And listen to this interview to learn more about using blossoms in your kitchen.
Check out Bacher’s Goat Cheese Nasturtium Ice Cream here. Her pie recipe is below.
Visit kcrw.com/pie to enter YOUR delicious pie (or pies) in the 5th Annual Good Food Pie Contest on Saturday, September 7th at LACMA.
Hibiscus Cream Pie
(From Miche Bacher’s Cooking with Flowers. Published by Quirk Books.)
At Mali B we frequently get asked to make confections featuring ombre designs, or slight gradations of color. Packing that into a pie seemed like a challenge, but we achieved it with hibiscus cream pie. Noticeable flecks of hibiscus run through the crust and custard; the color variations in the cream are subtle, but they’re enough to make that gradation change that pleases the eye, and the tart hibiscus sure does please the palate.
You can replace hibiscus with other flowers in both the pie crust and the cream filling. Pansy cream pies and violet cream pies are two of my favorites.
Makes one 9-inch pie.
Hibiscus Pie Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/₂ cup pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon hibiscus sugar (optional – see below)
3/₄ cup (11/₂ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/₄ cup (1/₄ of an 8-ounce package) cold cream cheese, cubed
About 1/₄ cup ice water
4 cups hibiscus pastry cream (see below)
3 generous cups hibiscus whipped cream (see below)
1. Combine flours, salt, and hibiscus sugar (if using) in the bowl of a food processor and whir for about 30 seconds or 5 pulses. Or, if you don’t have a food processor, whisk these ingredients together by hand.
2. Add butter and cream cheese and pulse until they look like big fat peas coated in the flour mixture. Mix in water, a bit at a time, stopping when the mixture just begins to look like dough. Turn it out onto the counter.
3. With the heel of your hand, push down on the dough and away from your body. Fold it back on itself and do it again. Continue the process until the dough comes together but you can still see some streaks of butter and cream cheese. Press dough into a flat disk, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
4. Use a rolling pin to flatten the chilled dough into a 14-inch circle. Transfer it to a pie plate and make certain it is seated properly, without tears. Fold dough under itself to make a proper edge, and crimp it with your fingers or a fork. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate again.
5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Weight the chilled crust with pie weights or pennies on parchment paper. Bake until crust is just beginning to brown; remove weights and continue to cook until crust is golden brown throughout, 15 to 18 minutes in all. Let cool.
6. Fill crust with hibiscus pastry cream. Cover pie with plastic wrap and let it cool in the refrigerator or on the counter. When you are an hour or less from serving, top pie with whipped cream.
During the height of flower season, I find myself hoarding all the canning jars just to store my flower sugars.This way I can use them in winter for a taste of summer. You’ll love the different colors and scents that the sugars take on over time.
In a clean jar, layer about 1/2 cup flowers per 1 cup sugar and let the scent infuse over time. (Lavender requires much less: just 2 tablespoons per 1 cup sugar will do.) If the sugar absorbs enough moisture that it starts to clump, a short spin in the food processor will revive it.
Flower sugars have an incredibly long shelf life. I have had success with flower sugars up to one full year after making them.
For especially vibrant, flavorful flower sugars, grind sugar with flowers in a food processor for 2 minutes, or until pulverized, before storing in jars.
Hibiscus Pastry Cream
Infused with flowers, pastry creams have so many uses—layering cakes, filling doughnuts, topping pies, and more. Mise en place is important when making this delicate treat, so have all your ingredients measured and ready to use before you start.
Makes 3 cups.
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/₂ cup hibiscus sugar
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons butter
11/₂ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Warm milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Keep your eye on the milk mixture, whisking occasionally to dissolve the sugar and prevent the mixture from boiling. Whisk to combine egg yolks and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a nonreactive heatproof bowl (stainless steel or enamel, not aluminum). Slowly whisk half the milk mixture into the egg mixture. Then whisk the milk–egg mixture back into the saucepan. Increase heat to medium, add cornstarch, and whisk until the cream starts to cling to your whisk and threatens to bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap touching the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.
Hibiscus Whipped Cream
Makes 4 cups (1 quart).
Just think how a lightly scented flower whipped cream will dress up your party. Put some on a slice of pie, a dish of ice cream, a pile of fresh berries, or a shortcake, and instantly you have dressed up your dessert.
2 cups very cold heavy cream
1 cup hibiscus flowers or 2 tablespoons hibiscus simple syrup.
1/₂ teaspoon pure vanilla extract – omit if using flower simple syrup.
1/₄ cup confectioners’ sugar
Put heavy cream, flower petals (or flower syrup), vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl. Chill for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
Strain out the petals. With a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the mixture on high speed for 3 minutes, or until it forms soft, billowy peaks.
Serve right away or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.