Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Pie with Crème Fraîche Topping


I have made this pie twice. The first time, I couldn't find crème fraîche so I just made some good ole' whupped cream and let people top the pie off themselves. It was fantastic, and oh so incredibly rich! The pie is amazing. I thought, my dad would LOVE this. So, I made him this pie for his birthday and this time I followed directions because I love my dad and I wanted it to be EVEN MORE PERFECT. Except, it turns out that it wasn't better. In fact, it wasn't even as good as the first time! I didn't like the crème fraîche topping. It was actually too rich for the pie and didn't complement as much as the plain Jane whipped cream. And so it goes. Regardless, I will supply you with the recipe as it is supposed to be (copied directly) from Bon Appétit, January 2008. And I will encourage you to ignore the part about the crème fraîche and just get a little bit of whipping cream, and whip it up with a little bit of sugar.

What you need:

Crust:

  • 1 cup chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about half of one 9-ounce package; about 23 cookies, finely ground in processor)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped
Filling:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Topping:
  • 1 cup chilled crème fraîche*
  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Bittersweet chocolate shavings or curls (optional)

What to do:

Crust:
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Blend cookie crumbs and sugar in processor. Add melted butter; process until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides (not rim) of 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Bake until crust begins to set and no longer looks moist, pressing gently with back of fork if crust puffs, about 12 minutes. Remove crust from oven, then sprinkle chopped chocolate over bottom of crust. Let stand until chocolate softens, 1 to 2 minutes. Using offset spatula or small rubber spatula, spread chocolate over bottom and up sides of crust to cover. Chill crust until chocolate sets, about 30 minutes.
Filling:
Whisk sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt to blend in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually add 1/3 cup milk, whisking until smooth paste forms. Whisk in remaining milk, then 1/4 cup cream. Using flat-bottom wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, stir mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping bottom and sides of pan until pudding thickens and begins to bubble at edges, about 5 minutes. Add chocolate; stir until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in rum and vanilla. Pour hot pudding into crust and spread evenly. Cool 1 hour at room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap; chill overnight. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.
Topping:
Using electric mixer, beat crème fraîche, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl just until stiff peaks form and mixture is thick enough to spread (do not overbeat or mixture may curdle). Spread topping decoratively over top of pie, swirling to create peaks, if desired. DO AHEAD: Pie can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.
Sprinkle chocolate shavings decoratively atop pie, if desired. Cut pie into wedges and serve.
* Sold at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.



Banana Bread

Ingredients:
  • ¼ C vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 2/3 C. sugar (you can use white or brown)
  • 1 egg 3 large mashed over-ripe bananas
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • ¾ t. salt
  • 2 C. flour (I like half white and half whole wheat pastry flour)
Optional:
  • ¾ C. nuts --OR--
  • ¾ C. strawberries or mixed berries (either fresh or thawed from frozen) --OR--
  • ¾ C. semi-sweet chocolate chips

What to do:
  1. Mash the bananas
  2. Add the sugar, eggs and oil and mix.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and fold until mostly incorporated.
  4. Depending on how crazy you want to get, add one (or more if you're really crazy) to the batter and fold in.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased and floured (or sugared*) loaf pan
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

*When I use chocolate chips, I like to grease the pan by putting some butter in the bottom of the pan and sticking it in the oven for about a minute to melt it. Then I use the melted butter to grease the pan. And, because it is so good, I then dump sugar in the pan instead of flour and toss it around to coat the bottom. This creates a nice crunchy edge for a dessert bread. That is what is creating the edge in the picture below (mmmmm):



P.S. Edward made these for a potluck tomorrow from my tried and true recipe. I'm so proud.

Potato Kale Soup with Italian Sausage


Long time and no blogging. We have, despite the impression the absence may have given, actually been eating quite heartily.

Here is a recipe we've made quite a bit. We adapted it from a recipe I found online by Cait Johnson who, apparently, is author of Witch in the Kitchen. I have never actually laid by eyes on this book, but that's what the internet told me. The main changes we made were to add some delicious Italian sausage and fresh thyme instead of dried and it is sooo good. And easy. And even better, it is still easy to find most of these ingredients locally grown here in Colorado, even in the last weeks of fall. A fine local soup, indeed!

What you need:
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large potatoes*, chopped
  • 1 bunch (a bouquet if you will) fresh thyme
  • 6 cups veggie stock**
  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 lb. Italian sausage from your favorite butcher

What to do:
  1. Put the olive oil in the bottom of a soup kettle and heat it up over medium heat.
  2. Add the sausage and brown it.
  3. Add the onion and and saute until the onions are soft.
  4. Add the garlic and stir around.
  5. Add the potatoes and stir to cover with oil (and sausage renderings...)
  6. Add the stock, thyme bouquet, and bring the whole shebang to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Add kale and continue cooking for about 15 more minutes until the potatoes are soft and the kale is tender.
  9. Remove the thyme garni and then lightly mash the potatoes with a potato masher.
  10. Serve it up!***
Notes:
* We've made these with the fun Colorado fingerling potatoes and it works just fine. We like to leave the skins on any kind of potato for added texture and nutrients

** You can use any kind of stock you want, but I think veggie or chicken would be best. One time we made it with mushroom bullion that my mom brought back from Italy and it was divine.

***This would be good with sour cream or creme fraiche I think, but I never have that on hand so I'm not sure.

**** I think this would be a really fun soup to make for a kid and call it dinosaur soup. I envision using the knobby "Dinosaur" kale (also called Tuscan) and purple potatoes (as dino eggs). I think it would be fun. Edward asserts that kids would not like the mature flavors of the dish, but I assert that it would be a fun and nutritious meal. And I love dinosaurs.