Chocolate Silk Pie
I don’t know about where you are, but it’s proving to be an exceptionally rainy April around here. Now, I do love the rain and we certainly need it here in the flush of spring. But as a gardener trying to get a lot done in my vegetable and herb plots, I need the sunny warm days just as much. Unfortunately, I also need the sunshine to do my work as a food photographer for this blog as my photos rely on cheerful natural light streaming through my kitchen windows. As you might be starting to realize, I’ve been running just a tad ragged trying to balance both my loves: food and gardening. No, no, don’t feel sorry for me. It’s you who have been suffering for lack of a good post.
I made this Chocolate Silk Pie a week or two ago when I had that dozen eggs from my friend’s winter CSA share. I hesitated to share it with you though, not because it wasn’t delicious – indeed it was delectably smooth and chocolaty – but because I made a rather large blunder when preparing the recipe. Yes, I goofed in the kitchen. I’m usually rather meticulous about re-reading new recipes a few times to ensure I got everything in there.
However, this time I was in a hurry to capture the precious light of the late afternoon for the photos. I thought the recipe said one and a half teaspoons of cornstarch when it really called for tablespoons. Well, for those of you who know what cornstarch does in a custard-based pie – namely thickening it – you can guess the outcome. This little pie of mine, with its nutty buttery pecan shortbread crust, was not setting up, no matter how long it sat in the fridge.
You know what though? Frozen Chocolate Silk Pie is like eating the richest chocolate ice cream you can imagine with a decadent crunchy crust wrapped around it. Honestly, I think I like the frozen version better than the original. Just be sure to eat it quickly before it starts to melt!
P.S. – If you’re still on the hunt for a nice Easter dessert for tomorrow’s dinner table, this would surely do the trick! Also, if you have extra filling left over, just pour it in a glass and top with whipped cream for a gourmet pudding cup.
Chocolate Silk Pie with a Shortbread-Pecan Crust
Adapted from Real Simple, Nov. 2006
* I am putting the original amount of cornstarch below so this will set up without being frozen. If you want, feel free to follow my “mistake” above and freeze it overnight before serving.
1 C. pecans
5 oz. (usually half a box) shortbread cookies
6 T. unsalted butter, cold
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cube the butter and set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the pecans and cookies until small crumbs form. Add the butter and pulse just until combined.
Transfer the mixture to a 9 inch pie plate (deep dish is best, but not required), pressing it evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Bake the crust until slightly darkened, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack while you prepare the filling. If need be, you can prepare the crust a day ahead.
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
6 T. sugar
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 ½ T. cornstarch
6 large egg yolks
2 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
Cocoa powder for dusting
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Whisk the egg yolks and add to the cornstarch mixture, whisking until no lumps remain. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, vanilla bean (scrapings and pod), 3 tablespoons of sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, just until it begins to steam, but don’t let it boil. Using a slotted spoon, fish out the vanilla pod pieces. Add the chocolate and whisk continuously until it is all melted.
Add two tablespoons of the warm chocolate mixture to the egg mixture to temper it. Then, whisking continuously, slowly add the egg mixture to the pan. Cook, still whisking, until thickened. You may need to increase the heat to get it to thicken but do not boil. Remove from heat. Add the butter and whisk until it is melted.
Pour the filling into the prepared crust (above). Place a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the filling. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 48 hours. Just before serving, dust with cocoa powder. Top each piece with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
(serves 6 to 8 )