Ah, summer. You deserve to be smooth and creamy, rich and delicious. Like this gluten free root beer float pie. I like it best with a simple light and flaky pastry crust like our coconut cream pie, but if you were hoping not to turn on the oven at all you could easily make it with a no-bake cookie crumb crust (easy instructions included below). Summertime is for livin’ easy, after all.
The single pastry crust can easily be made way ahead of time, too, and frozen raw or even frozen after it’s been baked. If you freeze it raw, bake it right from the freezer. If you freeze it baked, allow it to defrost at room temperature before pouring in the smooth and creamy root beer float filling.
There are quite a few root beers that are gluten free, but my old-time favorite is A&W. I’ve also made the filling for this pie with Hansen’s root beer and I think it had a bit more of a root beer flavor.
My kids don’t drink much soda at all, so this is really a special treat for them. Want to boost the root beer flavor even more? Add some root beer flavoring or root beer concentrate in place of the vanilla extract. Or just serve with a tall, frosty glass of root beer. :)
Topping 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/4 cup (29 g) confectioners’ sugar
Maraschino cherries, for serving (optional)
*No Bake Option: Instead of a single pastry crust, make a cookie-crumb crust by placing 1 1/2 cups (225 g) gluten free crunchy cookie crumbsand 6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, melted in a large bowl and mixing until well-combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan or deep-dish pie plate. Place the pie plate in the freezer until firm.
Make the pie dough. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat it in the dry ingredients. Flatten each chunk of butter between your thumb and forefinger. Add 1/3 cup of water and mix until the dough begins to come together. Add the remaining water by the teaspoon until no part of the dough is crumbly. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper and press into a disk. Sprinkle the dough lightly with more flour, and roll it out into a rectangle that is about 1 inch thick, moving the dough frequently and sprinkling it lightly with flour if it begins to stick. Fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. Sprinkle the dough again lightly with flour, and roll out the dough once again into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Twice more, remove the top piece of parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with flour, and fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. This will smooth out the dough and make it quite easy to handle. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill.
Make the pie shell. Preheat your oven to 425°F.Grease a 9-inch metal pie plate generously and set aside. Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator. Place on a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper, dust lightly with flour, and roll into a 12-inch round, about 3/8-inch thick. Roll the pie crust loosely on the rolling pin and then unroll it over the prepared pie plate. Press the pie crust gently into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate and, with kitchen shears, trim the excess crust so that only 1/4-inch of excess is overhanging the plate. Tuck the 1/4-inch of excess under itself, and crimp the edge gently all the way around the crust. Pierce the bottom of the pie crust with the tines of a fork and place the pie plate in the freezer to chill for 5 minutes.
Bake the pie shell. Remove the pie plate from the freezer and place a large piece of unbleached parchment paper in the center of the crust. Place pie weights or dried beans in a single layer in the center of the pie crust, on top of the paper. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the paper and pie weights. Return to the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Continue to bake until the crust is lightly golden brown all over (8 to 10 minutes more). If you don’t bake the crust until it is golden brown all over, your pie will have a soggy crust once it is filled. Remove the pie crust from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
Make the filling. In a small bowl, place the water, sprinkle the gelatin on top, mix to combine and allow to sit for about 2 minutes so the gelatin can bloom (it will swell). In a medium-sized, heat-safe bowl, place the flour blend, sugar and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz.) of the milk, and then the egg yolks, whisking to combine after each addition until smooth. Set the mixture aside. In a medium-sized heavy-bottom saucepan, place the remaining 1 3/4 cups (14 fluid ounces) milk and the root beer, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the hot milk and root beer mixture to the bowl with the egg mixture in a slow trickle, whisking constantly to combine.Once all of the hot milk has been added, pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat until thickened enough that the whisk leaves a visible trail in the mixture as you whisk it (2 to 3 minutes). Add the bloomed gelatin and mix to combine well. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the chopped butter and the vanilla, and stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour the filling into the cooled shell and spread into an even layer. Allow the filling to cool for about 5 minutes. Cover the pie with plastic wrap, placing the plastic directly on the surface of the filling to avoid its developing a pudding “skin.” Place in the refrigerator to chill until set (at least 2 hours and up to 2 days).
Make the topping and serve. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the heavy whipping cream and the confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form (about 3 minutes). Remove the plastic wrap from the chilled pie and spread the whipped cream on top. Slide the pie out of the shell onto a cutting board before slicing with a wet knife, placing a maraschino cherry on top of each slice and serving.