This article is created with Debbie Frantzen.
I love “Daddy and Daughter” projects, even when the daughter is all grown up. This time, Debbie and I spent four days researching chiffon pies. Not exactly “world peace” but a fun project.
Chiffon pies are ethereal–light and dreamy, refreshing, melt-in-your-mouth affairs. They are perfect whenever a light, less-filling dessert is desired.
We set off to find the best chiffon pies. Mostly, it was Debbie’s project but she and I (Dennis) collaborated and, as usual, she did the photography and I did most of the writing.
A requirement of chiffon pies is gelatin whether it be unflavored or commercial brands with flavor and sugar such as Jell-O®. We concentrated on recipes using unflavored gelatin so that we could experiment with flavors and fruit and adjust sweetness to taste. We gathered stacks of chiffon pie recipes from books and online and segregated them into categories:
- Those that required cooking and those that did not.
- Those that used eggs and those that did not. Those that called for a baked pastry crust and those that used a crumb crust. Pic 3.jpg
We made pies for four days and tweaked the recipes until they were scrumptious. When we found a winner, we ran slices down out to the store to see how well customers liked them. We’ll share our findings with you including the best recipes. Pic 4.jpg
The Right Equipment
Use a 9-inch springform pan—with a glass base. Sure, you can make most of these pies in a deep dish pie pan but you won’t get show stopping neat slices from a pie pan like you will with a springform pan with a glass base. Peel the ring off and cut slices right on the glass base.
Most of these pies were made in a Candy Apple Red Silicone Springform Pan Some were made in a nonstick springform pan. We much prefer the silicone pan. The silicone ring peels off like a candy wrapper. While it’s not necessary for these pies, we love the leak-proof double seal on the silicone pan.
We use Wonder Cups all the time and this no exception. The adjustable measure is accurate and the slide of the inner cup cleanly and quickly deposits the ingredients into the bowl without digging and scraping.
A selection of whisks is nice. We used a large balloon whisk for knocking lumps from the filling and a small bell-shaped whisk for heating and dissolving the gelatin mixture.
We wanted great recipes as well as methods for adapting other fruits and creating new chiffon pies.
We framed three questions and our experiments around these:
- Can we use fresh and frozen fruits?
- Can we add cream cheese or other dairy products to create a richer dessert with more body when desired?
- Can we use frozen fruit juice concentrate and thus open a world of pie possibilities?
We made pies with cooked fillings and without. We made pies with and without eggs.
There weren’t any types that we didn’t like however, we liked some better than others. Some were certainly quicker and easier to make than others.
- Crumb crusts are better than pastry crusts. Chiffon fillings are so light and airy. We much preferred the contrast of crumb crusts to the chewier texture of baked pie crusts. Pic 6.jpg
- Cooking is not required. You can make a great chiffon pies without cooking that are simpler and quicker to make.
- Substance is nice. Chiffon pies can be so light and airy that they seem to disappear in your mouth. The inclusion of enough fat in the form of dairy products creates a pleasant “mouth feel” and so we preferred recipes that contained whipped cream or other dairy over whipped egg whites.
- Raw eggs are not necessary. Yes, raw eggs can be safe with enough sugar but whenever we can avoid raw eggs, we do. We concentrated on recipes that did not require eggs or in which the eggs were cooked. In the end, we preferred those recipes without eggs.
- Break out the springform pan. It’s best to make your chiffon pies in a nine-inch springform pan. Chiffon pies are fragile creatures, especially in a crumb crust, so it’s difficult to dig picture- perfect slices from a pie pan. A springform pan, particularly a glass-based springform pan, is the perfect solution.
The Answers to Our Three Questions
Can you create variations with fresh and frozen fruit?
Yes. We took the base recipe and substituted different fruits. With different fruits and ripeness, the sweetness and flavor varied. We simply tasted the filling along the way and adjusted the amount of fruit or sugar to achieve the taste we wanted.
Can you add dairy to make your desserts richer?
Softened cream cheese can be whipped and added to many recipes. It adds a nice flavor, richness, and mouth feel.
Our favorite recipes included sweetened condensed milk. Our testers (our friendly customers in the store) preferred recipes that included either or both sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese.
What about frozen juice concentrates?
You can make chiffon pies with frozen fruit juice concentrates. The fruit juice concentrate didn’t pack the flavor punch we expected so we added a quarter cup of lemon juice to each recipe. That sharpened the flavor and made very nice pies.
You will find a recipe for a raspberry guava pie made with fruit juice concentrate in this paper.
Our Favorite Recipes
Here are our resulting favorite chiffon pie recipes. Consider these as types and experiment with different fruits, fruit juice concentrates, and the addition of cream cheese. Pic 9.jpg
- Chiffon Pie made with Frozen Juice Concentrates We made this with raspberry guava frozen fruit juice concentrate but you can choose your favorite juice.
- Blackberry Chiffon Pie. This recipe makes a beautiful pie. You need to stop and strain the seeds from the fresh or frozen berries but this pie is well worth the extra step. Pic 10.jpg
- Key Lime Chiffon Pie. This may have been the favorite in the store. With the inclusion of dairy, key limes are not necessary and regular limes can be used.
- Lemon Chiffon Pie. Great pie. It’s better with fresh lemon juice instead of the bottled juice found on your grocer’s shelves.
- Blueberry Chiffon Pie. You can use fresh or frozen blueberries to make this strikingly colored pie.
- Peach Chiffon Pie. We’ve made this pie for years. It’s luscious and we had to include it in this work.
- Strawberry Chiffon Pie. This is a great pie. We used a drop of Red Americolor Gel color to make this pie more vibrant.
- Chiffon Pie made with Frozen Juice Concentrates. We made this with raspberry guava frozen fruit juice concentrate but you can choose your favorite juice.
- With most of these recipes, we have included a cream cheese variation. Pic 12.jpg
Dennis Weaver has burned food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and the author of How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking available as an E-book or as a Kindle book on Amazon.
Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children and five beautiful granddaughters.