Too good at least: Marshallese macadamia nut pie

A few days ago marked the end of British Pie Week, so this recipe is particularly appropriate, coincidence though that may be. We didn’t eat it during British Pie Week, you see. We actually made it the weekend before, but it was equally appropriate then due to the fact that on the same weekend we watched an excellent production of Sweeney Todd. In this story based on urban legend, the pies are filled with human remains. Fortunately this was not the case in our recipe from the Marshall Islands!

Pies have also been prominent in the media lately due to the controversial decision to award the top prize at the British Pie Awards to… a pasty. This prompted debate over what a pie actually is, with the chairman of the Awards pointing out that the definition of a pie is ‘a filling totally encased in pastry’ whilst pie purists everywhere threatened to boycott next year’s Awards. Miranda’s many years of working in bakeries led her to believe that a pasty is a pasty, a pie must have a pastry lid, and a pie without a lid is a tart. Thus, seemingly by all definitions, the Marshallese recipe we have made is a tart and not a pie at all.

However, none of this bothered us in the slightest, nor did it seem to be a problem for Ash’s mum and sister who were able to join us for this culinary experiment. We also didn’t mind that macadamia nuts aren’t strictly Marshallese: they’re an imported pantry ingredient, as is the case with many key ingredients in Pacific Island recipes. Essentially, there were no reasons not to make this dish, and with a recipe borrowed once again from Global Table Adventure (mostly because it was the only recipe we found that didn’t contain corn syrup and instead replaced it with honey), we were good to go.

Macadamia nut pie

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
8 tbsp cold butter, cubed
2/3 – 3/4 cup cold water
1 3/4 cups macadamia nuts
3 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp coconut milk
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup whipped cream
6-7 tbsp coconut milk (the original recipe said 3 tbsp, but we found it needed more to really carry the flavour)

1. First, the pastry. Put the flour, salt and butter into a food processor and pulse until the butter is incorporated and the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
2. With the motor running, gradually add the water until the mixture comes together. Only use as much water as you need.
3. Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour while working on your filling. At the same time, preheat the oven to 190C.
4. Coarsely chop the macadamia nuts and set aside.
5. Whisk together the honey, melted butter, 2 tbsp coconut milk, brown sugar and eggs. Fold in the macadamia nuts.
6. Once chilled, roll out the pie dough to fit a 23cm pie dish and sprinkle with the desiccated coconut.
7. Pour the macadamia filling into the pie shell and bake at 190C for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160C and cook for a further 30-35 minutes. The pie will emerge all puffed up but will flatten once cooled completely. It can be served chilled or warm, but if you want to serve it warm, let it chill completely first before reheating it so that it sets properly.
8. Whip the coconut milk into the cream and serve with the pie.
Serves 10-12

570a Macadamias compressed

571a Macadamia filling compressed

573a Pie shell with coconut compressed

574a Unbaked pie compressed

576a Pie compressed

575a Pie compressed

577a Pie slice compressed

578a Pie with cream compressed

Our macadamia kick continued very successfully with this recipe. An improvement on the until-now-unimprovable pecan pie, the macadamia nuts provide a delicious contrast to the honey-sweetened, gently coconutty filling, and whether you accompany it with plain cream (which Ash did) or the recommended coconut cream (which everyone else did), it is a delicious end to a meal. The macadamia flavour is significantly stronger than that of the coconut, so coconut-haters can still enjoy it, although might be put off by the texture of the desiccated coconut. Realistically, though, that ingredient could easily be left out.

This is definitely one to add to the repertoire, and the fact that it can be served hot or cold makes it ideal for dinner parties, picnics or bring-a-plate buffets. So pie, tart – whatever. We aren’t bothered with semantics when such delicious food is at stake!


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