Custard, Brûlée and Pudding · Pie · Recipes

Dark Chocolate Pie

I had a great day yesterday! Carrie and I went through old family recipes and decided we’d make my Aunt Norma’s Dark Chocolate Pie. Aunt Norma is married to my Dad’s brother, Dane. She’s a great Southern cook and I always love eating anything she makes! She shared her Dark Chocolate Pie recipe with my mom years ago and we made this many times when I was growing up. Carrie loves chocolate and asked if we could make it. Heck, yeah!

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I had some homemade pie crust in the freezer. I always made this pie with the traditional meringue topping and I’d stick it in the oven to brown a little. I never liked that type of meringue (sorry to all my family members who’ve always topped their cream pies with it). It’s just not my thing. I switched it to a light whipped cream and that’s what I told Carrie we could use since I had whipping cream on hand. She asked if we could make “our meringue”. She was referring to the one I use on her beloved Carrie’s Campfire S’mores Cupcakes. It’s a cooked meringue and tastes like gooey marshmallows. Sounded like a great idea and simple twist on this family classic! I mean, would you just look at those beautiful swirls? Carrie’s so smart!

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When I was a kid, I remember standing at the stove, stirring for what felt like hours to make sure the milk didn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and eagerly wait to see those first boiling bubbles pop through the surface. My arm hurt. My hand cramped up. I whined and complained. I was eager to share that experience with Carrie and teach her how to make the pudding component of the pie! Sounds fun, huh?!

This pie requires a baked pie crust so Carrie rolled it out and blind baked it then let it cool. The pudding filling is sugar, arrowroot (or flour or cornstarch), salt and milk. Cook those over medium low heat FOREVER or until your hand cramps up–Carrie’s words, “My arm is going to fall off! Can I sit down?” 🙂

Once the mixture has thickened, temper egg yolks and add them back to the pan to bring back to a boil for a couple minutes. Then remove from the heat and add nice quality chocolate and vanilla.

Once the chocolate melts, add a little butter to give it that silky finish and cover in plastic wrap (press the wrap directly onto the pudding to prevent it forming a skin). Let cool slightly. Close your eyes and lick the spoon.

Fill the baked crust with the filling and top with the meringue or whipped cream. We added chocolate pieces to the center for fun but you can let your imagination run wild and get creative! I think Carrie’s arm finally felt better! I really love her smile!

What a fun time teaching Carrie an old family recipe and having her put her own spin on it! We ate the pie after dinner and it was so good! Homemade chocolate pudding is delicious! We decided the marshmallow meringue is really yummy on top but we think whipped cream might be our favorite because it’s not quite as sweet. This could work with a graham cracker crust as more of a s’mores pie. We inhaled it and didn’t mind the meringue but I’m definitely in the whipped cream camp!

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Oh, I didn’t get photos of these events, but I broke the edge of our pie dish and Carrie’s first piece of pie slid off her plate right onto the floor. It’s not all swirls of beautiful meringue and rich chocolate decadence all the time in this house!

If you’re like us and staying home, this is definitely a nice, comforting treat to make. You can use store bought crust or graham cracker crust or just make pudding and plop some whipped cream on top. If you’re not a chocolate fan, simply omit the chocolate, add extra vanilla for vanilla pudding and serve it with sliced bananas or any kind of fruit. Stir in some coconut for a little taste of the tropics or add a fresh fruit puree. It’s very versatile! This is one of those family recipes that never goes out of style. It was nice to pass it on to Carrie and enjoy some fond memories of baking with my family when I was a kid. Stay healthy and I hope you’re finding lots to do with loved ones during this crazy time in our lives. I’m treasuring the time as much as I can and doing my best to keep us well!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Dark Chocolate Pie

Pie Crust
Ingredients:
Butter: Diced into 1/2” cubes: 9 TBSP in the fridge; 5 TBSP in the freezer
Pastry Flour: 2 1/4 cups
Kosher Salt: 2 1/4 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 TBSP
Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 TBSP with 1/2 cup cold water

