Since then, it's been a whirlwind-- a new city, a new state, a new apartment, a new job where I'm building a new program. I got an all-wheel drive car and a Janus-faced tortoiseshell kitten named Wren. I really like it here-- it's friendly and cheap and scrappy and coleslaw is an obligatory topping on all hot dogs. But it did take me a while to settle into my new place. Mainly, this was because the state of the kitchen was not especially conducive to baking, an activity that always grounds me in a new place. However, with my parents' help once again, a good dose of elbow grease, and a coat of paint, my kitchen is now a room where I don't mind spending a few hours, say, baking a pie.
This Chocolate Peppermint Cream Pie was the first I made here. King Arthur Flour and Bon Appétit were both touting their Chocolate Cream Pie and I had brought with me an excess of homemade mint extract and peppermint candies from some past baking projects so I adapted the recipe to incorporate these. I had some leftover filling, which I scooped into ramekins for Chocolate Peppermint pots de crèmes, and I brought most of the pie into work the next day-- not a bad way to win the favor of your new coworkers.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
For the pie:
Nothing in the House pie crust, halved
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tablespoon peppermint extract (can add more or less to taste)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional (for richer chocolate flavor)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream, divided
2 cups whole milk
1 beaten egg + 1 Tablespoon whole milk or cream, for egg wash
Turbinado sugar, for dusting
For the topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peppermint candies (or leftover candy canes), crushed
For the crust:
1. Prepare half of Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash and saving other half of the recipe in the freezer for a future pie. Chill dough at least one hour before rolling and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Prick crust with fork all over the bottom. Place pie pan in the freezer for 1 hour to set before baking. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Remove crust from freezer, line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake crust for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove paper and weights, brush with egg wash and dust with Turbinado sugar. Return crust to oven and bake for 5-8 more minutes more or until fully baked, puffed, and golden brown. Let cool while you prepare the filling.
For the filling:
1. In a medium mixing bow, place the chopped chocolate, butter, and peppermint extract. Set aside. In a medium saucepan off of the heat, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, espresso powder (if using), and salt. Whisk in 1/4 cup of cold heavy cream until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of the cream, then whisk in the egg yolks.
2. Put the saucepan over medium heat, and gradually whisk in the remaining cream and milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Pass the filling through a sieve into a bowl to make sure there are no lumps.
3. Place plastic wrap tightly over the surface of the chocolate mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the fridge until completely chilled. Meanwhile, prepare the topping.
For the topping:
1. Pour the heavy cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until the whisk begins to leave tracks in the bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla and whip until the cream holds a medium peak.
2. Transfer the chilled filling to the cooled and baked pie crust and smooth with a rubber spatula. Spoon or pipe the whipped cream on top of the filling. Chill the pie until ready to serve, then sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies.
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