Monday, March 28, 2016

Chocolate Pie

The pies may be few and far between, but they’re still coming! (Way back last fall, I decided to make more pies.) And this one, with its milk chocolate filling, graham cracker crust and fluffy white, marshmallowy topping, might just have the right flavors to hold you over until s’mores season.

The first time I tried this pie, which is adapted from Food Network Magazine, I messed up the crust. The original recipe had a chocolate crust, but I wanted more of a s’mores flavor to my pie. I made a graham cracker crust, but I went about it all wrong and it turned out barely edible and not at all shareable. The filling was wonderfully delicious, however, so I wanted to give it another shot. I consulted a trusted source (The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum), and fixed my crust problem.

The delightful chocolate filling has a wonderful texture, more like fudge, not quite gooey, but not cakey either, and definitely not creamy like a pudding (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I loved that fudgy texture, but I loved the smooth milk chocolate flavor even more.

I found the topping surprisingly exciting, too. It’s a mixture of whipped cream and marshmallow cream with just a bit more sugar. It’s not as sweet as straight-up marshmallow, but it holds up better than whipped cream, without getting deflated, weepy and watery. In fact, I liked this topping trick so much that I hope to use it on other cream pies again.

Of course using that topping for a pie again means making pie again. Pies may be less frequently on my dessert table than I’d like, but if they’re as special as this one, they would be worth the wait.

Chocolate Pie with Graham Cracker Crust and Marshmallow Topping
Adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible and Food Network Magazine

For the crust:
5 ounces graham crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
8 ounces milk chocolate
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt

For the topping:
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup marshmallow cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Additional graham crackers for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. To make the crust, process the graham crackers and sugar in the food processor to fine crumbs. Pour the 5 tablespoons melted butter into the processor and pulse until the crumbs are well moistened. Firmly press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Set aside.

2. To make the filling: in a medium-size saucepan, combine the stick of butter and chocolate. Heat over low heat to melt, stirring frequently, until the mixture is very smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

3. Whisk in the ½ cup sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Continue whisking until smooth. Whisk in the flour.

4. Pour the filling mixture into the crust and smooth it out. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes, or until the filling is firm and set, and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Cool completely.

5. To make the topping, combine the heavy cream, marshmallow cream and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until thick, fluffy and smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

6. Spread the topping evenly over the top of the cooled pie. Crumble additional graham cracker over the top of the pie if desired.

Makes about 8 servings. Refrigerate leftovers for a few days. The pie keeps rather well.

Another recipe like this one: Peppermint Brownie Pie

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Menu from the Archives: Easter Brunch

I suppose, if you are having Easter Brunch this weekend, you should have it planned by now. If you’re like me, however, well, maybe a few details need some ironing out (to say the least). Here’s a suggested menu from the archives for Easter, or any spring brunch.

A sweet starter: Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting. You can get up crazy early and start these rolls from scratch, but you can start them the day before and save yourself some time. Make the dough and prepare the rolls up to the point where they are snuggled in the pan. Cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The rolls will slowly proof overnight and you can bake them the next morning. Make the frosting while they bake.

As an alternative morning sweet, you could make Cappuccino Coffee Cake with Mocha Crumb Topping or Blueberry Coconut Muffins.

A baked egg main course: start with this southwest flavored egg bake and replace the seasonings and chile peppers with fresh herbs.

Alternatively, you could make Corn and Green Onion Tart with Bacon or Ricotta Tart with Peppers and Onions if you have more time.

A side dish: you could always serve toast or Buttermilk Biscuits, but a nice spring salad like Brown and Wild Rice Salad with Asparagus and Peas or a green salad with Maple Walnut Vinaigrette would be great.

A fruit salad and some jelly beans can round out your Easter brunch menu. If you’re in one of the places newly blanketed in snow just in time for Easter, perk up your spring holiday with brunch. It just screams “Spring!” even if Mother Nature isn’t quite ready to do so. Have a happy Easter and think spring!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rolled Up Reuben Loaf

I hadn’t made this rolled up bread loaf stuffed with classic Reuben sandwich ingredients in years. That’s my excuse for not remembering how excessively delicious it is. Really. Excessively!

To make this stuffed sandwich, I used homemade rye bread dough. In fact, I used this Caraway Rye Sandwich Bread that I recently published, just in time to refer to it here. Just in time to give you all the tools to make this Reuben Loaf. Did you see what I did there?

Anyway, making this recipe takes a bit of time and perhaps a little patience if you’re not accustomed to rolling out bread dough and layering delicious stuff inside. It also takes a bit of luck to move the stuffed dough to a baking sheet and to have it not bust open while baking. Both of those things happened to work out for me this time, so I’m excited about the whole thing.

As with all good recipes, however, the best part is eating it. This is just so good! It comes out of the oven as a hot and gooey sliceable loaf loaded with chopped corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese doctored up with a homemade 1000 Island dressing. Some of that dressing gets spread on the dough before baking and melds with the hot ingredients adding a perky lift to every bite. The rest is served on the side for dipping, allowing you to slather your modified sandwich with as much cool and tangy goodness as you can handle.

I offer this recipe to you as a St. Patrick’s Day meal, a replacement to corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. There’s nothing wrong with that more traditional fare, of course, and if you happen to have made such a thing, you could use any leftover corned beef to make this Reuben Loaf a day or two later. A corned beef brisket just doesn’t fit into my lifestyle right now, however, so I made this loaf instead, using deli corned beef, which works out just fine. You could also use whatever bread dough or even pizza dough you like, even a frozen one.

And adding to, subtracting from, and modifying filling ingredients could keep your taste buds occupied for years. I’m hoping that happens to me!

Reuben Loaf
Adapted from a Food Network recipe that I found many years ago

I used deli sliced corned beef to make this, but chopped leftover corned beef would be great. Also, use whatever bread or pizza dough is easiest for you to get your hands on so you can enjoy this stuffed loaf!

1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sweet pickle relish, drained
3 pitted green olives, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoon brine from the olives
¼ cup ketchup
1 recipe Caraway Rye Sandwich Bread dough, prepared through Step 4 and punched down (or 1 ½ pounds of other dough)
1 cup finely chopped corned beef (I used deli corned beef)
1 cup sauerkraut, well drained
¼ pound grated Swiss cheese

1. To prepare the dressing: in a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, relish, olives, olive brine, and ketchup. Mix well. Set aside. (This can be made ahead of time. Refrigerate if not using right away.)

2. On a well-floured surface, roll the bread dough into a 12 x 18-inch rectangle. Spread ½ cup of the dressing over the dough.

3. Layer the corned beef, sauerkraut, and cheese over the dressing.

4. Beginning with a long side, roll the dough up over the filling, tucking in the sides as you go. Form the roll into a tight log, pinching the ending edges to form a seam. Carefully lift the roll and place it on a lined or greased baking sheet, seam side down. Let stand for 20 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the Reuben roll for about 30 minutes, or until the bread is crusty and browned and the filling is bubbling.

6. Remove from the oven and let stand about 10 minutes. Slice to serve. Refrigerate leftovers wrapped in foil and reheat in the oven.

Makes about 10 servings.