This recipe was adapted from Bubby’s Banana Cream Pie, which is dangerously delicious. Although I love the pie made with bananas, I had been dreaming about rhubarb custard pie and couldn’t find a decent recipe that combined the best parts of custard with the best parts of rhubarb. So I got a little creative and came up with this here recipe. Before you read on, this is a HIGHLY involved recipe and it will have you in the kitchen all day, so plan accordingly.
Recipe after the jump.
Rhubarb Custard Pie
Nut Pastry Crust:
- 1/2 cup finely chopped, raw, unsalted walnuts
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1½ tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- pinch of salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 3 cups diced rhubarb
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1 tbsp bourbon
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
Bourbon Candied Walnuts:
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 1/2 tbsp bourbon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 20 raw unsalted walnut halves
*The steps are all listed in the order in which I executed them, so they’re not necessarily grouped by component.
The first step is to measure out the ingredients accordingly so you can continue on with the recipe.
MAKE THE CRUST
1. Combine ingredients from the nut pastry crust: walnuts, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until just combined. Then add the butter and the egg and pulse until the dough begins to gather into clumps like the below picture.
2. Roll into a ball, cover tightly with saran wrap, and refrigerate.
BEGIN THE CUSTARD
1. In a clean, dry, heavy bottomed pot or saucepan that is not aluminum, combine milk, 1/2 cup of the sugar, vanilla, and salt.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine yolks, remaining sugar, and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
3. Heat the milk sugar mixture in the pot over medium-high heat and stir until the first bubbles form, then remove from heat.
Now here’s the tricky part: before starting this, get a whisk, ladle and a ceramic dish ready. The ceramic dish should be shallow, but still able to hold all of the custard, because once it is ready you will transfer it to the dish.
4. Begin to slowly ladle the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking vigorously throughout the entire process. If you don’t whisk hard enough, the eggs will scramble. For a smooth custard, you will need a strong whisking arm.
(This is admittedly where I came short of a really smooth custard, but you live and learn, it will still taste delicious.)
5. Continue the process, adding 4 or 5 more ladlefuls of the hot mixture into the egg mixture while whisking the egg mixture constantly. Once the eggs have been tempered, you can pour the egg mixture back into the pot with the rest of the hot milk. Pour the mixture in slowly while whisking away the entire time.
6. Once fully combined, return the pot to medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon, it will thicken considerably. Keep stirring but pause every so often until you see a blap, blurp, or blourp, one big bubble that punched through the surface. Then remove from the heat immediately and add the butter.
7. Stir well and pour into the shallow ceramic dish. cover the surface directly with saran wrap so a skin doesn’t form. See the below picture. Refrigerate for several hours (4+) until completely cold.
MAKE THE RHUBARB COMPOTE
1. Dice the rhubarb.
2. Combine rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, honey, and bourbon in a pot over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the rhubarb softens to your liking. Then stir in the cornstarch and remove from heat.
BAKE THE CRUST & RHUBARB
1. Heat the oven to 400ºF. Press the chilled pie crust into the pie dish. Add the rhubarb.
2. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
MAKE THE CANDIED WALNUTS
1. Turn the oven heat down to 300ºF. Select 20 nice whole walnuts and be careful to keep them intact.
2. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well until fully incorporated.
3. Add the walnuts to the bowl and coat them evenly with the mixture.
4. Generously grease a foil lined baking sheet with butter. Place the walnuts about an inch apart on the sheet.
5. Put them in the oven and turn each of them over every 5 minutes until 20-25 minutes have elapsed and the nuts are a deep copper color. Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool on a dish.
ASSEMBLE THE PIE
Now that the painstaking parts are over and the crust & rhubarb, custard, and walnuts are cool, you may assemble the pie!
1. Scoop the custard over the crust & rhubarb and smooth over with a spatula in a dome-like fashion.
2. Arrange the walnuts on top just before serving.