I think I was onto my career path early, and it might have started with making mud pies. The real mud pies with mud, not like the one you see above. In many ways it was just a small step from one to the other. I was very precise when I made mud pies. They could not be without decoration and finesse. I would gather jar lids, old aluminum pie tins, twigs, small leaves, dandelions and little berries from the woods before beginning…my first version of “mise en place”. Filling the lids and pie tins with mud after a rain, I would smooth the tops and gently press leaves and twigs into the tops artfully. The hardest part was waiting for them to dry. Not that I could actually eat them, but I wanted to see how pretty they looked all dried and hard with little pieces of nature sticking up randomly from the tops. Sometimes I would sprinkle the tops with small gravel or powdery dirt or white fluffy dandelion heads. It’s not really hard to figure out how I got from there to here is it?
My favorite desert is a mud-dark chocolate meringue pie. One that is not overly sugary, one with a nice thick layer of browned meringue and one with a crust that doesn’t get soggy within a few hours. I think this pie is it, finally, an edible mud pie!
The extra, extra here is the espresso powder dusted over the crust before being filled and baked. The other extra something, something is that the filling ingredients are all mixed in a blender. How easy is that?
You can flute edges of the crusts or not. Make them fancy or plain. Whatever you like.
Bake until a few tiny cracks start to show on the surface. The center is just a big jiggly. Time for meringue, or if that is not your thing…then whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, or maybe dandelion heads? These pies are good for a few days if they last that long.
This is a pie that makes a good gift for your fellow chocolate loving friends and family. I have made 4 of these in the same number of days and have given most away….most, but not all!
Eat with coffee, with milk, on a plate or out of the pan…anyway you like it..enjoy.
Dark Chocolate Mud Pie with Espresso Crust
Ingredients for two pies:
- 1 box of refrigerator pie dough (2 to the box)
- 2 tablespoons espresso powder
- 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups canned evaporated milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 stick/1/2 cup butter, melted
Meringue for two pies + other toppings:
- 6 egg whites (freeze the yolks and add to the next cake you bake)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Alternatively you can use store bought meringue powder following directions on the package. If you don’t care for meringue top with whipped cream. Un-topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream is yummy as well.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove refrigerator pie dough rounds from the refrigerator and let sit for about 15 minutes to warm up a bit. This makes them easy to handle. Roll each one out on a lightly floured surface and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon espresso powder. Smear around to edges with your fingers. Fit each dough round into a regular size pie pan, not deep dish pressing into bottom and sides. Turn edges under and flute or turn under and press down with the tines of a fork.
- Whisk together the 3/4 cup cocoa powder and 2 cups granulated sugar.
- Put 4 eggs, 1 1/4 cups evaporated milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract into a blender. Add in the cocoa powder-sugar mixture and blend well. Add in 1 stick melted butter. Blend well again. Pour filling equally into each pie shell. I put both pie pans on a sheet pan as it makes it easier to move and just in case of spillage no oven to clean!
- Bake for 20 minutes. Quickly turn pan around and bake another 15 minutes. The pies should be puffy and just a bit jiggly or wiggly in the middle. They may even start to have some small cracks in the surface, but that’s okay. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. They will sink and set up as they cool.
- If you are adding a meringue top: Turn oven heat to 450 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat 6 egg whites, 2/3 cup sugar and 2 teaspoon cornstarch mixture until stiff peaks form. Spread over pies touching the crust all around and bake until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. These pies are ready to cut and eat if you like your pie warm. I let ours cool completely before eating. You can keep chilled for a few days.
A craving for chocolate and for a good dark chocolate brownie in particular doesn’t come over me often. I can be happy with a little bite of a dark chocolate bar most of the time, but sometimes I get a brownie craving and nothing will sate this but to whip up a batch. The results you see above. This might be an easy recipe to make for someone you love this coming February 14th or just for yourself. I used King Arthur Gluten Free Flour, lots of dark cocoa, dark chocolate chips, espresso powder and only 1 cup of sugar….oh yes and browned butter!
The browned butter adds a layer of unexpected flavor and texture. The doubling of dark cocoa and chocolate chunks make one “lava flow looking” brownie.
I used gluten-free flour just to see how it would work with my recipe and I think the results were delicious, especially if you enjoy a less cake-like brownie. These brownies keep for days in the refrigerator as well.
Happy Valentine’s Day all Year Long.
Browned-Butter Dark-Chocolate Lava-Flow Brownies
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup raw or regular sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup King Arthur Gluten Free Flour
- 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack in lower part of the oven. Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan and line with two crisscrossed sheets of parchment paper long enough to come up the sides of the pan. Grease paper.
- To brown the butter, melt the stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook butter, while whisking, until it is a pale golden color with darker brown particulates, for 8-10 minutes. Stir the sugar into the browned butter.
