Since I took the easy route with my first bunch of rhubarb–that rhubarb sauce has been the star attraction of my breakfast yogurt this week–I decided to go a little fancy for Round Two.   That ruled out the rhubarb upside-down cake I’d been thinking about.  Instead, I considered a rhubarb torte that my mom used to make, and a rhubarb cake with boiled coconut icing that The Hubs’ grandmother used to make for him.  Neither of those choices seemed quite right, though.  I was in the mood for pie.  But fancy pie.

After all, doesn’t rhubarb this gorgeous deserve a fancy pie?

Since I started eating gluten-free, pie means an almond flour crust.  I still haven’t mastered a gluten-free version of rolled pie crust, but more importantly, I really like the flavor of almonds with fruit. This sort of crust demands a cooked pie filling, however, not the sort that bakes along with the crust.  So I thought about making a rhubarb filling on the stovetop.  And then I thought about making a slightly fancy rhubarb filling, similar to what my mom used for her rhubarb torte.  And that’s when I came up with this recipe for Rhubarb Almond Custard Pie.

If you’re not a fan of meringue toppings, this pie doesn’t absolutely need one.  I like the contrast of the thick custard filling and the fluffy meringue, but a whipped cream topping would work nicely as well.  Feel free to use any kind of milk in the custard, keeping in mind that the lower the fat content of your milk, the looser your custard will be.  Liquidy custard isn’t a tragedy–it still tastes good–but it will make your almond crust soggy, so cook the custard until it’s very thick.

This pie is not a keeper.  The almond crust will absorb moisture from the filling, so the pie won’t last more than a day or two–not a problem in the Foodie family, where pie for breakfast isn’t unheard of.  But keep this in mind if you’re making the pie in advance of a gathering, and be sure to refrigerate this pie once the custard cools to room temperature.

Rhubarb Almond Custard Pie

Ingredients:

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups almond flour
3 T. sugar
3 T. melted butter

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 T. corn starch
1/3 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. almond extract
4 cups rhubarb, chopped into small pieces

For the topping:

3 eggs whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the crust: In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, sugar, and melted butter. Stir to distribute the butter throughout. Turn this mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and press into a thin layer across the bottom and up the sides. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Make the filling: While the crust is baking, combine the sugar and corn starch in a large saucepan. Whisk in the milk, egg yolks, and almond extract. Stir in the rhubarb. Over medium heat, allow this mixture to cook until bubbles begin to form around the edges, stirring frequently. When the custard comes to a boil, lower the heat (so the custard doesn't scorch on the bottom) and continue cooking until it reaches the consistency of pudding, about 20 minutes. Pour the custard into the hot crust.

Make the topping: In the large bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar to the sugar; gradually add to the mixing bowl as the egg whites begin to thicken. Beat until stiff peaks form. Spread the meringue over the custard, covering it completely, making sure the meringue touches the crust at the edges. This will prevent the meringue from shrinking as it bakes. Return the pie to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.

Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.

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