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30-Minute Get Real Meals: Nutty ‘Creamsicle’ Pie

I thought I’d give dessert a chance; after all, even though several of the recipes I’ve tested thus far from 30-Minute Get Real Meals have been problematic, the desserts might not be. Er, yeah. This pie recipe is seriously flawed.

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The pecan crust ingredients are way out of proportion — 6 tablespoons of butter to 1-1/2 cups pecans produced pecan soup. After cooking for the recommended 8 minutes, it was nowhere near done. I cooked it for an additional 10 minutes, and then gave it up as a hopeless cause. There was no way that amount of pecans could support all that butter, and even if it did firm up once cold, I didn’t think it would have a very good texture. Discarding the greasy mess, I started again, this time using a recipe from The Joy of Cooking, aka Old Faithful. The proportions in the Joy recipe make more sense: 4 tablespoons butter to 2 cups pecans. Joy also allows you to use 3 tablespoons of sugar (versus Get Real Meals’ one tablespoon), since Joy doesn’t suffer from the restrictions of the low-carb lifestyle. Joy also adds a pinch of salt, always a good idea. The Joy recipe worked fine, although I think that the nutty pecan crust is too overpowering for the delicate orange cream filling. It’s another flaw of the low-carb mandate: what this pie really needs is a graham cracker crust, but that's too high in the forbidden carbs, so Ray makes do with a nut crust. But the flavors of the filling get lost.

What I recommend is that you use a graham cracker crust for this pie. To make things easy on yourself, you can always use a premade one from the store. Or use the recipe from Joy of Cooking, below. The pecan crust needs a stronger-flavored filling, and you can make this delicious chocolate pudding pie with much better results than the orange creamsicle filling here.

The other problem with the recipe as written is the filling. One-half of a teaspoon of the gelatin did not firm up the cream cheese layer enough, while the remainder of the gelatin almost firmed up the heavy cream too much! I adjusted the amount of gelatin added to the cream cheese to get a firmer texture. Having less gelatin in the heavy cream makes no difference to its final consistency, and in fact somewhat reduces the risk of overmixing the heavy cream and getting it too firm to spread. (The recipe in 30-Minute Get Real Meals calls for an “.03” oz. package of gelatin, instead of an 0.3 oz. package. Just a typo, but it’s a sign of sloppy editing. You'd almost need a microscope to see .03 ounces of gelatin.)

A caveat about pie plates: as written, the recipe doesn’t specify what type of plate to use. If you’re like me and you only have Pyrex pie pans, you're going to have to add a not-insignificant amount of time to the cooling-off process, since putting a Pyrex pan hot from the oven directly into the refrigerator or freezer could result in the Pyrex breaking. If you have a metal 9-inch pie plate, use it.

Bottom line: the filling is quite tasty (it really does taste like a Creamsicle), and with the adjustments I’ve made, the texture is a bit better. The nut crust is delicious, if you use a recipe that works. But it’s too intense for the orange cream filling. Use a graham cracker crust, and save the nut crust for a more assertive filling.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chilling Time: at least two hours
Yield: 8 servings

Creamsicle Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
(revised version)

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
6 Tbsp melted butter, warm or cool
1/4 cup sugar
8 oz. whipped cream cheese
Zest and juice of one orange
1 packet (0.3 oz.) sugar-free orange gelatin, divided
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine crumbs, butter, and sugar. Spread mixture evenly in a 9-inch pie pan. Using your fingers or the bottom of a drinking glass, firmly press the mixture over the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Bake until crust is lightly browned and firm to the touch, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. If you have used a metal pie plate, you can put it in the refrigerator or freezer to expedite the process. If the pie plate is Pyrex, wait at least an hour before putting the pie plate into refrigeration.

When the crust is cool, mix the cream cheese, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the orange gelatin in a bowl until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pie plate and spread evenly.

Combine the heavy cream with the remaining gelatin in a clean bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Don’t overmix; the gelatin will cause the cream to seize up quickly if beaten too much. Pour the cream over the cream cheese filling and spread evenly. Sprinkle the orange zest on top and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Nutty 'Creamsicle' Pie
from 30-Minute Get Real Meals:

1 1/2 Cups (6 oz.) pecan halves
1 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp butter, melted
8 oz. whipped cream cheese
Zest and juice of one orange
1 packet (0.3 oz.) sugar-free orange gelatin
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a mini food processor, chop the pecans until very fine and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Stir the sugar into the pecans and add the melted butter. Mix until the pecans are completely moistened. Press the nuts evenly into the pan with your fingers to create an even creust. Bake until the crust is golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. (Pop it into the freezer or fridge to speed up this process.)

When the crust is completely cool, make the filling. Mix the cream cheese together with the orange juice in a bowl until smooth. Open the gelatin packet, add 1/2 teasoon to the cream cheese mixture, and stir vigorously until well mixed. Pour the mixture into the chilled crust and spread it evenly with a spoon or spatula. Pour the heavy cream and remaining gelatin into a clean bowl. With an electric hand mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Pour the cream over the cream cheese filling and spread it decoratively over the top. Sprinkle the orange zest over the pie and refrigerate for at least two hours.



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