Recipe: Eggnog Chiffon Pie

"Oh, just bring a dessert," they said, "don't go to too much trouble."

But what if you don't want to bring another Ralphs apple pie, but you don't have time to make a full-on pastry chef's delight? Eggnog chiffon pie to the rescue: so easy anyone can do it.

Chiffon pie is gelatin beaten with syrup into a fluffy structure that's then put into a blind-baked shell (i.e., a pie crust that was baked without its filling); in an eggnog chiffon pie, the syrup is replaced with thick, creamy eggnog.

A note about this recipe: most old-time recipes call for a lot of sugar. Eggnog chiffon pie, like all chiffon pies, is a Midwestern invention, and my memories of eggnog from my time in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin is that they tend to be less sweet than the eggnog we get here in California. (It could be that eggnog everywhere has gotten sweeter, I don't know.)

I've removed the sugar from my grandmother's recipe because I found it cloyingly sweet, but if you find it's too flat, then add 1/4 cup of sugar to the gelatin in the first step.

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 quart eggnog
1/4 cup rum, bourbon or brandy
1 cup (1/2 pint) whipping cream
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 pre-baked pie crust (graham cracker is fine)
Nutmeg for garnish

  1. Heat 1 cup of the eggnog over a double boiler and dissolve the gelatin in it.
  2. Remove from the heat, add the remaining eggnog and the liquor.
  3. Chill the mixture for one hour.
  4. Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks, then add the sugar and vanilla and whip to firm peaks.
  5. Beat the eggnog mixture until light and fluffy, then fold in the whipped cream.
  6. Scoop the filling into the pie crust, cover with plastic (use toothpicks to keep the plastic off the filling) and refrigerate until needed.
  7. Garnish with nutmeg and shotglasses of rum from the leftovers in the 750 mL bottle you bought.

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