Craving Chocolate Cream Pie


Fruit pies hold my heart, there’s no question about it. I’ll choose apple, pumpkin, or rhubarb over cream pies any day of the week, and when the summer fruit runs out, I pair cranberries and citrus in one of my favorite pies ever.

So it was odd that the desire for a chocolate cream pie struck the other day. Chalk it up to pregnancy cravings or something of the sort.

There was a recipe for milk chocolate pudding that I had bookmarked to try from In My Mother’s Kitchen by Canadian cookbook author Trish Magwood. (I had the opportunity to meet Trish last August and have since been enjoying her beautiful, family-centered cookbook.)

I thought surely her pudding would be the perfect base for my pie – and it was. It thickened up perfectly and wasn’t too cloying or sweet. I used dark chocolate instead of her suggested milk, and whisked in a few teaspoons of butter at the end, just to help the pudding thicken better when chilled.

It was perfect, nearly good enough to sway me from a lifelong love of fruit pies. And definitely good enough for you to try, so here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cream Pie

ingredients:

1 cookie crumb crust – graham or chocolate – in a 9-inch pie pan

for the filling:

2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
4 oz (125 g) good-quality chocolate, chopped (milk or dark)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

for the topping:

1 cup 35% whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
chocolate shavings (optional)

Method:

In a 2-quart sauce pot over medium heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, salt and milk.
Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then boil for 2 minutes. Mixture will be thick.
Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until chocolate melts and pudding is smooth. Whisk in butter.
Pour pudding into the 9-inch cookie crumb crust and smooth top with a spatula. Place a square of cling wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and place in the refrigerator. Chill for about 4 hours or overnight.

Whip cream to stiff peaks and add powdered sugar. Spoon evenly over chocolate pie and garnish with shaved chocolate. Serve chilled.

Yields: 1 -9 inch pie, about 8 servings.

Sugaring Off Part II and Rustic Maple Pie


This post is continued from Sugaring Off Part I

In an interview with the National Post, world-renowned Montreal chef Martin Picard calls maple syrup extraordinary, underestimated, and the most emblematic product you can find in Canada; I love how this guy ticks. There is so much more to this 100% natural liquid gold than most people think and I’m really enjoying this discovery of how it is traditionally harvested and prepared. From the clear, perfumed sap that drips from the tap on the tree trunk, to the seductive dark syrup that coats our pancakes, this is truly Eastern Canada’s most valuable resource.


Like Christmas Day for young ones, the goodies just keep coming on our sugaring off adventure. First the venison chili, then the maple cocktail, and now Uncle Marc (who had disappeared indoors for sometime) makes his way down the trail with a steaming kettle in one hand and a can of wooden paddles in the other. He sideskirts the bustling stove area and heads for a patch of clean snow in the woods instead. My foodie instincts propel me, and true to form, I am first on the scene.
He’s making maple taffy or ‘tire d’erable.


He has reduced the syrup over a steady heat until it has reached the soft ball stage and now pours it on the snow in long strips. The taffy hardens–but not too much–and then is rolled onto a paddle; this lollipop of pure delicacy is handed to the closest awaiting hand.

Hmm, funny how many of those eager hands are little ones.
Like mother, like son, it hasn’t taken Noah very long to discover this snow buffet. I watch with enjoyment as he cautiously takes a first taste and then observe in horror as he neatly devourers the rest of the tire on his stick in one massive sticky bite. As I brace myself for all twenty of his tiny, pearl-white teeth to rot out of his head and drop into the snow, I see him preparing to help himself to another stick and manage to stir myself out of my reverie enough to intervene. He doesn’t complain much as I lead him away from the tempting spread, as if he knows it’s too good to be true anyway.
I proceed to have four more sticks of taffy in a row and not to be a complete spoil-sport, I share some with him. Talk about a double standard!

My youngest child has now succumbed to the warm afternoon sun and is dozing in the jogger stroller. My heart is racing from the pure sugar fix (overload?) and I’m ready to see how the sap is collected. Let’s go!


