Friends, it is too hot to forage.
Or do much of anything that involves the outdoors.
So for this week’s foraging post, I offer dreams of the cooler temperatures that come with fall. (At least they used to. With climate change, who’s to say what future seasons may hold?)
Last year I was gifted with an abundance of pawpaws, and many bags of pawpaw puree still linger in my freezer. The challenge is that many pawpaw recipes are for desserts. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I try to eat low-carb, paleo/primal, low-sugar, minimally-processed, keto, etc., etc. Generally speaking, desserts and I are not friends, which means few opportunities to use pawpaw puree.
But I found this recipe for pawpaw pecan pie, and I couldn’t resist because I knew I could make it better. I guess this compulsive need to improve on recipes is my main qualification to be a food blogger! (No, I don’t really consider myself to be one.) See, everything I’ve read about pawpaws suggests heating them minimally, if at all. The heat diminishes the intense, complex flavor that defines this tropical-flavored fruit. Instead, I decided to riff on my sunchoke chiffon pie recipe. Plus, a pie chilled in the fridge is an awesome option when temperatures soar into the 90s.
Even though this recipe can’t be called “paleo” or even “primal”—and certainly isn’t low carb—I still opted for a grain-free crust. I’m pleased to report that the pie did not cause me the same digestive distress as the pawpaw spice cake from last summer. This confirms my suspicions that the wheat flour, not the pawpaw, caused me to feel sick after eating the cake. Some people do experience nausea from eating pawpaw however, so if you haven’t tried it before, only try a small amount until you know how your body reacts.
Also—maybe this should go without saying—make sure your pawpaw puree is perfectly smooth before making this pie. You do NOT want chunks of pawpaw fruit in the middle of a bit of pie. Trust me on this one!
As a final note, this information from the sunchoke chiffon pie bears repeating. My eggs come from pastured hens in my own back yard, so I have zero concern about salmonella from the uncooked egg whites. However, if you are worried about uncooked egg whites, you can substitute pasteurized egg whites from the store, or try these instructions.
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 envelopes (5 tsp) of unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cup pawpaw puree
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup coconut flour
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg, room temperature
- Start by making the pie filling. Whisk together brown sugar, gelatin, lemon zest, egg yolks, milk and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, as the mixture comes to a boil. This helps prevent the yolks from cooking on the bottom of the pan.
- Remove from heat and stir in the pureed pawpaw.
- Chill the filling approximately an hour, until it is slightly gelled. Do not leave it in for so long that it becomes completely solid!
- While the filling is chilling, toast the pecans. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Toast the pecan halves for 10 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Next start on the crust. Raise the oven temperature to 375 F.
- Mix dry ingredients, making sure to get out any lumps.
- Whisk egg and butter, then add the dry ingredients.
- Spread the dough into a pie pan. If your dough is crumbly, you may need to work extra hard to pack it down.
- Prick the bottom of the pie shell with a fork, then bake for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool before filling.
- Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually add 1/4 cup of white sugar. Continue to beat egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold the gelatin-pawpaw mixture into the egg whites and gently spoon into the crust.
- Cover surface of pie with pecan halves placed in concentric circles or a sprinkle of chopped pecans.
- Chill in the fridge until set.