Last night I went to a gelato making class at Mia Chef Gelato (www.gelatomia.com). The timing was fortuitous as I was planning on creating some boozy ice creams just in time for the warm weather. While I won’t be investing in a $20,000 gelato machine any time soon, I did learn to balance my fat and alcohol. I also found Chef Easy’s tequila and fig combo to be an inspiration to branch out beyond the comfort of bourbon-vanilla-esque combos. (I mean, who doesn’t want a little Cuervo in their dessert?)
All the flavors were delicious; I have four pints in my freezer for later research.
My mother is a very reasonable woman. She’s practical. Rational. When it comes to food, she’s even more so. While I’m cooking up bacon ice cream with salted caramel topping, she’s putting together a delicate sponge with fresh berries. When I’m all butter cream and marshmallows, she’s whipped cream and a touch of bitter chocolate. I make messes. She barely needs to wipe the counter. I get upset with the ugly pastries. She doesn’t make ugly pastry. So when she sent me this particular recipe from a King Arthur Flour push marketing email, I thought, her email has been fished again. Not true. She was just having midnight craving moment where chocolate pie seemed like a reasonable desire.
I’ve never been a fan of King Arthur recipes – they tend to fail more than they win, and personally, I think they over complicate the directions so you’ll just give up and buy their cake mix. But this one, while again, slightly over complicated in directions, is a hands down WIN – if you’re into chocolate midnight pie. Check it out on the King Arthur website or copied below. You don’t need a pie shield, (the crust doesn’t brown that much), but do make sure the dough has ample time to rest, as the cream makes it tender. And note that they suggest refrigerating overnight before serving, (it really is rather liquidy out of the over, though not disturbingly so), so make this 24 hours in advance desired eating time.
Chocolate Midnight Pie
For the Crust
- 1 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but good
- 3 to 5 tablespoons milk or cream (half and half, light, heavy, or whipping)
For the Filling
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
- 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur* (e.g., Kahlua), or substitute strong brewed coffee
- 1 tablespoon cold milk or cream (half and half, light, heavy, or whipping)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional; for depth of flavor
- 2 tablespoons yellow or white cornmeal
- 2/3 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- *Frangelico (hazelnut), Amaretto (almond), Grand Marnier (orange), or Framboise (raspberry) are all wonderful, in place of the coffee liqueur.
1) To make the crust: Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt.
2) Work the butter into the dry ingredients (using your fingers, a pastry blender or fork, or a mixer) until the dough is unevenly crumbly.
3) Dissolve the espresso powder in 1 tablespoon of the milk. Sprinkle up to 5 tablespoons (or more, if necessary) of the milk into the dry ingredients (beginning with the tablespoon of espresso milk), continuing to mix until the dough is cohesive. Grab a handful; if it holds together willingly, and doesn’t seem at all dry or crumbly, you’ve added enough liquid.
4) Shape the dough into a disk. Roll its edges along a floured work surface (as though the disk were a wheel), in order to smooth them out. Pat the disk until it’s about 1″ thick, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
5) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Allow it to warm a bit and become flexible, 15 to 30 minutes
6) Flour your work surface, and roll the dough into a 12″ circle. Transfer the dough to a regular (not deep-dish) 9″ pie pan that’s at least 1 ¼” deep. Trim and crimp the edges. Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill, while you’re preparing the filling.
7) Beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until smooth.
8) Add the eggs one at a time, beating slowly but thoroughly after each addition; you want to combine them with the butter and sugar, but not beat in a lot of air.
9) Stir in the cocoa, liqueur, milk, and vanilla.
10) Use a food processor (mini, if you have one) to grind together the espresso powder, cornmeal, and chocolate chips. Add to the batter. Pour the batter into the crust.
11) Bake the pie for 45 minutes, adding a crust shield after 20 minutes. The middle may look pretty soft; so long as the temperature has reached 165°F right in the center, the pie is done.
12) Remove the pie from the oven, cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.
13) Serve each slice topped with a layer of whipped cream and a sprinkle of chocolate curls, if desired.
Yield: 1 pie, 10 servings.
Once, in another lifetime, I spent one night lying on the floor with 31 other similarly minded people. It was one of those times when crying, hugging, and declarations of never ending love are normal modes of expression. The rest of the world doesn’t function like that: unbridled expression of comaraderie, brotherhood, family. Only small children lie in a puddle of bodies, taking comfort in the closeness of the many, just breathing next to them. It was the end of three months of theater school, and the intensity of the experience left us all, I think, trying to cling to the magic just a little bit longer. One set of arms is not long enough to hug 31 other people. Instead, we lay on a floor in a haphazard pile. I have a photograph of this, taken from a balcony above, and looking at it recently, I am shocked at the stories it tells in a multicolor blur of scarves and leg warmers and collegiate hoodies and ancient sweatpants, through a filter of fuzz from 35mm color fast film taken flashless in low lighting. Somehow, it does not smack of poor photography, only of joy, and love, and family.
