Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie

chocolate pie4

I’m always searching for great vegan dessert recipes so that my godson, who is deathly allergic to eggs, can enjoy everything that the rest of us do. However, I also only want to make things that everyone enjoys – not something that people will eat and say “well, for vegan, it’s pretty good.” My husband and I are having Shabbat dinner with my niece and my godchildren asked if I would make the dessert. I found a recipe for a chocolate cream pie that is wonderful and I have been reading all about something called aquafaba as an egg substitute. Aquafaba is the liquid in the can of chickpeas (or chickpeas that you cook yourself) that most of us drain off and discard. Well apparently, it shares many of the same protein qualities as eggs without adding any strange tastes. So now you can make all of those lovely meringue kisses or even lemon meringue pie – without eggs. You could also cover this pie with whipped cream, but since my niece also keeps Kosher and we are having meat for Shabbat dinner, I am going with the vegan meringue. No one who eats this will say anything other than “more please!”

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie adapted from Chocolate Cream Pie by Claryn

Yield: One 9-inch pie

Ingredients

1 baked 9-inch pie crust of your choice (I’m actually making an Oreo crust this time for the children and Oreos are vegan)

For filling

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup sugar

3 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup  plus 2 Tablespoons almond or vanilla soy milk

2 Tablespoons strong black coffee

1 15ounce can coconut milk (the higher the fat percentage, the better)

5 ounces good quality dark chocolate (I used a Valhrona 64%) finely chopped. (You don’t want to use a chocolate with a higher cacao percentage because it simply won’t have enough cocoa butter in it and the custard will not work correctly.)

1 tsp vanilla

chocolate curls, optional or dust with sifted cocoa powder if using whipped cream as your topping

 

Instructions

  1. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.
  2. Gradually whisk almond OR vanilla soy AND coconut milks and black coffee into dry mixture.
  3. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a simmer.
  4. Whisk constantly until custard is thick – it happens suddenly so watch carefully.
  5. Remove from heat and whisk in chopped chocolate and vanilla until smooth.
  6. Pour filling into cooled pie crust, tilting the pie dish as needed until it’s evenly distributed.
  7. Cover chocolate filling with plastic wrap pressed right onto the top and let cool for at least 3 hours (or overnight), until fully set.  IMG_1063
  8. Right before serving, top very generously with whipped cream or vegan meringue.
  9. Garnish with chocolate curls. (Optional)

For Vegan Meringue and the lessons I learned in using it!

Okay, I just made this for the first time and this is magic! It looks and tastes and feels just like meringue – only it’s totally vegan! Who EVER thought of using chickpea liquid this way? Just incredible.

Ingredients

1 15 OR 16 ounce can of chickpeas – put a colander over a large mixing bowl and pour the chickpeas in to drain the brine into the mixing bowl. Put the chickpeas in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to eat.

¾ of a cup of finely ground sugar – grind regular sugar in a blender if you don’t have finely ground sugar

¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar

1.5 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

Directions

In a large standing mixer bowl add the cream of tarter to the brine (aquafaba) and mix with the balloon whisk attachment on a high speed until combined. Turn off the mixer and add the sugar and vanilla and mix on a high speed for 10 to 15 minutes or until the meringue forms stiff peaks. After this is placed over the chocolate pie filling, you can take a kitchen blow torch and brown the edges of the meringue peaks. You could also do this under the broiler watching VERY CAREFULLY. Refrigerate for several hours to make sure that everything is fully set.

Lessons learned

If you are using this as a pie topping, put it on at the last minute. I first topped my pie the night before and the next day, I had all of this sticky liquid on the shelf in my fridge and down the sides of the pie dish. So I scooped the meringue off the top of the pie, cleaned up the mess and started over. This time I placed only about half of the meringue over the top of the pie and I didn’t go to the edges of the pie. It still gave off some liquid over the course of a few hours before we ate dessert, but it wasn’t too bad. However, I took the remaining half of meringue and put it in a container in my fridge to see what would happen and to try baking some meringue kisses. The meringue gave off some more liquid which went to the bottom of the container, but the remaining meringue was stiffer, which was what I actually wanted.

So my advice is that if you have the time, make the miraculous meringue the day or morning before you need it and place it in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl in the fridge. I do this with whipped cream all the time. The resulting cream or meringue will be a bit more dense and you will have none of the liquid on the dessert because it went through the stariner into the bowl below.

