I almost fainted right there at the table.
Last week, I met a few friends for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants when the unthinkable happened.
Scanning the restaurant’s menu I was stopped cold. It was right there in harsh letters that practically jumped off of the paper…Pumpkin Ravioli.
I had to look again. I clenched my eyes and reopened them as if I was hitting the reset button on my laptop. It was still there, “Pumpkin Ravioli.”
And while I love pumpkin ravioli as much as the next guy, it was way too early in the year for pumpkin anything. I was horrified – was summer over all ready?
It should also be noted that the restaurant was offering an entrée of braised pork (which is what my friend Roderick, ordered – Et tu, Brutus?). I mean, seriously, pumpkin ravioli and stewed meats in September? Had my favorite restaurant gone mad? I mean, technically, it was still summer.
I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Am I alone on this?” Was I the only person that wasn’t ready to give up on summer? Was I on some Quixote-esque mental rant to fight a fight that everyone else knew was over? “No matter,” I thought. I now saw myself as the captain of ship Summertime Fun and like any good captain I would pull out all of the stops to save my ship or I would go down with it.
So, as I thought about what recipe I would post next on this site, I had one mission in mind: find the most summery recipe on planet Earth. That’s when I remembered this little treat. It screams summer. It’s frozen. It’s made with strawberries. It borrows the flavors of the quintessential summertime drink…margarita.
I originally flagged this recipe in The Best of Gourmet about a year ago. I had all intentions of making it but through the course of my exhausting and continuing homelessness (don’t get me started), I never got around to it.
Now, one year later, fueled by seasonal delusion, I knew it was time.
It’s exactly what I expected. Obviously, the strawberries are the star of the dish but the other ingredients give the pie dimension and depth: sweet (strawberries), fruity (peach syrup/triple sec), sour (limes), heat (tequila) and the whipped cream adds an airy texture to what otherwise could be a very dense dish.
And for such a huge payoff, this was a relatively easy dish to make. There was only one hitch. Since I don’t have access to my kitchen equipment, I had to beat the heavy cream to a hard peak by hand (and I have the aching forearms to prove it).
I only made one minor change to the recipe. I didn’t have triple sec on hand – which presented a problem because I felt that the saturated and fruity sweetness of the triple sec was probably key to the success of the dessert. After a quick scan of my host’s kitchen, I came across a can of canned peaches. I substituted the triple sec with an equal amount of the syrup from the can.
On that note, I wouldn’t recommend omitting the tequila AND the triple sec. First, they really add to the flavor of the pie. Secondly, the alcohol helps to prevent the pie from freezing into a block of solid ice.
It truly is an amazing dessert.
Oh yeah…and long live summer!
FROZEN STRAWBERRY MARAGARITA PIE
Originally printed in the Best of Gourmet
NOTE: I wanted to serve the pie on a platter and not in the pie pan. I also didn’t have a spring form pan. So, I lined the pie pan with aluminum foil. It popped right out.
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs from 9 (2 1/4- by 4 3/4-inch) crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 lb strawberries, halved (3 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lime zest (from 3 limes)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons triple sec, Cointreau (or 2 TBL of juice from canned peaches)
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl with a fork until combined well, then press mixture evenly onto bottom and up side of a buttered 9-inch metal or glass pie plate (4-cup capacity).
Bake 10 minutes, then cool in pie plate on a rack, about 30 minutes.
Purée strawberries, zest, lime juice, condensed milk, tequila, and liqueur in a blender until just smooth, then transfer to a large bowl.
Beat cream in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until it just holds stiff peaks. Fold one third of cream into strawberry mixture gently but thoroughly to lighten, then fold in remainder in 2 batches.
Pour filling into crust, mounding it slightly, and freeze, uncovered, until firm, about 4 hours. Remove from freezer and let soften in refrigerator, about 40 minutes, before serving (pie should be semisoft).
Gourmet Magazine Notes: Pie can be frozen up to 3 days, covered with plastic wrap after 4 hours and then wrapped in heavy-duty foil. Pie can also be made in a 9-inch (24-cm) springform pan. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up side of pan.