 min. bake time wasn't quite enough or my oven wasn't really up to temp yet. I'll set the timer for 20 min. next time.
* I'm curious about doing this as a chiffon pie: separate the eggs, use just the yolks in the curd, and fold the whipped whites in before baking. Should turn out just as yummy, but fluffy.
This is a very rich dessert, so I don’t think I’ll be repeating it anytime soon. But sooner or later I’ll think back on this one when I’m pondering what to make for Cake Night, and will try the fluffy version. With that in mind, I’m going to pick up some more lilikoi at the farmer’s market and stock the freezer with a couple of 1-cup containers of pulp, so I’ll be ready.