Showing posts with label chocolate cream pie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chocolate cream pie. Show all posts

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy #Thanksgiving from Mystery Lovers Kitchen

LUCY BURDETTE: By the time you get to our blog on Thanksgiving, you are finished with cooking for the day, right? Who needs a new recipe for stuffing or cranberries or even dessert? Who needs to be reminded what she forgot to do, or wished she done for the holiday? We thought it might be fun instead to tell you some cooking disaster stories. Because believe it or not (LOL), not every dish we make comes out perfectly!

My disaster came a couple of years ago when we hosted a giant family Thanksgiving dinner. Along with the turkey and gravy I made pumpkin and chocolate cream pies. Chocolate cream pie on Thanksgiving, you say? But my husband's family loves anything chocolate. And I was happy to show off, even buying designer chocolate instead of the usual Baker's. I've made this pie a dozen times--using a recipe right out of the JOY OF COOKING. The graham cracker crust was lovely, but the chocolate pudding part looked grainy. And though I refrigerated it overnight, it never set. We served it in bowls and I was humbled. Though the mounds of whipped cream did help...(These pix are the actual offending pie--If you look closely at the full pie, you'll see the grainy texture. Why you might ask, did she stop to take a picture? I must have known in my heart this would come in handy one day!)

Happy Thanksgiving to all our MLK readers! xoxo Lucy

KRISTA DAVIS: At least you could eat it, Lucy! Our big holiday disaster happened one Christmas. My mom was ready to put the goose in the oven when – boom – the electricity went out. We probably could have tried roasting it on the grill, but what about all the side dishes?  Instead, we phoned everyone and ate our Christmas dinner the next day. As I recall, the electricity returned about eight o'clock that night.

My current trend seems to be forgetting at least one dish in the fridge on Thanksgiving. LOL! No matter, everyone seems thrilled to have another dish added to the yummy leftovers the next day. 

A very happy Thanksgiving to all! Whatever happens, don't forget that the little kitchen mishaps often make for the funniest memories. ~Krista

 Krista, I know about forgetting a dish. LOL! I think we all do that. My disaster was the Thanksgiving we moved into our new house in Los Angeles. New kitchen. Lots of people. Not enough space. And everyone wanting to "help." Ooops. Too many cooks, you know? I dumped the stuffing on the floor as I was trying to negotiate going around someone to get to the oven. I really hadn't figured out the square footage of "between the oven and the island" very well. And then the milk boiled over for the mashed potatoes! And the milk oozed

below the stove to the drawers so they all had to come out and get washed down. Before dinner!  Ugh!!!  But the dinner was delicious, and by this time, everyone was participating in clean up.  Too funny. But not so funny at the time. I do remember having a delicious sauvignon blanc...again and again...

Happy holidays, to all. May you enjoy those you love and let those you love "help" when they can.

~ Daryl aka Avery

SHEILA CONNOLLY: I can't recall a lot of disasters of my own, although for the first half of my life turkeys were either overcooked to dryness or still pink in the middle--there didn't seem to be any such thing as "just right." I can remember my mother and grandmother poking the darned things and arguing whether it was ready or not.

The worst Thankgiving dinner I ever attended was when my husband and I were guests of a colleague of his, in North Carolina.  His wife was a bit mentally unstable and retreated to the bathroom in tears, and Jim was left holding the turkey and asking us, "How do you make gravy? Do I just add water to the pan?" We all survived, but their marriage didn't.

To balance that, one of my best Thanksgivings ever was in Berkeley, where there are lots of people with few relatives around.  One person gathered together 25 guests for a potluck.  The long table occupied the entire living room and extended six feet into the hallway.  That's the way to celebrate Thanksgiving!

PEG COCHRAN: I, too, have forgotten side dishes in the fridge--usually the homemade cranberry sauce!  With so much on the plate how would you even notice!  When I was a kid my grandmother made the turkey, getting up at some ungodly hour to get it in the oven.  That turkey was COOKED by the time it came to the table.  As my cousin always said, you don't have to carve Grandma's turkey, just hit it on top with a fork and all the meat will fall off the bones.

