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

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

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. 🙂

Simply Sweet

April 19, 2008

I have a pretty big event that I am gonna be baking for in the near future (yay!), so a lot of the recipes coming up, including this one, are gonna be practicing for that. Most of the recipes I want to use are things that I have done often, but as a few are new, I of course want to try them out first, make sure I can actually do them before attempting to do them in bulk 🙂

I don’t know what it is about shortbread cookies, but for some reason I love them. They are a very simple, delicate cookie. They are kinda sweet, so that could be part of it, (you all know of my sweet tooth) but it is just something about the combination of that specific texture and the taste that makes me very happy…it could also have something to do with the fact that I have always been able to convince myself this is healthier than other cookies 😉

I also wanted to practice working with white chocolate since it is so very different from milk/dark chocolate, so some of these are dipped or decorated a little, but they are great plain too. Just make yourself a nice cup of tea, grab a few of these things and unwind.

Shortbread Cookies
Source: Joy of Baking

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sale
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small bowl whisk the flour with the salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently stir (do not beat) in the flour mixture just until incorporated. It will seem very flaky and dry but that’s okay.

Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350F with the rack in the middle of the oven. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. You might have to knead the dough a bit to work it. If it starts sticking to the rolling pin, lightly dust the pin with flour. 

Cut cookies as desired and place on cookie sheets and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. This will firm up the dough so the cookies maintain their shape. Bake for 5 minutes, turn the cookie sheet and bake for 5 more minutes or until lightly brown. Cool on a rack.

 These are better the next day. They taste a little too much like powdered sugar that same day but after they get really good.

If you’d like to decorate them with chocolate, chop up the chocolate and melt in a double boiler. After that it’s up to your imagination. Swirl, drizzle, dip…whatever you please.

I also played around with chocolate covered oreos. I obviously need to work on my technique a little but it was still much fun and very tasty.