If there's one thing that makes my heart skip a beat, it's a pretty pie. A well made pie, with it's fluted, golden crust, and lofty, swirly peaks of cream is a thing of joy.
I have a confession, however- the perfect pie crust has always evaded me- I've tried it the old-fashioned way, I've tried creaming the butter with sugar and then blah blah but it either turns out too brittle, or has a soggy bottom (!!). And for a while, I used this recipe, and although it turns out beautifully, it always makes me feel like a bit of a wimp. My birthday is quickly approaching and I will officially be an old lady this year. If you've watched Interstellar, (or paid attention in poetry class), you'll know the line rage against the dying of the light from a Dylan Thomas poem which nicely sums up my feelings about my upcoming birthday. One of the ways I plan to rage is to have a kick-ass shortcrust recipe under my belt. The other is to start meditating.
Anyway this morning, mum and I made pistachio rose cream pies. And under my mother's watchful eye, armed with her fool-proof recipe, the pastry behaved and didn't pull any fast ones. It came out of the oven flaky, buttery and best of all, crisp all over. And really, if I can do it, so can you.
I've been dreaming of rose-flavoured whipped cream for a while now and when I found that we have homemade pistachio paste on hand, these mini pies were an obvious choice. Pistachio+ rose is a classic combination and in this particular form, it feels like eating fragrant clouds on a buttery crust and looks like something Marie Antoinette would have had at her birthday do. And, if you're looking for inspiration for a Valentine's Day dessert, look no further.
- Shortcrust dough can be tricky, but if you work quickly, roll it out between baking paper, and don't handle the dough too much, it'll turn out just fine.
- Add the whipped cream to the pastry cream only after the pastry cream has come to room temperature, or you'll end up with a runny liquid in your hands.
- We've used homemade pistachio paste, which is milder than the store-bought variety. Start with 1 tablespoon, taste and add more if needed.
- We've used two 3 1/2 inch round, loose based, fluted tins.
Mini Pistachio and Rose Cream Pies
For the Shortcrust
1 cup flour
1/4 cup icing sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
1-2 tbsp water
1 egg yolk
Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor and using pulse mode, process in short burst until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
Add the egg yolk and 1 tbsp of milk, and process again in short bursts until it is just combined.
Pinch the dough with your fingers, if it holds together, it is ready, or else, add another tablespoon of milk and process again.
Tip the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and gather together, pressing lightly until it holds together. Flatten into a disk and wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for atleast 15 minutes.
Divide the dough in half, and put away the other half in the freezer.
Roll the dough between two sheets of baking paper, until 1/4 inch thick.
Lift the pastry into the pan, press into the base and sides, trim excess pastry and prick the base all over with a fork.
Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Gather the remaining dough into a ball, and repeat the rolling process with the second tin.
Now to blind bake the pastry, line both tins with baking paper and fill with baking weights or beans or rice.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celcius for 10 minutes. Remove paper and weights and continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden.
For the Pistachio Pastry Cream
adapted from The Kitchn
6 tbsp milk
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 egg yolk
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp pistachio paste (see note above)
1/4 cup whipped cream
green food colouring, optional
In a bowl, mix together, the flour, sugar and salt. Add in the egg yolk and mix until it forms a paste.
Heat the milk until it simmers. Add a spoonful to the paste and stir well. Add the rest of the milk slowly to the paste, whisking the entire time (or you'll end up cooking the eggs!).
Now transfer the whole mixture into the pan, and heat it on a low flame, stirring constantly until it reaches a custard consistency.
Take it off the fire and add the pistaschio paste.
When it cools down completely, fold in the whipped cream gently.
If using food colouring, stir it into the pastry cream now.
Cover the surface of the pastry cream with a plastic wrap and refrigerate.
For the Rose Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp icing sugar, or to taste
1/2 tsp rose flavouring
pink food colouring
Whip the cream, and as it thickens, add the icing sugar and keep beating. Once it forms soft peaks, add the rose flavouring and mix well.
Swirl in a drop of pink food colouring with a toothpick.
- When the pastry case has cooled down, spoon in a thick layer of the pistachio pastry cream- about 3/4th way up.
- Top with the whipped cream.
- Decorate as desired (we used dried roses).
- Serve immediately.