Author Notes: This pie isn’t baked in a pie plate; it’s a freeform pie that uses puff pastry as the base. The filling is easy to make and is not too sweet, which makes a saffron meringue the perfect finishing touch. Be sure to check out the full article on how to make the meringue dahlias. —Erin McDowell
Food52 Review: Featured in: 4 Tricks to Be a Pie Overachiever. —The Editors
Makes: one 10-inch pie
Prep time: 1 hrs 20 min
Cook time: 45 min
pound (454 g) puff pastry
egg wash, as needed
cups (240 g) unsalted pistachios
tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, melted
cup (71 g) dark brown sugar
tablespoons (58 g) honey
teaspoon (2 g) fine sea salt
teaspoon (5 g) vanilla extract
large (114 g) eggs
large (285 g) egg whites
cups (346 g) granulated sugar
cup (81 g) water
teaspoon saffron threads
teaspoon vanilla extract
teaspoon almond extrct
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to 1/4-inch thick. Use a paring knife to cut a 12-inch circle out of the dough—you can use anything as a guide—a cake pan, plate, a circle cut from paper, or even freehand the circle.
- Next, cut a 10-inch circle from the circle you just cut. Use a paring knife to trace inside the circle—again you can use anything as a guide. Now, you’ll have a 10-inch circle and a 12-inch ring.
- Transfer the circle to a parchment lined baking sheet. Egg wash the outer edge of the circle, then gently transfer the ring to the outer edge of the pastry. Use scissors to trim away the excess piece of the outer ring so that it snugly fits to create a wall around the circle.
- Dock the dough all over with a fork (both the base and the pastry “walls”). Place another piece of parchment on top of the dough and place another baking sheet on top. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, until the pastry is just starting to brown. Remove the top baking sheet and parchment and bake for 5 minutes more. Cool completely.
- Reduce oven temperature to 375° F. Arrange the pistachios in an even layer in the center of the cooled crust. In a medium bowl, whisk the butter, brown sugar, honey, salt, vanilla, and eggs together to combine. Pour this mixture evenly over the pistachios.
- Bake the pie until the crust is deeply golden brown and the filling is set, 20-25 minutes. Cool completely.
- To make the meringue, place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment.
- Combine the sugar and water in a medium pot. Crumble the saffron into the pot. Stir the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a boil. When it begins to boil, stop stirring and attach a candy thermometer to the pot (if any sugar crystals have washed up on the sides, brush them away using a pastry brush dipped in cool water). Continue to cook the syrup until it reaches 240° F (final desired temperature).
- As soon as the sugar hits 230° F, begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed. The goal is to have the egg whites at soft peaks when the sugar reaches the 240° F.
- With the mixer running, add the sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream. Continue to whip on high speed until the mixture reaches stiff peaks and the bowl is no longer noticeably warm to the touch. The meringue should be smooth and glossy, not clumpy or dry. Mix in the vanilla and almond extract.
- Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a U-shaped tip (such as Ateco #403). If you have one, it can be helpful to place the pie plate on a cake turntable. If not, you can just turn it on your work surface while you pipe.
- Start by piping a two concentric circles of meringue around the outer edge of the pie. To do this, the rounded portion of the tip should be facing up. Hold the pastry bag at a 45-degree angle and spin the pie as you gently apply pressure to create the circles. Don’t worry if they’re a little wonky—they’ll be totally covered up later!
- Once you’ve piped your circles, you can start on the petals. For this, you’ll hold the pastry bag almost straight up and down, with the rounded portion of the tip facing down. Apply gentle pressure to the bag while you bring the tip upward slightly—these petals stand almost straight up. Start the first petal in the center of the circles you piped. Start the next petal right next to the first, and continue all the way around the circle until you’ve completed a full circle of petals.
- Now continue the process by working inward. Continue to pipe petals in the same fashion, working in a circle, until the center of the pie is fully covered.
- Next, pipe the outer petals. For this, you’ll want to bring the angle of bag a little lower and more parallel to the surface of the pie. Instead of pulling the bag straight up when you pipe, pull it towards the outer edge of the pie a bit. This gives the effect that real flowers often have – they’re tighter toward the center, and more open around the outer edge. Continue until the whole pie is covered in petals. If you like, you can torch the tips of the petals to add a little dimension and toasty flavor to your meringue.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!