Monthly Archives: December 2010

Chocolate Cream Pie

My brother doesn’t like pie.

Well, I should clarify. I have four younger brothers, a pack of big lovable brutes, and the oldest of the four (who turns 21 next weekend, oh-em-gee) dislikes pie. If we are all having pie and ice cream, he will just have the ice cream, even if the pie is Mom’s perfectly cooked apple pie, for which she is famous.

The only pie that turns this brother on is chocolate cream pie. It makes sense-it’s sort of like chocolate ice cream in pie form, something between cheesecake and pudding, both of which he does enjoy. Our family holiday tradition has been to include a chocolate cream pie every year at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. In years past this has meant standing over a saucepan stirring boxed pudding mix into milk, and then pouring into a prebaked pie shell. But I knew I could do better than that. With my foray into the world of real food and slightly more sophisticated cooking, I could leave the pudding box with its ingredient list of scary chemicals in the dust.

So I did some searching through recipes and blog posts and finally decided to try a decadent-looking mousse recipe from Orangette. Molly knows her chocolate, and I figured the mousse would do just as well in a pie shell as in a teacup. I tinkered with the recipe a little, to give it my own flair, and just to gild the lily a bit I brushed the baked pie shell with chocolate ganache, which I then chilled before spooning in the mousse. It’s a little thing, but it takes the whole package right over the edge.

Despite the multiple steps, this is actually a very simple and easy recipe, and depending on the quality of chocolate you get, it’s not too unhealthy. There is very little added sugar and the focus is on the chocolate, eggs, and cream. While I wouldn’t recommend it as an everyday menu item, if you use good ingredients you can certainly enjoy this as part of your next celebration, without too much guilt.

Chocolate Cream Pie

Pie shell:

1 1/4 c flour (I use 3/4 c whole wheat pastry and 1/2 c all-purpose)

1/2 tsp each salt and sugar

1 stick cold butter + 2 Tbls lard (or just more butter)

1 Tbls liquid whey (optional, but it helps break down the flour, making it more tender and digestible)

1/4-1/2 c cold water

A food processor makes pie crust easy: Pulse flour, salt, and sugar with the butter and lard until fat is pea-sized. Then mix whey into 1/4 c cold water and add slowly, pulsing until dough starts to come together.  Use more water if needed. Form dough into a disk, wrap, and chill overnight. The next morning, roll out, press into pie plate, and bake 15-20 min  at 375 or until golden.


Mix about half a cup of chopped chocolate-dark, semi-sweet, or bittersweet-with about 1/4 c heavy cream. Melt and stir until smooth, then spread on the baked pie crust. Chill while you prepare the mousse.


8 oz bittersweet chocolate (the first time I made this, I only had semisweet chocolate chips on hand, and it turned out fine. But the second I used a nice Callebaut baking chocolate, and the difference was worth it)

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp instant espresso or very finely ground dark coffee

1/4 tsp cinnamon

5 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp bourbon (Molly uses whiskey or brandy, but we only ever have bourbon and scotch around here)

2 pastured eggs, separated

2 tsp  sugar, divided

1/8 tsp salt

1 c plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream

Combine chocolate, cocoa, espresso, water, and bourbon in a double boiler or a glass bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water.  Melt chocolate, stirring frequently, until mixture is smooth and glossy.

Remove from heat. Whip egg yolks with 1 tsp sugar and 1/8  tsp salt until slightly thickened, about a minute. Combine egg yolks and chocolate slowly, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. When chocolate is again smooth, set aside and turn to the egg whites. Beat them with the other 1 tsp of sugar in a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Molly recommends detaching the whisk and bowl from the mixer and using the whisk to scrape up any unbeaten egg whites from the bottom, then using the whisk to mix about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate. Then use a large spatula to gently fold in the rest of the egg whites, until they are mostly incorporated and only a few streaks remain.

Using the same bowl and whisk, beat the cream in the stand mixer to soft peaks. Again, use a spatula to gently fold  the whipped cream into the chocolate, until fully incorporated. The mousse will be very soft and have turned a lovely light chocolatey color. Spoon into the pie shell and chill, at least two hours but overnight is best. Serve with lightly sweetened whip cream.

There you have it-a much tastier and healthier answer to the desire for chocolate cream pie. Next year I’ll have to tackle the other pie that used the boxed pudding: lemon. I’m sure with some fresh lemon juice and pastured eggs we can turn that one into a real food dessert as well!

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Posted by on December 27, 2010 in Things Edible


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Getting Back in the Kitchen

Three weeks ago I was deep in the throes of Thanksgiving planning, trying out pie crust recipes and trying to figure out how to best utilize my oven to cook both tasty free-range turkeys we had purchased, along with squash and potatoes and sourdough rolls and of course, lots and lots of gravy. My parents, brothers, and in-laws were all coming, bringing traditional family dishes like candied yams and green bean casserole. My only concern was whether the snow surrounding our house would melt soon enough for me to go out to the store for more butter and eggs.

Unfortunately, my grand feast never quite materialized. I came down sick on Wednesday, and spent most of Thursday on the couch while my wonderful husband and his fabulous parents did almost all of the cooking. My family ended up stuck at home with a touch of the stomach flu, so no tasty stuffing graced my table (I’m still waiting for a taste of mom’s stuffing and candied yams!). We did the best we could, but it wasn’t the holiday I had envisioned.

It went from bad to worse as I got sicker and sicker, and ended up in the hospital the following Monday with a nasty viral infection. While I have come to resist the idea of taking conventional drugs needlessly, I was so dangerously sick as to require IV antiviral and antibiotic medication, as well as narcotic painkillers and a steady dose of fluids and vaccines. Fortunately, though prayer and good doctors I made it through and was allowed to come home after almost a week in the hospital.

I’m still regaining my strength and healing from my little adventure, but it has been good to be home and in control of my diet again. There are only so many good options on the hospital cafeteria menu. Fortunately I had a good stock of beet kvass and kefir already fermented to help the healing process, as well as several quarts of turkey stock that my husband had made and frozen before we had to leave the house. I’m planning to make a couple batches of fermented veggies this week, and I’m loading up on all the healthy fats I can.  With the Christmas season upon us, I am looking forward to trying new real food recipes, like homemade egg nog and new cookie recipes using some sprouted flour I recently purchased.

We’re back in the saddle here at Ruminations-more recipes on the way!

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Posted by on December 15, 2010 in Things Edible


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