Think that’s a lot of sweets in the pie’s name? You haven’t read about the shaved milk chocolate or the caramel sauce yet. Jensen includes useful instructions throughout the recipe about how long to cook each element: almost burn the caramel, don’t burn the nuts. She describes the process below…
Keep reading for the complete recipe, and click here to enter YOUR delicious pie (or pies) in the 4th Annual Good Food Pie Contest on Saturday, September 8th at LACMA.
Mom’s Coffee Mallow Meringue Pie
The ’70s weren’t a complete faux pas. Here’s another of my mom’s treats that turns quirky ingredients into a fabulous dessert. It was my absolute favorite of my mom’s desserts, and I asked for it every chance I got. The crisp meringue shell just melts in your mouth with toasty notes of pecans, and the coffee cream balances the sweetness of the meringue. A drizzle of some salted caramel and a sprinkling of some grated milk chocolate deepen the flavors.
MAKES 8 SERVINGS
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
Coffee Mallow Filling
11/2 cups mini marshmallows
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
13/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup salted caramel sauce (recipe follows), at room temperature
One 3- to 4-ounce bar of high-quality milk chocolate for garnish (my mom always used Lindt Swiss milk chocolate)
TO MAKE THE MERINGUE SHELL: Preheat the oven to 275°F. Generously butter a 9-by-11/2-inch glass pie plate.
USING A STAND MIXER fitted with a whisk attachment or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium-high, and slowly beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to high and continue beating until the whites form medium-stiff peaks and look glossy. (The meringue should stay stiff and not droop when you lift the beaters, but if it looks dry or grainy instead of glossy, you’ve gone too far.)
GENTLY FOLD the pecans into the whites. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pie plate. Using the back of the spoon, spread the meringue evenly over the bottom and up the walls of the dish.
BAKE UNTIL LIGHT GOLDEN BROWN, about 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the meringue shell in the oven with the door closed for another 45 minutes. The shell should have a nice golden color. Remove it from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
TO MAKE THE COFFEE MALLOW FILLING: Combine the marshmallows, coffee, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the marshmallows have completely melted. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
MEANWHILE, using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or a handheld mixer, beat the cream, vanilla, and sugar on high speed until medium-stiff peaks form. Whisk a little of the whipped cream into the cooled coffee goo to lighten it and break up any lumps, then fold this mixture into the bowl of whipped cream until fully incorporated. Scrape the mixture into the cooled meringue shell, spread evenly, and smooth the top. Refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours before serving. (Don’t assemble this pie too far in advance, because the filling will make the bottom of the pie shell slightly soggy. If you need to work ahead, make the shell and the cream up to 1 day ahead, but keep them separate.)
DRIZZLE THE TOP OF THE PIE with caramel sauce and use a rasp-style grater to grate the chocolate over the top. Cut into slices and serve. (The edges of the meringue shell might crumble a bit when you cut it. Just dust with cocoa powder to hide the imperfections. Honestly, you’re not going to care what it looks like because once it goes in your mouth you’re going to be very happy.)
Cream beats into nice fluffy clouds when everything is super-cold, including the bowl. Use a metal bowl and chill it in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes before you begin. Make sure not to overbeat your cream, or it will break down and look curdled (because it basically turned into butter!).
Don’t let those yolks go to waste. If you don’t have an immediate use for them, freeze them. When you’ve collected a couple more, you can defrost them overnight in the fridge and use them in something like Luscious Lemon Curd.
Don’t burn yer nuts! Burnt nuts have a bitter flavor that doesn’t jive well with this or any other dessert. Keep a watchful eye and use your nose. When they’ve taken on a bit of color and smell nutty, they’re done.
Salted Caramel Sauce
I take my caramel to the razor’s edge between deliciously deep and flat-out burnt. That’s because the darker the color, the more complex and slightly bitter the flavor, and this bitterness pairs very well with desserts. It can help cut the sweetness of something or heighten the flavors. Lighter caramel is sweeter and less complex, but if you like your caramel that way, just cook it to a lighter color than I do. I’ve made this recipe hundreds of times, and I never use a thermometer, and you shouldn’t either. Just trust your senses. Watch it closely, and be sure not to walk away from it because it can burn very fast. This is an easy recipe, but it needs your attention from start to finish, and all your ingredients should be prepped in advance. MAKES ABOUT 2 1/2 CUPS
2 CUPS SUGAR
1 CUP WATER
11/2 TEASPOONS FLEUR DE SEL
2 CUPS HEAVY CREAM, WARMED (SEE TIP)
11/2 TEASPOONS PURE VANILLA EXTRACT
IN A DEEP HEAVY-BOTTOMED POT, combine the sugar, water, and salt and stir until well mixed. Cook over high heat until the sugar starts to color around the edges of the pot, swirling the pan to promote even caramelization of the sugar. (Do not stir or the sugar will crystallize, that is, harden.) Continue cooking, swirling occasionally, until the caramel is very dark mahogany in color and lightly smoking (it should be on the verge of burning), 10 to 15 minutes.
IMMEDIATELY REMOVE THE POT from the heat, and while stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon, add the warmed cream in a steady stream. (Since you’re taking the caramel to the dark side, you have to work quickly and begin adding the cream right away to stop the cooking process. But you don’t want to add it all at once, so pour it in a continuous, steady stream. Be careful: The mixture will steam and bubble up furiously. I recommend wearing an oven mitt on the hand that’s stirring in the cream.) Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Stir in the vanilla and let cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour. Refrigerate, uncovered, for several hours to thicken.
WHISK BEFORE USING or transferring to an airtight jar for longer storage. It will keep refrigerated for at least 1 week.
Warming the cream separately helps to keep the caramel from shocking into a hard mass when you add it. Be sure to add it quickly because you need to stop the cooking process as soon as the caramel turns the color you want. Otherwise, it’ll keep cooking, and it can go from perfect to burnt in just a few seconds. If you ever find yourself making caramel and not adding any butter and cream to it, keep a bowl of ice water nearby. Dip the bottom of the pot in the water as soon as the caramel is ready to stop the cooking process.
Be sure the pot is heavy bottomed to promote even cooking, deep enough to hold the caramel when it bubbles up, and light colored (such as stainless steel) so you can see the color of the caramel as it’s cooking. When mixing in the cream, use heat-proof utensils such as a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.
To ensure that the sugar does not crystallize, you can add a very small amount of fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon) to the sugar mixture before putting it on the heat.