August 21, 2017
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A Pie as Nostalgic as a Creamsicle
Creamsicle_pie_044

Orange fool, blancmange, Creamsicle—call it what you will. This fruity, creamy, frozen combination is here to stay.

It’s silly that pies are considered a classic summertime dessert—because, goshdarnit, sometimes it’s just too hot for pie baking. It’s hard to make a great crust when you’re worried about your butter melting out of your pie dough. Sugar and flour absorb moisture from the air and wreak havoc with time-tested recipes. Plus, you have to put the oven on, which is stupid when it’s over 75 degrees out. (I have learned the hard way that baking in your underpants is dangerous, and for chrissake I’m a professional.)

A better option at this time of year is an icebox pie, which requires a cold refrigerator and little effort. And a better option than that is a freezer pie, which may be the easiest frozen dessert you can make. Unlike ice cream, you don’t need any special equipment. Unlike ice pops, you don’t need to remember to buy sticks.

This pie is inspired by the Creamsicle. The beauty of the Creamsicle is not merely its unusual combination of acidic citrus and creamy vanilla; it’s the fact that by common culinary logic, it shouldn’t even exist. The folly of combining milk and OJ is one that many of us learn in childhood—splashing a bit of juice into our bowl of cereal and watching as it transformed from cool, creamy bliss into curdled repulsion. So just how did those Creamsicle wizards ever figure out how to create this borderline-magical concoction in the first place?

Well, they didn’t, necessarily. There are English cookbooks over 200 years old that give instructions for a dish called “orange fool”—a fool being a mixture of stewed fruit and whipped cream. Perhaps it’s called “fool” because it’s so easy, a fool could make it. It could also be called fool because the British are notoriously lousy at naming things (cough*spotteddick*cough), so I spliced it with another old and sexier-sounding recipe, blancmange. The French cousin of panna cotta, it’s made by thickening milk and sugar with cornstarch to make a wiggly, jiggly, marvelous dessert.

You’ll smile as you whisk your blancmange on the stovetop, giggle as you pour it into your pie shell. You’ll place it in the freezer to set and prance across the floor, knowing that you have a full hour to go watch TV before you need to be bothered with it again. You’ll whip up your cream and fold together your fool whilst twirling in delight, knowing that soon you’ll have pie.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup cups fresh squeezed orange juice (about 5 large oranges), plus their zest
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

You don’t have to make this Creamsicle-inspired pie in a pie crust if you don’t want to. Just divide it between some cups to make individual frozen treats. Bring it to a party; eat it alone in the middle of the night. This dessert doesn’t care about “hows” or “whys”—it just wants you to be happy.

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the orange juice, cornstarch, and sugar until thoroughly combined. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture becomes a thick gel. Continue cooking for 30 seconds, then remove from heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, yolk, and ½ cup heavy cream. Once thoroughly combined, slowly stream in the orange mixture while whisking. Add the salt and vanilla.
  3. Fill the pie crust halfway with the orange blancmange and place it in the freezer. Set the remainder aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. Once the pie base is set, whip the remaining heavy cream to firm peaks. Fold in the orange zest and remaining blancmange until thoroughly combined. Spread on top of the pie and return to freezer until solid—about two hours.

Allison Robicelli

Allison Robicelli is a D-list celebrity-chef chef, author, humorist, entrepreneur, general polymath, and all-around good time. You may remember her from such places as Food52, Eater, Food Network, VH1, and many other quirky corners of the food Internet. She is the author of the critically acclaimed cookbook/memoir Robicelli's: A Love Story, With Cupcakes, which has been called one of the funniest food-related books of all time. You should buy it.

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