You know those cuties and halos that are in the grocery stores this time of year? We have been eating them like crazy because they have been particularly sweet and juicy this year. I have been very good about keeping them in the fruit basket this winter.
A couple of days before Christmas, I went to the store and picked up a 3 pound bag of Cuties. Without knowing what I did, TheHub stopped by the store on his way home and bought 3 pounds of Halos. It was fine since we had been scarfing them down__ until we went to New Orleans and forgot to put them in the refrigerator. We came home to some pretty ripe clementine/mandarins which I promptly threw in the crisper drawer and forgot about until yesterday.
Yikes, fruit that had to be used immediately and there was much more than we could possibly eat. Then I remembered this wonderful satsuma pie* we had one day in N.O. For those of you unfamiliar with satsumas, they are a variety of mandarin oranges. They are virtually seedless, very juicy and have a sweet acidic flavor. Hmmm, much like the cuties and halos I had hanging out in the crisper.
Halo Cutie Pie
Heat oven to 350 degrees
1 graham cracker crust ( bought or made, your choice)
2 tablespoons finely grated zest ( Halos, Cuties or a combination )
1 1/4 cups juice (Halos, Cuties, Tangerine?)
1 1/2 cans Sweetened condensed milk
5 egg yolks ( I only had medium, if you have large eggs just use 4)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
whipped cream for topping
Since the pie we ate was reminiscent of a lemon ice box pie, I used that as my base recipe and altered it a little. I took 3 of the ripest fruits and washed them with a non toxic produce wash I buy which strips them of any skin wax and pesticide residue. After that I rinsed them thoroughly and dried them with a cotton dish towel ( only because those microfiber ones creep me out to touch). A quick run over a micro plane grater left me with about 2 tablespoons of lovely zest, which I put in a bowl. I juiced enough of the fruit to give me about 1 1/4 cups of juice which I then poured through a strainer to remove the largest pieces of pulp.
Throw all the ingredients in the bowl and beat with a mixer until the mixture is somewhat thick. ( I tried doing this with just the orange juice at first and I don't think it was acidic enough to thicken like a lemon pie does, so I added the lemon juice. It did thicken it a bit, but I was still worried about it holding together so I added 2 additional egg yolks. I was using medium eggs, so I think 4 large egg yolks would work fine. Put the prepared pie crust on a cookie sheet and pour the mixture into it. Fill it as full as possible without over flowing.** Bake for about 30 minutes or until the pie is "set". Remove and let it cool to room temp, then cover and put it in the refrigerator until completely cold.
Serve cold with a dollop of whipped cream. I am a purist and wanted unsweetened whipped cream since the pie was so sweet, but sweeten it to your taste, or squirt the stuff from an aerosol can, or you could even use cool whip (gag! but no real judgement).
The orange flavor was delightful, but it might need another 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice to make it add a little more tartness. There is that fine line between adding enough without crossing over to a lemon flavor. The consistency of the pie was somewhere between a traditional lemon icebox and a custard. It had a really nice mouth feel and I liked the bits of orange zest in it. I will make it again if I find I have fruit about to ruin. It was a delicious way to salvage it!
* If you are in New Orleans, whatever you do, go eat at The High Hat on Freret. It is a small restaurant in the Uptown district and the food is beyond delicious. It is not on the beaten tourist path and the crowd is almost all local. There is a reason the locals eat there! The menu changes seasonally/weekly based on what is available. The dress is casual, the room is unimpressive, the service is fantastic, and the food is outstanding. (Think mac and pimento cheese, butterscotch pecan pie, lightly cornmealed catfish, pulled pork on a bed of cheese grits with a side of collards, greens and goat cheese salad with figs, roasted pecans and a citrus vinaigrette just to name a few. I want to go back and eat there again soon.)
** There will be some filling leftover. I poured mine down the drain, but should have baked it in a couple of greased ramekins while the pie was baking. I could have frozen them and had a baked orange pudding later, instead I was just worried about cleaning up my mess. My best ideas usually come to me too late, so learn from my mistakes.