Red Velvet Cake – a family recipe

Red Velvet
This is the best red velvet cake I’ve ever tasted.  In general, I am not a fan of cream cheese frosting.  I feel it overwhelms a cake’s delicate flavors and just makes everything taste like cream cheese.  But on a red velvet cake, it’s the only conceivable option.  In fact, I get rather annoyed when bakeries sell red velvet cupcakes with a generic butter cream frosting.  Who are they kidding?  I feel lucky that I ran across this recipe and even MORE lucky that this recipe originates within my own family!  My sweet mother-in-law, Peggy, is the owner of this amazing cake recipe and the first time I had it, I was rather astonished with how perfect it was.  I guess it was one of those instances where I didn’t know what I was missing until I had something  better.  I didn’t know that all this time, I’d been having sub-par red velvet cakes, but when I tasted hers, I knew instantly this was the only recipe I’d ever use for red velvet, ever again!

You may be a little squeamish about using SO MUCH food coloring in this cake, but my thoughts on that are: 1. How often do you eat red velvet cake, anyway? and 2. You only need a small piece of this two-layer, rich cake to feel happy, anyway, and 3. get over it – it’s red velvet cake.  It’s supposed to be red!  If you still can’t take it, I’m pretty sure that someone out there has invented an organic red food coloring made out of beets – just ask Google and let me know how that goes.

My mother-in-law made this on Christmas Eve and I couldn’t help but feel, in that icy cold weather in northern Oklahoma with a fire going in the background, that this cake was extremely wintery and Christmassy.  We enjoyed it with a cup of coffee and the view of the woods covered in a thick layer of ice outside our window.  An experience to remember!  Merry Belated Christmas Cake to you all, and to all, a good night –

slice of red velvet cake
Red Velvet Cake*
makes a 9″-2 layer cake

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon + 1 tsp white vinegar
1 ounce red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray two, 9″ round baking pans with non stick spray and then line the bottoms with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, add the vinegar to the milk and set aside to curdle.  In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk until fully blended.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients except the food coloring until completely incorporated.  Gently fold in the dry ingredients until just combined, then add red food coloring until desired color.  For full-on red velvet awesomeness, add the entire bottle.  Don’t worry, you’re not eating the whole cake by yourself (I don’t think.)

Pour batter into pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then turn out on a cooling rack and let it cool COMPLETELY before assembling with the icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

16 ounces confectioners’ sugar
1 stick softened butter
1 – 8oz package of cream cheese, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese and vanilla together until fluffy.  Add confectioner’s sugar in batches until thick and creamy.  Place one round of cake on a serving tray and spread a thick layer of icing on top.  Then, add the second layer and finish icing the whole cake and let it set, if you can, for at least an hour before cutting and serving.

*I’ve never actually seen Peggy make this cake, but I’ve eaten it several times.  Some of the info is my interpretation from her recipe card that was pretty concise.  The cake instructions literally said, “mix all the ingredients together and bake it for 30 min at 350.  So I added some more detailed instructions 🙂 The part about lining the bottoms of the pans with parchment is all me because I’ve learned the hard way, one too many times with my cakes getting stuck to the bottoms of pans.  But Peg, if you see anything that needs changed, let me know!  

Red Velvet Cake

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Banana Chocolate Bread

Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate
We are experts at wasting bananas.  I blame it on the Redhead.  She always says she wants one, takes one or two bites, and then plays with the peel and leaves the rest.  She sometimes takes a bite out of the SIDE of the entire banana, then is done.  I usually cut up the bananas beforehand, but I feel like I’m always a bit of a chump when she asks me for “a big one!” and I give her a whole banana and the situation mentioned above happens every single time.  So, I very often turn left-over bananas into smoothies with a bit of plain yogurt, but by the time I’ve been played twice, I give up offering her bananas, and at least three turn brown before the week is over.