I've been lucky not to have had too many disasters (okay the make it now, bake it later dish that contained tiny canned shrimp and white bread..but that was before I knew better.)  At some point, it was in the late 90s, I learned about brining a turkey.  It was all the rage almost overnight (I was really into food and had honestly not ever heard of it before.)  I decided I would brine our turkey.  It was fairly small but I still didn't really have a big enough container for it (this was before I learned you could use a clean garbage bag.)  I ended up putting it in my large soup pot.  It was a snug fit, and the lid wouldn't quite go on.  And there wasn't any room in the fridge for it, but it was hovering around freezing so I put it outside on the front steps (I had no deck and the back door was downstairs.) 

When I went to retrieve it to cook it the next day, I had to chase a whole bunch of birds away.  They were nibbling on the raw turkey!  Fortunately I was able to retrieve the situation by cutting off that end of the turkey.  We all survived!  Hope you not only survive but thrive!  Happy Thanksgiving to all. Peg

Oh disaster! You bet, and If only it had been food. All our food disasters happen at Christmas and New Year's. But two years ago, as we were driving to the cottage after having picked up a turkey for Thanksgiving, we drove over the crest of a hill just as the sun was starting to set in the early fall sky. We were blinded by the sun in our eyes -- the windshield went black. Worried about hitting someone head on, the little mister pulled over to the side of the road, taking out a farmhouse mailbox and the front bumper of our 4-month old car.  

Some time later, we were
 grateful that we hadn't killed someone or been killed. There's always a bright side when turkey's involved.  Have a lovely Thanksgiving everyone. Enjoy your family, friends and food.  Look our for mailboxes.

XO  MJ (aka Victoria)

CLEO COYLE: MJ, sounds like that turkey was a party crasher! Hey, no groaning. Bad jokes are allowed on Thanksgiving--after a few adult beverages. And adult beverages were definitely on the menu after this disaster...

This one is a story from my dear husband (and partner in crime-writing). On Marc's first Thanksgiving in New York City, he wanted to whip up a feast for his roommate and some friends.

Marc was no novice at cooking. He’d preparing meals for his family since the 9th grade (because both parents had careers). Unfortunately, he’d never gotten up early enough on Thanksgiving morning to watch his mother and father prep the bird for the oven; so he failed to learn an important lesson...

Fast-forward to a small apartment kitchen in New York City. Marc proudly prepped and stuffed his ten-pound turkey, and popped it into the oven. All done! Right? Wrong. Before long a foul plastic smell filled the apartment. What was it? Some illegal incinerator going full tilt? An unlicensed construction crew? No matter, the stench quickly passed and the turkey roasted to beautiful perfection—but looks were deceiving.

Marc had failed to clean the gizzards out of the neck flap, and they were sealed in plastic. The bird looked great—but it tasted like hot, wet Styrofoam! That Thanksgiving, Marc and his friends enjoyed dinner at the local fast-food joint (Nathan's), where the hot dogs were delicious. 

Which goes to show you: no matter what you're eating for dinner, if you're sharing it with people you care about, Thanksgiving can turn out to be a doggone beautiful meal. May all of us...

Eat with
(Thanksgiving) joy!
~ Cleo 

And to all
of our readers...


Sunday, November 25, 2012

The One That Got Away

LUCY BURDETTE: It's been a busy week what with Thanksgiving preparations, house guests, and edits on my third Key West mystery, TOPPED CHEF. In fact it's been so busy that I completely forgot that it was my turn to book a guest and her recipe for today's post. Uh-oh...

As penance, I'm going to share my Thanksgiving disaster.

John and I were hosting a small but lively gathering--seven of us at the table, including Dorothy, his mom, who will turn 100 next summer. You can see why we wanted everything to look and taste delicious! (John and Dorothy pictured on the right, enjoying a lively game of Bananagrams.)

The menu included turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts, biscuits, and two kinds of pie--pumpkin and chocolate cream. Thinking I would go all out to make the pies spectacular, I bought organic pumpkin and gourmet dark chocolate. (See the perfect pies above--these are from last year's dinner.) 

Done it before--easy-peasy, right? Just wait...

I made the chocolate first, starting with a graham cracker crust and then following the custard instructions from the JOY OF COOKING. The filling looked a little more grainy than usual, but tasted delicious.

