Four years ago, in dreary mid-April, Rebecca asked me what I wanted for my Birthday dinner. I'd been preparing for the question, and quickly pointed to a quirky recipe I'd found for Watermelon Chiffon Pie. The pie was a winner; light, airy, and fresh, with the undeniable, but subtle flavor of fresh watermelon. This oddly addictive pie balances a sweet buttery graham crust with an almost cucumber-like freshness in the fluffy pastel-pink filling. While I request it every April, the best flavor comes from using fresh-from-the-market local watermelon in the heat of summer. Our recipe is adapted from Ken Haedrich's excellent Pie.
Yield: 1 pie
Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 cups chopped watermelon (seeds are fine, rind removed)
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- Juice of one lime
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- For the graham cracker crust: Preheat the oven to 350.
- In a bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the melted butter and use your hands to combine the ingredients thoroughly.
- Lightly grease a standard pie pan or springform pan. Spread the graham mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan and press into a crust, coming up the sides of the pan by at least an inch.
- Bake for 7 minutes and allow to cool before filling.
- For the watermelon filling: Puree watermelon in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain the juice through a fine mesh strainer, discarding the seeds and pulp. This juice will be be divided into two parts.
- Put 1/2 cup of watermelon juice into a small bowl (if using a microwave) or saucepan (if using the stove) and sprinkle unflavored gelatin over the juice. Whisk briefly to combine and allow the gelatin to rehydrate for 2 minutes.
- Heat the juice/gelatin mixture (stove or microwave) until just beginning to boil.
- Quickly stir the heated juice/gelatin mixture into the rest of the reserved watermelon juice. Add lime juice to the mixture and set aside in the refrigerator to cool.
- In a clean bowl, beat the egg white until stiff peaks form. Set aside
- In another clean bowl, beat the whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff smooth peaks form. Set aside.
- When the watermelon mixture is starting to firm up and no longer a loose liquid (10-15 minutes of fridge time), gently fold in the whipped cream with a spatula until evenly combined. Next, carefully fold in the egg white. Do not over-mix, as this will flatten the texture. You are looking for a fairly uniform pink color with no large patches of egg white.
- Pour the watermelon filling into the cooled graham cracker crust. Refrigerate 2-4 hours, until firm, before slicing and eating. Keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for 1-2 days.
- This recipe contains raw egg white. Use pasteurized eggs if you are concerned about this.