Enter banana bread.  This recipe called for exactly three, old, brown bananas!  I wanted to use up our produce and stuff in the fridge before we left town for Christmas travels because I hate wasting food, and banana bread helped use up those old bananas, my yogurt that was about to go bad, a couple eggs and some milk.  We enjoyed this bread going down the road to Tulsa for snacks and breakfast and it was one of the best banana bread recipes I’ve used.  Obviously, as it came from Cooks Illustrated’s awesome cookbook, The New Best Recipe.  I always feel safe using their recipes.  They had a variation for adding chocolate to their banana bread, and as you may have seen on this blog, I won’t pass up an opportunity to use chocolate in a baked good.

Banana Chocolate Bread

Banana Chocolate Bread
makes one 9″ loaf

2 cups (10 ounces) AP flour, plus more for dusting the pan
10 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped very fine
3 very ripe, large bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5″ loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out excess.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and chocolate together in a large bowl; set aside.

Mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla with a whisk in a medium bowl.  Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky.  Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about an hour.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.  Bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temp for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Banana Bread

Homemade Pizza with Duck, Sage and Dried Cherries

Duck Sage and Cherry Pizza

It’s Use Up the Leftovers Before the Christmas Road Trip Day!  This can be a fun little game and can even force you into being more creative than usual.  I love leaving an empty fridge before a big trip.  Helps to not have Ghosts of Dinners Past to greet you when you get back.  When the holidays are over, I want to move forward.  I don’t want to stare at a pan of bread pudding in the fridge.  I want to start fresh!

I had a bit of leftover duck terrine from Sunday (another wonderful recipe from Homemade Winter), a few sage leaves and dried cherries and thought that would be a great pizza combination.  It was, indeed!  We also made a pizza with leftover ground beef, goat cheese and sauteed leeks, and one with Matt’s favorite combo: Parmesan, pistachios and rosemary.  I made my trusty tomato soup and we dunked our pizza crusts in it, and had a wonderful “Pre-Christmas” lunch together before heading off tomorrow to spend a week going here and there and everywhere!

I’d recommend instead of the duck terrine, which I am 99.9% sure you don’t have in your fridge, that you just use any good quality ground sausage.  The combo of sausage and sage and cherries is classic and works no matter what.  For the sauce, just use a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle Parmesan cheese all over the crust before topping it.  I put the sage leaves on during the last few minutes of cooking so they wouldn’t burn, and I positioned some plain mozzarella over the cherries so they wouldn’t burn, and it worked out great.

For the recipe, I’ll include a link to Matt’s perfected pizza crust, which makes 3 medium sized pizzas, and I’ll let YOU raid your own fridge for the toppings you so desire!  Here are some fun combinations:

  • Corn, chorizo and potato
  • Ham, cheddar and scallion
  • Canned tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and sliced garlic
  • Leek, goat cheese and bacon
  • Broccoli, alfredo sauce, bacon and parmesan
  • Asparagus, red onion and manchego

The fun is in the leftovers you find.  Don’t limit yourself to “normal” toppings – you never know what great combinations you could create!

Sage, Duck and Cherry Pizza

Cranberry Rosemary Biscotti

rosemary cranberry biscotti
As I type, I’m eating one of these merry little cookies.  The tart bite of the cranberry and the floral spring of the rosemary, combined with the sugary sweetness of white chocolate just tastes and looks like Christmas to me. More than the joy of eating these cookies is the tradition of making them.  I think holiday traditions are as comforting as coming in to a warm house from the cold.  Traditions are the glue that holds the holiday season together, no matter how hectic and scared we may get that Amazon Prime really won’t come in two days…

I’ve been doing too much, lately.  I got in over my head with a few embroidery projects because 1. I’m still new to the craft, but 2. I enjoy it so much that, 3. I think I am better than I really am, so 4. It takes me much longer to complete a project in real life than it does in my head.  I also feel that with a baby in the mix and a couple precious hours in the day to get things done, that I should have scaled back.  Baked less, bought fewer presents, gotten take-out a little more often.  But I felt compelled to keep the ship afloat and do everything I wanted to do, even if there was no time.