Instructions:
–Place 9 TBSP cold butter and all dry ingredients in food processor and pulse until it resembles the texture of sand.
–Add in the frozen butter cubes and start with 5 TBSP of the apple cider water and pulse until it holds together.
–Dump it out and work the dough on the counter until it holds together and is smooth.
–Divide in half and form into discs and wrap separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate (preferably overnight). You can also freeze at this point.
–Remove dough from fridge to soften a little. Place disc on floured surface and roll out.
–Butter and flour pie pan. Once bottom crust is in prepared pan, place a piece of parchment paper and some pie weights (or dried beans, coins, rice) to blind bake the pie. –Bake for 15 minutes at 400 then remove pie weights and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and let cool.

Chocolate Pudding
Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup AP flour (or 1/4 cup corn starch or arrowroot powder)
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 TBSP butter

Instructions:
–In a sauce pan, combine sugar, flour (or corn starch or arrowroot) and salt and gradually stir in the milk.
–Cook and stir until thick and bubbly over medium low heat. Reduce heat and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
–Whisk egg yolks and temper by adding a little of the hot milk mixture then pour it all back into the pan and return to a gentle boil. Cook and stir (just keep stirring!) 2 minutes then remove from heat.
–Add chocolate then vanilla and butter and cover with plastic wrap or wax paper or parchment to let it cool a little.
–Pour filling into baked and cooled crust and top with meringue or fresh whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours then slice and enjoy! Don’t drop your slice on the floor! 🙂

Meringue
6 large egg whites
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Whisk egg whites, sugar and salt over simmering water until sugar is dissolved. Mix with a whisk attachment in mixer until fluffy, add vanilla.

Custard, Brûlée and Pudding · Recipes

Dreamy Cream Puffs

When I was a kid, my mom and I made little dough puffs and filled them with homemade pecan grape chicken salad. I never knew what the puffs were called all I knew was we made them when she had friends over and they were off limits for the kids! I was fascinated by the way they transformed from a glossy dough to airy little puffs. I always managed to sneak one or two while we were making them.

Fast forward many years later and I learned the puffs were pâte à choux (pronounced shoe), a French pastry dough. These delicate beauties can be made sweet or savory. Mix in cheese and herbs to serve alongside a salad or make sandwiches. Fill them with simple whipped cream, ice cream or pastry cream. This is the same dough used to make eclairs.

My family and I love pastry cream and that’s what I’m showcasing in this post. Pastry cream and custard are similar. Pastry cream is more firm than custard because it’s thickened with a starch and custard is thickened with eggs. Subtle but significant.

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Let’s make these! Start with the pastry cream to give it time to cool and set up. Homemade pastry cream is decadent! Milk, heavy cream, sugar, egg yolks, salt, butter, vanilla or vanilla bean paste and arrowroot (not pictured).

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Heat the cream, milk, vanilla and salt and let cool slightly. Whisk egg yolks, sugar and arrowroot until smooth and add about 1/3 cup of the liquid mixture to the egg mixture and whisk like crazy. Keep adding a little liquid at a time. Do this slowly (it’s called tempering) so you don’t scramble the eggs. Finish adding and whisk until nice and smooth. Return the mixture to the stove and heat and whisk until it’s thick.

Pour the heated mixture through a mesh strainer to make it extra smooth. Whisk in the butter, a piece at a time and it’s finished! Gorgeous! You can use this to make all kinds of desserts or just spoon some into a bowl with fresh berries. Yum! Let it cool to room temp then place a piece of parchment paper right against the cream and place in the fridge.

Moving on to the pâte à choux. Not a lot of ingredients are required. Flour, water, salt, butter and eggs. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

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Start by bringing the water, butter and salt to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and add the flour and stir. Turn the heat back on and keep cooking until it’s glossy and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Let it cool for 10 minutes.

