21-22. Seared Apricot Pie, and Frozen Mango Pie (with lavender-agave cream)

I’m a sucker for seasonal/rarer fruits. On my last trip to the Dekalb Farmers Market I came home laden with a large box of ataulfo mangos (the small yellow ones, not the green/pink mangos), a couple pounds of fresh apricots, some kiwi, and a sack of lychees… along with my standard fruit purchases.  That may sound to you like an absurd amount of fruit for one person to eat in a week and a half. If so, you clearly underestimate my fruit eating capabilities.  But even so–I recruited help this time.

Shockingly, some of that fruit even lasted long enough to find its way into pies.  Although I think lychee and kiwi pie has promise, this post is about apricots and mangos.  Both pies used the same ginger crust, which came out flavored a bit like those teddy grahams you eat as a child.  I don’t really know how that happened, honestly.

There’s really no surprises here.  Except for the lavender-agave cream.  That was a very happy surprise.

CRUST

  • 10oz flour
  • 3 oz butter (frozen and cubed)
  • 3oz shortening (chilled)
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • ~1/4 cup mix of vodka and ice water

Mix dry ingredients, then cut in the fats.  Sprinkle in a bit more flour.  Add liquids by the tablespoon-full just until the dough sticks together when stirring, and there are few dry crumbs.  Knead the dough gently into a ball.  Roll out 1/3 of it, and lay in a pie pan.

Seared Apricot Pie

While doing a bit of research to see how apricot pies generally succeeded, I skimmed through a recipe and saw “browned butter”.  I immediately thought the apricots were cooked on the stovetop in browned butter before being baked in the pie, and thought this was an awesome recipe that I’d use as a base.  Then, on closer inspection I noted that my conclusion was incorrect– the browned butter was instead for a crumble topping.  I’m sure their pie is great.  But pan-searing the apricot halves in browned butter gives this pie the special flavor that I think sets it apart.

APRICOT FILLING

  • 6-7 apricots , halved and pitted (leave skins on)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1-3 Tbsp sugar (depending on the sweetness of the apricots)
  • 2 tsp (tapioca) starch
  • a dash of nutmeg

Put 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet on medium to high heat, and wait until it has browned.  Then  place in the apricot halves.  Cook until slightly browned, then flip and cook for another minute or two.

The browned and (lightly) spiced apricot halves.

Toss with the dash of nutmeg, then set in the pie tin (you may need to cut up some of the apricots to make them fit.  Use any remaining browned butter for the topping.

Mix together the starch and sugar and sprinkle this mix over the top of the apricots.

CRUMBLE TOPPING

You can use your favorite crumb topping here.  I didn’t want the apricots competing too hard for attention (they needed to focus on just being delicious), so I simply melted butter, then stirred in a mixture of flour and white sugar until all the butter was absorbed and the mixture was dry and there was extra flour.  Then I cut in some cream cheese because it sounded good.  Sprinkle your mixture over the top of the apricots, then bake the pie at 350 for 35-45 minutes.

Seared apricot pie with cream-cheese crumb.

What you get is a very simple apricot tart.  Apricots bake very well, and the searing helped to pre-cook them while also enriching the flavor (butter tends to do that).  At the end of the baking period the apricots still held together nicely, but were softened and easily cut with a fork.  In other words they were the perfect pie density.  The pie made for a really great breakfast.  I felt a bit like I was eating the worlds best pop tart when I cut a piece, simply picked it up (this crust is quite robust) and ate it like a slice of pizza.  After 21 pies in 5 months you get a bit indelicate about how you eat them.

A bit blurry, but nonetheless this picture depicts a (large) piece of apricot pie ready to be lovingly shoveled into my mouth.

Frozen Mango Cream Pie with lavender-agave cream drizzle.

Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures of this one.  Nor did I really master the texture– it froze to be too full of ice crystals due to the high water content of mangos.  However, heating it up for about 10 seconds in the microwave led to a delightfully smooth slice with a fun temperature gradient. Also, this pie (except in the crust and cream topping) contained no additional sugar: the mangos are plenty sweet on their own)

Prebake the crust by laying it in a pan, covering with a sheet of foil or parchment, and weighing it down, then cooking at 350 for approximately 25 minutes, or until the crust is cooked fully.

No, this is not a bean pie. Those are simply acting as weights to keep the crust from rising (and hence not fitting the pan) during pre-bake.

FILLING

  • ~5 ataulfo mangos (depending on their size), skinned, pitted, and blended to a smooth pulp
  • 2tsp nutmeg
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 3oz cream cheese
  • 3oz labneh yoghurt (this is just thick plain yoghurt.  More cream cheese can be substituted).

Beat the cream cheese until soft and creamy. Pour in the whipping cream and whip until firm.  Mix all the ingredients together.  Pour into the prebaked pie shell and freeze.

LAVENDER-AGAVE CREAM TOPPING

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp dried lavender
  • 1Tbsp agave nectar (or 2(?) Tbsp honey)

After attempting very unsuccessfully to use an alcohol solution and make lavender extract, I simply took whipping cream, crumbled ~3 Tablespoons of dried lavender flowers into 1/2 cup of whipping cream, then poured in a Tablespoon of agave nectar for sweetening, and then whipped away.  Unfortunately I think fat free cream cheese has a strange reaction with the fats in whipping cream.  When I tried to add some in to the whipped cream (something I’ve done with normal whipped cream to get a firmer and more lasting topping), and continued whipping I couldn’t get the cheese to really blend in.  It seemed to be precipitating chunks immediately.  I kept trying, but soon ended up with separated lavender-agave butter and lavender-agave milk.  So I gave up, and used the liquid as a drizzle over the frozen pie.

This is the one picture I took of this pie, and it’s pretty darn crappy. But the quality of this picture does not reflect the enjoyability of the pie.

Although the flavor was phenomenal, it’d be the same (and better both texturally and aesthetically) with the proper whipped cream. On the plus side, however, I have a block of lavender and agave nectar butter in my fridge.  And my goodness, it’s delicious.  I wish I had some sopapillas to eat it with.

Of the two pies, the apricot was more technically successful (and I enjoyed it more).  This primarily arises from the fact that the mango pie became so icy upon freezing.  However, I also think fresh apricots have a more complex flavor that was allowed to shine in this baked form.  So of the two, the apricot pie wins.  I think a more nuanced/quirky pie is possible with apricots.  But this was a really tasty, simple showcase for apricots.  And it worked really well.

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