Christmas desserts are wonderful, I have a lot of love for Christmas cake, for trifle and even occasionally Christmas pudding but don’t you think they sometimes just get a little predictable, a little boring even? Well, this year I decided to do something a little different. First of all if you want a whole host of Christmas dessert ideas then check out the current issue of Olive Magazine as I have written a feature on them, some of the recipes can also be found online here. Secondly I have one more recipe for you this year, a Christmas dessert that would be happy as the end of any big celebration and perfect for the winter months as it uses the fruit of the season, clementines. Doing something fruit based means if you don’t like those rich sometimes heavy Christmas desserts this gives you something as little lighter to enjoy.
The clementine flavour is on its own a wonderful thing but to make it that little bit extra special and to make it more festive the clementine mixture has been mulled, that is to say infused with spices. Cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamon and mixed spice, all those warming wintery spices that we associated with Christmas. The pie itself isn’t too laborious of a task to exclude it from the main event the Christmas dinner. You can blind bake the pie and make the filling the day before simply making the meringue topping on the day you want to serve it, plus you can blowtorch it at the table so you have the same drama as the flames that adorn the Christmas pudding.
Mulled Clementine Meringue Pie
1 full baked pie shell (you can use my favourite pie crust recipe here)
650ml clementine juice
100ml lemon juice
Zest of 3 clementines
Zest of 1 lemon
185g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 cardamon pods, lightly bashed
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 star anise
1/2 tsp mixed spice
4 large egg yolks
100g unsalted butter
4 large egg whites
250g caster sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar
To make the filling place the juices, the zests, half the sugar and the spices into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a couple minutes then turn off the heat, cover, and set aside for 30 minutes to infuse.
Once infused whisk together the egg yolks, cornflour and the remaining sugar, whisking until smooth (if the mixture is dry and wont come together add a splash of the warm clementine mixture). Meanwhile place the pan back on the heat and bring the clementine mixture to a simmer. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve onto the eggs, whisking to combine. Pour this mixture back into the pan and over medium/high heat cook until very thick. Once the mixture is bubbling, cook for a couple minutes more to cook out the taste of the cornflour. Scrape the custard back into the bowl and add the butter, stirring to melt and combine it. Pour this finished mixture into the fully baked pie shell and refrigerate for a few hours to set. At this point the pie can be kept in the fridge for a day before topping with the meringue if you want to prepare ahead.
For the topping place the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch. Remove the bowl from the heat and using an electric mixer whisk for about 7-8 minutes or until the meringue has cooled and is holding stiff glossy peaks.
Spread the meringue over the clementine filling and then using a blowtorch brown the meringue until almost burnt. You want the flavour that comes when the meringue gets nice and dark so don’t be afraid of taking it to the edge of burnt.
Without the meringue the pie will keep in the fridge for a couple days, with the meringue on I prefer to serve it within a day.