Since I live in Atlanta, I decided my first post would be a pie (also after my roommate Mollie'srequest for a pie). In the South, pie is king. You can order a piece of pie at any restaurant, and since I've never made a pie before, I decided to try one tonight. After making this delicious pie, however, I have a few tips:
1. Don't start making a pie after 6 p.m. It's a 4-plus hour endeavor according to my calculations. Not a good idea if you have to get up for work in the morning.
2. Make sure you have all the equipment before making the dough. For instance, it may be a good idea to check if you have a pie pan. I didn't and regretted every second of having to go back to the grocery store a third time tonight.
3. It's best not to cook on the day you bring a new puppy home. Let's just say Lulu ended up wearing some of the flour, which I normally reserve for my hair.
Pie Dough (adapted from Smitten Kitchen):
Makes enough for one double-crust pie.
1 cup water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, very cold, cubed (2 sticks)
Start by filling one cup liquid with water, and add a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Cube two sticks of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Get out your pastry blender (I didn't use a pastry blender - instead I used a fork and some elbow grease). Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all of the butter pieces are approximately the size of peas, (which won't take long if you've used the pastry blender, a little longer if you used a fork) stop. Yes, even if it looks uneven.
To glue it all together, start by drizzling 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 1/4 cup of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there. Gather the damp clumps of dough together into one mound, patting it together. You can store the dough by dividing it in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap, shaping it into a disk (it will be easier to roll out later). Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.
Pudding Filling (also adapted from Smitten Kitchen):
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chilled heavy cream
Bittersweet chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)
Prepare pie dough by rolling out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 11-inch round, then fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under and crimp edge decoratively (unless you didn't have enough edge to trim, like I did. I think mine was more frantic than decorative). Prick bottom and side of shell all over with a fork, then freeze rolled-out shells for 20 to 30 minutes until solid, afterwards pressing a piece of buttered foil, buttered side down, very tightly against the frozen shell. While shell is in freezer, preheat oven to 375°F with a baking sheet on middle rack.
Bake on baking sheet until pastry is set and edge is pale golden, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove foil, and press any part of the crust that has bubbled up gently back with the back of a spoon and continue baking the shell on baking sheet until pale golden all over, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool shell.
To make the pudding filling, whisk together cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, two minutes (mixture will thicken). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla until smooth.
Pour filling into cooled shell and chill, its surface covered with wax paper to prevent a skin from forming, until cold, at least two hours.
Just before serving, beat cream with remaining two tablespoons sugar until it just holds soft peaks. Spoon onto pie and garnish with bittersweet chocolate shavings or stripes of melted caramel. I used piece of Dove chocolate that I had in the kitchen already because I'm headed to DC tomorrow, and my coworkers will be enjoying this delicious treat instead of me.