Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The perfect pie (for me)

I am unashamedly a lover of all things sweet--honestly, I can't think of many desserts that would cause me to turn up my nose. That said, I rarely crave pie. I like a good pecan or pumpkin pie during the holidays, and I like fruit pies (apple and cherry, especially) once in a while in the summer, but it's a rare occasion that I choose to make one over a batch of cookies or brownies or a cake.

The one exception is chocolate cream pie. I've always loved a dense chocolate-pudding pie topped with pillowy whipped cream. The recipe below--from Gourmet magazine--is the best I have ever tasted, from a bakery or home-baked. It looks a bit daunting, perhaps, but it's not--and any time you put into it is well worth it in the end.

Chocolate Cream Pie

For the crust:
1 1/3 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

For the filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Make the crust:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat your oven to 350°F.

Throw all of the crust ingredients into a medium bowl and stir to combine. Press into a 9-inch pie plate and then bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Make the filling:
In a large, heavy saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks. Add the milk in a stream, whisking constantly. Continue whisking and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, continuing to whisk, for about 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 buttered plastic wrap and cool completely, at least 2 hours.

Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.

Top with freshly made whipped cream (or Cool Whip, whatever trips your trigger) and serve to your salivating guests.

No comments: