A perfect past time for me is to dig into a new baking cookbook. My latest find, The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith Day, featuring treats from their bakery of the same name in Savannah, GA, is a true gem. While perusing this book at my children’s gymnastics class last week, I felt inspired to bake a cream pie with ingredients I had at home.
Before we begin, let me just say with pride that – yes – I do generally have chocolate chips, heaving whipping cream and a can of sweetened condensed milk just sitting around waiting to pour into something fabulous.
My other impetus for baking this pie was to congratulate a friend on a job well done after she completed her first marathon this fall! Go Ellen! I wanted to make something special for her and caramel is pure gold when it comes to special. As you might know, most crust recipes make enough for a top and a bottom for one pie, or a shell for two cream pies. Since we were in cream pie territory, there was plenty of crust to thank another dear friend for supporting and sharing in my baking business dreams. Go Amy! So here’s to you Ellen and Amy. Love ya!
As the recipes below describe, this pie rolls out to completion through a twelve step plan of sorts. After gymnastics class last Friday; I made, chilled and baked the pie crusts. Then I made the chocolate custard, poured it into the shells and allowed the custard to set overnight. The next day, with renewed energy, I made the caramel sauce. This is my usual go-to recipe for caramel (the stuff literally glistens like gold), but I cooked it for less time (up to 220 degrees F instead of 250 for caramel pieces) to create a thick, perfectly “bite-able” sauce. Divine. Once cool, I drizzled the caramel sauce over and around the set pie, allowing some sauce to drip down over the edges of the crust. Then, before the caramel set, I immediately sprinkled on Maldon sea salt flakes. Divine squared.
Finally, I whipped the cream to soft peaks using the whisk attachment on my standing mixer and added 1/2 cup of cooled caramel sauce. Thereafter, I beat the cream to stiff peaks and spread it over the pie with a sprinkling of chocolate bits to hint at the chocolate silk inside. A perfect fall package that I insist on day dreaming about through Thanksgiving and beyond. It’s highly advisable. (;
Old-Fashioned Flaky Pie Crust
Slightly adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith Day
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour (not self rising)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt flakes (table salt is ok)
1 large egg
1/2 cup plus 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into cubes
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar and salt; set aside.
2. In a large measuring cup or a small bowl, beat the egg with 1/2 cup of the water and the vinegar.
3. Add the shortening and butter to the flour and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the butter resembles small peas. Add the egg mixture, gently tossing and mixing with your hands or a fork just until the dough comes together in a ball. If the dough seems too dry, add a little more ice water, about 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary.
4. Gather the dough together on a lightly floured work surface and divide it evenly into 2 balls. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten with the palm of your hand into a disk. Chill for at least 1 hour. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
5. To roll out the dough, dust your hands and the rolling pin with flour. On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out the chilled dough into a 12-inch round. Roll the dough from the center out, rotating it slightly as you roll to prevent sticking and to keep it round. Dust off any excess flour. Roll up the dough onto the rolling pin and place it in the pie dish. Carefully arrange the dough to slump inside the dish and press it into the edges. Trim the excess dough with kitchen shears, leaving about a 1 inch overhang.
6. For a prebaked shell, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line the pie shell with aluminum foil or parchment and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and pie weights and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool before filling.
Chocolate Silk Pie Filling
(Enough for one pie, double recipe for 2 pie shells.)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon sea salt flakes (table salt is ok)
2 1/2 cups milk
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In a bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar, the cornstarch and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
2. In a saucepan over medium-high, combine milk and chocolate, stirring occasionally, until chocolate melts completely. Whisk 1 cup hot milk mixture into sugar mixture until smooth. Whisk milk-sugar mixture into remaining milk mixture in saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl until combined. Whisk in milk mixture in a slow, steady stream. Return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until it just begins to bubble, 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Pour through a fine sieve into a large bowl, and stir in vanilla. Let custard cool, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes.
5. Pour into crust. Press plastic wrap on surface of custard. Refrigerate until set, 4 hours (or, wrapped in plastic, up to 1 day).
Caramel Sauce and Caramel Whipped Cream
(Caramel sauce recipe makes more than enough for 2 pies – freeze the extra sauce. Double the whipped cream recipe for 2 pie shells.)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick (1/2 c.) salted butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups light corn syrup
Maldon sea salt flakes
1. Remove paper wrapper from can of sweetened condensed milk. Place unopened can in a pot of water, making sure to cover the can with water. Bring water to boil on a burner set to high. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer the can in the water for 2 hours. Make sure the can is covered by water at all times.
2. While the milk simmers, generously grease a large rimmed cookie sheet with butter. If using crackers, popcorn, chocolate or other treats, arrange them on the pan. I would advise using a few chocolate chips because the caramel does not adhere well to a “sheet” of chocolate.
3. After two hours, off heat and remove the can from the pot of water. The contents are under pressure, so open the can carefully with a can opener, preferably in the kitchen sink, because a bit of cooked milk will squirt out. The milk should be a light caramel color.
4. Pour the cooked milk in a heavy pot. Add the butter, sugar and corn syrup, and mix with a wooden or silicone spoon. Have an instant read or candy thermometer handy, and place the pot on a burner set to medium.
5. Stir the mixture continuously, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pot, for approximately 20 minutes, until the temperature reaches 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Check to see if the consistency is right by dabbing a bit of the sauce on a plate to see if it runs down a bit, but generally stays put.
6. When the mixture reaches 220 degrees and the sauce is the consistency you desire, immediately remove the pot from the heat and place the pot in the prepared ice bath. Leave the pot in the ice bath until the caramel sauce is cool, approximately 20 minutes.
7. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the cooled custard and the edges of the pie. Immediately sprinkle on Maldon sea salt flakes before the caramel sets.
8. For the whipped cream, beat 3/4 cup cream with the whisk attachment on high until soft peaks form. Gently fold 1/2 cup cooled caramel sauce into the whipped cream and whisky until stiff peaks form. Spread whipped cream over pie. Garnish with chocolate shavings or bits.