Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lemon Chess Pie with Blackberry Compote

This pie was a hit at xmas. My mother-in-law was completely blissed out while eating it, and that's really why we bake, after all, isn't it? I'd like to get the pie to slice a little more cleanly next time. (More cornmeal? Next time I'll try 3 tablespoons. More eggs? Dunno. We'll see)
The blackberry compote is essential to the dish, and such a welcome, unexpected flavor -- like a sudden burst of sun-drenched-August-well-being right smack in the dead of winter. The compote comes from a recipe in Gourmet magazine, but the chess pie recipe is all mine. Gourmet makes their lemon chess with buttermilk and six eggs and a coconut shortbread crust, and I'll certainly get around to trying all of those variations at some point -- but for now, I'm very happy with my lemon pie.

1 9 inch pie shell
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup half and half
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
Blackberry compote

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla. Add flour, cornmeal, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until set in center. Cool completely and serve chilled or at room temperature, with blackberry compote.

Blackberry Compote:

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 whole allspice
3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (1 1/2 pints)


Bring water, sugar, juice, and allspice to a boil in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Cool syrup to lukewarm and discard allspice. Purée 2 cups blackberries with all of syrup in a blender. Force purée through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove seeds. Stir remaining cup berries into sauce.

(Photo by Romulo Yanes)

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