Thursday, October 23, 2008

Humbled by Excess

HEAD SYBARITE REPORTING FROM DECADENCE CENTRAL: This, Coffee Mates, is what happens when you get carried away and forget to moderate your immoderate behavior. That breathtaking pie in the above photo is the banana cream pie I mentioned in last night's post. It really should have been topped with whipped cream but all I had handy was a partial tub of Cool Whip that had been lurking in the freezer for months. It tasted somewhat flat and greasy and there was no way I was going to sully a perfectly good pie with something like that. (Radiating Huffy and Self-righteous.) No. A different topping entirely was surely required. Which is why I hunted down a recipe for hot fudge sauce and used that as topping.

I went too far.

Separately, each component of the above semi-masterpiece was wonderful. Really. Up to a certain point, the combination of components worked in a grand complementary chorus that added dimension to the whole. Until I added the choccy topping. Never thought I'd say this but, truthfully, the topping was -- uhmm -- over the top. Mae West assured us there was no such thing as "too much of a good thing." She was wrong. Darn it.

With that caveat, I will share the recipes for each of the aforementioned components. It is up to you to maintain the self-discipline to use the hot fudge topping on ice cream, where it belongs.

Have you ever been in the mood for a pie but just didn't feel in the mood to mess with the muss and fuss of a crust? Yeah, me too. Which is why I decided to go for a shortbread crust that went directly from mixing bowl to pie pan and could be patted into place. It goes like this:


1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup ground nuts
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix dry ingredients together. (For nuts, I used honey-roasted cashews with sesame seeds. Just drop your choice of nuts in a blender and pulse them until they're the texture of corn meal.) Add butter and vanilla and mix until dough gathers together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Drop into lightly buttered pie pan and press into place as evenly as possible. Prick crust with fork and chill in freezer for 15 minutes or refrigerator for a 1/2 hour. This will keep the crust from poofing up so you don't have to blind bake it. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until it becomes golden brown. Let cool before filling. This is how it will look when you're done.

Okay, next step is the filling. Something easy and quick but high in the delicious factor. For that, I would urge you to click over to the BellaOnline site where Karen Hancock has an outstanding recipe for microwave cream pie along with some of the several variations possible -- including the banana version I did. I only had to use two bananas, chopped and tossed with lemon juice, to fold into the filling. Oh -- it only took 3 minutes to cook the filling (I boiled the milk on the stove.) and I gave it a good whisking at the end of each minute.

Okay. Pie crust -- check. Filling -- check. Topping -- ahhhh. I really believe this project would have been rendered a complete success had I used a light, fresh whipped cream topping. But, nooooo, I had to commit a chocolate felony. Ah well. At least I did end up with a most excellent recipe for fudge topping. And here it is:


1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 cup cold brewed coffee
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix dry ingredients together, then whisk in coffee. (You can use water or, for a richer sauce, milk or cream.) Microwave 1 minute, whisk well, microwave 1 minute more. The sauce should be nicely thickening now. Whisk in the butter and microwave another 30 seconds. If it's now the degree of thickness you want, add the vanilla, whisk and serve. (The original recipe specified "2 to 4 minutes" cooking time. Your mileage may vary.)

After I made the sauce (which is every bit as good as it looks), I let it cool while I sipped a mug of coffee. Then I pulled the pie out of the refrigerator and slathered the fudge sauce on top, trying not to moan with anticipation. Then I chopped up a handful of the candied pecans and artfully scattered them over everything. What followed was a dutiful photographic session, cutting the first slice out of the pie and sitting down with a fork and a healthy degree of lust.

Well, it's delicious and scrumptious and ... and ... awesomely, overwhelmingly rich. See where I stopped to take the last photo? That's also where I stopped eating. Could not bring myself to take another bite. I have been blissed out and brought to my knees. Later tonight, I'm sure I can work up enough appetite to finish it off. And I've learned a valuable lesson.

Hot fudge topping is not for cream pies. It is for ice cream or for body painting.


Wolfie said...

Yuck. Chocolate on a perfectly good banana pie? You deserve 30 lashes with a limp banana peel.

However, I'm pretty sure that recipe would work beautifully in the choccy hot tub... ;-)

John Bailey said...

The trouble with really rich, delicious food is that you can only eat it in small, really small helpings. Which means freezing most of a pie. And that takes more will-power than I possess... :-)

The Old Guy said...

Wow. When you make a mistake, you make a beauty! And then to confess it for all the world to see... well, all I can say is, "Coffee Bean Goddess for Vice President!" You are just chocc full of sweetness.

Oh, fudge. There's already two candidates for the position. Well, how about White House Chef? I hear they have some pretty good prep cooks.

The Old Guy said...

Just ran across some inspiration from Google. They had a free bake sale (to raise morale: they already have lots of money, I guess). Watch for the periodic table of the elements, rendered in Brownies. There's a link in the upper left to render it as a slideshow, or you can click on any picture for a closer look.

Bonnie said...

Well I can just see my sugar count heading to the hills. :-)

What is your weather doing now? Snow?

kate et jim said...

Oh My! Dee. But ya know - I really wouldn't mind a bite or two... ;)

Maggie said...

Oh, nononono........I can feel my toes curl as I gaze at the recipe.