Amidst this feeling of being on a slowly sinking ship, I still hauled my tail into the kitchen yesterday morning and got the dough for this biscotti mixed up.  I don’t think I’ve ever made the same version of this recipe twice, but that stops this year.  I’ve finally found a combination of recipes that works and that tastes good.  I’ve tried everything you can imagine from a no-butter, all egg white recipe (sad) to a recipe that called for oil (weird) and switching between fresh cranberries or dried.  I don’t know why I tried so many variants when I knew in my heart that cookies need and deserve to be made with butter.  And after using dried cranberries every year, I tried fresh this year and I really love it.  It distinguishes the cranberry from what could have been any ol’ dried fruit.  Fresh cranberries tint the dough slightly swirly pink and with the flecks of green rosemary, these cookies just make me feel the season that much more.  Baking brings me closer to peace.  Being in the kitchen is a calm that I don’t feel anywhere else.  And so, even though Christmas seemed to come exactly 5.5 seconds after Thanksgiving this year, I found a pocket of time to keep the tradition going and bake my holiday anchor, also known as: Cranberry Rosemary Bisotti.

cranberry rosemary

Cranberry Rosemary Biscotti
makes about 2 dozen cookies

2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup  unsalted butter, room temp
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, cut in half
6 ounces white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or use a silpat.  Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl till fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the rosemary and cranberries with a rubber spatula gently, until well incorporated.

Form the dough into two logs, side by side on a baking sheet.  Shape into long, flat strips, about 10″x 3″ by about 1/2″ high.  Bake for 30 minutes until firm and then let cool about 20 minutes before cutting.

Cut the logs into 1/2″ strips and arrange the slices on the baking sheets and bake for 30 minutes, flipping over once during baking.  Let the cookies cool completely on a rack before drizzling with white chocolate.

Melt the white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second increments, stirring after each time, until just melted.  With a spatula, dunk into the chocolate and fling it around the kitchen with wild abandon.  Or, just drizzle it over the biscotti until completely used up and everything is a huge mess.  Let it dry before storing in an air tight container for about 2 weeks.  These cookies keep a while, so they’re great for gifts!

Ollie and her biscotti

Chocolate Covered Espresso Brownies

Chocolate Covered Espresso Brownies

I was paid $25 to make this recipe.  Well, technically,  I was paid about $12.50, because Matt was paid the other half to make a loaf of his awesome bread.  Why?  Because an old co worker from his previous job had a Christmas party to go to and a twenty-five dollar limit to spend on a gift.  So he contacted us and said, “Make a couple things.”  The fun thing about these office party gift-exchanges is that the person whose gift got the most steals, or trades in the game, wins $100.

Gary won.  🙂 So I guess you could say these are $75 brownies.  Or $37.50.   Or probably less, because as I well know, it was most certainly Matt’s bread that won the contest.  Hey, Matt – guess what?  You won 1st place for your bread.  Only this time, instead of a $6 check like at the fair, some other guy got $100.  That’s better, right? 😉

The brownies were indeed, great.  I followed a recipe from Fat Witch Brownies (a most awesome brownie book) for an espresso brownie, and then I thought, “What could make this more show-worthy for a gift exchange?”  Covering it in a rich chocolate ganache!  Then, with some sprinkles of cocoa nibs, these brownies become a huge version of a chocolate-covered espresso bean, which in my opinion, is the ultimate adult candy.  They’re like one big “congratulations” for getting older.

And so are these brownies!  Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Brownies

Chocolate Covered Espresso Brownies*
worth $37.50

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon hot water
1 cup AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 recipe dark chocolate ganache (see below)
cocoa nibs or crushed up coffee beans for sprinkling

Grease a 9×9″ baking dish with butter.  Dust with flour.  Or use that awesome flour spray.  Preheat oven to 350F.

Melt butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second increments, stirring with a rubber spatula after each time, until smooth and melted.

Cream the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth, then add the cooled chocolate mixture and continue beating until incorporated.

In a small dish, mix the espresso powder with the hot water until dissolved.  Add it to the chocolate mixture and continue to beat until well combined.

Measure the flour and salt and then sift together directly into the batter.  Mix the batter gently until well combined.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 1 hour.  Make your ganache while the brownies cool.  After they cool, cut them into 16 squares and gently remove and place on a drying rack, or on sheets of waxed or parchment paper.

