Now, you may not know this, but I hail from a magical land called New Jersey. And in that magical land, there is a magical snack that gives residents along the shore their secret, magical New Jersey powers. That snack is called Saltwater Taffy (and at this point, no, you are not invited to ask any follow up questions).
Now, the name may be misleading. This taffy doesn't actually contain saltwater, but instead is called such because it was popularized by the shore in Atlantic city in the late 1800s-early 1900s, and has been associated to a close proximity to the sea ever since. Dig?
But what is true is that it is a singular sensation of a confection: mellower and creamier than hard candies, with a texture that begs you to slowly savor rather than suck and bite.
I don't know about you, but that's all I needed to decide it would make a great addition to a cream pie.
So here it is for you, friends: a modern marvel that I'm calling Saltwater Taffy Cream Pie. YES!
Saltwater Taffy Cream Pie
- 1 9-inch pie crust (unbaked) - I tried out the Grand Central U-bake Crust, which I recently received a sample of, and it worked great!
- 1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
- 30 or so taffy candies (about 15 for the filling and as many as you'd like to garnish)
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 400. Bake the pie crust 8-12 minutes (using pie weights), or until lightly brown. Set to the side to cool.
- In a medium saucepan, mix 1/2 cup sugar and the flour. Add the milk and stir until dissolved. Add the egg yolks and mix very well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened--this was about 15 minutes in total for me. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 15 or so of your taffy candies (um, unwrapped please). They may make bright swirls in the filling, which is...not necessarily pretty or appetizing. Power through it. Cool the mixture, and pour into the prepared pie crust.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed with an electric mixer, til stiff but not yet glossy. Sprinkle the cream of tartar and salt on top, and beat lightly. Slowly add the remaining sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla, beating constantly until the meringue forms soft peaks and a nice glossy sheen, kind of like the consistency of shaving cream. Spread over the pie. Reduce oven heat to 325. Bake 8-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. I found that to brown evenly, it helped to shift the plate halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Once cool, dot the top with extra taffy, if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.