Macadamia Nut Cream Pie

The final days of September were crazy busy for me so I had to take a few days off from posting.  Nonetheless, September was a productive blogging month for me.  I managed to post 25 times, my busiest month since April.  And I feel good about the quality, not just the quantity.  There was a lot I wanted to share, from Tawn’s 30th birthday to old time-exposure photos, with lots of lemon, lavender, and dates thrown in!

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Taro plants growing on Kaua’i – circa 1986

For my first entry in October, I’d like to share my adventures trying to make macadamia nut cream pie, which I prepared for a small dinner party last Saturday.  This pie holds a special place in my childhood memories.  I can’t vouch for how accurate or authentic the memory is, though.  As a child in an airline family (my father worked for United) we had the opportunity to vacation in Hawai’i several times while I was growing up.  One of the treats we would enjoy while in the islands was macadamia nut cream pie.  One year in particular, we had an especially good pie from one of the local bakeries and so macadamia nut cream pie entered the mythology of my childhood.

Macadamias are also grown here in Thailand and are relatively inexpensive – a 500 g (about one pound) bag of unsalted whole nuts is available for about $12.  Recently, I started thinking again about macadamia nut cream pie and decided it would be fun to make.

Searching for recipes, almost all of them seemed to be based on the same recipe from University of Hawai’i.  Something about the way the recipe was written just didn’t seem right to me.  Perhaps not clear enough, perhaps the proportions seemed off.  I don’t know – but I had a bad feeling from the start.

Sure enough, the first attempt on Friday night didn’t work out.  Macadamia nut cream pie is basically a custard filling chilled in a pre-baked pie crust.  The custard, though, never came together and thickened.  By the time I cleaned the kitchen at midnight, all I had was a finished pie crust and a bowl of sweet, macadamia-flavored egg soup.

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Saturday morning I pulled out Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and perused the recipes.  A crème pâtissière – a basic pastry cream – sounded like a good start because one of the options included stirring in some ground almonds to flavor it.  Surely I could substitute ground macadamias?  And as I read some of the other variations, a crème saint-honoré – a crème pâtissière with meringue (whipped egg whites) folded in – sounded like it would make a very nice, light and creamy filling for my pie.

Since I hadn’t made a cooking video in quite a while, my trusty cameraman Tawn set about filming me.  Here are the results.  Let me apologize right now for my repeated mispronunciation of “crème pâtissière”, which I pronounced as “crème pâtisserie”.  My bad.  Je suis très désolé.

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The pie after being filled.  I had quite a bit of extra filling, so I ended up filling two martini glasses, too.

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Those were kind of difficult to store in the refrigerator.  There you go – a chance to see what is in my fridge.  Maybe that is a future blog series?  “Refrigerators of Xanga!”

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The finished product once plated.  What I learned is this: while the filling is very tasty, a crème saint-honoré does not have the structure or stiffness to stand firmly on its own.  Once sliced, it spilled forth from the pastry shell.  Quelle domage!  But it was very tasty and my guests, even those without major sweet teeth, cleaned their plates. 

Next time, I may try just the crème pâtissière.  Or, better yet, one of my guests who lived in Hawai’i for fifteen years asked an auntie of his to share her recipe, which turns out to be from Sam Choy’s cookbook.  Reading it, it sounds much more like what I’m looking for.  I guess this calls for a second attempt.  Any volunteers to taste the results?

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As for the filling in the martini glass, that actually made for a very pretty follow-up dessert the next few days, dressed up with a dollop of whipped cream and some bittersweet chocolate shavings.

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The chef didn’t seem too disappointed with the outcome!  I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

 

48 thoughts on “Macadamia Nut Cream Pie

  1. Beautiful – I want that dessert. I found a macadamia tree near my mailbox. No one paid attention to it except the squirrels. That dessert is something to put in my to try file.

  2. Count me in for taste testing. I’m a fan of the macadamia nut but have never had them in a pie… And looks aren’t everything – I’d take a sloppy looking tasty pie over a perfect tasteless pie any day.@Fatcat723 – Be careful – not all macadamia nuts are safe to eat, some are toxic if not prepared properly…

  3. After watching your video, I have some motivation to dine out for some extra dessert this weekend! ps. Your kitchen is so spic n’ clean, as well as your cooking pots and pans! I need to do clean up my kitchen now.

  4. aww…. i’m really sorry i haven’t been able to get the recipe from my sister yet. i asked my mom and apparently my sister’s been feeling sick lately, so she hasn’t been doing much beyond working and sleeping. if you’re willing to wait a while, i’ll hopefully get the recipe from her soon.

  5. @kunhuo42 – Aaron, no worries at all.  I’ll continue trying different recipes as I get them.  Not like I’ll someday have my fill of mac cream pie!  I hope you sis is feling better soon.@yang1815 – I use that for my bread, actually.@CurryPuffy – Spic n’ clean?  My kitchen?  Were you watching the same video I was?@murisopsis – Really!?  I didn’t know that about mac nuts.@Fatcat723 – Let me try the next recipe – this one didn’t work out quite perfect.@amygwen – And, of course, we could do smaller portions for those who are not big dessert eaters.  Little dessert eaters!@NightlyDreams – @sanjuska – Thank you – it was pretty tasty.

  6. It looks delicious — may I have a bite?!  Your first attempt sounds like my first (teenaged) attempt at cheesecake, in which I missed the cheese and ended up with graham cracker omelet!  But do count me in for your next taste test!

