Monday, April 4, 2011

Coffee Cream Pie

So apparently, pies are the new cupcakes... meaning, they're the new trendy dessert this year. That cracks me up a bit. I mean, there's nothing really new about pies. They aren't a novelty, they're old-school all the way. Why now are they making a comeback? As far as I'm concerned, they never really went away. But I'll go with the flow, sure pies are trendy, what's not to like? A crust (graham cracker, pastry dough, etc), some kind of awesome filling (there are just so many options), maybe a scoop of ice cream. From apple to peach to coconut cream, there are lots of classic flavors, and lots of unique variations. The newly released Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts features 150 recipes, ranging from "free-form" creations to "dainty" or "artful" ones. There's something to fill any pie or tart craving. There are recipes utilizing seasonal fruits to over a dozen savory concoctions. A gorgeous color photograph accompanies every single recipe. I'm a huge fan of Martha Stewart's Cookies and also own Martha Stewart's Cupcakes (though I haven't attempted nearly as many recipes in that book as from the Cookies one), so this is an excellent addition to my collection. After all, Martha knows best!

**Note** I had trouble finding chocolate wafers (similar to Nilla cookies) and almost had to succumb to buying Oreos and scraping out the cream. I randomly found some simple, crunchy, non-cream-filled chocolate cookies in the Latin section of the market (random, I know) and they worked fine, but just a heads up that chocolate wafers may be harder to find than they seem...

**Note** When making this pie, make sure you give the custard ample time to set. The original recipe suggests 4 hours, but after that time, when I cut my pie, the custard was still too soft, oozed all over the place, and made a mess. I would definitely suggest making this pie the night before you plan to serve it, or early in the morning if you are serving it after dinner that night. Be patient. The pie will be worth it, but be sure the custard is completely set before topping with whipped cream and serving it! You'll thank me.

Coffee Cream Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
(Adapted from Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts)

Chocolate Wafer Crust:
25 chocolate wafers (6 oz.), broken into pieces, or 1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
5 T. unsalted butter, melted
3 T. sugar
Pinch salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups milk
2 T. plus 1 tsp. instant espresso powder, such as Medaglia D'Oro
2 large eggs
1/4 cup coffee liqueur, preferably Kahlua
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 T. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened
1/3 cup dark chocolate-covered espresso beans
1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
1 T. confectioners' sugar

To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse wafers until finely ground. Add butter, sugar, and salt, and process until well combined. Press mixture firmly into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until crust is firm, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Crust can be stored up to 1 day.

To make the filling: Whisk together granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and 2 T. espresso powder, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick, about 7 minutes (about 2 minutes after it comes to a boil).

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl until combined. Whisk in milk mixture in a slow, steady stream until completely incorporated. Return mixture to saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly just until it returns to a boil, 1 to 2 minutes.

Strain through a fine sieve into a large bowl, and stir in coffee liqueur and vanilla. Add butter, 1 T. at a time, whisking until each piece melts before adding the next one. Let custard cool, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Pour custard into baked and cooled crust. Press plastic wrap directly on surface of custard (this will prevent it from forming a skin). Refrigerate until filling is firm, at least 4 hours, but overnight is better (or up to 1 day).

Roughly chop espresso beans. Reserve 1 T. larger pieces for garnish.

In a chilled bowl, beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and remaining 1 tsp. espresso powder until stiff peaks form. Fold small espresso bean pieces into whipped cream mixture, and spread over pie. Sprinkle with reserved espresso-bean pieces, and serve immediately.


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