Thomas Jefferson’s Chess Pie

chess pie2

 

Matthew and Frances are arriving today for the New Year and Matthew’s birthday! I couldn’t be more excited!! Of course I took the day off so I could be cooking and just generally getting the house ready for their visit. We have several fun things planned for the week, but tonight we will just be home catching up. The weather has been filthy and I am completely content to be inside. I am making a pork shoulder ragu with a pappardelle pasta and my sunshine kale salad. For dessert, I made Thomas Jefferson’s Chess Pie, a variation on a pecan pie. While I don’t often brag, I can honestly say that I make the best pecan pie. So why mess with it, you ask? I get bored and I want to try new things – or in this case, something a few hundred years old. It won’t replace my pecan pie, but it is delicious in its own right.

While I was trying to track down the recipe that my friend had made for us about 20 years ago, I came across many versions and variations on chess pie – but none were the one I wanted. My friend finally came through and found the recipe and I’m sharing it with you, with 2 small changes. The name, by the way, has several origins, but the one I like is that it is a mispronunciation of “cheese.” There is butter and cream in the recipe, which along with the eggs forms a custardy, sweet “cheese.” I am also including a pie crust recipe that has changed my baking forever. Over the years, I have tried many, many pie crust recipes. I have thrown out lots of awful dough, and suffered through patching and much hand-wringing. So I was skeptical when I read a recipe for “Foolproof Pie Crust.” It REALLY WORKS! And it is flaky and delicious. You can make it vegan if you simply substitute out the butter for Earth Balance buttery vegan sticks. I read it on what is fast becoming my favorite website Food52.

Thomas Jefferson’s Chess Pie – mostly

Yield: One 9 inch pie

Ingredients

1 unbaked 9 inch pastry shell (recipe below)

4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

3 large eggs

1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste

2 Tablespoons all-purpose unbleached flour

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoon Kentucky Bourbon

1 generous cup chopped or broken pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream the butter with the sugars and salt.
  2. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.
  3. Stir in vanilla, Bourbon, flour, cream and pecans and mix well.
  4. Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell. I like to place my pie plate on a baking pan covered with a Silpat to keep it from sliding around and to catch any drips.
  5. Bake for about 50 minutes. Start checking it after 45 minutes since ovens vary. The pie should just jiggle slightly. It will continue to set as it cools. Don’t worry if the top cracks. Turn off the oven and open the door but leave the pie in the oven for 8 more minutes.
  6. Allow to cool before cutting.

chess pie

Cook’s Illustrated Foolproof Pie Crust by Kenji Lopez-Alt

This makes enough crust for a top and bottom crust or 2 single crusts. Just halve the recipe for a single crust. Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor — do not substitute. This dough will be moister and more supple than most standard pie doughs and will require more flour to roll out (up to 1/4 cup). I didn’t find it needed quite that much, but you’ll see for yourself.

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (11/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup vodka, cold
  • 1/4 cup cold water.
Directions
  1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses.
  2. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage-cheese curds, and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade.
  3. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
  4.  Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.
  5. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
  6. If you can, refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes before filling and baking. Otherwise there will be some shrinkage.

Impossible Pie

I’m a huge fan of mystery novels, especially period pieces that are light on violence and gore and heavy on historical reference. While reading a mystery that takes place in 1920s Australia, one of the characters talked about making “Impossible Pie.” I had no idea what that was so I asked the source of all trivial knowledge – my husband – if he had ever come across it. He then turned to Google and we found several recipes. It turns out that it derives its name because it is impossibly easy to make. Apparently it’s all chemistry. You don’t make a separate crust and then add a filling. You mix all of the simple ingredients together in a blender and pour them into a pie pan and bake. Because of the different density of the ingredients, they end up in such a way that a bottom crust is formed, with a custard in the middle and a coconut crust on top. Alchemy!

I admit that I am skeptical so I bought some whole milk (grass-fed of course!) and will try the recipe tonight. I’ll finish* this post after I see the results.