  7. consult our dessert master, Jack … he’d have a solution … perhaps gelatin sheets to help it set? Failing that head to Bo Friberg, he’ll have an answer.

  8. @kunhuo42 – I did not know that but can report no significant changes in the workings of my system.  At the end of the day, the entire pie only has like a 1/2 cup of nuts in it.@AppsScraps – I also have a few more recipes to try, so we’ll see how those work out.  Not like I mind the attempts, especially eating the results!@slmret – I did something similar with a creme brulee once.  Forgot to actually bake it!@yang1815 – It isn’t beer bread from the standpoint of that being the recipe.  I just find that the flavor is richer and yeastier when I use beer as the liquid.  Asahi is 2 baht a can cheaper than Singa – 33 vs. 35.@Lostchild1962 – @foggysunnymorning – @elizabethtravis – Thanks for your comments.  I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures.

  9. Ohhh my dearest Chris!!!! It doesn’t look strange… but it does look super yummmmy!!!P.S. gotta say… this is prob one of my fav food posts of yours! LOVE THE VIDEO 🙂 please keep them coming – if you have time of course!!!!!!

  10. im looking to be a great chef and am lookng to get help and help out others and greatly welcome advice and tips from every one like the saying goes theres more then one way to skin a cat. so read my weblog and if u want drop me a line and ill get back to u when im on wich would be all the time

  11. i cook, but i’m clueless when it comes to desserts. so… you can make a pie by just putting “filling” on a crust? i’m from honolulu and i must say, i’ve had some ridiculously good desserts with mac nuts in em. thanks for the idea!

  12. @Swiftonik – Well, welcome back.@figachewy – You do something called “blind baking” the crust.  In other words, you cook the crust empty.  The trouble is, it can bubble so you need something to weight it down.  To do this, you can line the crust with some parchment paper and then use baking weights.  These are reusable ceramic balls that help the crust keep its shape while it bakes.  But baking weights are expensive – you can just used dried beans to weight the crust down.  Once baked, you’ll never be able to cook the beans to eat, but store them in a container and use them again and again when you blind bake a crust.Once the crust is blind baked and cooled, you can fill it with pudding or custard like fillings, then chill in the fridge.@pingys – There are certainly many good cooks on Xanga who can provide you with lots of good ideas and tips.  Generally, I’m not so good at following recipes and my technique is very raw.  But I’m brave/foolish enough to try anything and curious to know how different dishes are made.  Good luck with your blog.@Kephirra – Glad you enjoyed them.  I’ve never cooked with taro or taro leaves although I have eaten taro is a few different forms here in Thailand. 

  13. hats off to you Chris!! This looks amazing and i just sat here glued watching you do your magic. It looks so good. If the taste is great, who cares about the way it falls over the sides. I could almost tast it.

  14. undercooked pastry cream, next time take it to the boil over high heat then stop, let it cool down slightly then add butter. for your pie filling try a pastry cream, gelatin & italian meringue…..

  15. @Anonymous Coward – Do you mean the first attempt at the pastry cream or the one on the video?  The pastry cream on the video seemed to be pretty firm.  My analysis of the problem was two-fold: I think when I incorporated the meringue, it might not have been quite as stiffly beaten as it should have.  Also, letting it sit in the fridge for eight hours might have let the meringue weep a bit.  But I’ll take your suggestions to heart next time I give it a try.@ZSA_MD – My concern for the look was just that I like my pies to remain… structured, for lack of a better word.  But it did taste fine, which is the main thing.@TheCheshireGrins – There’s something like four versions of the recipe sitting on my counter, waiting to be tried.@pingys – Hmmm… hard question to answer.  I started cooking after uni, when I was living on my own and realized that eating burritos all the time wasn’t going to do.  But in the past five years as I’ve been blogging, I’ve shared my various cooking attempts online.  More times than not they are kind of failures, but that’s okay.  That’s how I learn.

  16. good attempt with the nuts. but you’re not going to get a fine powder with that tiny processor.. especially when it generate heat + natural oil of the nuts will be clump up the mix. but all is not lost. all you have to do is spread the mix over a tray, let it dry out over a few hours.. and blitz it again, and repeat until you get a nice nut flour.  2nd. don’t bother using flour..if your nut flour is fine enough, all you need is a bit of cornstarch and that will stablize and thicken your creme patis. your mixture did not set becuase it was lacking a proper thickner that was pretty much it. when you use flour in a creme patis.. it becomes more of “crema ciocolato” which is italian.and if you use gelatin. it becomes “creamoux”

  17. Wow… just reading the exchange between you and Jack, you guys are so knowledgeable. I enjoyed watching the video, loved the part when you plugged in the mixer & it just jumped to life – I’m glad your fingers weren’t caught. Your kitchen and fridge are so clean. I also kept wanting to peek and see what else you were cooking.

  18. @ElusiveWords – Thanks Matt.  The comments between Jack and I are just me repeating things he has said to me in previous conversations.  The chocolate creamoux is a gelatain based chocolate dessert like a mousse that he made a few weeks back.  It came up because I had been experimenting with gelatain for another recipe and was curious what else I could use it for.Glad you liked the video.  It was fun to put together.  I tell you, I’m going to really injure myself one of these days if I don’t pay more attention to stuff like the switch being in the off position before plugging appliances in.

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