Put the slightly cooled mixture into a mixing bowl and add eggs one at a time and mix for at least one minute between eggs. The mixture will all come together when you add the last egg.

You can pipe or scoop the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350°F and bake for 20 minutes. Do not open the oven door.

They’ll puff up beautifully and when you take them out of the oven, turn the heat off, make a tiny slit in each puff and place them back in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove, place on cooling rack and slice them in half to prevent the centers getting soggy.

I like to make a little fresh whipped cream to fold into my pastry cream to make it a little lighter. For the chocolate ganache, simply melt dark chocolate in heavy cream. Lots of cream in these. I’m not apologizing!

It’s finally time to assemble! This would be really fun to do at a party. Put out all of the components and let everyone make their own! I like to put just a dab of chocolate in the bottom shell. Why should the top have all the fun? Then a dollop of cream, top shell and more chocolate on top. My mouth is watering!

Magical!

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Some people top with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and some go the chocolate ganache route. We’re pretty much a chocolate family! However, we woke up to a beautiful covering of fresh snow and I couldn’t resist…

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Are you team chocolate or powdered sugar? There’s no wrong answer! I hope you’ll try making these. I love the idea of a make your own Cream Puff for a get together so everyone can let their creativity flow. The puffs are versatile, delicious and I promise everyone who gets a chance to eat one will feel as if they’ve been transported to a special place! Dreamy!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Cream Puffs

Pastry Cream
Ingredients
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup + 3 TBSP granulated sugar divided
2 tsp vanilla or vanilla bean paste
¼ tsp salt
5 large egg yolks room temperature
3 TBSP arrowroot powder
4 TBSP unsalted butter softened and cut into pieces

Pâte à choux*
Ingredients
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 large eggs

Chocolate Ganache
Ingredients
1/2 cup dark chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions
Pastry Cream

  1. Combine cream, milk, 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla bean, and salt in a medium-sized pan. Place on stovetop over medium heat. Stir frequently until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 3 TBSP of sugar. Whisk vigorously for about 15 seconds, until sugar begins to dissolve. Sprinkle arrowroot over egg/sugar mixture and whisk until combined and slightly thickened.
  3. Once your cream mixture has cooled, slowly drizzle about 1/3 cup of the cream mixture into the egg mixture while whisking constantly (this will temper your eggs and gradually adding the heated cream will prevent them from cooking). Slowly, while still whisking, drizzle in the remainder of your cream mixture until the cream and egg mixture are completely combined.
  4. Pour mixture back into saucepan and return to stovetop over medium heat. Whisk until thickened.
  5. Remove from heat and pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into bowl.
  6. Whisk in butter, one piece at a time until completely combined.
  7. Place a piece of parchment directly in contact with the surface of the pastry cream (to prevent a skin from forming). Allow pastry cream to cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes or until pastry cream is near room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2-4 hours before using.
  8. Optional:  make whipped cream to fold into pastry cream and fold it in when ready to assemble.

Pâte à choux

  1. Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan, over medium heat and bring to a rolling boil.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the flour all at once, using a spatula to stir quickly and vigorously.
  4. Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture smooths to a glossy consistency and pulls away from the sides of the pan. The mixture will also steam and cook off some of the water.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes. The mixture will still be warm but place in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on low speed for 1 minute.
  6. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing for 1 full minute between each addition. The mixture will look curdled with the first two eggs. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are mixed evenly. The batter will be smooth and glossy after the last egg is added. Beat for 2 minutes after adding the last egg.
  7. Pipe or use a cookie scoop, or a level muffin scoop,  and drop the thick batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 1/4-cup mounds. Space the mounds about 3″ apart, to allow for expansion.
  8. Bake the pastries for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, until pastries are a medium golden brown. Don’t open the oven door while the pastries are baking.
  9. Turn off the oven and remove the pastries from the oven. Make a small slit in the top of each, and return them to the oven for 5 minutes, to allow the steam to escape. Place them on a rack to cool.
  10. When the puffs are cool enough to handle, split each in half to make top and bottom pieces; splitting and exposing the centers to air will help keep them from becoming soggy.