At the time, we were eating bourbon balls, brought straight from Kentucky by someone’s parent. My friend turned 30 this weekend. I promised to bring cupcakes to the bar we were to surprise him at. I had one of those weeks where I just wanted to stretch my arms around my New York family and take comfort in their nearness. But, my arms aren’t long enough. And only theater nerds think it is normal to lie on the floor in a puddle of people. So I made some bourbon ball cupcakes, my typical food-as-feelings way of saying you are my joy, you are my love, and you are my family.
Bourbon Ball Cupcakes
Makes 1 dozen
For the cupcakes:
- 1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 1/2 teas baking powder
- 1/8 teas salt
- 1/2 teas ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teas ground nutmeg
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3/4 cup pecans, chopped medium-fine
For the filling:
- 2 oz semi sweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 oz bourbon
- 1 teas vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 12 Tbs (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 6 cups confections sugar
- 2 Tbs vanilla extract
- 1/4 c bourbon
- 1 Tbs heavy cream
- chocolate sprinkles (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup standard size cupcake tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium high until fluffy about 3 minutes. Add sugar and mix for about 5 minutes more. Mix in eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low, alternate add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in pecans. Divide batter evenly among the cupcake tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool completely before coring out centers or frosting.
Meanwhile, heat the cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and add chocolate, bourbon, and vanilla. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes until mixture is cool and slightly firm. Beat with an electric hand mixer until fluffy and color lightens.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric hand mixer until fluffy. Beat in 1 cup confectioners sugar. Add vanilla and bourbon. Mix. Add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time. When combined, beat in cream. If the frosting seems a little soft, add more sugar as desired.
When cupcakes are cool, core them using a cupcake corer (an apple corer works okay too). Using a frosting bag with a plain tip fill centers with chocolate filling. Frost with butter cream. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles (optional).
- 3.14 is National Pi Day!
- Oreo turned 100 last week!
- I’m in need of some comfort food tonight
- Comfort=chocolate pudding
- My dad’s side of the family hails from western Pennslyvania, and while much of the family tree has dispersed to more cosmopolitan regions, Oreo pudding combos were at every family reunion I can remember. We may be all profiterole now, but deep down, we’re still dirt pie.
As in a mathematical proof, this is a clear equation for Oreo Pudding Pi(e). But Oreo Pudding Pi(e) would not be complete without a cocktail thrown in for good measure, (the name of this site demands it), so this is actually a recipe for Mudslide Pudding Pi(e).
Mudslide Pudding Pi(e)
Makes one 9 inch pie
- 1 15.5 oz package chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreo.
- 3 Tbs butter, melted
- 2 boxes chocolate pudding
- 2 cups cold milk
- 2 oz Kahlua
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 Tbs Bailey’s
Grease a 9 inch pie pan. Set aside. Reserve 14 cookies. Eat 6, save the other 8 for garnish. Pulse remaining cookies in food processor until ground to small crumbs. Mix in bowl with melted butter. Press into pie pan. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, whisk together packages of pudding and milk. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, mix in Kahlua, and pour into pie crust. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. In a large bowl, beat heavy cream with sugar. When soft peaks form, add Bailey’s. Beat a minute more, careful not to over whip. Spread cream in a thick layer on cold pie. Garnish with remaining cookies. Serve immediately.
Being flaky is a bad thing, if you’re a friend or colleague. If you are pie crust, it is an excellent thing. You can add extra flake to your crust but keeping your ingredients very cold, (cold butter, ice water, sometimes I even put the flour in the fridge) and, by substituting your ice water for icy alcohol. Depending on the finished product, you can use any alcohol of your choosing, (tequila is a nice touch for apple pie), but I usually stick with vodka since it is flavorless. Of course, if pies are your friends, you might want to stick with a simple butter crust.
Pate Brisee, extra flake
Makes two 9-inch pie crusts or one double crust
- 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, cold, cut into pieces
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 Tablespoons sugar (omit if making a savory pie)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup ice cold vodka
In a food processor, combine flour, sugar (optional) and salt. Add butter and pulse until pea sized and slightly sandy in consistency. With food processor running, pour vodka in feeder tube until dough just comes together. Shape into disc, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 3 days before using. Dust all surfaces with flour before rolling out as dough may be sticky.