Dark Chocolate Ganache*
makes 1 cup of goodness from the heavens

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

Over medium heat, place the heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove the saucepan from the heat immediately after it has just started to boil.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let them sit for a minute.  Then, with a rubber spatula, gently begin mixing the chocolate in tiny circles in the center of the bowl.  You will think it will never incorporate.  Keep mixing.  You will think your cream wasn’t hot enough.  Keep mixing.  Chocolate demands patience.  Then, just like magic, the chocolate will deepen its color instantly and you will only have a few more stirs, incorporating the sides and scooping down to the bottom of the bowl, to end up with one, big, glossy, gorgeous bowl of thick, dark chocolate ganache.  Take this and spread over the tops and sides of your cut brownies and sprinkle the tops of your brownies with the nibs or crushed beans and let it cool till the ganache firms up.

*both recipes adapted only very slightly from Fat Witch Brownies.  Go buy this book for someone for Christmas.

EAT! ENJOY!

Creamy White Bean Soup

White Bean and Celery Cream Soup

 

So these days, I’m either making soups, roasting something, caramelizing something, or melting chocolate.  Tis’ the season, right?  I found another gem in Homemade Winter of an incredibly filling, rich soup loaded with protein, fiber and veggies.  As a pureed soup, Olive had no problem drinking it from her little soup cup, and as I’ve said before, I think soups are THE easiest and most efficient way for toddlers to try a myriad of vegetables, flavors and colors.  And how easy they are to convert to “baby food”!  Back when I was making baby food, I would make a batch of vegetable soup, and after pureeing it, I could fill nearly a dozen jars.  Try buying a dozen jars of baby food in the store vs. a butternut squash and some chicken stock.  The price difference says it all!

Olive has been very into “sauce!” lately, no matter what it is.  She covets it, even though she doesn’t like any of it except “tomato sauce” (ketchup).  Any time we have Srirracha or Tapatio or mustard – whatever – she wants it.  So we give her tastes of anything she requests.  She usually raises her eyebrows and fusses a bit, especially if it’s spicy, but hey, that’s how she learns!  This soup has a smoky chili oil drizzled on top, and I thought it was a genius addition.   I didn’t have any celeriac, and it was one of those super cold days where I didn’t want to run out to the store for one ingredient, so I used the celery I had in my fridge, and I thought it worked great.

More, yes, MORE post from Homemade Winter to come.  It’s so perfect for this season, it’s unbelievable.  Enjoy this soup!

Creamy White Bean Soup* – START THIS SOUP A DAY AHEAD
makes a lot

1 1/2 cups dried white beans
1/4 cup olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts, washed well and finely chopped
4 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
2 tsp  minced fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp dried
salt and ground black pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
drizzle of chili oil – I bought mine at an Asian Mart, but I think you could find it in the Asian section of any grocery store

Soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover them by 2 inches.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stock pot and add the leeks and celery.  Saute, stirring constantly, until the leeks are soft.  Add the garlic, stir for a bit, and then add the broth.

Drain the beans and add them to the saucepan.  Add the rosemary and season with salt and pepper.  Slowly bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let the soup simmer over low heat with the lid partway on for 2 hours.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in several batches in a regular blender (why on earth haven’t you bought an immersion, yet?!)  Stir in the lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper.  Serve hot with a drizzle of chili oil or Srirracha would be great, too!

*Homemade Winter adaptation

 

Flourless Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Flourless Cookies
I’m going to post about chocolate, again on Saturday, most likely.  Because a friend from Matt’s old job just paid us $25 to bake him something for their company Christmas party.  We thought it would be last Friday, so I made these flourless chocolate cookies.  You can win any gift exchange or White Elephant situation with chocolate.  Unfortunately (but fortunately) the party was cancelled due to ice and so I had to make a different chocolate indulgence today.  It was hard, but I got through it.

