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Orange Creamsicle Custard Pie

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There’s a team spirit around here like nothing I’ve ever experienced anywhere else. Everyone goes bananas (or maybe I should say oranges) over our local Syracuse University basketball team, the Syracuse Orange. It’s a passion that has nothing to do with where a person actually went to school, and everything to do with the place we call home. I’ve never seen an entire city so consumed with team spirit. The way a typical city turns green on St. Patty’s Day is the way this place turns orange on the day of an SU game. There’s a sort of magic to it all.

Out of necessity, I broke my unwritten rule and ventured into my grocery store yesterday (on a Saturday) to return some movies I’d rented from Redbox. The place was a predictable madhouse. But there was something else at play inside the store. It was like an unspoken rally for our hometown team. Syracuse balloons floated up from every table. Displays of elaborately decorated SU cookies and orange and blue frosted cupcakes tempted team spirit with sweets. And a full wall of the store was decorated with an arrangement of Fanta and Pepsi boxes in an SU design.

But beyond that, nearly every person I passed was dressed in their favorite Syracuse Orange gear. T-shirts, hats, and hoodies. My grocery store was a living, breathing playground of team spirit. And it was contagious.

I’ve never really followed sports of any kind. Being a Yankees fan is in my blood and I’m darn proud of it, but I barely follow the baseball season. In fact, I know very little about baseball. I didn’t go to an undergrad college known for sports, so I never experienced that swell of excitement on game day. And though my graduate school had some teams to be proud of, I commuted to classes and was never engaged in that part of the school community.

But as I was walking through my grocery store, surrounded by the infectious excitement for our local team, I could feel my blood turn orange. I became a true Syracusian sometime during that grocery trip. I’ve lived here for almost five years now. It’s about time I joined the team. During that grocery trip, I bought myself my first SU t-shirt and a couple shirts for the boys. I even picked up a pack of SU shaped pasta in all of the excitement (though I refused to get the SU antennae balls that the boys insisted they needed).

And I made this pie. I call it an Orange Creamsicle Custard Pie, since it’s got the sweet flavors of fresh orange combined with a smooth vanilla custard…reminiscent of a bite into a frozen Creamsicle bar. I nestled the custard into a vanilla cookie crust and topped it with vanilla accented whipped cream and fresh orange slices. The boys are calling it ‘SU Pie’. Whatever you call it, don’t cheat on the fresh oranges with pre-squeezed juice. The fresh zest is one the MVPs when it comes to the flavor in this recipe. Use fresh oranges.

We let the boys stay up late last night to see the beginning of the game. They wore their new t-shirts, ate SU pasta salad and SU pie, and created long lists for all of the SU gear our family suddenly needs. Our team ended their run for the season last night, but it’s ok. It was a good game. I think I could get into watching basketball. In fact, I think this could be the start of something…

Orange Creamsicle Custard Pie

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 2 cups vanilla wafers, crushed to fine crumbs
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted

For the Filling

  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest*
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice*
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

For the Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*Two large oranges should provide the zest and juice necessary for this recipe.

Directions

To prepare the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the vanilla wafer crumbs and the melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of a pie dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

To prepare the filling: Combine the milk, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, salt, and orange zest in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5-6 minutes until the mixture comes to a gentle boil and begins to thicken. (It should be quite noticeable when the thickening occurs.) Remove from heat. In a bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks. Slowly add about 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture to the eggs and whisk to combine. Add another 1/4 cup of the hot milk and whisk to combine. (This slow addition of the hot liquid tempers the egg yolks and prevents them from scrambling when added to the hot liquid.) Pour the egg mixture into the pot. Bring the mixture to a very gentle boil, whisking constantly. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture becomes even thicker. Whisk in the orange juice and lemon juice. Cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat. Allow to cool slightly, whisking every few minutes to prevent a skin from forming. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Refrigerate for a few hours to set.

For the whipped cream: Beat together the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until thick. Use the whipped cream and additional fresh oranges or fresh orange zest to garnish the pie, as desired.

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Almond Joy Pie (for your Valentines)

For almost as long as the internet has existed, my father has sent a daily message to his mom, my sisters, my brother, and I. Each message begins simply, Good Morning Mom, Girls, and Guy. The messages share the details of his day to day events; a note about the weather, stories of his daily LIRR commute, or tales of the ‘Russian babe’ at the barbershop. What is unique is the way my dad weaves these everyday happenings into special stories which are simultaneously comical and meaningful.