The sun is beginning to slant behind the tall maples as I hop on the back of the ATV and a handful of us set out to collect the sap. Facing backwards as we bump along the ‘route’, I am looking at a large barrel we are towing on a sled that holds the sap. We stop at various ‘checkpoints’ along the trail while folks, armed with 5 gallon pails, fan out into the woods. Each and every tin bucket is lifted from the tree and the contents dumped into the 5 gallon pails, which in turn are emptied into the barrel on the sled.
From the back of the quad where he sits, Marc is clearly pleased to have the extra help, as he usually does the sap run solo twice a day. Harvest time is a busy time, no matter what type of farmer you are.


When we return to ‘camp’, I don’t stick around to see the sap transferred from the barrel to the stove top, because I’m badly in need of coffee and I’m off to hunt some down. As quickly as it came, my sugar rush has left, taking my energy stores with it. I’m getting old after all. I don’t have the stamina of these monkeys picture below; of course, who knows just how much pure maple sugar is running through their veins right now.
I’m anticipating a major meltdown from the one in the red jacket before the hour is up.


I’m pleased to see the homestead kitchen is a bustle of activity and there are many signs of a promising full-on feast to come. Baked beans (with maple of course) are bubbling away on the stove, six dozen eggs are stacked on the counter awaiting their destiny, and pork in its many attractive forms is warming, including about five pounds of maple-glazed bacon contributed by yours truly. Some things are essential, and bacon is one of them.
My sister looks up from her post behind the griddle where she’s turning out apple-cinnamon flapjacks with skill; these are not her first pancakes, people. I’m famished and I could smell these from outside. She doesn’t object as I snitch one; it helps to have contacts in the kitchen.

Whether lured by the smells coming from the kitchen or driven by the need for dry feet, a steady stream of people begin to trickle into the house. Soon muddy rubber boots and various other footwear begin piling up on the back porch like wild mushrooms multiplying on a rotten log. To my utter relief, my brother-in-law and resident coffee geek, Kevin, turns up and begins pumping out expertly prepared pots of French Press coffee. I take the second cup (he has dibs on the first), we stir in maple syrup and sigh with pleasure.
Then it is time to eat.


Photos are scarce from this point on due to the fact that I am just too busy tucking in to the home cooking and feeding the little ones. This shot of Danny’s plate–the first of many–is the only evidence of our sugar shack style meal.
There’s nothing like fresh air to work up an appetite and this is apparent as we devour the aforementioned baked beans and flapjacks plus scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, bison sausages, coffee cake, bagels and hash browns. Everything is topped with maple syrup; a tribute to our day in the sugar bush.

My hands wrapped around one last cup of coffee and my tummy full of pie, I watch the sun set over the valley that stretches out below the farmhouse. I hear Lynn behind me:

“See why I moved to the country?”

She gestures at the view, but it doesn’t require anyone to speak for it. It’s stunning and the display has not been lost on me.
This whole day had only been a reminder of that I already knew: ‘You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl’.


Thanks Marc & Lynn! See you next spring!

Rustic Maple Pecan Pie

I enjoyed my piece of pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of more maple syrup. Why not? Sugaring off comes but once a year.

Recipe by Auntie Lynn

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400F. Beat eggs in a bowl. Stir flour into brown sugar and add to beaten eggs. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into pie shell and bake for 40 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Thanksgiving Part 3: Dessert

Why is pie synonymous with Thanksgiving? I have yet to make that connection, but I’ve eaten pie every mid-October for as long as I can remember and I’m mighty thankful for that.

Perhaps it is because the holiday falls right in the middle of apple and pumpkin season and who wants to be baking anything else than gorgeous pies with that fresh, affordable produce?

This has been the most beautiful autumn I can remember. The weekends have been sunny and warm and we’ve been lucky enough to get out and do plenty of our favorite fall activities such as apple picking (twice!), pumpkin harvesting and getting lost in a corn labyrinth.


