Monday, December 16, 2013

The Art Of Chocolate Pie

It's no secret that I come from a long line of people who love food.

I would go one step further and say we come from a long line of pie-eating-people.

And that would mean that there are some pie-making artists in my linage.

This time of year, when the focus is so often on gatherings and the food that will be featured, I'm thinking about and deeply thankful for, my heritage of pie eating and the artistry which is part of that!

My maternal grandmother made pies every Sunday and then the family ate left over pie for breakfast on Monday.

Now there is a life I want to emulate! People who eat dessert for breakfast!

Grandma had eight children, so there are varying opinions and memories, but it is generally accepted that every week, she would make a lemon pie, a fruit pie from whatever was available, banana or coconut cream and a sour cream raisin. I personally remember a butterscotch pie, which is a favorite of mine.

Each flaky pastry was made from her own mix of handcrafted ingredients, every filling boiled on top of the stove in a heavy cast iron pan until bubbly thick, stacked high with bronze tipped meringue.

I should have taken lessons from her or at least asked for the recipes, but I didn't.

Can I just suggest to you, if there is something you remember loving that your grandma, mom, aunt, neighbor, or casual acquaintance makes, that you love.... run now and ask for the recipe!

My dad's mother crafted some pies as well and she liked her crust quite brown. Honestly she liked everything well-done, crispy, even to the point of overdone. I always wondered if it was because of days gone by when women had to cook with a wood-burning stove that had no real temperature control and when "normal" was burnt. She came from family that liked to create things like minced meat pies and date cakes topped with freshly whipped cream.

My own mom was an artist and had a deep appreciation for the time honored crafting of pie. On any given Sunday you could drop in and find perfect flaky goodness cupping some sweet filling on the counter. My dad prefers the caramelized happiness of pecan pie or the ruby-red tartness of cherry pie loaded with melting vanilla ice cream. Mom preferred lemon. She always said that her food was so tasty, because it was made with love.

I think that's part of the process of art. What you create has to be done with love.

I believe she concocted these sugary, fluted creations as a form of emotional therapy on days when her heart was missing her own mother.

The real pie maker in the family is my one and only sister, Rae Jeanne.

She makes the most decedent coconut cream and banana cream pie ever. I've tried my hand at the crafting of them before, but quite honestly it's not worth a day of my life to attain the marginal success I experience.

Her creamy creations are picture perfect every. single. time.

Truly she is an artist of pie making.

I most often do an acceptable job on pecan and pumpkin pies. For years I labored to make apple pie for my husband, under the delusion that it was his favorite. He finally admitted (fifteen years into our marriage) that he, "really preferred cherry pie."

There is always something new to learn about the people closest to you isn't there?

Where I live there is a business called Village Pie Maker who has perfected the perfect two crust pie and uses fresh fruit to make a rainbow of flavors. They can be purchased for $10 a piece. If I were to ever take the easy route and just buy a Village Pie Maker pie,  I pop it out of the tin pan it arrives in, place it in one of my own beautiful pie plates and bake it.

Well now you know.

You can look like a pie maker, but not really do all the work.

That brings me to another part of being a lover of pie.

I love pie plates.

All kinds.

New, vintage, deep dish, regular ol' Pyrex, unique shapes and of course the small adorable pie plates.

My Aunt Jackie gave me some small pie tin pans before she lost her battle with cancer. They are the perfect size to deliver to a friend that wouldn't want more than a few pieces.

I've found beautiful pie plates at second hand stores and  garage sales that have hardly been used. Recently I found this adorable small glass one with a fluted edge that is too cute!

My favorite pie to make, to take to an event and to eat, is my version of Jeanne's chocolate pie. As with all good recipes, over time I have altered it some. Most often I like to use deep dish pie pans and have enough filling left over to make a few small pies to give away.

So I asked my sister if I could share the recipe with you and she agreed that it was fine.

Whooo Hoooo!

I've never seen another pie like this at any event I've been at. It is unique, since it uses frozen whipped topping with powered sugar and cocoa added to top off  all the chocolate goodness.

If you prefer, a meringue topping could be used instead.

Don't be afraid to hone your own mad-pie-making-skills, with this easy recipe.

I do like to make my own pie crust.

You don't have to.

For me, part of the artistry of pie is in the crafting of the crust.

There are a bazillion great pie crust recipes on the web, even gluten free! Pie crust recipes that call for shortening do work well, but I prefer to use all butter and high quality flour. I think the key is soft but not melted butter, cut into the flour and salt and very cold water worked in a few tablespoons at a time. If the recipe calls for 7 tablespoons of water I usually add 8. It seems better to have the dough a little more wet than dry as you roll it out on a floured surface.

Once I have the crust in the pan I like to brush the edges lightly with milk or egg white then sprinkle with sugar granules. This adds texture and helps it brown lightly.

The result is a labor of chocolate-pie-art love.

My sister absolutely still makes the very best pies ever, but now you can try your hand at the art of chocolate pie too.

Merry Christmas and happy baking!

Linking up here!

post signature


Post a Comment

I love hearing from you! Thank you for stopping by.

© Rhonda Quaney