“A hundred hearts would be too few to carry all my love for you.” ~ Anonymous
The bottom nearly fell out of my world when Sir Paul, my eternal Valentine, married that Nancy woman recently.
I know. She’s rich, slender and probably has her perky moments, but the important question is, Can she bake a good pie?
I am crushed Macca didn’t even think to call and tell me. Here I’ve been his
love slave loyal true-blue fan for over 40 years (I first heard “She Loves You” in utero :)), and nary a word. Now that he’s got a new Honey Pie, what am I to do?
Bake! Bake deep, rich, decadent, devil-may-care this will make me forget all about him Bake. Take no prisoners Bake. And to get me through Valentine’s Day, only chocolate will do.
I considered my options — Pioneer Woman’s French Silk Pie? Saveur’s Thin Edge of the Wedge Chocolate Pudding or Molten Chocolate Cake? I could have gone all retro and dug out my old Midnight Chocolate Cake recipe (so good, diehard football fans actually stopped watching the 1992 Superbowl game to eat it). And I hadn’t made my famous Chocolate Cheesecake in a long, long time.
Decisions, decisions. I nixed the French Silk Pie because it contains raw eggs, and while the other recipes were very tempting, a little voice in my head kept saying, “Chocolate Cream Pie.” Why yes. That would take a from-scratch chocolate pudding and kick it up a notch, like childhood comfort food stepping out on the town. I’d made Banana Cream pies before, but never a Chocolate Cream, and it had been ages since I’d made any ice box pies.
The folks at Gourmet had just what I was looking for: a recipe whose success depends more on using high quality ingredients than complicated techniques. I’m all about simple. Since this was my first time, I followed the instructions to the letter, even using their suggested cookie for the crust: Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers.
No probs at all processing them into fine crumbs, mixing in sugar and melted butter, and then pressing into a pie plate. This gets baked at 350° for about 15 minutes until crisp and fragrant.
While the crust was cooling, I made the filling by cooking the sugar, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks and milk over medium heat, constantly stirring with my trusty whisk. When it reached a full boil, I cooked it a little more on low heat for another minute.
I then poured the thickened mixture through a sieve and whisked in chocolates, butter and vanilla. I specifically chose this recipe because it called for solid baking chocolate rather than cocoa — an almost surefire guarantee of intense flavor.
I covered the pudding with a buttered parchment round to prevent a skin forming while it cooled for about 2 hours. Then it was time to pour the pudding into the crust to chill in the fridge.
One lick of the spatula will of course make you want to eat this pie right way, but delayed gratification is the name of this game. The recipe says you can chill the pie for 6 hours, but I chose to let it set overnight, amid fears that when I finally tried to slice it, the filling would be too soft or even runny, like love gone wrong. Yes, I’m talking to you, Nancy.
While my pie was turning itself into a masterpiece, I listened to Macca’s new CD, “Kisses on the Bottom.” I giggled at the title, swooned at my favorite Beatle all suave and debonair, and quite enjoyed the dreamy, elegantly rendered songs (Diana Krall’s band turned what could have been trite and ho-hum into magic). Wait. Wasn’t I supposed to be forgetting him?
Next day, I whipped the heavy cream with a tablespoon of sugar. I remembered when I first met Len in London and didn’t have an electric mixer. He volunteered to whip the cream by hand. (After seeing that power arm at work, I knew I had to marry him :))
I spooned the cream over the pie, ever-so-gently forming swirly clouds over that luscious bed of chocolate, then finally sprinkled on a handful of dark chocolate shavings.
When I sliced it, the first piece came out nice and neat, beautiful and beckoning. Smile for the camera, you tuxedoed wonder!
My first forkful: ecstasy, rapture, velvety demon chocolaty dreamy world of sirens on a fantasy dessert island taking me far, far away.
The filling: soft, cool, airy cream perfectly blending with and balancing the pure essence of every chocolate pudding your sweet mama ever made in her safe, cozy kitchen of days gone by, only richer, darker, smoother.
Cookie crust: crunchy, crisp, another textured layer of sweet seduction. A delicious bottom, kiss this bottom, you want to marry it. Dang, what a perfect stage for the pudding.
Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart.
This pie sang to me, a three-part harmony so good it almost made me completely forget about Nancy’s husband. Who?
If what’s-his-name ever tasted this heavenly creation (if I hadn’t made it myself, I’d have sworn the angels did), he might forget Ms. Shevell and come running back to me. Never underestimate the power of pie!
CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE
(serves 8 to 10)
1-1/3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (from about 26 cookies such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
5 T unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 T unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1 T sugar
- Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
- Stir together crumbs, butter, and sugar and press on bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack.
- Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will be thick).
- Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours.
- Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.
- Just before serving, beat cream with sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then spoon on top of pie.
- Pie (without topping) can be chilled up to 1 day.
- A graham cracker or gingersnap cookie crust, as well as a traditional shortcrust pastry may be substituted for the chocolate wafers.
- Listening to Paul McCartney’s “Kisses on the Bottom” while preparing or eating this pie will enhance its flavor tenfold.
- Best to practice your puckering ahead of time.
(Adapted from an original recipe by Kemp M. Minifie, Gourmet)
♥HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!♥
P.S. I love you.
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Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.