Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chocolate Cream Pie with Raspberry Sauce, and our Valentine's Weekend...

Chocolate Cream Pie with Raspberry Sauce

There was this commercial about pie back in the 90s where the husband was raving about how his wife had made him a pie – I think it was lemon meringue – and what made it so special was that she had made it for him on a weekday no less, not even waiting until she had more time on the weekend.  Of course, her secret was that she hadn’t made the pie at all but had bought it from the frozen section at the grocery store, but it was so tasty that he thought it was homemade.

Well, as Valentine’s Day fell on a Thursday this year , there was no better excuse to make something sweet in the middle of the week, something just for my man – a Triple Layer Chocolate Cream Pie with Tart Raspberry Sauce.  A pie like this takes time and love – and a head start the night before so that the next evening was relaxing and fun, with nothing left to do but whip the chocolate cream for the topping, and make the raspberry sauce.

Chocolate Cream Pie with Raspberry Sauce

I wasn’t the only one who went all out for our Valentine’s dinner, and Jamie came home that night with the makings for a salad with berries, walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette, camembert cheese, wine, lamb chops which he seared and then glazed with a balsamic marionberry glaze, and polenta which he’d made the evening before so it could have time to chill in order for him to slice and sear it with a little butter.  Heart-shaped polenta, no less.  Isn’t he sweet?

After a relaxing dinner together, we cut into the pie to give it a taste.  The graduating layers of chocolate – from a thin layer of dark bittersweet ganache on the bottom, to a filling of creamy chocolate pudding and finally a light topping of chocolate whipped cream – were perfectly balanced by the tart, and very bright red raspberry sauce.  He ate a piece later on over the weekend with some caramel sauce drizzled over it, and while he liked that too, he said he really liked the raspberry sauce the best since the tartness was such a surprising and contrasting flavor with all that chocolate.

Just for a little texture, I sprinkled a few white chocolate chips between the ganache and pudding layers, but any flavor of baking chips, toffee bits, or even some toasted nuts in between the layers would be good.  The crunch is a nice contrast to all the creamy chocolate.

Chocolate Cream Pie with Raspberry Sauce

He also planned a romantic evening for us in downtown Denver that weekend, so Saturday afternoon we headed to the surprise destination of Teatro Hotel, where champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries and rose petals were waiting in our room.

After a drink at a martini bar down the street, we shared an amazing dinner at the Kevin Taylor restaurant in our hotel, which is reputed to be one of the very best restaurants in Denver.  For the first time ever we tasted foie gras, which was like melt-in-your-mouth duck butter.  Then there was a bite of crispy pork belly with squash puree and gingerbread crumble.  Bison short ribs with beets, which, I hate to admit that I actually enjoyed.  And butter-poached lobster with mushrooms in a baked potato consomm√©.  All of it decadent.  All so delicious.

Then we walked to one of the theaters in the Performing Arts Center where saw a performance of Romeo and Juliet, a first for both of us, although we both knew the gist of the story.  Just once, I’d like to know that Romeo and Juliet actually manage to run away together, instead of ending so tragically from the ridiculous lack of communication between all the characters.  It’s too bad the theater can’t change the ending, but I suppose that would cause an uproar among Shakespeare enthusiasts.

Chocolate Cream Pie with Raspberry Sauce

As for Jamie and me, only happy endings and so much to look forward to in our future….  And homemade – never storebought – chocolate pie.

Triple Layer Chocolate Pie with Raspberry Sauce (for Valentine’s Day)
printable recipe

Graham Cracker Crust:
·         1 ½ cups finely crushed graham crackers (1 sleeve)
·         2 tablespoons granulated sugar
·         ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
·         4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate Ganache:
·         4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
·         4 ounces heavy whipping cream
·         ¼ cup white chocolate chips

Chocolate Cream Filling:
·         3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
·         1/3 cup granulated sugar
·         1/4 cup cornstarch
·         1/4 teaspoon salt
·         2 cups skim milk
·         1 cup whole milk, heavy cream or half 'n' half
·         4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
·         2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
·         1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Whipped Cream:
·         1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
·         2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted to remove any lumps
·         4 tablespoons powdered sugar

Raspberry Sauce:
·         8 ounces fresh (when in season) or frozen raspberries, thawed
·         2 tablespoons water
·         1 teaspoon lemon juice
·         2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Bake the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350.  In a deep-dish pie pan, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt.  Drizzle with the melted butter and toss with a fork to moisten.  Press the crumbs evenly in the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes, then set aside and cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare the Ganache:
Place the chopped bittersweet chocolate in a bowl.  In a saucepan, warm the cream over medium low heat just until it starts to bubble around the edges.  Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate; let stand for 3 minutes then stir with a spatula until smooth.  Spread the ganache over the cooled crust; sprinkle with the white chocolate chips.  Set in the refrigerator.

Prepare the Filling and Chill Pie:
In a medium saucepan, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, corn starch and salt.  Gradually whisk in the 3 cups milk/cream.  Set the pan over medium heat and slowly bring to a boil, while whisking constantly.  Once you see it start to boil, cook for two minutes, continuing to whisk constantly, as mixture thickens.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

Pour into the prepared crust over the ganache layer.  Smooth out the top, and cover with plastic wrap, with the plastic resting against the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.  Chill pie thoroughly for 3-4 hours, or overnight, until set.

Make the Chocolate Whipped Cream:
Pour the whipping cream into a bowl and whip with an electric mixer until it begins to thicken.  Sprinkle the cocoa powder and powdered sugar over the cream and continue whipping until medium to firm peaks form.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make the Raspberry Sauce:
In a blender or food processor, puree the raspberries, water and lemon juice until smooth.  Pour through a mesh strainer and discard the seeds.  Pour juice into a small saucepan and stir in the sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and simmer until slightly reduced and thick enough to coat a spoon.  Chill until ready to serve.

Garnish the Pie:
Before serving, swirl the chocolate whipped cream over the pie.  If desired, garnish with chocolate curls or sprinkles.  Serve each slice with a drizzle of the raspberry sauce.

Yields 8-10 slices.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen