Here it is! The recipe that makes women go all misty-eyed and drool. The dessert that had us lining up outside our college cafeteria early for the lunch where there might just maybe be some leftovers (usually not).
It's fast. It's easy. It's pretty. And it tastes great! I was describing it to the check-out woman at the grocery store when I was buying the ingredients and she was ready to make it on the spot. Yes, it's that good.
One crumb crust — you may use vanilla wafers, graham crackers or chocolate wafers. Most of the recipes on the box offer you the option of chilling it or baking it. I prefer baking it, because I think it holds together better and stands up to a gooey filling. But, heck, in you're in a hurry, buy a frozen crust!
Chocolate sauce — In a pinch you can use anything in a jar or bottle, as long as it's not too runny—you want it to stay in place when you spread the ice cream over it. I opted for a chocolate ganache recipe:
¼ cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into half-inch cubes
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
¾ cup sugar
Place the chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla in a medium bowl. Bring the cream and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the bowl with the chocolate and let stand for a minute, to allow the chocolate and butter to melt. Then whisk until the mixture is smooth. Chill until spreadable, about one hour.
When the ganache is chilled but not hard, spread it over the bottom (not the sides) of the crumb crust—you should have a nice thick layer about a quarter inch deep. Return the pie to the refrigerator and chill until the chocolate layer is fairly solid.
This recipe made more than enough for the pie. I have some left over. Not for long!
Peppermint stick ice cream – if you're in New England, it's Brigham's. The chain was founded nearly a century ago not far from Boston, and at its peak operated a hundred restaurants; now there are only 25 or so. But the ice cream lives on! It first appeared in supermarkets in 1983 and is widely available in New England. The flavors still show a New England bias, with names like Wicked Chocolate and Big Dig (if you don't recognize that, you aren't from around Boston!).
Use one one-quart container of ice cream. Empty the container into a large bowl and let the ice cream soften until it is spreadable but not liquid. (Moosh it and blend it until it's the right consistency—you should be able to mound it up a bit in the middle.) Spread the ice cream over the hardened ganache. Place the pie in the freezer until the ice cream is solid again.
Whipped topping — When you're ready to serve the pie, pull it out of the freezer and add topping. if you're feeling indulgent, use whipped cream (the stuff in the can works just fine), otherwise any commercial topping will do.
You can also decorate with the topping of your choice. Add jimmies (sprinkles to you non-New Englanders) or shaved chocolate if you want, but if you can't wait, just dig in!