June 4, 2008

Hurricane Pie

The beginning of June marks the advent of the hurricane season for those of us so fortunate to be in the Southeastern United States. It is a season that has us following weather reports with a heightened sense of scrutiny until the official end of hurricane time, November 1. It occurred to me that the official opening of this volatile season, the first of June, ought to be worth a pagan ritual or two. So I created what I call a Hurricane Pie and invited a small group of friends to partake of the delicacy and toast the season.
The hurricane pie was made with a filling that has a multitude of nuts, dried fruits and a diced apple in a syrupy viscous matrix of brown sugar, rum and eggs baked into a pie shell and topped with a meringue shaped into a hurricane. It was a delicious invention. I’ve shared the recipe below:

Pie Shell:
1. Prepare a 9" pie shell and bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. For a crisp crust add two tablespoons of cornstarch to the flour, substitute apple or other juice for water, and keep the shortening very cold.

Pie Filling:
Cream ½" cup butter or margarine (I use Smart Balance - it works fine) together with 1 ½" cups of brown sugar. Beat in four egg yolks. (reserve the whites for the meringue) Add three tablespoons of flour and one teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir in one cup of cream or half and half. Add one tablespoon of rum. Add ½ cup chopped dates (substitute fresh figs if they are in season - they’re great) ½ cup dried cherries, ½ cup dried raisins, ½ cup chopped pecans and half cup chopped walnuts. To add extra texture and cut down the sweetness add one very finely diced granny smith apple. Fill the pie shell and bake for 30 minutes. When cool top with meringue.

Hurricane Meringue:
Beat eight egg whites. Add one teaspoon of cream of tartar. Whip until stiff but not too dry. Add 3/4 cup of powdered sugar. Beat in two teaspoons of vanilla (If you are going through this much trouble to make something from scratch use a very good vanilla such as Bourbon Vanilla or Tahitian vanilla). Whip the meringue until it stands up in stiff peaks. Slide it from the bowl onto the pie and shape it into a hurricane - with a hole in the middle for an eye. Return the pie to the oven and continue to bake until the meringue topping is slightly browned. Serve warm or cool.

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