- Stir in the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and espresso powder until well blended. Let mixture cool for a few minutes.
- Beat in eggs one at a time with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick and shiny.
- Stir in the vanilla extract and flour until you do not see any streaks of flour, continuing to beat vigorously for about 50-60 strokes.
- Fold in the chocolate chunks.
- Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Cool brownies in the pan on a cooling rack.
- Remove cooled, uncut brownies from the pan by lifting up the edges of the parchment paper and placing on a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares or smaller into 25 squares.
These brownies keep very well chilled for up to 10 days in the refrigerator. They also make a great gift for your no-gluten friends.
It is the end of January 2017. It’s my birthday week. It has been a rocky month politically. Today I had to turn inside myself and away from the never-ending news feeds that seem to break a little piece of my heart every time I listen. I took the afternoon off from being vigilant. I went for a walk in the wintry gloom listening to music to clear my head and heart. I baked an easy chocolate cake to sooth my soul. Baking helps.
This lovely cake is one dense, moist layer glazed with a really great chocolate bar melted on top and sprinkled with dried candied orange peels.
I broke this bar of chocolate into pieces and scattered over the top of the hot cake to melt. Any good bar of chocolate would do.
Ingredients for this cake are all mixed together in a blender. Easy and quick.
Easy Chocolate Espresso Cake with a Chocolate Glaze and Candied Orange Peels
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup dark cocoa
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4-6 ounce dark chocolate baking bar or flavored candy bar
- 1/2 cup candied orange peels
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Melt butter in a glass deep dish pie or cake pan in the microwave and then pour melted butter into a blender.
- To blender add eggs, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, flour and vanilla extract. Pulse to blend ingredients together well, scraping down blender as needed.
- Scrape cake batter into buttered glass dish and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake is just done in the middle. Remove dish from oven to cool for a few minutes on a cooking rack. Turn hot cake out onto a plate.
- Break bar of chocolate into small pieces and scatter over top of hot cake. Let melt and then spread over top to glaze.
- Sprinkle candied orange peel over the top. Serve warm or room temperature.
Holiday gift giving 2015 will soon be in full swing and there are so many ways to make it easier and more personal. I am not much for shopping but I do love to make things. This is the first in a series I will post every so often during November and December. Easy edible food gifts to help get you through the Holidays with a sense of well-being and sharing.
My recipe, if you want to call it that, for “Chipotle-Dark Chocolate Studded with Pistachios, Cocoa-coated Almonds, Sea Salt, Espresso Powder & Cocoa Nibs/Cacao Nibs” is amazingly easy. It takes no special skills and it allows for lots of experimentation. The time for this batch was about 15 minutes! It doesn’t get any better than that! Don’t you feel more relaxed already?
Olive and Sinclair Mexican Chocolate bars melted with some Nestle’s Semi Sweet Chocolate Morsels in the top of a double boiler….
…poured out on a flat pan covered with parchment paper & spread around with a rubber spatula….
…dusted & studded with toppings.
A quick chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes and it is ready to break up into bite-size pieces.
The dusting of chipotle chili and dark espresso powders give this chocolate an indulgently intense flavor that will appeal to all your chocolate obsessed friends.
Place pieces in decorative tins or boxes for gift giving. Great host or hostess gifts.
Chipotle-Dark Chocolate Studded with Pistachios, Almonds, Sea Salt, Espresso Powder & Cocoa Nibs - Edible Gift Giving 2015
- 8 ounces Olive & Sinclair Mexican Chocolate Bars (or any other bittersweet chocolate)
- 8 ounces Nestles semi-sweet chocolate chips (or other brand)
- Chipotle Powder to taste
- 1/2 cup pistachios, rough chopped
- 1/2 cup cocoa covered whole almonds or regular almonds, rough chopped
- 1 to 2 tbsp instant espresso powder
- flakey sea salt such as Maldon
- 2 tbsp cocoa nibs (optional)
- Line a sheet pan with parchment. Gather and prep all ingredients before you start melting the chocolate.
- Melt chocolate in the top of double boiler pan until smooth and without any lumps.
- Remove from heat, wipe pan bottom with a kitchen towel and pour/scrape melted chocolate out onto the parchment paper. Smooth with a dry rubber spatula.
- Dust over the entire surface with chipotle powder. More or less to fit your palate. I like more.
- Dust with the espresso powder and sprinkle with pistachios, almonds, sea salt & cocoa nibs generously. Press larger nut pieces down into chocolate gently with fingers.
- Place pan in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. Remove when chocolate is hard, break into pieces. Store pieces in airtight containers. Best made and gifted within a couple of days.
Note: I made this up on a whim using what I had in my pantry, but you can totally experiment and add chopped dried fruit, coconut flakes, white chocolate chips, black pepper, etc…
Teresa Blackburn teresablackburnfoodstyling.com foodonfifth.com