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    Chocolate Cream Pie Done Right

    Recently, I was having a serious craving for chocolate cream pie. Easy enough, right? Just drop into the nearest diner and pick up a slice. Yeah, not so much. After much googling and wracking of my brain, I eventually decided I would have to make my own. I couldn’t find a place locally that I could be sure wouldn’t disappoint. Since I’d never made a chocolate cream pie before, I needed to do some research. Off to Pinterest and Google, then. For some reason, every recipe I looked at had either cocoa or chocolate. When given the opportunity to use both, why on earth would you pass it up?? I mean, we’re making CHOCOLATE cream pie, after all. Now chocolaty pudding pie, or chocolate-ish custard pie. Well, I went all in, and boy did it pay off.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 pie crust
    • 1 cup sugar
    • ¼ cup cornstarch
    • ¼ cup cocoa
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 3 cups whole milk
    • 4 ounces dark chocolate
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla 

    Before you get started on the filling, you’ll need a pie crust. I used a frozen one form Trader Joes, and it was fantastic. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making your own, I highly recommend theirs. Either way, the crust needs to be blind baked until it’s nicely golden and then cooled completely. Once that’s done, go ahead and chop your chocolate. Once again, I turned to Trader Joes for that. I love their pound plus bars.

    Put that aside, and into a medium sized saucepan, sift the cornstarch and cocoa.

    Stir that together with the sugar and salt.

    Separate 4 eggs, placing the yolks in bowl. Give them a quick whisk.

    Here’s another place where I parted company from all the recipes I found. Even my own recipes, in the past, have always said to heat the milk and then temper the yolks before adding them to the mixture. At some point, my brain said, “if you’re going to bring it to a boil once the eggs are in anyway, why not just add them in the beginning?” It seemed like sound enough logic to me, so I did it, and it worked beautifully. So, go ahead and add the egg yolks to the milk and whisk that thoroughly.

    Pour that mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir everything together and turn the heat to medium.

    At first, it’s going to be a bit messy, but don’t worry.

    As it warms up, it will sort itself out. Just keep whisking and stirring. I like to alternate between a whisk and a silicone spatula.

    Continue stirring until it reaches a boil and becomes nice and thick, then turn off the heat.

    Add the chopped chocolate and stir until it’s completely melted and incorporated.

    Next, add the butter and vanilla. And yes, more stirring.

    Now, just to be safe, pour the pudding through a mesh strainer. This will ensure that you have no lumps (cornstarch, cocoa, curdled egg, whatever). It’s quite thick, so you’ll have to stir it to get it through the strainer.

    And don’t forget to scrape everything off of the underside. There’s lots of deliciousness stuck there.

    Now, pour the finished pudding into the prepared pie crust and level it out on top.

    Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface. Allow it to cool, and then refrigerate it for at least 3 or 4 hours. Overnight would be even better.

    When the pie is nice and cold, whip some cream. 

    • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
    • ¼ cup powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla 

    Whip until it’s nice and stiff. Although, be careful not to go too far. I’ve never actually had it happen, but apparently it will turn to butter at some point.

    I piped the whipped cream onto my pie, but you can just spread it if you’d prefer.

    Now, to make it pretty, top it with some finely grated chocolate. Just warm the chocolate slightly between your hands, and grate it on the finest side of a box grater. How gorgeous is that?

    This pie is creamy, chocolaty, and delicious. Hubby said it was the best pie he’s ever tried. That’s a huge compliment, because he’s not a big fan of sweet things, and he’s also not shy about telling me what he really thinks of my cooking. I will definitely be making this pie again.

    What food do you have to make yourself if you want it done right? 


    Broccoli Soup for the Soul

    One day recently, I was having a craving for some really good Broccoli Soup. I wanted a soup that was thick and creamy, and packed full of delicious broccoli. Oh, and it had to be easy to make, of course. This recipe has since been making the rounds in my family, and everyone seems to love it, so I thought I’d better post it here and share with everybody.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 4 Tablespoons butter
    • 2 Tablespoons oil (vegetable, canola, safflower, etc.)
    • ½ cups flour
    • 2 ½ cups milk (whole is best)
    • 2 – 2 ½ cups chicken stock
    • 2 Tablespoons Better than Bouillon, chicken flavor
    • 1 Tablespoon dried onion flakes
    • 1 Tablespoon parsley
    • ¼ - ½ teaspoon black pepper
    • 12 ounces of broccoli florets
    • If you like heat, a little pinch of cayenne is a great addition 

    First up, the broccoli. I love the bags of organic florets that Trader Joe’s carries. Basically, all the prep work has been done for you. If there are some clusters that are really big, you might want to cut them in half or something, but certainly don’t worry about chopping broccoli. In my world, broccoli that is in soup should be nice and soft, so we’ll be cooking it enough that it will basically just fall apart.

    Add the broccoli to a pan, along with about ¼ cup water. Put the lid on, and place it over medium low heat. Then, just leave it to do its thing while you work on the soup.

    In a large saucepan, over medium heat place the butter and oil.

    When the butter is melted, add the flour.

    Stir until there are no lumps, and then continue stirring for another minute or so. After that, go ahead and pour in the chicken stock.

    If the chicken stock is cold, you might end up with big lumps of the flour mixture, but don’t panic, just keep stirring. As soon as the stock heats up, they’ll melt and disappear. Then add the milk.

    Along with the Better than Bouillon and dried onions.

    Stir the mixture until it thickens and comes to a boil.

    Turn off the heat and add the parsley and black pepper.

    Stir those in, then place on the lid. Turn the heat off for the broccoli, as well. Then just walk away from everything and let it sit for 15 minutes or so. That will give the onions a chance to rehydrate and the broccoli will finish steaming.

    When you return, the broccoli will be fall apart tender.

    Then just add it, along with any remaining liquid, to the soup.

    Give it a good stir (sometimes if the broccoli isn’t falling apart as much as I’d like, I’ll use a potato masher and give it a quick pass). You have now reached broccoli soup deliciousness!

    I like to serve mine with some freshly grated, Tillamook, extra sharp cheddar.

    What kind of food do you crave when it’s cold outside?