For our Valentine’s dinner at home, we decided to keep things simple and make macaroni and cheese. It’s not fancy, but Chester makes the best mac-and-cheese ever. And, I was even able to leverage my limited cooking skills to assist. I’m pretty awesome with a Microplane and grated four kinds of cheese (and only part of one knuckle) in no time at all.
My main contribution was of course, dessert. There’s a restaurant in the Midwest called Baker’s Square (it’s kind of like a Friendly’s) that’s known for their pies. Chester really loves their French Silk, so I tried to duplicate it. Mine was even better.
The nice thing about this pie I was able to assemble the crust and filling and make the chocolate curls ahead of time (which is a good thing, because it took me all afternoon on Sunday). Then, when we were ready to eat it, I just had to make some whipped cream for the topping and arrange the curls in a pretty pattern. All of the recipes I consulted said that the flavors really come together the longer the pie sits, so I definitely recommend giving it a full day before you cut yourself a slice. You should have plenty of leftover filling after you fill your crust to lick the bowl clean.
For the first time ever, I made my own pie crust. I was nervous that I would either burn it or undercook it because my oven and I don’t get along so well. But, to my surprise, it actually turned out perfectly golden brown. I may have overworked it just a bit when rolling it out, so it wasn’t as flaky as I would have liked. But, it stood up to the rich, truffle-like filling and wasn’t overly sweet so it didn’t get in the way of all of that chocolaty goodness.
Be aware that the filling isn’t baked and contains raw eggs. From what I understand, it’s pretty rare to get sick from fresh eggs that are properly refrigerated and not cracked when you take them out of the carton (I believe this to be true, as I haven’t become deathly ill from all the cake batter and raw cookie dough that I’ve consumed over the years). But, you are pregnant, elderly or have an otherwise comprised immune system, you will have to avoid this pie. I am sad for you. Oh well, more for me.
French Silk Pie
Single Crust Recipe: America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
(Good step-by-step guide here)
Filling and Chocolate Curls: The Pioneer Woman
What you will need
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into ½ inch pieces and chilled
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch pieces and chilled
- 4-6 tablespoons ice water
- 4 ounces, weight Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
- 1 cup Salted Butter, Softened
- 1-1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 4 whole Eggs
- 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 tablespoon Crisco vegetable shortening
What to do
- Process flour, sugar, salt in food processor until combined
- Scatter shortening over the top and process until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter over the top and pulse about 10 more seconds, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Transfer mixture to medium bowl and sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over it. Stir and press dough with rubber spatula until it comes together. If it does not, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it does.
- Turn the dough out on to a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a four-inch disc. Wrap and refrigerate one hour. Before rolling out, let sit out for 10 minutes to soften.
- Roll dough into a 12-inch circle to fit into a nine-inch pie plate. Trim to pie dough so that it hangs over plate by ½ inch, then tuck dough underneath itself to form a neat edge.
- Wrap lined pie plate loosely in plastic and place in freezer 30 minutes before using.
- To bake, line the chilled crust with a double layer of aluminum foil, covering the edges to keep it from burning.
- Fill crust with pie weights (or, in my case, dried black beans) and bake in a 375-degree oven for 40 minutes.
- In small microwave safe bowl melt 4 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate (about 45 seconds on high). Stir. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat 1 cup of unsalted butter, sugar and salt until fluffy (about 1 to 2 minutes).
- When melted chocolate is cooled, drizzle it over the butter/sugar mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Beat the mixture thoroughly until combined (on a Kitchen Aid mixer, you will be using the whisk attachment).
- Turn your mixer to a medium speed and over a period of 15 to 20 minutes add in the four eggs, one at a time, leaving about 5 minutes between each egg addition. This might seem time consuming, but taking this extra time will help you achieve the right consistency.
- Once the pie filling is well mixed, pour it into pie shell. Smooth out the pie filling and place pie in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours (preferably longer)
- Melt semisweet chocolate and Crisco in microwave for about 45 seconds. Stir to combine.
- Pour melted chocolate over the back of a cookie sheet and spread into a thin layer with a knife.
- Place baking sheet in the freezer for one to two minutes. When the chocolate is set, it should leave the slightest mark, but not an actual depression. Also, place a separate plastic container in the freezer to chill, so when you start making your curls you can toss them in there before they melt.
- Remove baking sheet from freezer. With a sharp-edged spatula and begin to scrape the chocolate from the bottom of the pan. When the chocolate is just the right temperature, it will curl instead of break. The chocolate may start to melt again, so just place the sheet back in the freezer until it resets.
- When you are ready to serve pie, top with whipped cream (You could use Cool Whip and top in advance, but fresh whipped cream is best left to that last minute because it’s not as stable) and chocolate curls.