Thursday, February 16, 2012

Carrot Ginger Cream Pie

It's time for the February Improv Challenge, hosted by Kristen at the Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. Our must-use ingredients for February were carrots and ginger. I knew from the start that I wanted to make a dessert, but I wanted to challenge myself to create something different than carrot cake or cookies. That left me with mousse, pie, souffle, and parfait as my main options. After some thought, I came up with Carrot Ginger Cream Pie.

Light and sweet with a tropical undertone,  the carrot part is a carrot-ginger-pineapple puree with freshly made marshmallow creme and whipped cream folded in, all piled into a gingersnap crust. I used Trader Joe's triple ginger gingersnap cookies for the crust. They have a great punch of ginger flavor with ground, fresh and crystallized ginger, and are nice and cripsy so they are perfect for crusts. The crust was slightly spicy and crisp, but nicely balanced by the sweetness of the carrot-pineapple puree. The hint of ginger in the filling complemented the crust, and really pulled everything together. The whipped cream/marshmallow creme mixture was excellent all on its own, and would make a great frosting or filling for other cakes and cookies.
This was a pretty simple dessert to put together. The most challenging component was the marshmallow creme, and although you could buy some at the grocery store, I think it is worth the effort to make it at home, especially since the rest of the dessert is easy. The marshmallow creme comes from a soon to be published book, Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever (Quirk Books). I'll post more about this book in my next post.

Carrot Ginger Cream Pie
Carrot puree:
1 lb carrots
1 can crushed pineapple or pineapple juice
1/3 cup sugar
Crystallized ginger - I used 4 nice sized pieces, chopped.This resulted in a very mild ginger note. I will probably use a bit more next time.

Peel and cut the carrots into one inch pieces and place in a sauce pan with enough juice from the pineapple to cover the carrots. Add the sugar and crystallized ginger and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and let the carrots cook until soft, about 20 minutes.

When carrots are soft remove them from the heat and allow to cool. Puree carrots and juice in blender until smooth and velvety, adding additional water as necessary to get an ultra smooth puree. Return puree to sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to evaporate the liquid. You will know that it's done when you drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and the puree doesn't flow back together.Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until needed. This can be made a day or two ahead of time.

1 1/2 cups ginger snap crumbs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine crumbs and butter until thoroughly mixed. Reserve 1/3 cup for garnish and press the remaining crumbs into 6 individual pie dishes or one 9 inch pie dish. Place pie dish(es) on a rimmed cookie sheet. Put the reserved crumbs in an extra dish baking dish and bake along side the pie crust. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes to set crust and toast remaining crumbs.

Marshmallow Creme
Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever
1/2 cup light corn syrup 
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Stir together the sugar, light corn syrup, water and salt in a small saucepan over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 204 degrees F.

2. Place egg whites and cream of tarter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start whipping the egg whites on medium speed. You want them to form soft peaks. The goal is to have the egg whites whipped and ready, waiting for your syrup to be drizzled in.  If they're whipped faster than your syrup is coming to temperature, just stop the mixer until the syrup is ready. 

3.When the syrup has reached 240 degrees F, set the mixer to low and slowly drizzle a tiny bit of syrup, a couple tablespoons' worth, into the egg whites to warm them. (If you add too much syrup at once, the egg whites will scramble.) Slowly drizzle in the rest of the syrup and then increase the speed to medium -high. Beat until the marshmallow creme is stiff and glossy, 7 to 9 minutes; towards the end of the beating time, beat in the vanilla. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla.
Start mixer at low speed and gradually increase the speed to high. Whip until cream hold medium to firm peaks.

Remove the carrot puree from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Prepare and cool crust. Fold in about 2/3 of the marshmallow creme into the carrot puree until completely incorporated. Now fold in the whipped cream until no streaks of white remain. Divide among prepared crusts. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

2/3 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoon sugar 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
remaining marshmallow creme.
Reserved ginger snap crumbs

In bowl of electric mixer whip cream, vanilla, and sugar until soft peaks form. Slowly add the marshmallow creme to the whipped cream. Pipe a decorative boarder around edge(s) of pie(s) and sprinkle the reserved crumbs in the center.
printable recipe