Cantaloupe Meringue Pie

I know what you’re thinking. Seriously. Because I thought it, too. Cantaloupe pie?? That sounds weird and kinda gross. But you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. I would never share something gross and honestly? This recipe…it’s kind of amazing.

But let’s start at the beginning. You see, I got two big cantaloupes in my CSA box a few weeks ago. I knew Brandon and I wouldn’t be able to eat both within a week, especially since one of them was already well past ripe when I got it. So I set out searching for cantaloupe recipes. Something, anything to use these babies up. Unfortunately, unless I wanted some kind of fruit salad, granita or sorbet (I already had watermelon sorbet in my freezer) there just isn’t a whole lot out there. But I kept looking and finally this recipe for cantaloupe pie popped up. Like I said, my first reaction was that it was the weirdest pie I’d ever heard of but I looked at the recipe and the (all 4 or 5 star) reviews for it and when someone said it works best with a very overripe (to the point of being almost rotten) melon, well that totally sold me. I figured it was worth a try and at the very least I got to use up a whole melon.

Cantaloupe

This is a very simple pie. The cantaloupe is pureed and cooked with some sugar and eggs and a few other things until it’s thick and creamy like a custard or pudding. And in fact, if you don’t want to deal with the actual pie part, you can just eat the custard all by itself. The taste is sweet and fresh and you probably wouldn’t know at first that it was cantaloupe unless you were told. You might assume it was banana, actually. The custard is poured into a crust and topped with meringue and then baked until lightly browned. Please note that I misread the directions and cooked my pie for far too long, yours should NOT be as brown on top.

The only big change I made was the crust. The original recipe calls for a store bought pie crust and that’s not really my style. But I didn’t feel like making my own because my track record with pie crust is uneven. Sometimes it’s great, other times it’s awful. I didn’t want to risk it, so I decided to make a shortbread cookie crust instead. I made a cheesecake with shortbread cookie crust last year and have been wanting to use it in a pie ever since. The buttery-ness of the crust goes surprisingly well with the creamy cantaloupe custard.

Cantaloupe Meringue Pie

I like this pie a lot. It’s not heavy and it’s not overly sweet. It’s a really nice pie. But the real test was my boyfriend. I had planned to hide what kind of pie it was and have him try to guess. But that was ruined when he came down to the kitchen and saw the print out of the recipe. Of course, his first reaction was “Yuck!” Uh oh. But then I made him try a piece. He hesitantly took the first bite. I asked if it was the worst thing ever and he shook his head and continued to scarf down the rest. After dinner that night, he casually asked for another piece and scarfed it down again. Success! Brandon is very picky about desserts and doesn’t like most of them so his eating two pieces in one day should tell you something. Yes, this pie sounds very strange, but give it a try anyway. You’ll be glad you did!

Cantaloupe Meringue Pie

Cantaloupe Meringue Pie

adapted from All Recipes

Dessert | Servings: 1 9″ pie (8 servings)
Prep time: 1 hour | Cook time: 10 min | Total time: 1 hour 10 min

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground shortbread cookies (like Keebler Sandies)
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1 large very ripe cantaloupe
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar (increase up to 1/2 cup if your cantaloupe isn’t very sweet)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla

Topping:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 6 tbsp. sugar

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Mix together shortbread cookie crumbs and melted butter until the crumbs hold together well (you may need to add another tablespoon of melted butter if they don’t). Press evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9″ pie plate. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the crust starts to lightly brown on the top and edges. Set aside to cool.
  2. Turn your oven up to 400 degrees (F). Cut your cantaloupe in half and discard the seeds. Scoop out the pulp (a cookie or ice cream scoop works great for this) and put into a large saucepan.
  3. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil, mashing the cantaloup as it heats to bring out all the juice. Transfer the mashed cantaloupe pulp to a food processor or blender and process for a minute or until smooth. You should have about 2 cups of cantaloupe, if you have more, set aside the rest for another use (like a granita or a sorbet). Pour the 2 cups of cantaloupe back into the saucepan.
  4. Mix together flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 tsp. of water. Add the flour and cornstarch mixtures to the cantaloupe and cook, stirring, until thickened.
  5. Separate your eggs, placing the yolks into a medium bowl and the whites in small bowl. Set aside the whites and let come to room temperature.
  6. Beat egg yolks until smooth. Add 2 tbsp. of water. Stir a little of the cantaloupe mixture into the egg yolks in order to heat the yolks gradually. Pour the yolk mixture into cantaloupe mixture. Continue cooking for about 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the filling is thick and creamy and can coat a spoon.
  7. Remove from heat. Add in butter and vanilla and stir until the butter has fully melted. The filling should look like a custard or pudding and in fact you could transfer it to a ramekin and chill to eat it as such.
  8. Pour into the baked pie crust.
  9. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar together until frothy. Continue beating, adding 6 tablespoons sugar (feel free to use less if you prefer your desserts less sweet) gradually, until stiff peaks form. Scoop the meringue on top of the pie filling and smooth with a spatula.
  10. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until delicately brown on top. Cool completely. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Store in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap.