Tag Archives: whipping cream


I saved three of my farmers market Meyer lemons to make something sweet. I didn’t want to make lemon curd or a regular lemon chess pie, as those seem to be what most folks make. Instead, I decided to make a Bavarian cream and turn it into a pie, with a few modifications of Julia Child’s recipe in volume 1 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The Bavarian cream uses crème anglaise as the base so it takes a bit of effort.

I thought the pie turned out pretty well. The test of that was my wife, the Dessert Queen, who had a piece for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – with an occasional bedtime snack – until it was gone. The pie is not something you want to try in the afternoon before a dinner party. The good news is that it is so rich that it can easily serve 16 people.


Almond Pie Crust


  • butter to grease the cake pan and foil liner
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup lard
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup ice water


  1. Prepare an 8-inch  false-bottom cake pan by buttering the inside generously. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, salt, and sugar.
  3. With a pastry blender, cut in the lard until the mixture has the consistency of coarse corn meal
  4. Add the almond extract and ice water. With a dinner fork, blend until the mixture comes together. With your hands, gather up any loose crumbs and form a ball. Cover the ball with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Divide the chilled dough in half. Because of the almond flour the dough may be slightly sticky, so work on a floured surface. Work quickly, rolling out the dough into a circle that is large enough to line the prepared cake pan. Save the remaining half of the dough for another pie.
  6. Line the buttered cake pan with the rolled dough, pressing it firmly against the sides and bottom of the pan. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork. With a paring knife, trim the top of the pie shell, tucking in edges and forming a decorative edge with the back of the knife. Then press a well-buttered sheet of aluminum foil against the dough, and fill the foil liner with pie weights or beans.
  7. Bake the pie shell in the middle of an oven for 10 minutes in a preheated 400°F oven. Remove the foil and beans. Prick the bottom and sides again with a fork, and return to the oven for 4 minutes or when the pie shell has begun to brown lightly. Remove from the oven, and set aside until you are ready to fill with the Bavarian cream.

Meyer Lemon Bavarian Cream Pie


  • 3 large Meyer lemons
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 5 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Limoncello liqueur


  1. The night before you plan to make the pie, wash and dry the lemons. Nestle them in a bowl containing the sugar and cover tightly. The lemons will perfume the sugar, but their moisture will also make it rock-hard, so you will need to break it up with a sharp knife.
  2. Zest all three lemons with a micro plane, and set aside.
  3. Juice the lemons. Strain the juice into a measuring cup. You should have about ¾ cup juice.
  4. Sprinkle the gelatin onto the juice and stir lightly so that the gelatin can bloom for 5 minutes or so.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon. Beat in the cornstarch.
  6. In the meantime, bring the milk to the boil in a non-reactive 4-quart saucepan. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, beating constantly. When the milk has been completely added, return the mixture to the saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, being careful to scrape the bottom of the pan, until the mixture is thickened and coats the spoon. Use a thermometer to make sure the mixture does not exceed 170°F, otherwise the eggs will scramble and you will have to start over.
  7. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the lemon juice-gelatin mixture. Stir vigorously to make sure that the gelatin is completely dissolved. Rinse out the mixing bowl and return the cooked custard to the bowl. Stir in the lime zest.
  8. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until they form stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar, and then fold gently into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator. As the mixture thickens, stir occasionally to prevent separation.
  9. When the custard has nearly set, beat the whipping cream until well-thickened. Stir the whipped cream and liqueur into the custard.
  10. Fill the prepared pie shell with the custard. Return to the refrigerator and chill overnight or until set.
  11. Unmold the pie by loosening the edges of the false bottom and placing the pan on a small bowl so that the rim falls away. This may require a little encouragement. With a large spatula, remove the false bottom and transfer the pie to a serving plate.  Serve.


Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes


Reggie Graves, one of our best friends from our days in Louisiana, recently paid us a visit. Reggie is well-known for his championship chili – I have written about it in the past – but he is an excellent cook besides that.  Whenever we have a chance to visit with Reggie, you can be sure that there will be good food and lots of talk about food.

We were definitely not disappointed on this visit. Reggie brought us a huge bag of shelled pecans and the promise to make his favorite microwave pralines.

During one evening of reminiscing about old times, we talked about a famous praline shop in the New Orleans French Quarter on Decatur between Jackson Square and the French Market. I am not sure that the shop still exists, especially after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The memory lingers on, beginning with the fragrance of caramel and roasted pecans drifting out onto the street for blocks around the shop. The accompanying visual is of a huge woman hovered over an equally huge copper pan filled with bubbling caramel and pecans. The woman would stir and stir the mixture until it was just right, and then she would ladle dollops of the blazing hot mixture onto a cool marble table. When the pralines had cooled, she would wrap them in squares of waxed paper, ready for sale to the many tourists who had lined up to watch her. Of course, the taste memory is biting into a golden brown praline filled with pecans and cooked so perfectly that the caramel was soft and chewy without any sugary texture.

Making pralines at home can be a challenge. First, you probably don’t have a big copper vat. Then there is the matter of getting the caramel cooked just right so that it is creamy without a trace of sugar crystals. That means that many home cooks – this one included – prefer to buy their pralines from a good candy store.

Those challenges are what makes this recipe so great. You can make perfect pralines in just a few minutes using your microwave. The biggest problem is to make certain that the time of cooking is tied to the wattage of your microwave oven. This recipe is designed for a 1000 watt appliance. To make it a general recipe, I tried to see if there are tables or graphs to suggest how you should adjust cooking time according to oven wattage. Indeed, there are lots of tables available, but I found most of them confusing and difficult to use. Instead, I developed a simple formula which you can use as a beginning guideline. You will probably need to experiment to find the ideal time for your oven, but a beginning point is to divide 1000 by the wattage of your oven and multiply the cooking time in this recipe (12.5 minutes) to find the approximate correct cooking time for your oven.

The other essential secret is to use a large enough (eight cups at least) microwave-proof bowl to boil the praline mixture.

With that, here is the recipe:



  • 1 pound light brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups shelled pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • enough softened butter to grease a large baking sheet


  1. In the large microwave-proof bowl or pitcher, combine the brown sugar and cream.
  2. Using a 1000 watt microwave oven with turntable, cook the brown sugar and cream mixture on High for exactly 12.5 minutes
  3. Using a hot pad, transfer the bowl with the cooked mixture to a heat-proof surface.
  4. Stir in the pecan halves and the butter,
  5. Working quickly, when the pecans are completely coated and the butter is melted and incorporated, form the pralines
  6. With a soup spoon or tablespoon, ladle spoonfuls of the mixture onto the buttered baking sheet.
  7. Cool enough before eating so that you don’t burn your tongue, but pralines are delicious warm or cold.
  8. If you get tired of eating just the pralines, try crushing them before sprinkling them over dishes of vanilla ice cream


Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes