Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pineapple Pudding Pie in a Graham Cracker Crust

Another great recipe from my wife’s grandmother’s notebook is for a delicious homemade pineapple pudding. That recipe called for the pudding to be used on top of angel food cake, but my first thought was that it would also make a pineapple pudding pie that’s tasty and just a bit unusual. For another extra special touch, I used a graham cracker crust instead of a pastry pie crust. Happy to say, the experiment – pudding and crust - was a success I'm happy to share with you here.

If you’ve never made a pudding before, it’s easier than you might at first think. It does call for a double-boiler, but if you don't have one, don't worry. Ours got loaned to my sons when they went off to college, so to make the pudding I improvised one with a metal mixing bowl that fit nicely into a saucepan. If necessary, give that a try. As for the graham cracker pie shell, there aren’t too many things more fun to make. (It’s a lot like shaping modeling clay when you were a child, except the graham cracker crust ends up tasting a lot better.) If you don’t use graham cracker crusts already, I hope this recipe will persuade you to try. You’ll find the flavor complements many refrigerator pies filled with puddings, creams, etc.

A minor disclaimer about the whipped cream that is used both in the pudding itself and as a topping once it’s done. I make it a point to use as many reduced-fat substitutes as I can – egg substitutes, butter substitutes, etc. – but, for making whipped cream, nothing except heavy cream has worked for me. If anyone knows how to make a low-fat whipped cream, please let us know!

To make a 9” graham cracker pie shell, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, combine 1-1/2 cups low-fat graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and 5 tablespoons butter substitute, melted and warm, and mix well. Spread the mixture into a 9” pie pan and press down using fingers or the bottom of a drinking glass. Then bake for 10 – 12 minutes until light brown. (The shell may seem soft when you first remove it from the oven. It will firm up when it cools.)

To make the filling, begin by draining a 20 ounce can of pineapple well, retaining the juice. When the pineapple is drained, dissolve 1-1/2 packets of unflavored gelatin (Knox or similar) in in the juice.

In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Add 4 egg substitute eggs and a splash of milk (from a 2 cup total amount of milk) to mix. Heat the remaining milk (2 cups less the splash you already added) in a double-boiler. When the milk is hot, add the egg mixture to it, stirring constantly until just a little thick to form a custard.

Pour the custard into a large bowl, add the gelatin mixture, and let cool thoroughly.

While the custard mixture is cooling, make whipped cream by combining one cup of heavy cream and ¼ cup sugar, and beating until firm peaks form. Keep the whipped cream refrigerated until ready to use.

When the custard mixture has cooled, add the pineapple and gently fold in the whipped cream to make the pie filling. Pour the filling into the graham cracker pie shell, and refrigerate for several hours (overnight is best) until the filling is firm.

When you’re ready to serve, use another 1 cup of heavy cream and ¼ cup of sugar as described above to make additional whipped cream for serving. Top with more graham cracker crumbs and you’ve got a seriously delicious dessert!

As an alternative to topping with whipped cream, while the filling is still hot prepare a meringue using your favorite recipe and spread it over the filling to make a “Pineapple Meringue Pie.” Bake it at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the meringue has light brown highlights. Let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate as above.
As always, if you’d like a cookbook-style, notebook ready version of this recipe (the filling, the pie shell, or both), just let me know and it will be on its way.

I hope to see you next week! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. MWAH-a kiss for the cook before we go any further!

    Your question about cream: here in England we have some stuff called Elmlea, which is a lower fat kind of cream. Not much lower, but nevertheless......... If you tried them side by side you would probably know the difference but not if it stands alone.

  2. I love the fact that these recipes come from a grandmother's hand written book. I particularly loved the photograph of it in your post earlier in the week.

  3. Thank you, Angie. (You do make me blush, which is no mean feat!) I did try first making the whipped cream with light cream, which has about half the fat of heavy cream. It seemed to thicken a bit, but didn't get whipped up. Because of that, I didn't try fat-free half-and-half, which is my usual substitute for cream. It's great in soups, sauces, etc., that call for cream, but it's looking like whipped cream is very particular about what goes into it.

    Thanks, too, Sandra. The recipes in the notebook just seem to have a warmth not usually found in published recipes. (In the notebook version, for example, the first ingredient in the pineapple pudding recipe is "39¢ angel food cake" which I found completely charming.) For me, it really speaks to the idea of food being about a broad, holistic experience, rather than just about a moment's pleasant taste. I'm glad you like it.

  4. Just throw a little vodka in the pudding.
    Or not.
    Just trying to be helpful. Looks delicious.

  5. Hi Ben!

    We found you c/o our friend Angie. And I have to say, that pineapple pie looks incredible! My father loves pineapple, but doesn't get it too often, so I might have a crack at making the pie for him next time I visit!

    In the meantime, kiss from me and a lick from Jasper!

    Ruth x

  6. Thanks, Mary. This is probably not the first time I've said this, and I don't expect it will be the last, but I do like how you think!

    And welcome, Ruth! Angie is a dear, isn't she? I think your father will enjoy this. One of the things I liked about it is that while there's a nice pineapple flavor, it's not overpowering the way pineapple sometimes can be. Let me know how he likes it!

  7. Just want you to know those blueberry lowfat pancakes (I used pureed strawberries instead of syrup) went over really big with my brother, who was happily surprised I could cook that well. I confessed I knew a nice man who asked only for a "quiche" for his recipes lol. On this one, Can I substitute real pumpkin for pineapple? (never canned, I chop up pumpkins once a year and it's worth it) I want to try something different this year. "quiches to you!:

  8. I love this, Cathy! I'm so glad this worked out. Just remember to give yourself the credit you deserve. Remember, I might have contributed a recipe, but you're the one who actually did the cooking. As for the pumpkin, the honest answer: I have no idea. Not being a pumpkin eater, I've never cooked one. It might work; my biggest concern would be coming up with an appropriate pumpkin-based liquid that could be used in place of the pineapple juice to make the gelatin. Readers: any suggestions?