05 July 2011

Eats: dark chocolate pie

How was everyone’s holiday weekend? I hope it was a good one! I was excited to have a chance to work on a few projects over the weekend, so you know it was a good one for me. Any weekend that involves a trip to Home Depot or Hobby Lobby is a happy weekend in my household.

Today’s eats is not from the Independence Day holiday, although it could be brought to your next celebration. In our case it was a celebration of Mr. P’s parents coming to visit last weekend. We had a big summery lunch, because we had separate plans for the evening and wouldn't be able to have dinner together. So I marinated some sliced chicken breasts in Italian dressing, dressed some asparagus in olive oil and garlic, and made skewers of zucchini and tomato with balsamic vinegar. Mr. P grilled all of that to perfection. We also had some penne with pesto and homemade focaccia, because I am all about carbs. And we had dessert as well!

Mr. P’s parents, delightful as they are, have a few dessert quirks that I learned when we were picking a wedding cake. His dad is diabetic and enjoys fruit. His mom does not like fruit. She likes chocolate. So I wanted to think of a dessert that they both could enjoy (not to mention Mr. P and me, who love both chocolate and fruit). I figured strawberries always go nicely with chocolate, and surely I could find a chocolate pie recipe that could be made low-sugar or sugar-free.

The result? This recipe looked easy enough! It’s always a risk trying a new recipe for guests, but it seemed straightforward enough. Plus his parents are so nice that I wouldn’t be completely mortified if it failed. Only half mortified. And anyway they're stuck with me now that Mr. P and I are married, so they might as well learn ASAP that I have a high failure rate in the kitchen.

I did change a few things a bit from the original recipe (OF COURSE I DID): instead of 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream, I used the full pint (which is 2 cups for you cooking school dropouts). DO NOT DO AS I DID. While the texture was fine, my store-bought graham-cracker-crust overflowed with the extra filling. I mean, I guess that’s not the worst problem in the world to have, and you could make your own BIGGER crust. You overachiever. Otherwise you only need 1 1/2 cups of cream.

And instead of powdered sugar, I used Kroger brand Splenda (Apriva). I’ve kept a bag of it on hand for the past several years for making desserts for the holidays with Mr. P’s family, though I also use it to cut the sugar down in recipes for us when the sugar content seems way out of control. Still, I nearly had a brush with disaster substituting this in for sugar. The recipe called for powdered sugar because with the low liquid content, regular sugar won’t really dissolve and it could be gritty. The sugar substitute ALMOST did the same thing, but a few extra rounds of microwaving and stirring saved the day.

All right! So here’s how you do it. It is SO EASY.

First, pour 3/4 cup (not a whole cup, like me!) of cream in your stand mixer and set it whipping on high. While it does its thing, dump a 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl with the rest of the cream. Microwave 30 seconds, stir, and repeat until it's melted and combined. Then add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar or substitute and a tablespoon of vanilla. If the sugar doesn't blend well, microwave an extra 30 seconds and you should be good.

Five minutes after beginning this recipe, your kitchen should like this, black yoga pants reflected in the mixer optional:

Basically you are already half done. I KNOW!

Let the chocolate cool a bit (although if you melted it properly, it shouldn't get TOO hot) while the whipped cream is still beating. It took about seven minutes to look like this, minus the bad lighting because clearly I cook at 11pm due to my day job:

Then pour in the chocolate a little at a time, beating it together after adding it. The mixture becomes much less fluffy and much more runny, but don’t panic! It will firm up later. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of this step because it got a little messy. You should be fine though! It was only because I am a klutz. I was still finding brown thumbprints all over my kitchen the next day.

Anyway! After you are finished adding the chocolate, beat it a few more minutes for good measure, and then pour it into the crust:

Notice how the filling is trying to make an escape out of the crust? Yeah. ONE AND A HALF CUPS OF CREAM IS PLENTY. I added a few more chocolaty thumbprints all over the kitchen trying to transfer that into the fridge and still dripped it everywhere.

But that’s it! Low-sugar (there’s some sugar in the chips), dark chocolate pie!

The verdict? Oh, it was rich. Literally like the inside of a truffle, as the name of the recipe indicates. The tartness of the strawberries really did it a favor to balance it out, and a small piece was plenty:

And Mr. P's dad was tickled that he got to have some, too. "Sugar-free, you said?" as he helped himself to a slice.

I left it simple with the strawberries, but I bet this would be tasty with some peanut butter chips melted in and topped with Reese’s. Or maybe drizzle some caramel over the top. Or add a cherry to each slice for that tart balance. Or follow its original name and add some truffles. It’s delicious with the basic recipe or flexible to suit your tastes! Enjoy!