Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chocolate Pie

From Wikipedia. Where history is always 100% awesome.

First, let me tell you that Iain is a budding historian. For reals.

Tonight he informed me that Johnny Appleseed liked to wear a pot on his head. [Not completely inaccurate.] He did this, Iain asserts, because in "the olden days" they didn't make very good sunhats.

That is all.

In other news:

Charles's mother makes a delicious chocolate chiffon pie. It's to die for, really. And she freezes it (the recipe makes 3 pies!) so it straddles the boundary between ice cream and pie.

The only problem is that it (and all other recipes like it) call for mixing raw eggs into the ganache and for whipping egg whites for folding into the mixture.

I just can't do that anymore.

Years ago I watched a film about food safety. In it, a mother described her son's dying moments. He begged her for water but she couldn't give him any. He was 3 or 4 years old when he died. The cause? A hamburger eaten on a family picnic.

So...I can't quite bring myself to use raw eggs. I trust my source. I buy local, free-range eggs. But still.*

But we can't do without chocolate pie. I altered the recipe, working from my vague memories of the Chocolate Mousse served twenty years ago at Primerose House in Charleston (SC). That mousse, made by a kitchen savant named Dexter, relied primarily on whipped cream and a simple ganache. In this case, I still used eggs because I wanted the silkiness that egg can provide. But I cooked them in a custard first. While I was playing The Fraction Game, I made the recipe a little smaller. Surely two pies is enough, right?

2 chocolate pie crusts (Oreo crusts, basically - make it or buy it. I bought mine.)
3 cups of heavy cream, divided
A few tablespoons of white sugar
2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks
10 ounces of chocolate (I use Ghirardelli dark chips)
1 Tablespoon of strong coffee
1 Tablespoon of whisky (bourbon! The original called for light rum but we don't have any)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

[Freeze the bowl and beater of your mixer]

First, put the chocolate chips in a big bowl. Big.

Second, heat 1.5 cups of cream in a saucepan over medium low heat. Put the eggs (2 whole plus 2 yolks) into a large bowl and whisk like mad. When the cream develops little bubbles around the edges, use a ladle to stream a little into the eggs. Keep whisking! You're bringing the eggs up to temp so they won't just scramble. Once you've got a couple of ladles into the eggs (now it's a cream mixture you're whisking, looks like a bowl of hot milk), pour all that back into the saucepan. Whisk, whisk, whisk for a few minutes while the eggs cook and the cream thickens a little. Add the coffee, whisky, and vanilla at some point. Add sugar to taste - you're just sweetening it a little. I added 3 tablespoons of sugar toward the end.

Now pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips. Let it sit a bit. Then whisk or spatulize (ie: stir) so the chocolate melts. It takes a little time. When you have a nice ganache, keep stirring so it cools a bit. Set aside.

Get out your (frozen) bowl and whisk attachment (I have a KitchenAid mixer and you should, too. If not, whip the cream as you usually do). Whip the remaining 1.5 cups of cream until it's quite firm.

[Note: recipes often say: but not until it turns to butter. Pfft. I did that, once, on purpose. It takes a lot of whipping and you'll see beads of water start to develop before it happens. So the better instruction might be: don't walk away. Your cream will whip in moments and you just need to stand there and when it starts to look quite solid turn off the machine.]

Once you have your whipped cream, get out a big spoon and eat it.


Plop that stuff into the ganache and fold, fold, fold. About halfway through, think to yourself, "Why am I folding? This is really just going to end up mixed. And it won't mix unless I mix, which isn't folding!" Just keep folding.

When it's a nice, uniform light brown, pour it into the pie crusts. Cover (the ones you buy at the store come with a plastic cover) and freeze.

If you prefer the pie softer, let it thaw an hour before serving. If not, eat it frozen. It's yum either way. Also, you can top it with more whipped cream or with chocolate shavings but I think that's coals to Newcastle.

*In The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (a Christmas gift!) she offers a recipe very much like our family's. She says: buy good eggs and trust them. Intellectually, I know this is a reasonable approach. But emotionally I just can't quite manage it.

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