These cold days beckon rich, dark, warm chocolate.  One of my favorite things in the cooking world is the moment when you’re stirring hot cream into chocolate chips and you think it’s never going to melt the chocolate, but then suddenly, a rich pool of blackness forms in the center of the bowl and in about ten more seconds, the whole bowl is transformed into ganache.  This happened, today, as I was making the ganache to go on top of my little brownie creation (to be posted this weekend!) and I found myself grinning like an idiot.  Transforming something good into something even better is one of the perks of working with chocolate.  It never fails to please.

Like these little cookie gems!  Flourless, fudgy, dense, chewy and melty bits of chocolate throughout.  My one and only friend with celiac disease will be so happy 🙂 You’re welcome, Heather.  I can’t imagine a world without flour, but if I had to, these cookies would be repeat visitors to my kitchen, for sure.

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

Flourless Double Chocolate Cookies*

makes about 2 dozen
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but good
1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets. Stir together all of the ingredients till smooth. This is hard.  The batter gets so gluey, you will be certain you have made a mistake.  You haven’t.  Just keep stirring.  If I could do it over, again, I’d use a stand mixer. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and stir again till smooth.
Drop the batter-like dough onto the prepared baking sheets by heaping tablespoons.
Bake the cookies for 8 minutes; they should spread, although mine didn’t much, become somewhat shiny, and develop faintly crackly tops.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan.

*recipe from King Arthur Flour

Cheesy Cauliflower and Rice Bake

Cheesy Cauliflower & Rice Bake
I always look for interesting sides to put with lunch and dinner every day.  It has been a challenge for me as the typical American cook to think of vegetables as a main component to meals.  For most of us, vegetables are exactly as we call them – a side dish (a side thought!) and we obligingly scrounge a bag of vegetables from the freezer to make our meals “complete” when we very rarely enjoy those components and most of them, if we are honest, get put in a leftover container and saved until we no longer have guilt about throwing them away.

Maybe this is just me.  I’ve wanted and tried this year to think of vegetables as the main component and meats and carbs as a side dish.  To balance the plate in the opposite direction.  This. Is. Hard.  I will be the first to admit that I know how to cook meats, starches and carbs MUCH better than I know how to cook a vegetable.  But I’m trying!  And I’ve looked to cuisines that tend to focus on vegetables as main dishes for inspiration.  Indian cuisine is wonderful for this approach, but even I tire of the cumin/cardamom/curry combination of flavors pretty quick.  There needs to be a balance to the approach of getting more vegetables on your dinner plate, and so for me, I’m taking winter as a wonderful excuse to make some slightly more indulgent and comforting vegetable dishes to get me in the habit of seeing them as the star of the show, instead of a side act.

Speaking of winter: I am in love with a new cookbook.  Well, I suppose it isn’t exactly new, but it’s new to me, and it’s called Homemade Winter by Yvette Van Boven.  I absolutely love when a cookbook has recipes listed by seasonal availability.  This cookbook is ALL about winter – sure, winter in Holland, but STILL!  Most winter vegetables in this hemisphere are available and relatively fresh no matter where you reside, and so this cookbook has introduced me to a season of cooking that has previously been nothing but soups and stews and squash.  Goodness, how many times can I eat squash?!

Enter: cauliflower and rice baked with swiss into a creamy but not-too-heavy dish.  I made this yesterday for our lunch and it was the main component.  In her cookbook, Yvette calls it a risotto, but I didn’t have arborio rice and so I made it with what I had – plain ol’ white, short-grain rice – and it worked beautifully.  I love a recipe that is accessible and works, no matter what you have on hand.  A lot of home cooks don’t have arborio in the pantry, yet most people have regular white rice!  The only splurge for this dish was some good Comte cheese, but I believe it could be just as flavorful with nearly any cheese you have in the fridge.

We loved it – it was warm, filling and satisfying as a main dish and perfect for a freezing day like today.  In fact, I turned the leftovers into cauliflower rice fritters today for lunch and served them along side a white bean soup I will blog about very soon, and it was an awesome lunch!  Hope you all stay warm, today and have an extra cup of coffee with me!

