Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"The Artful Pie" - Ultrasmooth Chocolate Malted Pie for "Pi" Day 2015

Date I made this recipe:  March 14, 2015 (3/14/15—Pi Day!)

The Artful Pie – Unforgettable Recipes for Creative Cooks by Lisa Cherkasky and Renee Comet
Published by:  Chapters Publishing Ltd.
ISBN:  1-57630-022-6
Recipe:  Ultrasmooth Chocolate Malted Pie – p. 74-75 (Art: Doris Keil-Shamieh, Jefferson, Maryland.  Collograph print collage)

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy – it's Pi Day! "Pi," not to be confused with "pie," is the mathematical calculation of 3.14159 etc. etc. etc.  So last year, we all celebrated "Pi" day on 3/14/14.  This year, we get to do it again on 3/14/15.  I'll be curious to see if we round up next year so as to sneak in one more celebration on 3/14/16 (3.14159 rounded up to 3.1416).

So naturally, I had to make a pie, right?  And yet finding just "the right" pie was not, as the saying goes, as easy as pie.

For starters, I almost killed myself pulling Rose Levy Beranbaum's, The Pie and Pastry Bible, off my top shelf.  That was one heavy book that set the entire bunch of books next to it tumbling.  This book is signed by Rose, who I've met, and is a wonderful book but all my favorite pie recipes in this tome were more autumnal and so I made a mental note to check back in closer to Thanksgiving.

This left a few more books, one of which was this one – The Artful Pie.  This book is fun because various artists contributed the artwork that lines the pages (and serves as a very fun backdrop/placemat for the featured pies).  The art is very fun and definitely appealed to my husband who is both the "pie guy" in our house – both for eating and making the pies – and an art aficionado. (He also rocks at math so he's got a lock-n-load on the whole "pi" thing.).  Anyway, this time around, I thought I'd give my pie guy a break and make the pie myself.  Translated, this means "no complicated recipes, the likes of which my guy likes to tackle."  He may be the pie guy but I'm the one making it and posting it to my blog so it had to be good.

Okay, so now that I had selected the book, it was time to select the appropriate (read:  easy) recipe.  When I pulled this book off the shelf (without casualties), I noticed several post-it notes on various pages so either Andy or I or maybe both considered using this book in the past.  But this time through, none of the previously-selected recipes did anything for me.  So time to start over.

As with Beranbaum's book, several of the pies were either too summery (and while we're warming up, we're not there yet) or too wintry.  And so out of the list of 36 pies, I came up with four potential candidates, all of which were relatively simple to make:  "Maple Sugar and Cream Pie" – p. 32; "Ultrasmooth Chocolate Malted Pie" – p. 72; "Ricotta Nut Crunch Pie" – p. 104 and "Black Bottom Pie" – p. 124.  And then Andy, whose birthday was 3/1 (and boy, what a memorable day that was as we got stranded in Newark's airport), decided he wanted chocolate so it came down to either the "Ultrasmooth Chocolate Malted Pie" (he loves malts) or "Black Bottom Pie."

In the end, it was all decided at the grocery store.  Whereas the "Black Bottom Pie" sounded good, it has a lot of ingredients, one of which was Zwieback crackers.  I've heard of them, never used them, but was sure I'd easily find them in the grocery store.  I did not.  So this tipped the scales to the malted pie.

One of the main ingredients for the malted pie was chocolate wafers.  I knew exactly what I was looking for and found them at Byerly's grocery store.  Byerly's is an upscale grocer and when I looked at the price (over $5), I thought I'd get them cheaper when I went to Rainbow, a decidedly NOT upscale grocery store.

And so I went to Rainbow to get that and other basic ingredients for the malted pie and was dismayed to find out that while they used to carry them, they no longer did.  So this required one more trip to a grocery store that did carry them.  And that meant I had to either backtrack to Byerly's or hike over to Kowalski's about a mile away.  Either way, I was peeved both with the store and myself ("A bird in the hand...").  Thankfully, Kowalski's had two packages left of the chocolate wafers or I would have been extremely irked.  Mind you, Target was closer than either of these two but you can't depend on them to carry stuff like this although they should as these wafers are the base for every type of black-bottomed pie, like Grasshopper Pie, known to man.  And who doesn't love Grasshopper Pie...except me? (Seriously. Can't stand mint.  Can't.)

Okay then, so I got all the ingredients together and assembled this pie in short order and then put it in the refrigerator to chill. The instructions tell you that the chocolate filling will be the consistency of pudding and that's exactly how it was when I pulled it out of the fridge for serving – pudding.  So forewarned is forearmed:  it's a rather messy pie to cut and serve but very, very tasty.  And Andy was a happy camper and so that's all that mattered.

So one more word about an ingredient before I set you loose on this sucker:  "malt powder."  If your grocery store carries this, you should be able to choose between "original" and "chocolate."  "Original" is cream-colored and chocolate is, well...chocolate.  I had a container of chocolate malt in my cupboard, circa  the year 2000 something but it was as hard as a rock (guess I didn't use it much) – go figure. And so when it came down to purchasing a new container, I hemmed and hawed between the two flavors.  I finally decided on "original" because the recipe did not say "buy chocolate malt powder" but I left it up to Andy for the final word and he didn't care because by this time, where was his pie anyway?? So I saved myself another trip back to Byerly's to exchange one for the other and just went with "original." 

When I posted on Facebook that I was making this pie and would post the recipe later, one of my friends said "So...I'm coming over?" and I said "Oh darn, we were just going out for a bite to eat."  And we did.  Since Andy's actual birthday was a comedy of errors, he wanted to go to a fun restaurant near our house, Sonora Grill.  So we went and ate really good, "nouveau" Spanish/Argentinean cuisine, washed down with tequila (me) and a "cerveza" (beer – him).  And then we went home for pie.

This concludes Pi Day, 2015.

Ultrasmooth Chocolate Malted Pie – makes one 9-inch single-crust pie
*24 chocolate wafers (2/3 of a 9-ounce box)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ teaspoon salt
7 large egg yolks
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (Ann's Note:  the authors suggest you use a high-end chocolate like Tobler or Lindt but I couldn't find anything that was semisweet so I used Nestles.)
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup malt powder (Ann's Note:  as mentioned above, you can buy either "original" or "chocolate.")

*Ann's Note:  this pie crust was almost swallowed up by the filling so if I made this recipe again, I think I'd just the entire box of wafers (not that many are left anyway) and adjust the butter and salt accordingly.

Crust Preparations
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Crush the wafers into find crumbs in a food processor or put them into a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.  You should have 1 ½ cups.  (Ann's Note:  As noted above, you may want to increase this yield).  Put the crumbs, butter and salt into a 9-inch pie pan and use your fingers to mix them together.  Press the crumbs onto the bottom and sides of the pie pan.  Bake for 6 minutes and set the pie crust aside to cool.

Filling Preparations
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks well and set them aside.  Chop the chocolate into small pieces and set it aside.  Scald the cream in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.  When the cream begins to steam, stir in the chocolate until it has melted completely.

Very gradually, pour the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks, stirring continuously as you pour.  Pour the filling mixture back into the saucepan and set it over low heat.  Continue to cook the filling, stirring it constantly, until it is steaming and has thickened to a puddinglike consistency, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Do not let the filling boil.

With the mixture off the heat, stir in the malt powder.

Let the filling cool for 10 minutes and pour it into the pie shell.  Before serving, cool the pie completely in the refrigerator, at least 2 hours.

No comments: