Grapefruit Pie: Milk Bar Mondays!

I’m on my 10th straight day of cooking in the Hamptons. I’m a sweaty, tired mess of a happy person. I am so sick of cooking food… until I make something that delights me and the people I work for. Then I remind myself that it’s pretty cool that I get paid (well) to cook food, which I love to do anyway.

Somehow in the insanity that is workdays that begin at 7pm and don’t end until 14 hours later, I was able to make this pie, today’s Milk Bar Mondays group recipe. Actually, I was able to squeeze in two pies in the two days, because this one didn’t quite work out. It also happens to be for a swap set for today, so check out my second grapefruit pie for the Burwell Recipe Swap: Grapefruit Sponge Pie!

Being that I’m not home with my arsenal of alternative ingredients and the family I work for doesn’t have any sensitivies, I figured this swap was a good chance to do a Tosi recipe as written and enjoy working straight from the book, as we don’t substitute unless absolutely necessary.

But then…

… no where to get citric acid out here. Or milk powder. Two important, key ingredients to Tosi’s recipes.

Some last-minute adaptations needed to be employed.

Now, I’m not jumping to conclusions with my outcome of this recipe, and I’m hoping fellow Milk Bar Ladies had better luck with it.

Because my crust – a sweetened version of salty, crushed Ritz crackers – melted into the pie plate when it should have toughened up and been a firm base for the pie. At the end, when I took it out of the freezer to slice, it was hard as rock, and tasted like a (really f’in awesome) version of some sort of Ritz cracker brittle…

Missing milk powder the problem?

My sweetened condensed grapefruit layer never miraculously thickened when being mixed, as the recipe specified it would to an almost magical degree. So it was runny when I poured it into the crust, and was icy and somewhat crystalized.

Missing citric acid – replaced with a little lemon juice – the problem?

The Grapefruit Passion Curd layer? Perfection. It was sweet and tangy and the little threads of the grapefruit separated like tiny magical elves or something more creatively articulate. I would use this curd in a variety of layer cakes or as the basis for a tart. Yes, the passion fruit puree was not easy to find and dog knows when I’ll be near it again. But the flavor in the resulting curd made it well worth the hunt and the process of making the curd was quick and worked!

So that part of the recipe is below. For the entire thing, and the ladies on board with this swap (we’re dropping like flies amongst wedding preparations, baby preparations and general summer madness!), head on over to Meagan of Scarletta Bakes (she’s our host for this swap and hers will be up in a few hours) and Erin of Big Fat Baker.

And for recipes that are gluten-free, dairy-free (mostly) and my personal favorites, check out the Chevre Frozen Yogurt with Pistachio Crunch and Beet-Lime Ganache, Confetti Cookies and Carrot Cake Truffles.

Up next, I host a classic – Peanut Butter Cookies ala Milk Bar Crack! Check back in here in two weeks!

Grapefruit Passion Curd

From Milk Bar Cookbook by Christina Tosi

  • 1/4 cup passion fruit puree
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 gelatin sheet or 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 6 Tbsp very cold butter
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large grapefruit
  • 1 tsp grapeseed oil (I used canola)

Put the passion fruit puree and sugar in a blender and blend until the sugar has dissolved. Add the egg and blend on low until the mixture is smooth and bright orange-yellow. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and clean the blender.

Bloom the gelatin.

Heat the passion fruit mixture over low heat, whisking regularly as it thickens. Once it starts to boil, transfer back to the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin, butter and salt and beat until the mixture is super smooth. Transfer to a container and chill in the fridge until completely cool.

While it’s cooling, remove each segment of grapefruit completely, leaving no white pith behind. I’ve done this manually for my boss’ morning breakfast often, but cheated on this by using jarred fresh grapefruit that we have on hand. I highly recommend it.
In a small saucepan heat the oil and grapefruit on low heat, whisking while it heats. The oil will eventually separate the threads of the grapefruit. It’s really cool to watch. Let them cool a bit.

When everything is chilled, fold the grapefruit into the curd. Cool, and use on ANYTHING.


  1. BigFatBaker says:

    Your pie looks tasty! And wow, you are busy! 14 hour days….that’s crazy! I’ll have to check out the sponge pie too :) But, I had the same problem with the sweetened condensed grapefruit not setting. I wish I could have found the passion fruit puree for a reasonable price! I think that was the one major thing my pie was missing.

    • Yeah, I was sad with the grapefruit layer, especially as she had said the thicken process was going to be almost magical. Def recommend keeping a random eye out for the passion fruit. It was awesome!

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  3. Agree, agree, agree: the crust was f’in awesome, the curd was totes magnificent, the sweetened condensed filling fell down for me. It was a pretty pie to look at, but was ultimately missing some of that ‘magic’ that she describes!!

    • Yeah, I was so disappointed by it that I was nervous about the grapefruit-separating bit, but then the fact that THAT worked and I had one AWESOME layer still made this recipe worth it for me. That curd is going on everything in my kitchen soon…

  4. Pingback: Grapefruit Sponge Pie: Burwell Recipe Swap! | The Dusty Baker

  5. says:

    Have made this pie before and it was delicious – although I might halve the grapefruit strands in the passionfruit curd next time. Had no difficulties with the sweetened condensed grapefruit, it worked just like she said it would.

  6. Pingback: Grapefruit Pie

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