The tale of the best ever chocolate cream pie

Gentle readers, today I would like to tell you a story about the most delectable pie I have ever made.

A friend of mine from high school now lives in the far, far away land of Michigan with his wife and beyond-adorable two kids. Although we’ve stayed in touch through Facebook, I’ve now found a new way to spy on my old friend’s goings on: a blog he’s started, wherein he chronicles his year-long endeavor to make many, many delicious pies. Go visit The Rationality of Pie; it will be well worth your while.

I’m more of a fruit pie girl, myself. Give me a blueberry pie and you’ll be out of luck if you want a slice. I’m sure that Zeb has a ton of fruity pie recipes lined up when the weather finally warms up. However, since it’s wintertime and fresh fruits aren’t in season, most of the pies he’s posted about have been of the sweet variety: coconut cream, vanilla cream, Indiana buttermilk, etc. Honestly, I prefer reading about sweet pies, rather than eating them. Of course, that all changed when I saw the recipe for Chocolate Cream Pie.

If there’s one thing I can’t pass up, it’s chocolate, especially when it’s something chocolaty made in one’s own kitchen. Homemade chocolate pudding is just tops, and that’s what goes in the crust of this amazing culinary masterpiece. I’m not kidding, folks, this pie filling is some of the best chocolate pudding I have ever tasted. Zeb sums it up perfectly: “Forget the crust – just give me a pan of filling, a spoon, and ten minutes to myself.”

Having never made a pie filling that required precooking, I was more than a little nervous that I would royally screw it up. I shouldn’t have worried in the slightest: the milk didn’t burn, the cornstarch didn’t clump, the egg yolks didn’t scramble and the chocolate (a combination of semi-sweet and milk) melted into the creamiest, most heavenly concoction ever to grace my stovetop.

While I have been going on about the incredible chocolate filling, I must mention the meringue, which takes this pie to a whole new level of awesomeness. The meringue seems straightforward enough (egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar), but one addition makes it almost unearthly: cinnamon. Cinnamon meringue! It’s such a simple addition to a basic recipe that I never would have thought that it would completely change the taste of the finished dish. All I know is that if I ever have to make a meringue again, I am checking to see if cinnamon would compliment the dish, because the smell of cinnamon wafting through my kitchen is almost too much for me to handle. That’s a good thing, people.

Because this is Zeb’s creation (or rather, the creation of the guy who wrote the book that has become Zeb’s second bible), instead of posting the recipe here, I’ll point you over to the original post itself.

I made this pie for a dinner party about a week ago, and to say that it was a hit is the understatement of the year. Inappropriate, near-orgasmic sounds came from everyone at the table as they took tiny, savoring bites, and one of my friends demanded requested that I make it for his upcoming birthday. As long as I’m invited to the party, I think I’ll be happy to oblige.

Whole wheat almond milk honey-sweetened pancakes with sauteed apple topping

Did you ever wake up and think, “Man alive, I could really go for some pancakes!”?  I did this morning and let me tell you, gentle readers, the craving took hold like nothing I’ve felt in months.

(Haha…morning.  I should clarify.  I woke up at the bright and early hour of about 11:30AM, which is still technically morning.  However, by the time I got myself coherent enough to turn on the stove, it was well past noon.  So, I suppose this meal was technically lunch.)

I don’t do Bisquick anymore.  It’s loaded with salt and makes everything taste the same.  I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’ve been making pancakes from scratch for the past five years or so.  It’s super easy to do; certainly it isn’t any more difficult than mixing Bisquick.  And pancakes made from scratch are generally made with fresher ingredients, and therefore are probably better for you.

The healthfulness of these pancakes, however, is completely obliterated and nullified by the sauteed apples, which are loaded with brown sugar and butter. The way I figure, though, I came out even.

Whole wheat almond milk honey-sweetened pancakes with sauteed apple topping

Pancakes:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons oil (canola, safflower…whatever strikes your fancy or whatever you have lying around)
  • 1 large egg

Preheat oven to 250°F.  Have an oven-safe plate and some foil ready – these will keep your pancakes warm while the rest finish cooking.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.

In a larger bowl, whisk together honey, milk, oil and egg.  Add dry ingredients to wet mixture.  Stir just until combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Melt a small amount of butter – just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Pour batter in by tablespoonfuls (I like using my large cookie scoop).  Cook until the surface of the pancakes begins to bubble and the sides just begin to brown.  Turn with a thin spatula.  Cook until browned on both sides.

Keep pancakes warm in the oven until ready to eat.

Sauteed apple topping:

  • 2 apples (any kind will do – this morning I used Crispins), sliced or cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon (This number is arbitrary – I usually just shake in as much as I feel like.  I encourage others to do the same.)

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add apples and saute until tender, about 6 minutes.

Combine water and corn starch.  Add this mixture, brown sugar and cinnamon to apples, stirring to combine.  Simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened.

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