Cauliflower & Rice Bake

Cheesy Cauliflower Rice Bake
serves 6-8 as a side or 4-6 as a main

1 small head cauliflower
1 TBS olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup shredded cheese such as Comte, Emmentaler or Gruyere – would work with any hard cheese, though
1 cup of white, short-grain rice
2 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup panko or plain bread crumbs
drizzle of olive oil

Boil the cauliflower for 10 minutes until tender.  Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Heat the oil in a large skillet (12″ at least). Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute more, then add the rice and stir to combine.  Saute all this for another 2 minutes or so.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in the cauliflower and cheese and cover the skillet with a lid and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until all liquid has absorbed.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before uncovering.  Sprinkle the bread crumbs and drizzle the top with olive oil and bake until the breadcrumbs are toasted, or just stick it under the broiler for 5 minutes.

Serve in bowls with lots of cracked pepper!

S’mores Pie

S'mores Pie

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you did, too!  I got to spend it with my whole family!  Both my brothers came down with their children and with them and my parents, there were 16 of us bedding down in our old childhood home! I got to see my grandmother and my sweet Aunt Mary, too!  I really don’t think I’ve seen that much family in one weekend in several years. It was good for the soul and I don’t feel like I even overate as much as I usually do, which enabled me to enjoy the heck out of this pie I created on Friday night.

S’mores pie!  When we showed Olive s’mores for the first time this summer, we made them with dark chocolate.  I loved the balance the dark chocolate gave to the super sweet marshmallow and graham cracker.  So when thinking of a pie to make for Thanksgiving, I thought of doing the darkest chocolate pie I knew how to do and topping it with my favorite meringue and then torch the heck out of the top.

Best.  Chocolate Pie. Ever.

Seriously, if you want to win some kind of chocolate pie award, this is your pie.  Make it with a traditional crust and serve it with soft whipped cream and that is all you’ll need for ultimate bragging rights.  I nearly skipped out on the meringue, but I wanted that dramatic torched effect so I went with it.  I think if I were to do this pie over, I would give it more s’moresy flavor by just dumping a bunch of marshmallows on top and burning them to a crisp.  Because I’m that s’mores gal – the one who likes to eat slightly sweet bits of char instead of marshmallows.  I’d say most people aren’t like this or don’t have a coal deficiency or whatever, so I erred on the side of not-too-burnt.  The results were great and I will definitely make this pie again at Christmas!

torching the smores pie helping torch the pie
My nephew, Landon, helped me torch it!

aerial s'mores pie

S’mores Pie

2 eggs, beaten
1-5 ounce can of evaporated milk
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBS cocoa powder
1 TBS instant coffee granules
3.5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup butter
2 TBS corn meal
For the crust:
1 and a half packages of graham crackers, crushed fine (12 large)
2 TBS sugar
4 TBS butter, melted
2 TBS water
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar, salt and butter until it’s well combined.  If it doesn’t hold together when you press it between your fingers, add the tablespoons of water.  Press into a 9″ pie plate and set aside.
Combine the eggs, evaporated milk and sugars until smooth.  Put the cocoa powder and instant coffee in a small cup and add a tablespoon of water and whip it into a paste.  Whisk this paste into the egg/milk mixture.  Melt the dark chocolate and butter together in a microwave at 30 second increments, stirring after each time until completely smooth and glossy.  Add the chocolate and butter to the egg mixture and then whisk in the corn meal until smooth.
Pour into the pie shell and place your pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the middle doesn’t jiggle anymore.  Let the pie come to room temp before making the meringue!
For the meringue:
5 egg whites, room temp (room temp is important)
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup water
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil till the temp reaches 250 on a candy thermometer.  While it’s boiling, put the egg whites in a mixer at medium speed and beat with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.  When the sugar is up to temp, remove from heat and while the mixer is going on medium, drizzle the syrup in a very thin stream until completely incorporated and then increase speed to high and whip until the bowl cools down.  This takes a while so be patient.
Assemble!
Dump ALL the meringue on top of your ROOM TEMP pie and with a blow torch (such a great addition to any kitchen) or a dainty creme brulee torch (not as fun) torch the meringue until evenly browned.  If you have neither, you can brown it in the oven under the broiler but you have to be VIGILANT as to not burn the meringue.  A broiler works scary fast.