* Wellllllllllllllllll I’m going to damn this with faint praise – it was okay. It worked exactly as the recipe said it would, although I’m not really sure I would call the end result “pie.” The taste and texture was very much like a slightly solid coconut cream. Definitely not bad, especially when you consider the effort that went into it which was basically none. I would definitely caution that if you make it, use the best milk, eggs, vanilla and coconut you can find. Here’s what the final product looked like.

Impossible Pie

The strawberries were from my trip to the farmer’s market today. They come from Michigan and were nothing like what you get in the store – even Whole Foods! They were small and tender and juicy and red all of the way through. More on my trip to the market and the dinner I made tomorrow.

Classic Blueberry Pie

I LOVE blueberry pie, but the store-bought kind always seems either too sweet, gummy or both. And I rarely have had a store-bought crust that I like and because I am often cooking for my niece and her family who keep Kosher, I need to keep the crust vegan. The Crisco pie crust recipe always turns out well. The only change I make is that I use a tad less salt and I add one tablespoon of granulated sugar (which I keep in a large glass jar with whole vanilla beans) to the Single Crust Pie recipe and two tablespoons to the double crust recipe.

My blueberry pie started with the Joy of Baking’s blueberry pie and I made just a few changes. My grandfather used to say that my grandmother was always “improving” the recipes and I guess it is a family tradition. So here is my version, pictured on the front page of our post alongside Frances’ beautiful classic lattice pie crust.

Blueberry Pie Recipe Blueberry Pie with Star Crust

One double crust recipe for pie, unbaked. This makes one 9″ pie.

Blueberry Filling:

6 cups fresh blueberries

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

3 Tablespoons cornstarch

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 Tablespoon lemon zest

“Egg” Wash: Since my great nephew is terribly allergic to eggs and because his family keeps Kosher, I don’t actually use a classic egg wash. I use 3 Tablespoons of vanilla soy (or plain soy) mixed with a couple of drops of all-vegetable food coloring. I brush it over the pastry and sprinkle with sanding sugar (large crystal) over the top to make it glisten when baked. It gives a beautiful result and everyone can safely enjoy the pie.

Make the Blueberry Filling:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest.
  2. Place the blueberries in a large bowl and remove any stems or squished berries. Add the sugar mixture to the blueberries and gently toss to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell.
  3. In a small bowls whisk together the soy milk and food coloring. Lightly brush the rim of the pastry shell with the “egg” wash.
  4. Starting at the outside edge of the pie, place the cut-out pastry stars (or other shape) in a circular pattern on top of the blueberries, making sure the tips of the stars are touching.
  5. Once the top of the pie is completely covered with the pastry stars, brush the entire surface with the “egg” wash.
  6. Place the assembled pie back in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes. This also allows the dough to rest and will result in less shrinkage during baking.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven.
  8. Remove the chilled pie from the fridge and place on a large baking pan with sides to catch any spills. Bake the pie for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F and then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake the pie for 35-45 minutes or until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbling and thickened. If the edges of the pie are browning too quickly during baking, cover with an aluminum foil ring. (Invest in a pie ring. They are inexpensive and sooooooooo much easier to use than fussing with aluminum foil.
  9. Place the baked pie on a wire rack to cool for several hours. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or for the purists – just as is! Store any left-overs (REALLY? Left-overs?) at room temperature lightly covered with wax paper or under a pie dome.

I have made the pie reasonably successfully without refrigerating the dough and pie in between the steps, but it definitely is better when I do take the time to let the dough chill and rest. This is wonderful on its own or with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

And here is my great nephew enjoying the fruits of my labor!

Yoni eating blueberry pie

 

Blueberry Pie with Lattice Crust

This weekend while walking around in the thickly humid NY air, and with July 4 around the corner, I decided it was time to make a blueberry pie.  Over the years, I’ve discovered that Blueberry pies come in many shapes and sizes, all delicious enough to shovel onto plates and into stomachs.  Above, Lisa does a twist on the classic blueberry pie, topping it with festive stars, made from cookie cutters.

Below is a lattice, classic version of the pie that I made this weekend, determined to make a lattice pie at least once in my life, using the same pie crust recipe as the one above.  Because who doesn’t love warm, gooey blueberries?

FK_blueberrypie

Ingredients

Serves 8 (or 4 very hungry people)

Pie Crust:

Lisa’s Pie Crust Recipe

Filling Ingredients:
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice from two lemons
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp granulated white sugar