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?” ūüôā

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‚ÄĚ 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! ūüôā

Meringue
6 large egg whites
1 ¬Ĺ 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.

S’mores Bars

Happy Friday!¬† I’m sitting in my kitchen looking at the sunshine hitting the trees in my backyard and hoping it’s going to be a nice weather day.¬† That sun gives me life!¬† Memorial Day weekend is upon us and the official summer kick off begins.¬† In honor of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice, the veterans and active service women and men, I thank you!

I don’t have Memorial Day traditions.¬† When I had Rosie, I was usually at events over the weekend and prior to that, plans always varied.¬† I’m looking forward to three full days of Carrie time and wrapping our heads around school winding down and summer getting started.¬† I hope we get to hit a bike trail, get to some local markets and soak up as much outdoor and mama/daughter time as possible.

Outdoor time usually means a little fire pit time for us and that means s’mores time!¬† Not too long ago, I started making these S’mores Bars and the kids at Carrie’s school have really fallen for them.¬† We LOVE s’mores!¬† Recently, I started making my own graham crackers and also learned to make marshmallows.¬† As a matter of fact, I think I’ll write a post about those so you have recipes to make your own for your s’mores adventures this summer.

These bars aren’t my idea of the healthiest things to make (store bought marshmallows–not usually my thing) and eat, but they’re a fun treat and kids (of all ages) enjoy them.¬† They’re perfect to take to get togethers and might be fun to make and take this holiday weekend.¬† They’re easy and gooey and give you that s’mores feeling even when there’s no campfire. HOWEVER, if you have a chance to have a fire, do that instead and make s’mores or just grab one of these beauties!

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It all starts with making a graham cracker crust that’s less of a crust and more like a chewy, graham, buttery cookie.

How cute is that little bowl and whisk with the eggs in it?¬† My bonus mom got that for me from a pottery place in Tennessee for Christmas and it’s perfect for whisking and pouring eggs.¬† Pottery is just the best!

Once the crust is made, save about 1/4 of it and press the rest into a 9 x 13 pan that is lined with parchment paper and sprayed.¬† Trust me on this step!¬† Do you see who’s watching to make sure I do this right?¬† ūüôā Thanks, Daisy Mae!¬† What a cutie!

Next is just layering the chocolate and marshmallows.  I used a combination of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips.  You can use chips, chunks and any flavor you like.

For the crust you saved, press it into flat rounds and lay out over the top.¬† Leave room for the marshmallows to come through so you can see it all when it’s baked. So simple!

Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes and cool completely.  This is when the parchment paper becomes your best friend.  Lift the bars out and cut them with a sharp knife.

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When they’re still a little warm, the marshmallow pull is satisfying and kind of makes me want to sit down, indulge in one immediately and simply enjoy all the graham, chocolate, marshmallow goodness.¬† I mean, why not?

I made these to share with all the kids in the middle school musical.¬† They had a big dress rehearsal and I thought it would be a fun treat to celebrate all their hard work and wish them luck in their performance. They’re easy to package and the kids gobble them up!

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Make these for all the people in your life, especially, the little ones!¬† For some reason, s’mores anything gets the kids (and grown ups) excited and, just like that, it feels like SUMMER!¬† Let me know if you make these bars (recipe is below) and, if so, what you think.¬† Here’s hoping for nice weather and outdoor time so we can all enjoy our weekend!

From the heart,
Shannon

Ingredients
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar packed
2 large eggs lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (you can use chunks as well)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. and grease and line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, ensuring that the paper along the long sides extends above the pan a bit, to act as handles to remove from the pan later. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  4. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Reduce mixer to low and slowly beat in the flour mixture until combined.
    Remove and set aside about 1/4 of the dough. Press the remaining dough into the prepared pan to form a thin, even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Top with chocolate chunks, then marshmallows. Scatter the reserved dough over-top in clumps. Don’t place too close together so you can see the marshmallows.
  6. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack to cool completely, then lift out of pan by grabbing the parchment paper. Remove to a cutting board. Cut into squares.

Who needs a fire pit?

A couple months ago, Carrie, my 7 year old (who is also a BIG cupcake fan!), shared something with me. ¬†She said, “Why do you have a cupcake named after Hannah but you don’t have one named after me?” ¬†I thought for a moment and realized I didn’t have a good answer and, frankly, hadn’t given it much thought. ¬†Birdie’s Buckeye is the cupcake I named after Hannah, my 18 year old, because she adores anything peanut butter and chocolate and she loves homemade buckeyes. ¬†Birdie is Hannah’s nickname and has been since she was a baby. ¬†When I ¬†started experimenting with the buckeye cupcakes, the name wasn’t something I really had to think about, it just worked!

The day Carrie posed her question, made me realize she felt a little left out of the cupcake naming. ¬†After all, what’s more awesome than to have a cupcake named after you?

I looked at our menu and, while Carrie can gobble up any number of them and always has a new favorite, none of them seemed right as her cupcake namesake. ¬†I keep a list of ideas and recipes I want to try. ¬†One of the cupcake ideas on my list was something with marshmallows or a s’mores type recipe. ¬†There’s nothing new about s’mores cupcakes but I never got around to experimenting with them. ¬†S’mores have always been a family favorite. ¬†What’s not to love, right? ¬†The night before Casey and I got married (in Yosemite), we stuffed our faces with s’mores. ¬†While most brides are not eating, hoping they fit in their wedding dress, I was inhaling roasted marshmallows sandwiched between chocolate and graham crackers. ¬†To say the least, I was a happy bride!

Hannah and Carrie always enjoy fire pit nights filled with bags of big white mallows, Hershey’s bars and packs of graham crackers. ¬†During the summer and fall months, making s’mores is one of our main activities. ¬†Carrie kind of likes s’mores (I kind of like freckles and big blue eyes, but that’s another story)!

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I’m excited to introduce Carrie’s Campfire S’mores Cupcake as the latest addition to our cupcake family!

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One word…YUM! ¬†This cupcake is AMAZING! ¬†I experimented with how to arrange the s’mores components and, after some trial and error and several taste tests, came up with a winning combination. ¬†These consist of a graham cracker crust in the bottom, dark chocolate cupcake with milk chocolate chips, gooey marshmallow frosting topped with a piece of Hershey’s bar. ¬†In a later batch, I added cute Teddy Grahams to the top but I didn’t get a photo.

This was part of the experimentation process (someone had to do it)!

Mini side by side

Teddy Grahams

I just love how pretty the marshmallow frosting looks!

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Most importantly, Carrie approves!

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With the cold weather and snow, these cupcakes have us longing for summer fire pit nights. ¬†Hopefully, it won’t be much longer! ¬†HA! ¬†Until then, we’ll keep enjoying our delicious Carrie’s Campfire S’mores Cupcakes. ¬†Try them!¬†¬†

From the heart, Shannon

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