Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Pie with Crème Fraîche Topping

A few weeks ago I came across a recipe for chocolate pudding pie, and in the comments I found a much more complicated recipe from Bon Appétit. Guess which one I made?

This pie was exactly what I hoped it would be. It was cool and refreshing, especially with the tangy crème fraîche topping, and the cookie crumb/hardened chocolate crust was the perfect base. I adjusted the crust recipe a bit, since there wasn't quite enough of it as it was written. It also took way longer than 12 minutes to get the crust to that "dry" point, so keep an eye on it. As always, my preferred method of "finely chopping" bars of chocolate is to bash them with my rolling pin while they're still in the wrapper. When you distribute the chocolate over the crust, don't be as impatient as I was and wait a full two minutes before spreading the melted chocolate around.

As it turns out, you can easily make your own crème fraîche. Add a tablespoon of cultured buttermilk to a cup of heavy cream (both at room temperature), partially cover, and let stand at room temperature about 24 hours, or until thickened. Stir and refrigerate at least 24 hours before using. I made this at home, forgetting I had a carton of store-bought crème fraîche, but I tried both and they were pretty much indistinguishable. The cream will keep about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 7 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup chilled crème fraîche*
  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the crust: Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Blend cookie crumbs and sugar in processor. Add melted butter; process until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides (not rim) of 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Bake until crust begins to set and no longer looks moist, pressing gently with back of fork if crust puffs, about 15 minutes. Remove crust from oven, then sprinkle chopped chocolate over bottom of crust. Let stand until chocolate softens, 1 to 2 minutes. Using offset spatula or small rubber spatula, spread chocolate over bottom and up sides of crust to cover. Chill crust until chocolate sets, about 30 minutes.

For the filling: Whisk sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt to blend in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually add 1/3 cup milk, whisking until smooth paste forms. Whisk in remaining milk, then 1/4 cup cream. Using flat-bottom wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, stir mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping bottom and sides of pan until pudding thickens and begins to bubble at edges, about 5 minutes. Add chocolate; stir until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in rum and vanilla. Pour hot pudding into crust and spread evenly. Cool 1 hour at room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap; chill overnight.

For the topping: Using electric mixer, beat crème fraîche, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl just until stiff peaks form and mixture is thick enough to spread (do not overbeat or mixture may curdle). Spread topping decoratively over top of pie, swirling to create peaks, if desired.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sound and Vision - De Chirico and Broadcast

Melancholy and Mystery of a Street, Giorgio De Chirico

For me, De Chirico's dreamlike paintings are much more evocative than the abstract still lifes of other surrealists like Tanguey or Dali, and more than just about any band I can think of, Broadcast can make music that sounds like a dream. This song, an homage to a Czech movie called Valerie a týden divu, is one of my favorites from their second album, Haha Sound.

Broadcast - Valerie

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blueberry Buckle

So I bought a bunch of blueberries thinking I was going to make another blueberry coffee cake, but I ended up making this one and I'm glad I did. After checking Cook's Illustrated I realized I'd never made (or heard of) a buckle, so I gave it a shot. A buckle is basically a coffee cake, and this was definitely the best buckle/coffee cake I've ever made. The blueberries, lemon zest and cinnamon go perfectly together.

The recipe only makes a little bit of dough, and I couldn't believe that a whole quart of blueberries could be folded into it, but somehow it worked out. It also took forever to bake -- more like 75 minutes than 55 -- and it could have gone longer, since the bottom was a bit gummy. I'd say give it another few minutes once a tester comes out clean.

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch table salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into 8 pieces, softened but still cool

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( 7 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 stick), softened but still cool
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar (about 4 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries (about 20 ounces), picked over

  1. For the streusel: In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, combine flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt on low speed until well combined and no large brown sugar lumps remain, about 45 seconds. Add butter and mix on low until mixture resembles wet sand and no large butter pieces remain, about 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer streusel to small bowl and set aside.
  2. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with 2-inch sides with nonstick cooking spray, line bottom with parchment or waxed paper round, and spray round; dust pan with flour and knock out excess.
  3. Whisk flour and baking powder in small bowl to combine; set aside. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter, sugar, salt, and lemon zest at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes; using rubber spatula, scrape down bowl. Beat in vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer running at medium speed, add eggs one at a time; beat until partially incorporated, then scrape down bowl and continue to beat until fully incorporated (mixture will appear broken). With mixer running on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat until flour is almost fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. Disengage bowl from mixer; stir batter with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl, until no flour pockets remain and batter is homogenous; batter will be very heavy and thick. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries until evenly distributed.
  4. Transfer batter to prepared pan; with rubber spatula, using a pushing motion, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Squeeze handful of streusel in hand to form large cohesive clump; break up clump with fingers and sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Repeat with remaining streusel. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool on wire rack 15 to 20 minutes (cake will fall slightly as it cools).
  5. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Place upside-down plate (do not use plate or platter on which you plan to serve the cake) on top of cake pan; invert cake to remove from pan, lift off cake pan, then peel off and discard parchment. Re-invert cake onto serving platter. Cool until just warm or to room temperature, at least 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve.