Chocolate Midnight Pie

Chocolate Midnight Pie

Chocolate Midnight Pie is dark, seductive, rich – an adult chocolate pie that we all need now. Just the other day my husband was enjoying a perfectly delicious dessert, but he said “This is great, but you know, it isn’t chocolate.” And sometimes nothing else quite will do. Chocolate Midnight Pie is for those times. It actually comes together quite easily. While it may not be the most visually stunning pie you will ever see, I have found that pies and cakes that have amazing decorations rarely taste as good as they look. Form over substance.

My father was in the candy business, so I grew up early on knowing good chocolate from bad. And I developed a taste for quality dark Dutch-process cocoa as well. Don’t cheap out on these ingredients. Make something else if you don’t want to pay for quality bittersweet chocolate or cocoa. My father also taught me (long before celebrity chefs were touting it on TV) that adding coffee to chocolate enhanced the dark, earthy, rich flavors. This Chocolate Midnight Pie hits all of the right notes.

Chocolate Midnight Pie

Some have called it a chocolate chess pie and I think that may have been what initially caught my eye. I do love a great chess pie – chocolate or otherwise. This pie forms a crackly, crispy almost meringue-like chocolate crust. The filling is a deep chocolate truffle with coffee notes and the not too-sweet crust is a lovely counterpoint that melts as soon as it hits your tongue.

You can, of course, use any pie dough that you prefer, but I will say that the one in the recipe is very easy to handle. I made mine in a food processor and it probably took longer to clean the machine than it took to make the dough. It rolled out like a dream and I don’t often say that.

Orange and chocolate are a favorite combo of mine so I went with the Grand Marnier as the liqueur. When grinding chocolate, I always find that adding about a teaspoon of granulated sugar helps the process by adding just the right amount of friction, while preventing the blades from over-heating. Also be sure to pulse the blades rather than letting them run on. You don’t want to end up with chocolate paste although obviously the chocolate will melt in the end product.

If, however, for some reason you are not a chocolate lover (How is that possible? I can’t quite trust people who don’t like chocolate.) or you just want a non-chocolate dessert, try these wonderful chess pie recipes:

Perfect Lemon Chess Pie

Thomas Jefferson’s Chess Pie

Amish Bob Andy Pie

Chocolate Midnight Pie

Now while it’s true that I do love a great chocolate dessert, we are now in apple season. And the smell of apples, sugar, cinnamon and other warm winter spices makes me happy that fall is here and winter is coming. The house always smells so inviting. So in the coming weeks, expect to see lots of apple breads and cakes coming your way.

Recipe

Chocolate Midnight Pie

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/4 cups (149g) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (28g) confectioners’ or icing sugar

rounded 1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt

6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pats

1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder

3 to 5 tablespoons (43g to 71g) milk or cream (half & half, light, heavy, or whipping)

Filling

4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups (298g) granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1/4 cup (21g) Dutch-process cocoa

2 tablespoons (28g) coffee liqueur* (e.g., Kahlua), or substitute strong brewed coffee

1 tablespoon (14g) cold milk or cream (half-and-half, light, heavy, or whipping)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder,

2 tablespoons (18g) yellow or white cornmeal (Try to find one that is finely ground if you can.)

2/3 cup (113g) bittersweet chocolate chips

*Frangelico (hazelnut), Amaretto (almond), Grand Marnier (orange), Sabra or Framboise (raspberry) are all wonderful, in place of the coffee liqueur.

Chocolate Midnight Pie

Directions

To make the crust

Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt.

Work the butter into the dry ingredients (using your fingers, a pastry blender or fork, or a mixer) until the dough is unevenly crumbly.

Dissolve the espresso powder in 1 tablespoon of the milk/cream. Sprinkle up to 5 tablespoons (I only needed 4 Tablespoons) of the milk into the dry ingredients (beginning with the tablespoon of espresso milk), continuing to mix until the dough is cohesive. Grab a handful; if it holds together willingly, and doesn’t seem at all dry or crumbly, you’ve added enough liquid. (If you are using a food processor, stop the machine as soon as the dough starts to come together. Don’t allow it to form a ball.)

Shape the dough into a disk. Roll its edges along a floured work surface (as though the disk were a wheel), in order to smooth them out. Pat the disk until it’s about 1″ thick, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.

To make the filling

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Allow it to warm a bit and become flexible, 15 to 30 minutes

Flour your work surface, and roll the dough into a 12″ circle. Transfer the dough to a regular (not deep-dish) 9″ pie pan that’s at least 1 1/4″ deep. Trim and crimp the edges. Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill, while you’re preparing the filling.

Beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until smooth.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating slowly but thoroughly after each addition; you want to combine them with the butter and sugar, but not beat in a lot of air.

Stir in the cocoa, liqueur, milk, and vanilla.

Use a food processor (mini, if you have one) to grind together the espresso powder, cornmeal, and chocolate chips. Add to the batter. Pour the batter into the crust.

Bake the pie for 45 minutes, adding a crust shield after 20 minutes. The middle should just wobble as in a pumpkin or good custard. The pie does form a kind of crust on top. You want that.

If the temperature has reached 165°F right in the center, the pie is done. (I don’t use that method but feel free.) Note: If you’re baking in a stoneware or glass pan, the baking time will almost certainly be a bit longer. Go by how the pie looks, not by your timer, especially since all ovens are different. I like to allow the pie to sit in the oven with the temperature turned off and the door cracked open for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it to a cooling rack. It helps to cut down on cracks and will continue to solidify the center.

Remove the pie from the oven, cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.

Serve each slice topped with a layer of whipped cream and a sprinkle of chocolate curls, if desired. It’s nice, but you don’t have to get crazy to enjoy this pie.

Note

Even if the pie is somewhat wobbly when you pull it out of the oven, don’t panic; an overnight rest in the refrigerator solidifies it and gives all the flavors a chance to mellow.

Cheesy Cornbread

Cheesy Cornbread is moist, flavorful and with a wonderful texture to accompany chili or soup. While many parts of the country – and world – are experiencing record heat waves, fall nevertheless has started. Cooler days and nights and trees turning golden turn my thoughts to earthy chili, stews and soups. And what better side than this delicious, Cheesy Cornbread.

Cheesy Cornbread

The addition of corn kernels give this cornbread a marvelous texture, With every bite you get a little pop from the kernel. I used canned corn, but you could use fresh or frozen. And while I didn’t put any cheese on top, go ahead if you want a bit of extra cheesiness.

I used a cheddar jack cheese, but for a more pronounced flavor, use the sharpest cheddar you can find. No matter which cheese you use, though, this cornbread comes together quickly and can be eaten right out of the oven. Since it is just my husband and me these days, I had left-overs which kept for several days, wrapped well and refrigerated.

Cheesy Cornbread is made with ingredients that are easy to keep in the pantry and fridge, so you can whip up a batch with very little notice. It is almost instant gratification and a wonderful thing for novice cooks or making with children.

While this recipe is clearly not vegan, you can check out my Vegan Corn Muffins for another delicious cornbread option. And here are some delicious ideas that would all benefit from Cheesy Cornbread as an accompaniment. So rather than dreading those long, chilly winter evenings, relish all of the rich and wonderful foods that make those months bearable.

Corn Muffins – Vegan

Lamb and White Bean Chili

Vegetable Chili Con Carne

Beef Stew

Crock-Pot Beef Stew

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Short Ribs with Brown Ale and Buckwheat Honey

Recipe

Yield: About 9 servings

Ingredients

1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground

3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

1 can (about 15 ounces) corn kernels, drained well or 1.5 cups of fresh or frozen kernels

1 cup buttermillk’2 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1 generous cup grated Cheddar cheese (4 ounces) or any grated cheese you prefer (Cheddar Jack, Pepper Jack or shredded cheese blends)

1/4 cup, seeded and finely chopped jalapeno, Serrano, Shishito or even bell pepper (how spicy you like things is up to you)

Directions

Grease a 9-inch square or round baking pan or 9-inch cast-iron skillet. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Using a separate medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs and combine them with the corn, buttermilk, melted butter, cheese and peppers.

Heat the greased pan for about 5 minutes.

Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture just enough to combine the ingredients, but do not over mix. Pour the mixture into the hot pan. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the bread is golden and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

You can eat this straight from the pan or turn it out onto a cutting board for presentation.

Persian Herbed Stew (Ghormeh Sabzi with Beef)

Ghormeh Sabzi

Persian Herbed Stew is aromatic, hearty and satisfying. Okay, it’s not the most beautiful dish and will never win any food-porn prizes. But close your eyes and smell the parsley, cilantro, mint and leek all vying with the rich beef, black-eyed peas and Persian dried limes. Come on – what’s not to love?

Persian Herbed Stew (Ghormeh Sabzi) is a quintessential Persian dish with many variations. The version that I’m using was a typical Friday night meal for a Jewish family that made their way from Tehran to Tenafly, New Jersey. I came across it while delving into the wonderful Jewish Food Society website. It is citrusy, peppery and herbaceous and sure to wake up any jaded palate.

Black-eyed peas are used here, but dark red kidney beans are a more common ingredient. You can’t go wrong with either, however. Many recipes include potatoes, some use lamb and apparently whether you use fenugreek says where your family came from in Iran originally. What you cannot skimp on, however, is the massive amount of fresh herbs or the Persian dried limes. It simply would not be Persian Herbed Stew (Ghormeh Sabzi) without them.

Herbs, Herbs and More Herbs

I admit that I was skeptical when I first ordered the limes and opened the bag. They do not look very promising, but oh, the aroma! Some people grind the dry limes up and use the powder to sprinkle on just about anything where a pop of citrus would brighten things up. While not a big drinker, I could imagine rimming a glass for a Margarita with ground up Persian limes.

This dish does take some preparation although no single element is that difficult. It would go faster in a pressure cooker, but I will freely admit that those things scare me; I don’t own one and have no plans to change that! It can be served simply over Basmati rice and with the typical Middle Eastern salads and dips for a truly remarkable meal fit for the Sabbath Bride.

Salatim

I’ve actually been wanting to make this dish for some time now, but it has been impossible during the pandemic to get all of the fresh herbs that I needed. Finally, my order arrived with everything that I needed so here we are.

Now while this dish is clearly made with meat, I could imagine it being made with tofu and more beans for a vegan version. Obviously the cooking time would be reduced and the tofu would be added after the beans had cooked and become tender. I would use firm or extra firm tofu and would press it under weights for 30 minutes before cutting it into chunks. It wouldn’t be authentic, but it would be delicious.

For more recipe ideas:

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Carrots and Spicy Harissa Yogurt

Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad with Pistachios

Moroccan Beet Salad (Barba)

Ghormeh Sabzi (Chicken and Kidney Bean Stew)

Recipe

Ghormeh Sabzi

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

12 small, dried Persian limes (Some limes are bigger than others, so you may use fewer.)

9 cups water, divided
1 cup black eyed peas, soaked overnight
3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1½-inch pieces
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 bunches parsley (8 cups leaves and tender stems), washed, dried, and roughly chopped
3 bunches cilantro (8 cups leaves and tender stems), washed, dried, and roughly chopped
1 bunch mint (1½ cups leaves), washed, dried, and roughly chopped
1 leek, green part only, sliced into ⅛-inch strips and washed
3 tablespoons dried savory (I didn’t have savory, but I did have fenugreek, so used that instead since it was in so many other versions that I found.)
3 tablespoons dried mint
2.5 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 Tablespoon ground cumin

Directions

1. Place dried Persian limes in medium heatproof bowl. Bring 1 cup of the water to a boil in a small saucepan and pour over the dried limes. Let sit until ready to use. After they soak, you should halve the limes around the middle and remove any seeds before adding to the stockpot. This prevents excessive bitterness.

2. In large stockpot, place the beef chunks and cover with the remaining 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and skim the foam off the top. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour, skimming the foam as needed.

3. Add the beans to the pot and increase the heat to a boil for 5 minutes, continuing to skim any foam off the top. Add the dried Persian limes with their soaking liquid and reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for another hour.

4. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook without any oil until they begin to sweat, 5 minutes. Add the canola oil and continue to cook until they begin to brown, 5 to 8 minutes more. Now add the greens and dried herbs and spices. Saute until they turn dark green in color, are tender and very fragrant, another 5 to 10 minutes.

5. Once the beans are tender, add the onion and herb mixture to the pot and stir to incorporate. Cover and continue to cook until the greens have wilted and the stew is fragrant, 20 to 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt as needed and serve.