“Do you want to make dessert?” I asked my grandson Daniel last week in Austin.
“YES.” The kid is definitely a good branch on the family tree.
“What should we make?” I’m thinking cookies, brownies, cake, …
“Pie,” Daniel said with confidence.
“Uh, sure. What kind?” I was a bit stunned.
“Chocolate.” Ah, he’s very, very much my grandson.
“I’ll look at the recipes on my computer,” I told him.
“Don’t bother. I’ll get one.” He sat at the computer in the kitchen.
Okay, the kid wants a race? No contest. I go to my directory of recipes and start the search for “chocolate” and “pie” and …
“Found it!” Daniel exclaimed. Apparently, if you eleven years old and facile, you can beat the crap out of your grandfather.
Oh, well. Daniel found this decadent recipe on myrecipes.com and we duly made it. The pie is a delight. Easy to create, very easy to eat. It’s a true treat. For the crust, we used the Great Graham Cracker Crust I posted here yesterday. One pie lasted one hour with five pie lovers.
This is just the rich, end-the-meal-with-a-bang dessert you want for your weekend barbeque or picnic. If you have a budding chef in your family, there is plenty for them to do and learn from here.
Chocolate Icebox Pie
Yield: one 9-inch pie
- ⅔ cup milk
- ¾ cup semisweet chocolate morsels
- ¼ cup cold water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 9-inch pie crust
- 1 cup whipping cream
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup chopped pecans, optionally toasted
- 1 2-ounce chunk of milk chocolate, finely grated
Heat the milk until it just begins to bubble around the edge in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat (do not oil). Remove from the heat. Whisk in the chocolate morsels until melted. Cool slightly.
Stir together the cold water and cornstarch until dissolved.
Whisk the cornstarch mixture, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute or until the mixture thickens and is smooth. Do not overcook.
Removed from the heat, and whisk in the butter. Spoon in the mixture, which will be thick now, into the piecrust. Smooth the top, cover lightly with foil, and refrigerate for 8 hours.
Beat the whipping cream at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar beating until stiff peaks are achieved. Add the vanilla and fold in by hand.
Spread the whipped cream evenly over the pie filling. Sprinkle the nuts and grated chocolate over the whipped cream top.
Source: Adapted from myrecipes.com
Graham cracker crust is a staple for many pies, particularly the summer pies that will soon be enticing us.
Getting a “crust” ready-made from the store is one option, and a bad one. Those ready-made creatures are often too thin, dry, and stale. They are a poor match for that wonderful pie you are about to craft. It is the combination of filling and crust that creates that total pie experience.
After experimentation, I’ve found a great technique for making your own crust. This crust is thick, not thin, and “rough” with various sizes of crumbs. Eating the crust itself is a treat. You make the crumbs by hand, not in that food processor. A range of crumb sizes, bonded with melted butter and perhaps flavored with spices, creates a matrix of textures and flavors that can complement the pie of your choice.
To make the crumbs, break the graham crackers by hand over a bowl, and then press your fingers into the larger fragments until they are broken. You don’t want to create a uniform powder here. Your goal is a mixture: some powder, some small fragments, a larger chunk or two.
Flavorings? The crust is a template you can play with. The basic recipe calls for adding sugar. Beyond that, you can try:
- A teaspoon of chili powder to compliment a chocolate pie
- A tablespoon of cocoa powder to get a “chocolate-flavored” crust
- A teaspoon of cinnamon if you are planning a fruit pie
- The zest of a lemon or lime if you are making a citrus pie
You can experiment with these quantities and with other flavors. Do go gently with that chili powder, though. You want some heat to accent the chocolate, not put your mouth on fire.
Great Graham Cracker Crust
Servings: One thick crust for the bottom layer of a 9-inch pie
- 1 ⅔ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- Other desired flavorings, optional
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
Heat the oven to 350⁰F.
In a medium blow, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir with a fork to blend. Add any other flavorings and again stir to blend.
Add 4 tablespoons of the melted butter and mix with a spoon or, better, with your hands. Depending on the dryness of the crumbs, you may need to add some or all of the remaining butter. The goal is to have the crumbs damp, not wet, malleable but not clumping into ball. You need a mixture you can gracefully manipulate in the pie shell.
Place the crumb mixture in a 9-inch pie shall. Spread the crumbs evenly across the bottom and the sides. To compress the crumbs, use your hands. Or press down with a pie pan of the same size. Make sure the edges have a solid barrier of crumbs all the way to the top.
Place the shell in the heated oven. Bake for 12 minutes and check for doneness. The cooking time should be 14 minutes, but you don’t want a burnt shell. The crust is done when it is heated through and lightly browned.
Place the shell on a cooling rack and let it come to room temperature before using.
If you wish, you can freeze the crust for up to a month before defrosting and using.
Source: Brian O’Rourke with inspiration from Southern Pies by Nancie McDermott