There is nothing that shouts a bright and cheery "Hello, friend!!" to the New Year quite the way that pie does. As such, I made pie!
And not just any pie, mind you, but I pie that I hadn't even heard of until my good friend Beejoli mentioned a pie place here in LA that sold it. I love pie, and when I learned there was an entire family of pies I knew nothing about, I immediately went into full research mode and consumed any and all information about chess pies that I could.
Chess pies are custardy in texture, they're usually made with evaporated milk, eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and a bit of cornmeal to help with thickening. I decided to make a chocolate chess pie with a decorative twisted rope crust. The chocolate chess pie turned out beautifully; rich, gooey yet firm on the inside, lightly crusted on top, and deeply chocolatey.
Unfortunately, the pretty twisted rope crust border shrunk while baking and fell into the pie. This is the second time this has happened when I've tried making a decorative rope crust border, and have yet to make one without it falling into the pie. Any suggestions on how to prevent this? I am confounded.
Speaking of pie, I have a lovely giveaway to share with all of you from the kind and generous folks at Abrams Books. (Yes, part of it does involve pie!) They're giving away an assortment of books to help with all your cooking/gardening/crafting goals of the new year, and what a wonderful assortment of guides they are. The giveaway includes:
- Pie It Forward: A momentous cookbook all about any and every type of pie you could possibly think of, both sweet and savory. The photos are just gorgeous and the array of pie-based dishes is truly astounding. (Cherry Lavender Clafoutis, anyone? Or how about a Fried Green Tomato Tart for something savory?)
- Making More Plants: I read this book within two days of its arrival, and that's no small feat for someone with a full time job and a large 256 page book in their hands. It's a guide to making more plants in every possible way; from harvesting seeds to planting them, grafting parts of plants onto other plants, separating bulbs, growing plants from clippings of other plants...the detail is all-encompassing and equally fascinating. Not to mention the at times shockingly beautiful photographs of a striking number of plants. I could probably spend the rest of my life looking at these pictures of plants and be a very happy lady.
- Canning For A New Generation: A great cookbook for those looking for interesting canning recipes with a few non-canning recipes mixed in. These unique recipes include Green Tomato Relish, Candied Pickled Apples with Star Anise, and Pineapple Jam with Chinese Five-Spice, to name of few of the ones that I immediately wanted to make upon reading them. And the cookbook also comes with 30 adorable gift labels on the last few pages that have serrated borders so you can pull them right out of the book and use them on your favorite homemade canned goods.
- Heather Ross Prints: This book contains page after page of beautiful print patterns, designed by none other than Heather Ross. It's filled with clear and detailed instructions for dozens of different craft projects that can be done using the prints from her book and from the dvd containing electronic copies of her prints that comes with it. Making printed tablecloths, creating your own custom notepads, and constructing your own gift wrapping paper are just a few of the many fun projects outlined inside these pages. She also has a tutorial for designing your own prints and patterns using Adobe Photoshop in the book, as well!
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below about your favorite garden, craft, or cookbook. For extra entries, you can:
The deadline for entries is 11:59 pm PST January 13th, and the winner will be announced January 14th. Good luck and Happy New Year!
Chocolate Chess Pie Filling
2 Eggs, beaten
(1) 5 Ounce Can of Evaporated Milk
1 Cup White Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
1/4 Cup Butter, melted
2 Tablespoons Corn Meal
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Butter, very cold
6-8 Tablespoons of Ice Water
2 Teaspoons Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then begin making the crust. Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the butter into pea-sized pieces over the bowl, or pulse together using a food processor. Add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon rather than your hand to help keep the dough cool, until fairly well mixed (it's okay if there's still some small blobs of butter). Grab a handful of the dry crumbly dough mixture and squeeze. If it holds together you don't need to add anymore water. Roll the dough out until it is about 1 centimeter thick, then place it over a well-greased and lightly floured 8-inch pie dish (mine measures about 2 inches deep). Trim the edges and use the remaining dough to create a decorative border by cutting out shapes, (or just place the remaining dough in a freezer-safe plastic bag and freeze for when you want to make another pie). Place the crust in the refrigerator.
To make the filling, mix together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornmeal, and cocoa powder. Add the eggs and mix until fully incorporated. Then mix in the evaporated milk, butter, and vanilla extract until completely combined.
Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set. (If the crust is browning too quickly, cover the edges with tin foil but don't let the tin foil touch the filling). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.