Take this recent excerpt about clothes shopping and color-blindness:

When I opened the package that arrived last night, I discovered I’d ordered Sea Lavender. I will I admit that I didn’t actually know what color lavender is, but I thought it was blue. In truth, it’s the color of the sky on the horizon just before sunrise, actually more pink than blue. I wish I’d known this sooner, because not only would I probably not have ordered the shirt, I wouldn’t have described the sky in earlier blogs as ‘salmon’. I was never comfortable using a fish to describe such a beautiful sight.

At any rate, I hate sending stuff back and I’m wearing my new lavender shirt as I write. I’m thinking about getting a pinkie ring and maybe some kind of piercing.

And sometimes, his messages take us by surprise, filling us with uncertainty about our father’s mental state. Like when he wrote this message about his fellow LIRR passengers:

There were medieval people on the train with me on the way in this morning. Peasants, actually. There was a large, florid faced innkeeper with thinning blond hair sleeping with his chin on his chest and a small, bald palleted monk with a fish face snoring in a single-seated nook reserved for handicapped people. He would jostle back and forth between the walls as the train moved, but he never woke up. His snoring made him sound like he was choking.

Followed the next day by this message:

I took some heat yesterday for my revelation about seeing medieval characters in people’s faces. I guess this might as well be a good time to reveal that I also see animals is some faces. You know, weasels, squirrels, rabbits, horses, sheep, wolves and sometimes, fish. Might as well get it all on the table so we don’t have to deal with it again, right?

PS – I think I saw one of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s men on the platform at Hicksville on the way by.

Clearly my father had been rereading Pillars of the Earth, again.

Weather is another common theme in my dad’s messages. Weather, in general, is one of my dad’s most favorite topics. He watches the weather channel like some people follow sports. And occasionally, we’ll get a story about the weather in his daily message, often involving Murphy’s law and umbrellas. Or something like this note on a chilly day:

Hoarfrost! Huh!?! Yep, you heard it right. I know it’s not a word you hear in polite company anymore, but I gotta’ call it the way I see it. There was no sunrise on the platform this morning. Instead, I was surrounded by fog and hoarfrost. If you look it up, you’ll find that ‘hoarfrost’ is defined as “white ice crystals, loosely deposited on the ground or exposed objects, that form on cold clear nights when radiation losses into the open skies cause objects to become colder than the surrounding air”. Hoarfrost.

So, why is it that, as I stood in the icy fog waiting for train, I hesitated blurting out, “Hey, look at that there hoarfrost!”? Of course, I knew the answer. It was because, Mary, the little, 4’10” , short-haired woman, who waits for the train with me every morning, would have grabbed me by the ear lobe, dragged me down to the ticket office, and demanded that I have my mouth washed out with soap. I guess ‘hoarfrost‘ is just another victim of guilt by association.

And then there are the stories involving food. Like me, my dad likes to write about food; his lunch at the deli, stories of grilling in the snow, or tales of the adventures involved in clearing out the basement chest freezer. I’d like to believe that I acquired my interest in writing from my dad, right along with my shiny brown hair, bad eyesight, and love for corned beef hash…

Anyway, early yesterday morning, as I was setting myself up to actually accomplish something during the day, I caught a movement from the corner of my eye. I turned to see a very large lady eating a fried egg sandwich on a roll. She had a large Styrofoam resting on the ledge outside my window and she stood facing me as she chomped on her sandwich. Nose to nose, we couldn’t have been much more than three feet apart, but it was apparent that, while she was uncomfortably visible to me, I was not visible to her. I wanted to tell her, “These are not the droids you’re looking for”.

We shared breakfast together, every little bite, for about five minutes before she left. If I had been hungry before her visit, I was not when she left. Mercifully, I was spared any of the eating sounds although I could hear them clearly in my mind. (sigh)

And sometimes my dad’s messages are so filled with love and so poignant, that I find myself simultaneously laughing and crying. Like when he shared this simple memory from my childhood, from a time not long after we’d lost our mother to breast cancer:

Daaaadeeeee, I want a drink of waaaaater.

I can still hear the mellifluous call in syncopated unison from the upstairs bedroom of the small Cape Cod in Valley Stream. I would dutifully trudge up the single flight of stairs and deliver water to the three little girls who were my life. I’d get my hugs and ‘butterfly kisses’ and leave them to sleep peacefully.

I’ve come to understand that the call for water was really a call for security. They needed the peace in knowing I was there for them.

I always felt sorry for the times I let myself become annoyed at this evening ritual, but I feel sorrier still that those days are gone.

Now, my beautiful little girls are all beautiful brides and will someday gladly carry water to their own children.