Then on to the pumpkin...too late I realized I'd run out of canola oil for my father's easy crust recipe. I substituted--ahem-- olive oil. Then I ran short of maple syrup so finished the job with honey. And the organic pumpkin came out of the can pale and tasting of squash. So a greenish crust and a pale pie...I tried to make up for it with my special decorative crust hearts.

But I was worried...

In the end, the pumpkin pie was lovely.

But when I rolled the plastic wrap off the chocolate pie, the filling wobbled and sloshed like a chocolate milkshake.

So we served chocolate soup with lots of whipped cream on top... (See photo in case you think I'm exaggerating.)

Lesson learned: back to good old Baker's chocolate and Libby's pumpkin.

And lesson #2--What's important is not the perfect presentation on the table, it's the family and friends around it! 

And now your turn: Did you suffer any Thanksgiving dinner disasters? Oh come on, tell us:). I'm offering a copy of AN APPETITE FOR MURDER to one lucky commenter...

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries. You can find her on Twitter @lucyburdette or on Facebook.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Chocolate Cream Pie

by Sheila Connolly

As I think I've mentioned, when I was young my mother used to make pies.  Not the fruit pies that required tedious peeling and slicing or picking over, but pies that were filled with something creamy and then chilled.  And topped with lots of whipped cream. 

This is Easter weekend, and I'm thinking about chocolate.  One reason is that we always had Easter lilies blooming in the house at this time of year, and we always had plenty of chocolate, and the combination was truly seductive.  My mother was a chocolate lover, a gene she failed to pass down to me, but even I make an exception on Easter.

My mother's cookbook

The go-to cookbook was The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, and I have my mother's copy, a bit the worse for wear.  Therein, on page 648, lie the cream pies of my youth (and a few I never saw.  Frangipane cream pie?  Ooh! Must add that to my list of things to try.).  The Chocolate Cream Pie leads off the list.

Of course I had to do some research to see how the recipe has mutated over the years.  The original recipe called for chocolate—with no further details.  Semisweet/bittersweet/unsweetened? No idea.  The modern recipes, on the other hand, tell you exactly which chocolates to use (and often more than one kind), even going as far as specifiying the cacao content.  Who knew?

Old recipe:  butter.  New recipes specify salted or unsalted.

Old recipe:  egg yolks.  Now you have to figure out which size egg (and yes, it does make a difference)

How did our parents and grandparents survive with such vague instructions?  Quite well, apparently, since I'm still talking about the pie that I remember so fondly.  But I'll do just a bit of tweaking, because even modern recipes aren't all alike.

Crust:  in the Old Days, Fanny said, "make a Crumb Pie Shell."  The crumbs could be graham cracker, gingersnap, rusk or zweibach.  Uh, what's a rusk?  I remember my sister teething on zweibach.  Modern recipes allow us to use cookies—chocolate or vanilla, your choice. 

So, to make a 9" crumb crust:

1½ cup crumbs of your choice (Note: I used about 2/3 of a box of Nabisco's chocolate wafers)
½ cup sugar (the modern recipes use less)
½ cup melted butter

Combine ingredients, pat into a pie plate (and press down, with another pie plate or a flat-bottomed glass), and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Let cool.

Chocolate cream filling:

2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk

5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
2 Tblsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks in a heavy saucepan until well mixed, then add the milk in a stream, whisking (just keep whisking all the time throughout the recipe and you can't go wrong).  Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then lower the heat and simmer, whisking, for one minute (the mixture will be thick).

Custard base (and whisk!)

Melt the chocolate (very carefully, in a double boiler if you have one, a metal bowl set over steaming water, or in the microwave).

Strain the sugar-egg mixture into a bowl (to get rid of those odd eggy bits), then whisk in the melted chocolate, butter and vanilla. Cover it with plastic wrap (so a skin doesn't form) and cool completely, about two hours.

Spoon the filling into the baked pie crust and chill, loosely covered, for at least 6 hours (overnight is fine—so you can make the pie ahead).

When you are ready to serve your pie, beat 1 cup of heavy cream until it forms soft peaks, then add 1½ Tblsp sugar and continue beating until the mixture forms stiff peaks.  Spoon or pipe over the pie.  You can decorate it with shaved chocolate or sprinkles—I used flowers and butterflies.

And enjoy! Happy Easter!

Antique candy molds