Pie Day II: My Chocolate Pie-Lettes

March 14, 2009

One of the fun things about living in this country is all of the made up holidays. Days randomly picked out of the year to make us do silly things (anyone else celebrate backwards day when they were in school?) or on the side of the spectrum, force us to buy yet another gift to prove we love the people in our lives. There are holidays to make us more aware of environmental or health issues and there are holidays to celebrate the joys of things like yo-yos, and bubble wrap!

Last year I celebrated what has quickly become my favorite fake holiday. Pie Day! Not only does it celebrate a delicious dessert, but it makes this day (3.14) so wonderfully punny! It isn’t as funny if I explain too much so I really hope you get it 🙂

Anyways, last year I made a naked chocolate pie, with yummy caramel squished between a chocolate crust and a thick brownie layer. It was delicious and evil and more than a bit naughty.

This year I decided to go with something a lot more simple, but something that has always been my favorite (especially at thanksgiving…pie day for all the non-bloggers). A simple chocolate silk pie…or should I say mini chocolate pie-lettes. 🙂

I tend to prefer a graham cracker crust with my chocolate pie. I don’t know why but it just seems to work better with the chocolate than a crispy, flaky but not as sweet crust. However, this year we decided to go with a shortbread crust and I think I have become a convert. The contrast between the silky chocolate and the delicately sweet, crumbly crust is just amazing, especially considering we decided to make little bite-sized pie-lettes. 🙂

Chocolate Silk Pie-lettes
Source for crust: Joy of Baking

Crust:
1 cup (227 grams) (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (72 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all purpose flour
2 tablespoons (30 grams) cornstarch or rice flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Filling:
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 cups whole milk
4 oz chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
generous splash of chocolate liqueur

Whipped Cream:
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chocolate liqueur

Crust:
Lightly butter miniature muffin tins or fill the tins with miniature cupcake wrappers. Set aside. Preheat oven to 325F. 

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together (approximately two minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract.

In a smaller bowl whisk the flour, cornstarch and salt. Gradually add this into the butter mixture and mix just until incorporated. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill approximately 1 hour.

Divide the dough into even pieces (approximately 1/2 ounces each, 32 balls) and place one ball of dough in the center of each muffin tin. With your fingertips, press the dough up the sides of the individual muffin tin so there is an indentation in the center. Once filled, place the tart pan, with the unbaked shells in the freezer for about 10 minutes so the shortbread can become firm.

Bake for approximately 18 – 20 minutes or until lightly browned. About halfway through the baking time, lightly prick the bottom of each shortbread, with the tines of a fork, if they have puffed up. Check again after another five minutes and prick again if needed. Once they are fully baked, remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Filling and Topping:
Mix all of the ingredients for the whipped cream in a bowl, but do not whip yet. Put in the fridge with your beaters/whisk to chill.

Whisk cornstarch, sugar, cocoa and salt in a saucepan, then gradually whisk in milk.

Place on the stove and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Allow to simmer until it’s nice and thick. Do not stop whisking while it’s cooking or you’ll get lumps. Remove from heat and whisk in chopped chocolate and butter until melted.

Transfer filling to a metal bowl and quick-chill by setting in an ice bath, stirring constantly. Allow to sit until completely cool.

Pour filling into a ziplock bag or piping bag and fill the crusts.

Take out the bowl with the whipped cream ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form. Generously top the pie-lettes, then decorate as desired. Enjoy!

These things really are amazing, and the few leftovers we had were even better after sitting in the fridge! (Don’t you love that?) If you try them yourself, keep in mind that the crust really does rise quite a bit if you aren’t careful so make sure you keep it nice and cold before popping it in the oven, or you won’t be able to put enough chocolate…and the more chocolate you can fit, the better. You can even use pie weights or rice (on top of foil, of course) if you decide to make a full sized pie.

Also, anything will work well for decorating: shaved chocolate, chocolate chips, berries, brownie crumbs… just be creative! You can also add 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder to the whipped cream for chocolate whipped cream.

Whatever you decide, it really is an incredible pie, and well worth any holiday…even the fake ones. 🙂


Pie Day and My Naked Pie

March 14, 2008

Raise your hand if you know what today is. That’s right! 3.14(159265) and that makes it Pi Day (or pie day).

During my random blog surfing last month I stumbled upon Evil Chef Mom’s blog about Pie Day (you can read that blog here). At that point there were already 15 people signed up to bake a pie for this happy day. I personally can’t think of anyone that doesn’t love pie of some sort, and as much as I love puns and plays on words as well, I just had to join in.

I even knew right away what I wanted to contribute to the event. Most people who spend a lot of time in the kitchen have a cache of recipes that they want to try eventually. Not just a pile of cookbooks, but recipes that have actually caught their eye, their imagination, or immediately elicited drool. This one, a tart with a cookie crust, and gooey caramel under a brownie-like layer is understandably something I have been dying to try for quite a while but things kept happening to prevent it.

First, I was planning to do this as a thanksgiving treat for myself but at that time my money was too tight to buy the ingredients I needed. Then I realized I didn’t have the right pan and had to budget for that, and so on, and so forth. You get the picture. Well finally the pan had arrived so I was just waiting for a good opportunity to make it.

Then came Pie Day! And as it is right before I meet up with my friends for a big convention, I can now finally bake my topless pie. Such a yummy naked contribution. 🙂

bite or pie

I am really happy I finally did this. It came out beautiful and is just as tasty as it sounds. The brownie top layer was chewy and super fudgy and the caramel was so warm and sweet and creamy, I would have crawled into it if I could have.

caramel pie

Double Chocolate Caramel Brownie Tart
adapted from recipe found on Cookingclub.com

Dough
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
7 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut up
1 egg, beaten

Filling
20 caramels
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk, divided
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (6-oz.) pkg. semisweet chocolate chips, melted

1. Place flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powder in large bowl; whisk well to blend. Add butter and cut with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Add 1 egg; beat 30 seconds or until dough just begins to form. Form dough into flat round; cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (Dough can be made up to 2 days ahead.)

2. On floured surface, knead dough to soften slightly. Roll dough into 12-inch round 1/8 inch thick; place in 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Run rolling pin over top of pan to trim dough. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350°F. Line crust with foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges begin to set. Remove foil and weights; cool on wire rack while preparing filling.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Place caramels and 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk in small saucepan; heat over medium-low heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally. Pour over crust and spread evenly.

5. In medium bowl, stir together remaining sweetened condensed milk, 1 egg and melted butter. Add melted chocolate chips; stir to combine. Pour over caramel.

 chocolate pie

6. Bake 35 minutes or until top is dry and center is set. Cool on wire rack 30 minutes; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I wasn’t quite happy with the crust the first time I tried it (yes, I have made this twice in the last week lol) so I added two teaspoons of sugar and two tablespoons of butter the second time around. The dough was much easier to deal with but I haven’t tasted it yet. Up to you if you want to try it the original way or my way. It has a crisp, cookie-like texture and plenty of chocolate either way, but it was a little hard to work with because it was a little crumbly even before it was baked and my major sweet tooth thought it needed a touch of sugar.

chocolate caramel tart

Other than my little change to the crust this thing is great. As soon as we cut into the second one I’ll let you know how the revised crust turned out. In the meantime, enjoy, and Happy Pie Day 🙂