Frozen and Fabulous: Chilled Grapefruit-Caramel Meringue Pie

I was able to manage our freezer space well enough this year that I had room for a frozen pie at our holiday party. I can't remember how I came across the Food and Wine recipe for Chilled Grapefruit-Caramel Meringue Pie, but it was appealing both because I love grapefruit and because it can be prepared well in advance.

There are four layers in this dessert: a graham cracker crust, grapefruit curd, caramel cream, and meringue. Nothing needs to be baked. The crust is just a mixture of graham cracker crumbs and melted butter pressed into the bottom of a springform pan. After chilling the crust, you add a layer of grapefruit curd -- made by cooking grapefruit juice, grapefruit zest, eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until thickened; putting the mixture through a sieve; mixing in butter; and chilling the curd until cold.

On top of the curd, you spread add a mixture of cream cheese, heavy cream beaten to soft peaks, and homemade caramel sauce (made from butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, and salt). My caramel cream mixture was much stiffer than the grapefruit curd, so trying to spread the cream on top of the curd was difficult. In retrospect, it might have been easier to put the cream into a pastry bag and pipe it into the curd, but I ended up pushing the curd around as I tried to create an even layer of cream. As a result, you can see in the photo below that the layers of curd and cream are very uneven. After freezing the pie until the cream was set, I added a layer of Swiss meringue (egg whites heated with sugar in a double boiler and then whisked until stiff and glossy). The meringue layer was quite tall and rose over the top of my springform pan. I kept the assembled pie in the freezer for a few days before the party.
At the beginning of the party I took the pie out of the freezer, released it from the springform pan, and browned the meringue with a torch. Even after about 30 minutes at room temperature, I needed a very sharp chef's knife and quite a bit of downward force to slice this tall pie, but the slices were neat and the dessert was not difficult to eat with a fork.

To my surprise, this was one of the most popular desserts at the party and guests could not stop talking about how much they loved it. People really liked the refreshing grapefruit flavor, even though the grapefruit curd is only a small portion of this dessert by volume. The combination of the frozen curd and caramel cream reminded me of a creamsicle, and the graham crust and fluffy meringue provided a nice variety of textures. This unusual pie was a standout.

Recipe: "Chilled Grapefruit-Caramel Meringue Pie" from Food and Wine.

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