Friday, 25 November 2016

Pomegranate Winter Chiffon Meringue Pie

I was wondering what the chiffon referred to in Rose's Pomegranate Winter Chiffon Meringue Pie but realised (as I was eating a piece) it's the mousse filling. Always such fancy names. 

To be honest, if I had seen this recipe without the benefit of a bake-through group, I doubt I would have considered making it. To my mind, a meringue pie crust is an odd concept, and filling it with mousse straight out eccentricity.

However, I would have been completely wrong. This is a really surprising (for me and those of my ilk) flavour and design winner. The meringue swirls at the rim of the pie (see The Baking Bible for a photo of a properly executed version) are a clever and pretty way to show off the pink mousse filling. The pomegranate flavoured filling is a really lovely, fresh flavour that goes well with the sweet meringue. Rose always uses lemon so effectively and the little teaspoon of lemon juice to the filling makes all the difference. 

Of course, that's the theory and then there's my execution. It was pretty disastrous despite the picture of apparent success below*. 

*Apologies for the photos which make it look like I live in a cave. I don't. I think it's time to invest in some lighting doodad.

This is my attempt to follow Roses's instructions (on her blog) about the best way to grease the pie dish to allow the meringue crust to release. It's not the picture of evenly sieved cornflour that I envisioned (you can't but admire the scratchings where I tried to redistribute the thick piles of cornflour). Even so, it might have worked if other things hadn't gone wrong...

A vision of loveliness... Even the blobby piping around the rim wasn't too bad (yes, that's right, I piped). I forgot about the heat and its effect on the meringue, so the definition from the star shape is not great.

The real issue I had with the meringue crust was in the baking. It may have been a bit marshmallowy when I took it out of the oven, when it should have been dry right the way through. This wouldn't have been a big problem if I hadn't had to leave it in the fridge an extra day before filling it with the mousse. Unfortunately after a day and a half in the fridge it kept leaking fluid into the bottom of the pie dish. I could see the tide rising through the glass pie dish. But having started I thought I'd keep going and make the mousse. What else could go wrong...?

The mousse, like the meringue, was a pretty straightforward concoction of flavouring (pomegranate juice), structure and volume (more meringuey egg whites beaten with sugar) and airiness (whipped cream). Not difficult. However. I ran out of sugar and had to use a mix of demerera and icing sugar. The juice and gelatin was cold but not set at all when I was ready to mix it with the whipped cream and the meringue. Hmmm. What to do? No time or energy to wait. I decided to mix the juice into the whipped cream. Hmmm, juicy blobs. I'll just have to whisk it with the hand mixer. Creamy juice, no air. Hmmm. I'll just fold the meringue and creamy juice together. Creamy juicy blobs. More whisking. Creamy, meringuey juice. Great. Perfect. I poured it into the dodgy meringue crust and carefully placed it into the fridge. It would have been merciful if I'd tripped and dropped it on the floor but the gods of clumsiness were not feeling kind.

All bakers know that sinking feeling where you've 'finished' but you know things are not as they should be. That was my experience, and it was confirmed when I cut the pie this morning to find a nice mousse layer on top of a marshmallow layer, under which ran a stream of pinky, gelatiny liquid. I know a few of our projects have looked like an accident scene but this one looked like a science experiment. The taste (of the first two layers), despite everything, was lovely and light and fresh. I didn't take it to work and I don't have any chickens or squirrels so this one might have to go to the big fridge in the sky.

If I was to compose this type of dessert myself, instead of a meringue crust, I might try two or three meringue discs pasted together with the mousse. It would avoid all the issues with the pie crust, although I'm sure 'me and my ilk' could find some other issues...

Next week the Alpha Bakers are making White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Mousseline.


  1. LOL! I laughed at your description "big fridge in the sky".. you are hilarious! The pie looks pretty!
    I dare not make this because of the meringue.. meringue always turns out sticky in our hot weather.. unless the air-condition is turned on.

  2. You write the funniest most entertaining posts!! I was laughing from the "scratchings" in the cornflour … and "juicy blobs" … but the I'm agreeing with "big fridge in sky" is just the best. Your pie does look very pretty!

  3. The squirrels would love this! They're still hanging around my back door waiting for remains of a new baking disaster.