By Rosie Hawthorne on March 10, 2022
I never need a reason to make dessert, but since it’s March and I’m in an irrational mathematical mood and pi is a favorite irrational number, I feel obliged to make a pie to celebrate National Pi Day on 3/14. My pie for Pi Day has a versatile cocoa crust, a coffee cream center with hints of cinnamon and orange, and a whipped cream topping. The optional caramel/chocolate sauce and candied orange peels put this frozen confection just slightly over the top.
For the Cocoa Crust:
Combine all ingredients in a processor and process away. Press mixture evenly onto bottom and sides of a greased deep dish 9-inch pie pan. Bake 7 minutes in a 350° oven and let cool completely before filling.
As I mentioned, this is an adaptable crust and I’ve made it before using different ingredients. I happen to like the saltiness of the pretzels with the cocoa, but you can use other components for the crumb factor. For example, you could use a 5-oz. package of graham crackers. You could use 2 ½ oz. graham crackers and 2 ½ oz. gingersnaps. Or you can go with ½ gingersnaps and ½ Cinnamon Toast Cۙrunch™ cereal. (That particular combination was a winner with my children.) There’s a lot of leniency here, so go with what you have and like.
For the coffee cream center:
Combine all ingredients in a blender or processor and blend or process until smooth. Pour into cooled crust, cover, and freeze overnight.
Rosie Note: If you don’t happen to have sweetened condensed milk, but do have evaporated milk on hand, not to worry. A substitution with adjustments can be made as I found myself having to do one time when making this pie. Instead of the 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk, I combined one 12 oz. can of evaporated milk with one cup sugar in a small saucepan and heated it over medium low heat, stirring, until the sugar completely dissolved. Let it cool, then use it in the recipe.
For the whipped cream topping:
Whenever I whip cream, I always chill the bowl and beaters first. Simply place a medium-sized bowl and the beaters in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Cream always whips better when everything is cold.
When the bowl and beaters are chilled, pour the cream in the bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Keep beating as you add in the sugar. Stir in the vanilla. Do not overbeat. You want slightly stiff peaks.
Spread whipped cream over pie, making pretty swirls. If you like, grate a good quality dark chocolate over top of the pie. I recommend Godiva, Lindt, or Ghirardelli. Return to freezer.
You can serve the pie as is, or you can take it to the next level. As you know, Rosie’s maxim is, “More is more,” so I’m going with a decadently rich chocolate caramel sauce along with some candied orange peels which accentuate the slight orange flavor in the cream center.
For the Chocolate Caramel sauce:
Combine sugar, water, and vanilla in medium saucepan. Slowly cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and you have clear bubbles. Reduce heat to low and cook until amber colored. You must be vigilant now. Watch closely because caramel can go south in a heartbeat. When you get that rich amber color, remove from heat and stir in heavy cream. Be careful because mixture will spit and steam. This is normal. Next, add in butter and chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth.
For the Candied Orange Peels:
Trim tops and bottoms of oranges, then peel a continuous strip. Slice strips into pieces 2-3 inches long and about ¼ inch wide. Combine orange peel segments, water, ¾ cup sugar, and salt in medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in vanilla, and let orange peels steep in sugar syrup for five minutes.
Use tongs to remove the peels to a cooling rack and let rest another 20 minutes to cool and dry a bit.
Pour remaining ½ cup sugar in a small bowl and toss the orange strips in the sugar to coat. Let peels dry completely.
To serve: Using a warm knife, cut pie into slices. Drizzle with chocolate caramel sauce and place candied orange peels on top.
Happy Pi Day and enjoy!
For any culinary questions, feel free to e-mail me at RosieHawthorne@gmail.com. Bon appétit! For more Rosie’s Recipes on the Outer Banks Voice click here