This is the text that I received a couple of weeks back, “Shameer wanted me to suggest that it seems like fried chicken weather lately.” After I stopped laughing, I thought about it and it is true, spring is encroaching… It has been weeks since I traded my Uggs for rain boots, my mittens for gloves, and my clean floors for paw-print-marked muddy ones. And Friday did mark a certain sense of summer with the switch from red wine to white wine spritzers to get the evening started. For some reason, sunshine and patio beers just go hand in hand with all things southern: jalapeno cheddar cornbread, classic ‘slaw and crispy golden fried chicken, which is exactly what that text cooked up.
I wanted to end the evening off with something sweet, something southern, something worthy of a statement like, “girl, you look so good I’m gonna take you home and sop you up with a biscuit.” So I set out to find something that was all those things however, finicky pralines are my nemesis, bananas foster has been known to knock a man out with one well placed butter-fueled punch, pecan pie reminds me of Thanksgiving and thus fall, and there are just no peaches this far north in March worthy of being scooped into a peach cobbler. So, on this dessert-quest I found myself in that southern place which boasts a bounty of cream pies… coconut cream pie, butterscotch cream pie, vanilla cream pie, banana cream pie, and while all are reputable contenders, it was the chocolate cream pie with its promises of milkshake-esque flavour mixed with a melted candy bar all stuffed into crust that won the heart of this not so southern bell.
Pint-Sized Chocolate Cream Pie
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
16 Oreo cookies (with the centres), broken into pieces
4 Tbsp melted and cooled unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 350F with the rack in the middle position. Pulse cookies in a food processor until reduced to fine crumbs. Sprinkle the butter over the crumbs and pulse about 5 times to incorporate. Sprinkle mixture into 6 x 4″ tart pans or 1 9″ pie pan. Press crumbs into an even layer on the bottom and the sides (the bottom of a measuring cup can help this process along). Bake until crust is fragrant and set. For small pies about 8 minutes, for the pie-size about 10-12 minutes.
(double this recipe if you are making one 9″pie)
1 1/4 cups half & half
3 Tbsp sugar
3 egg yolks
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp unsalted butter cut into pieces
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Bring the half & half together with 2 Tbsp sugar and the salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once it begins to simmer, whisk the yolks, cornstarch, remaining Tbsp sugar together in a bowl until smooth. Slowly whisk half a cup of the simmering half & half mix into the yolk mixture to temper. Then whisk the tempered yolk mixture back into the half & half mixture, ensuring you reduce the heat to medium. Cook while whisking vigorously for about 30 seconds, until mixture thickens and a few bubbles appear on the surface. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, chocolates until completely smooth. Divide the warm filling among the cooled pre-baked crusts. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of each pint-sized pie and place them in the fridge to set filling, about 4 hours (I left mine overnight).
(double this if you made a 9″ pie)
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Once the chocolate is set, whip all three ingredients on medium-low speed until foamy and then increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form. Spread over each pie.