Sometimes — okay, maybe all the time — big days or events don’t go as planned.
Let’s talk about Valentine’s Day, for example. Yeah, I know, it’s a completely commercialized holiday scam that the greeting card companies push on we eager consumers, blah blah blah. My husband and I did not take the gifts-and-cards route this year. All we wanted was to set a nice table, cook a big feast of Belgian-style mussels marinière, sop it up with some crusty French bread, share a bottle of wine, and cuddle down with a rich, chocolatey dessert over some exciting Olympic events.
Oh, the feast happened. The chocolate dessert happened, too, and it was pretty while it was… ahem. Intact. (More on that later.) But it was not at all relaxing or low-key, nor was I able to take as many thoughtfully staged photographs as I had planned. I really wanted to, folks! I promise!
Why not? Because we had to juggle our four-legged, furry children along with our feast. It’s hard to keep blood pressure low and enjoy the moment when you have to worry about your kitties sticking their noses in your fresh French chocolate silk pie or climbing into the stock pot for a decadent lick of mussel broth. Let’s not even get into the part where we were so focused on gently pressing those kitty faces out of our way that we jostled the entire knife block, which fell flat smack in the middle of my beautifully and carefully-crafted-and-cut chocolate silk pie.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my cats with all of my heart. But sometimes ‘Mommy’ wants a break from making sure they’re staying out of trouble.
Somewhere in the fray, when it was all over and we were cleaning up the last of the dishes (including the oh-so-helpful Percy who would not leave the mussel pot alone), I realized something. All of these troubles, all of these hitches in the plan don’t matter. The meal was still delicious. The wine was still cold. The pie still tasted darn good, if I may say so myself. And we still love our cats, against our wiser judgments.
Above all, though, we have each other’s company. It is just one day, one smashed pie, one harried night, one funny little stitch in the fabric of life. So why don’t we just sit back and laugh at the absurdity of it all? Life’s too short to get hung up on the details.
Next time, we’ll just consider finding a way to corral the cats into a separate room.Brown Eyed Baker should work splendidly. We got about 8 servings out of this pie. It’s rather rich, so a little goes a long way. Adapted slightly from The Pioneer Woman.
1/2 Recipe Pie Crust of your choice (or frozen crust), fitted into a 9″ pie plate
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened. If using unsalted, add 1/4 teaspoon salt or so.
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cocoa powder, cinnamon, or chocolate shavings
Blind bake your pie shell. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Poke holes into the bottom of your chilled crust with a fork, line with a greased sheet of foil, and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or rice. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pie weights and foil and bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer, until the bottom is dry and the crust is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow the crust to cool completely.
In small microwave safe bowl melt 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (I used 72% cacao, chopped) in 20 second intervals, stirring after each until completely smooth. Be careful! Once all the chunks are mostly melted, you don’t want to heat it anymore. Set aside to cool completely to room temperature, or you will be really sad that your pie will not come together.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat 1 cup (2 sticks) of salted butter and 1 ½ cups of white sugar on medium speed until fluffy (about 3 to 5 minutes). Turn the mixing speed to low. When melted chocolate is cool to the touch, drizzle it over the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Add the vanilla extract. Beat the mixture on low until thoroughly combined and homogenous.
Turn your mixer back to medium speed and add each whole egg one at a time. After each addition, beat the mixture for 5 whole minutes before adding the next. You will spend about 20 minutes mixing the pie filling. It will transform and take on a super silky, not at all grainy, billowy texture. Once the pie filling is well mixed, pour or scoop it into your prepared and cooled pie shell. Smooth out the pie filling and place pie in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours or overnight.
While the pie is chilling, place the heavy cream in a cleaned mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add in 2 to 3 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar and the vanilla extract and continue to beat until thick and stiffly whipped. Spoon the whipped cream in an attractive heap onto the center of the chilled pie. Top with a sprinkling of cocoa powder, cinnamon, chocolate shavings, or chocolate chips. Serve immediately, using a warmed knife to cut clean slices. Enjoy!