I made a lot of pies as a kid. My siblings and I would earn spare cash over the summer by holding a stall at the local farmers market. My mother would sell her bedding plants–fragrant herbs, perky tomatoes and broad-leafed cucumbers; my brother usually had to find a home for a litter of bunnies or young goat, but my older sister and I baked. Apple, strawberry and rhubarb pies, butter tarts, cinnamon buns, bagels and anything else we figured would sell. Those were some lucky customers we supplied; boy we should have charged double!

Those pie-making skills certainly rubbed off on my youngest sister, who brought this towering Spiced Apple Streusel Pie to our Thanksgiving dinner. While Miranda’s true passion is for animals and animal care, she also knows her way around the kitchen, as this gravity-defying deep dish pie demonstrated. I mean, just look at those apples, they are stacked four high! No slouchy sunken apple pie for her.

I knew you had to have this recipe. I’ve already made it again since Thanksgiving and it’s only been a week!

Spiced Streusel Apple Pie

Course: Desserts
Calories: 3435kcal
Author: Aimee

Ingredients

For Streusel Topping

  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 cup granola
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter chilled, and cut into small pieces

For Filling

  • 2 1/4 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 6 medium), peeled, quartered, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 Flaky Pie Crust prepared and chilled

Instructions

For Streusel

  • Combine pecans, brown sugar, granola, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in processor.
  • Using on/off turns, process until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and process until small moist clumps form. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate)

For Filling

  • Position rack in centre of oven and preheat to 375°F.
  • Toss apples with sour cream in large bowl to coat.
  • Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture over apples and toss to coat.
  • Transfer filling to prepared crust.
  • Sprinkle streusel over apples, covering completely. Bake until apples are tender and strusel is golden, tenting pie with foil if streusel browns too quickly, about 1 hour.
  • Transfer pie to a wire rack and cool slightly. Serve pie slightly warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition

Calories: 3435kcal | Carbohydrates: 455g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 180g | Saturated Fat: 69g | Cholesterol: 210mg | Sodium: 850mg | Potassium: 1954mg | Fiber: 41g | Sugar: 276g | Vitamin A: 3017IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 446mg | Iron: 12mg

Keeping things seasonal, my awesome sister-in-law, Melanie, seduced us all with the other dessert of the night: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Toffee Sauce.

I swear, we had this bread pudding and the apple pie keeping warm in the oven while we digested our dinner, and when I opened the oven door to take a peek it smelt so good my knees nearly buckled. The combination of apple and pumpkin with all the spices was just too good to be true. If only there was a scented candle that smelled so sweet!

Last fall I created the memorable Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding with Rummy Raisins and Mel’s version only confirmed that I love, love bread pudding. It’s a great do-ahead dessert, the flavors only improve over time, and it’s actually a brilliant dessert to bring to a pot-luck–nothing is going so squish, spill or crack.

I had suggested we whip some cream to top of both the pie and the pudding, but that was deemed to be ‘overdoing it’ and the idea was shot down. (I know, I know, who runs the kitchen anyway, right?) However, it turns out the toffee sauce was really all I needed, and no one noticed that I splashed a little onto my pie as well.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Bread:
5 cups cubed day-old bread, (crusts left on or removed)
1/2 cup golden raisins

Custard:
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin (no spices added)
1 1/2 cups half & half, milk, light cream or a combination thereof
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Toffee Sauce:
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in the center of the oven. You will need an 8 inch square baking dish.

Custard: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, half and half, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, spices and salt. Add the bread cubes and raisins and toss to coat, making sure all the bread cubes are coated with the custard.

Transfer the bread pudding to the ungreased pan and bake for about 25 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the bread pudding from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.
Served warm with toffee sauce.

Toffee Sauce:
Place the butter, sugar, and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. You can make this sauce in advance and simply reheat.

Makes an 8×8 inch bread pudding (serves 6 people)

I hope you’ve gotten some inspiration from this little Thanksgiving series. It’s been fun!

Missed the rest of the meal?
Thanksgiving Part 1: Turkey & Co

Thanksgiving Part 2: Side Dishes