19 February 2011

Vanilla Cream Pie

They don't come much simpler or more basic than this. Vanilla cream/thickpudding, graham cracker crust, and sweetened whipped cream on top.

Ken Haedrich describes Vanilla Cream Pie thusly:
"A monument to solid, uncomplicated, middle-American cuisine, this pie should be in every cook's repertoire."
Really, the hardest part of this pie (aside from the hours of waiting for things to cool down) was assembling the crust. This was my first press-in crumb crust - crushed graham crackers, cinnamon(!), and melted butter. It came out fine, but it was frustrating to attempt an even coverage. The crust ended up being a bit thick in the corners. No matter, because the taste and texture were great.

I might think about using a store-bought graham cracker crust next time, although Tiffany commented that the uneven coarseness of my crushed crackers (no food processor here) was a positive, and I love the the cinnamon flavor in the crust.

The filling is very simple to make - everything gets combined on top of the stove until thick. Keep a close eye on it, though; the cream goes from milky to appropriately stiff in a wink.

Be sure to chill this pie thoroughly - cold shell, cold filling, cold whipped cream - before serving. Skip this and chance a soupy slice.

The taste of this pie is very light, dare I say, ethereal. The calories, however, are not. I will try this pie again without the whipped cream - maybe a honey-cinnamon meringue instead? - to lighten up the caloric impact some. This is definitely a pie I want to play around with, substituting more healthy (although it's still pie - perhaps "less unhealthy" is more appropriate) ingredients and see what I get.

As a side note, the first slice I had was about 112 of the pie and was almost enough. I had an eighth of the pie the next day, and it was almost too much (and left a greasy feel on my lips, probably from the whipped cream topping). I'd try tenths next time, though good luck getting even slices.

Two other notes, both of which result from my failure to read the recipe closely enough. First, the original recipe calls for the use of a 912-inch pan; I plunged ahead with my standard 9-inch and everything worked out just fine. Second, I forgot to dust nutmeg over the top of the finished pie! I love nutmeg and regret not adding it. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to make it again!

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