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream until it just begins to steam and simmer. Remove from heat and immediately pour over chocolate. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Allow to sit for 1 minute. After 1 minute stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is glossy. While warm, spoon over cream puffs.

Cream puffs are best served slightly cooled so keep them stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. You can also make everything and allow guests to assemble their own! 🙂

*Recipe adopted from: Joy the Baker
Custard, Brûlée and Pudding · Pumpkin · Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Crème Brûlée

Hello! I’m still plugging away at all things pumpkin and truly loving it! Today is a new one for me. Have you had crème brûlée? Have you made crème brûlée? Honestly, it never appealed to me until this past June when my niece (also named June) made it for my nephew’s high school graduation get together. She’s 13 and a marvelous baker!

After the tacos were eaten and grad gifts opened, we took turns sugaring and torching her sweet little crème brûlées. We enjoyed cracking the tops and what waited underneath that burnt sugar was absolutely divine! The custard was silky, sweet and full of vanilla flavor. I was in love and vowed to make crème brûlée someday.

Guess what? Someday came! With pumpkin baking mode hitting me hard, I decided it’s the perfect time to experiment with this simple yet decadent dessert and give it a fall twist. Vanilla crème brûlée + pumpkin + pumpkin spice + bourbon. Who’s with me?

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I looked up several recipes and they’re all pretty much the same: cream, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla. I added pumpkin, pumpkin spice and bourbon to up the fall flavor.

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These little cups of heaven are really easy! While the cream is heating, whisk yolks, sugar, vanilla and spices. Slowly add the warm cream to the yolk mixture (if you pour too quickly, you’ll have scrambled eggs). Lastly, fold in the pumpkin and bourbon. That’s it!

Pour the mixture into ramekins and place in a baking dish. Put them in the oven then add boiling water until it’s about halfway up the sides of the ramekins and bake for 25-35 minutes. I only have 3 small ramekins so I used a combination of small and large.  The small look much better but they all tasted the same.

After they finish baking, transfer to a cooling rack for 30 minutes then put them in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours. Once chilled, sprinkle sugar on top and torch them. Have fun! If you don’t have a torch, just stick them under your oven broiler.

Crack those babies and enjoy all the creamy delight under that hardened sugar. They’re so luscious and have all the flavors of fall without being overly sweet. I polished one off in a matter of seconds and knew I had to step away from the brûlée so I’d have some left for photos. I can’t tell you how much I love pumpkin and pumpkin spice things. The flavors and textures of this dessert make me very, very, very happy!

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You can whip these up in no time! The longest wait time is when they’re chillin’ in the fridge. They’d be perfect for a fall party or shower, Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, any fall weekday or family weekend dessert. Heck, take them to a football tailgate (any Browns fans out there?)!

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These little dishes of yum definitely enhanced our evening of shorts, t-shirts and backyard track ball. Don’t wait for a special occasion. Make your own occasions feel special! Pumpkin Crème Brûlée won’t let you down!

From the heart,
Shannon

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
Ingredients
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup pumpkin purée
3 tsp. bourbon
4 TBSP sugar for torching

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolks, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla bean paste in a medium bowl.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium low until it just simmers. Slowly whisk the milk into the yolk mixture. Fold in the pumpkin and bourbon.
  4. Place six 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins in a roasting pan.
  5. Divide the pumpkin mixture evenly among the ramekins. Place the pan in the oven and fill with just enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the centers are just set but still jiggle a bit. Could take 25-35 minutes.
  6. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool to room temperature, 30 minutes. Refrigerate until cooled completely, at least 4-6 hours.
  7. To serve, sprinkle each ramekin with 2 teaspoons of sugar. Brulee with a kitchen torch until the sugar is melted and golden brown. (You can also place the ramekins under a broiler until the sugar is golden brown, about 2 minutes.)

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