5.20.2010

Thanks to my colleagues ... Chocolate Custard Pie

As you may know, I'm a grad student at a large university in the Boston Area (names obscured to protect the innocent and guilty).  As such, my income comes from teaching an array of classes, some language classes, some literature classes.

This past semester I was the head teaching assistant for a very large class about Childhood Literature.  My responsibilities in this role involved wrangling the other five teaching assistants, making sure the professor leading the course had everything she needed (and that we needed!), teaching a couple discussion sections, and doing general admin work.  In short, this job came with major potential for ass-pain and irritation.  Going into the semester I had no idea what to expect.  Luckily, I managed to keep it together and keep our almost-200 students relatively happy (You'll be hearing more soon about how my fellow teachers and I threw a party for all of our students!), keep the other teachers mostly prepared and satisfied, and keep any major deadlines from slipping past us unnoticed (the ones that flew by were noticed, if not adhered to).

As much as I'd like to take all the credit, that would be dishonest at best and cruel at worst.  This post, you see, and the contents of it are meant as a tribute to the lovely teachers who made my semester so much nicer and more pleasant than it could have been with less willing and able help.

To thank these lovely ladies and one gentleman I invited them over for dinner a couple weeks ago.  Despite my purely last-minute preparation and pronounced indecisiveness about the menu, I pulled together a meal that I think was worthy of their good humor and help and we all passed a lovely evening together.

The Menu:
  • Simple Green Salad dressed with grated romano, olive oil, and good balsamic
  • Brie-stuffed, prociutto-wrapped chicken breasts
  • served with Asparagus Hash
  • Two desserts: 
  • Fresh strawberry shortcakes made with homemade buttermilk biscuits (pictured below)
  • Chocolate Custard Pie

It all turned out to be quite delicious (I will permit myself to brag about dinner) and the evening was filled with good gossip, hearty laughs, and a rather good time, I thought.

The most interesting part of the dinner prep was the pie.  It was a new recipe for me and that always gives me butterflies.  Moreover, I picked the recipe at the very last possible second, which left no margin for error.  Luckily, a few messy mistakes aside (I accidentally jiggled about a third of the filling out of the crust and into the bottom of my oven, causing a major cloud of chocolate scented smoke and a greasy black spot that I haven't yet dealt with), the pie emerged, gloriously caramelized, perfectly browned, and oh-so-custardy and all were satisfied.  The charming thing about this pie is that it separates into three beautiful layers while it bakes - a crispy caramelized chocolatey crust, a caramelly custard, and a flaky, tender crust.  It looks like WAY more work than it is in reality.  With no further ado, I give you the recipe.  Make this for someone you love (or appreciate, or owe a semester's worth of work to).  I think it would be delicious with some sort of berry sauce.  Or alone.  For breakfast.

Chocolate Custard Pie
adapted from cooks.com
  • 6 oz flour
  • 4 oz (1 stick) cold butter 
  • 2 oz (approx 3 T) ice water pinch salt
  • 2  oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/2 c whole milk
  1. Make crust: I used a very basic 3-2-1 pie crust.  
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Pulse the flour and salt together in a food processor, then add the butter, 1/2 T at a time.  Pulse until the mixture resembles meal.  
  4. Add water, 1 T at a time until the dough comes together into a rough mass.
  5. If you have a two-piece fluted tart pan, that will make things very easy - simply press the dough into the pan until it's roughly even, then use the bottom of a glass to smooth it out.  Place in fridge to chill.
  6. Meanwhile, make the filing: Melt chocolate in a heavy saucepan, the set aside to cool.
  7. In a medium bowl, with mixer on medium, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. 
  8. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  9. Beat in vanilla, whole milk and melted chocolate.
  10. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake about 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
(The original recipe suggests covering the whole thing with sweetened whipped cream and garnishing with chocolate shavings, but I really think the pie speaks for itself.  Of course, it's up to you.)

1 comment:

Kelly said...

om nom nom nom...