The winter blues are affecting my cooking. Everything seems hard. My friend sent me a link for a pie that had at least five different parts. I told her I was tired just looking at it. And yet here I am, sharing a recipe with you that has multiple parts. The thing is, only one of the parts is actually requires your full attention, and most of the pie can be made ahead.
To give you a real life scenario to describe the doable nature of this pie, I will take us back to last Saturday night. I was on the couch, hair and make up done (the nursing tank stays on until the last minute), watching The Office with Rich and Leo (Tessa was sleeping at her mommom’s). By the way, the Jim and Pam romance is one of my favorite TV love stories of all time. Anyway – I remark to Rich that I have a lot to do and we have to leave in half an hour. He asked how he could help. I told him he could either choose my outfit, nurse the baby, make whipped cream or make salted caramel sauce. He chose to keep watching The Office with Leo.
If you don’t make your own whipped cream I BESEECH you to start. It’s the easiest and best “trick” I have and will cover a multitude of kitchen fails. Caramel has also become my friend, and for the same reason. Many a so-so dessert will become swoon-worthy if you drizzle some homemade caramel sauce on top. Very basic ingredients and a saucepan is all you’ll need. I adapted this from the chocolate cream pie already on my site because it’s super silky, rich, and shouldn’t be messed with. With a salty, crunchy crust and sweet whipped cream, this dessert came together nicely (and as previously stated, “make ahead” is my jam these days).
Chocolate Cream Pretzel Pie
Filling from America’s Test Kitchen
1 1/2 c. crushed pretzels
1/3 c. brown sugar
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 c. half and half
1/3 c. sugar, divided
2 tbsp. cornstarch
6 egg yolks
6 tbsp. cold butter, cut into 6 pieces
6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. vanilla
Whipped Cream topping
3/4 c. cold heavy cream
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. water
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor (or in a gallon ziplock bag), process pretzels and sugar until fine crumbs are formed. Add melted butter. Pulse (or mix in a bowl) until mixture is evenly wet.
3. Transfer mixture to a pie plate. Using fingertips or a metal measuring cup, press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the plate.
4. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 8 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
5. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, bring half and half, salt, and 3 tbsp. of the sugar to a simmer over medium high heat. Measure out 1/3 c. of sugar BEFORE adding the three tbsp. to the half and half.
6. In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar and the cornstarch.
7. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until slightly thickened. Add the sugar/cornstarch mixture over the egg yolks and whisk for about 30 seconds.
8. Take a ladle and add about 1/2 c. of the half and half mixture to the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Continue to ladle more in and whisking until the majority of the half and half mixture is with the eggs.
9. Add mixture back to the pot, whisking constantly. Whisk over medium high heat until mixture bubbles and thickens.
10. Turn off the heat. Whisk in the butter until incorporated. Add the chocolates and whisk until melted. Stir in the vanilla.
11. Pour mixture into cooled pie crust and spread evenly. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly over the top (touching the chocolate).
12. Chill at least 3 hours in the fridge (or up to 24 hours).
13. Within several hours of serving, make whipped cream topping by combining heavy cream and sugar in a bowl and whisking (or use electric mixer) until beginning to thicken. Add vanilla. Continue to whisk until the whisk makes waves in the cream and when you pull it up, a stiff peak is formed in the whipped cream.
14. Remove plastic from chilled pie and scoop whipped cream on top. Spread with a spoon as desired.
15. To make salted caramel, place sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat. Let cook without stirring until mixture turns amber color and bubbles are small. Immediately remove from heat and, standing back, whisk in cream, butter, and salt. Whisk until smooth and cool slightly. Drizzle over whipped cream on pie or over individual pieces of pie before serving.