Tropical Pie Recipe

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“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
~ Ruth Reichl

 

And so, the moment of truth…

Does the Tropical Pie of my childhood still measure up?

*Nicole laughs gleefully and claps her hands*

Darn tootin’ right it does!

The pie has a crunchy toasted coconut crust, and a creamy light filling, flavoured with lemon, orange and pineapple. Heaven in a bowl, really. It speaks of summer, and relaxed tropical nights.

I think this particular dessert is fancy enough to serve at a dinner party or a fancy gathering, but it will also be a welcome addition to a family barbeque or a casual weekend meal. It’s actually a much more sophisticated recipe than I’d realised, and the flavour nuances are just as I’d remembered them. Maybe better.

There are a few steps, so you’ll need to allocate a little time for each part of the preparation – this one’s not a simple throw-together dessert. But hey, sometimes that little extra effort really does pay off. I’d make this the day before or early in the morning of the evening you’ll need it.

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Ingredients:

Crust: 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, 60g (2 ounces) melted butter plus extra butter for greasing pie tin

Filling: 1 x 440g (15 ounce) can of pineapple pieces (I used the pineapple in natural juice with no added sugar, but in the seventies it was sugar all the way!), 5 teaspoons gelatine, 1/2 cup castor sugar OR the equivalent of Natvia or your favourite sweetener, pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 eggs, separated, 1 tablespoon rum, 1 tablespoon Cointreau or orange juice, 1 and 1/4 cups (1/2 pint) of cream

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Method for Base:

1. Grease a 9 inch/23 centimetre pie plate, or use baking paper to line a spring-form tin of the same dimensions.

2. Preheat oven to slow – 120C or 250F. If it’s a fan-forced oven knock the temperature back to 110C or 230F

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3. Add the coconut to the melted butter, mixing well. Press firmly into the base and up the sides of the pie dish. If you don’t press firmly, the base will not hold together. I like to use a cup or glass with a firm base and straight sides to really press that crust well.

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Yes, Soul Sanctuary girls, I am still wearing my Friendship Bracelet :D.2015-01-20 14.12.21

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Look how lovely that crust is! I am already dreaming up other fillings for it…

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Method for Filling:

1. Empty and save the juice from the can of pineapple, then add enough water to make 1 and 1/2 cups. Place juice in a small saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest, and then sprinkle the gelatine over the top. Place over moderate heat, and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

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2. Beat egg yolks until thick and foamy.

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3. Gently pour a small amount of the hot liquid into the yolks, whisking all the while. Continue whisking and add the hot liquid very slowly until it is all added. Then add in the rum and Cointreau.

4. Chill this mixture until it has the consistency of unbeaten egg white.

5. Beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until stiff.

6. Beat the cream until thick.

7. Fold the drained pineapple and cream into the egg yolk mixture.

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8. Then gently fold in the beaten egg whites. Spoon into the pie crust and chill until well set.

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Serve on its own or with some cream or a good ice-cream.

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According to my husband, Tropical Pie also proves to be excellent breakfast food. 😉

I hope you enjoy this recipe from my childhood.

It really is as good as I remember!

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Remembering Tropical Pie

Image from Etsy

Image from Etsy

“Sometimes you have to travel back in time, skirting the obstacles, in order to love someone.”
~ Frances Mayes, Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

 

When I was a kid, growing up in the seventies, there was this pie Mum used to make.

‘Tropical Pie’ it was called, if memory serves me correctly.

I loved that pie.

Mum only ever made it in summer, if we had friends coming over for a party or a barbeque, or if we were invited somewhere and she offered to bring a dessert.

Mum was a great cook, and we looked forward to birthdays, events and parties when she would always make something that was a little bit special.

MattBirthday

Family, neighbours and my mum, clustered around my little brother’s birthday cake in the backyard of my childhood home. That’s me with the blonde hair standing beside Mum, my sister Simone is sitting on the left with her hair in two pigtails, and Matthew is cutting his cake!

 

By the eighties my parents had split up, and we didn’t go to parties or barbeques anymore. Mum stopped making that pie.

By the time I was brave enough to remind her about it, Mum had lost the recipe.

I spent years searching for it amid the kitchen drawers, the old exercise books with the hand-written recipes and pages torn from women’s magazines. But it was no good. I never found that recipe again.

That recipe came to represent the essence of my childhood – a time when I still felt happy, loved and safe. I found myself yearning for Tropical Pie, and the ability to make it for myself. Last year in a pique of nostalgia I trawled the internet looking for it.

Nothing.

And then, yesterday, as I was sorting through a bag stuffed with recipe clippings and old cookbooks that once belonged to my grandmother I found it!

It was so unexpected that I burst into tears. Silly, I know, but at that precise moment I felt Marga looking down on me, wisely and kindly guiding me as she had always done in life.

I’ve gone and bought the few ingredients I did not have in the house, and I shall share the recipe with you tomorrow.

Who knows how it shall really taste? How can anything ever live up to those rose-tinted memories of old?

Still, I shall bake my Tropical Pie, and eat it with my husband, and feel with every bite that my world has come full circle.

My maternal grandmother, Marga, and me - back in the   late eighties.

My maternal grandmother, Marga, and me – back in the late eighties. Marga taught me almost everything I know about cooking, being gracious and being kind.

Is there any food that takes you right back to happy memories of your childhood? Do you ever make or buy it for yourself or your family now that you’ve grown? Or is there a food your children or grandchildren have come to request and think of as special?  I’d love to hear your stories either here in the comments, or over on my facebook page.