I hope they sing the way you did.

My dad makes me smile everyday. And sometimes we cry too. But these daily messages keep us all connected, no matter how far separated we are. Eventually, the email list for these messages became longer, as my aunts, uncles, and cousins joined in. Soon family friends were on board too. Once the back and forth responses starting overflowing in each of our e-mail inboxes, it was decided that the daily message should be moved to a message board, which is where it sits today. And every Monday through Friday, we all log on to connect with each other. What a beautiful thing!

And here’s the best part…when I sent my Dad a message to see if he’d be ok with me sharing a few bits of his writing with all of you, his response was, They’re to you; they’re yours!  – Love ya!  ~Daddo 

My dad’s the best!

Valentine’s Day is typically a holiday celebrated between significant others, but it is impossible for me to think of Valentine’s Day without thinking about my dad, the man who has been my Valentine for all of my 35 years. My father taught my siblings and I about love and family, in the way he loves us and in the way he continues to hold an unending love for those we lost too soon.

And so, on Valentine’s Day, I will celebrate my love for my five special valentines; my husband, my three little men, and my dad. For my husband, I’ll be making lobster pot pie in a puff pastry shell and filet mignon with caramelized onions and gorgonzola. For my boys, heart-shaped nutella-stuffed french toast with raspberry syrup and berry red smoothies. And in honor of my dad, this Almond Joy Pie. Daddo, I’d send you a slice, if I could. You think one of those padded envelopes might work?? Maybe I should wait until the next time we visit…

It’s always fun to celebrate your sweeties with something sweet and I’m certain this pie would fill your loved ones with coconutty joy! It starts with a homemade chocolate cookie crust, which is then coated in a creamy milk chocolate ganache and sprinkled with a layer of sliced almonds. An irresistible coconut custard fills the pie. Skip the box of candy and make this instead…it’ll save all that time and wasted chocolates trying to find the coconut filled ones.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!  

Almond Joy Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 chocolate cookie pie crust (store-bought or homemade)*
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, divided

For the Custard:

  • 3 cups milk (skim milk will work fine)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut
*Click HERE for the procedure for a homemade crust, though to be honest, in this case, it’s more cost effective and just as tasty to buy a prepared cookie crust. (In my stores, the ingredients to make your own cost twice as much as the prepared crust.)

Directions

To prepare the milk chocolate ganache: Bring the heavy cream just to a boil. Pour the cream over 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips and stir until smooth. The chips should melt by the heat of the cream, but if necessary, microwave the mixture for 10-15 seconds, then continue stirring until smooth. Pour the ganache into the pie shell. Scatter about half of the sliced almonds over the ganache. Refrigerate to set the ganache. Prepare the custard while the ganache cools.

To make the custard: Bring the milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and cornstarch to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently so that the sugar and cornstarch dissolve. Once the mixture begins to bubble and thicken (it should only take a few minutes), reduce the heat to low. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks. Gradually whisk about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, starting with a very slow drizzle to avoid scrambling the eggs. (Gradually incorporating the hot milk into the egg yolks tempers the eggs, allowing them to slowly rise in temperature without scrambling.) Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in the pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 3 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Stir in the shredded coconut.

Allow the custard to cool at room temperature, stirring frequently, until it’s just barely warm. Pour the custard over the cooled ganache in the pie crust and refrigerate until the custard is completely cool and set, about 2 hours.

Melt the remaining 1/3 cup of chocolate chips in the microwave (a few seconds at a time, stirring often) or over a double boiler. Spoon the melted chocolate into a plastic baggie. Cut off a small tip of one of the corners of the baggie, then drizzle the chocolate over the pie. Garnish with the remaining sliced almonds.

A Few Variations on Apple Pie

Recently I had an idea which seemed so genius I could hardly believe the internet wasn’t overwhelmed with recipes for it. My idea: a traditional apple pie with bits of warm, melty brie nestled between the sweet apples in a homemade buttery pie crust. Doesn’t the thought of it make your mouth water with anticipation??

I had to make it. And I did. Only the result was not what I had hoped for. Rather than melting in creamy layers between the apples, the brie seemed to boil in the apples’ juices, becoming firm and a bit rubbery. Far from inedible, but definitely not the decadent twist on apple pie I was hoping to share with you.

So, I put a few other possible apple pie variations out there to my facebook followers. Perhaps a Chocolate Apple Pie or Apple Peanut Butter? Or maybe Apple Cinnamon? Someone even suggested adding raisins to the apple cinnamon pie. In the end, I just couldn’t decide which to make. So, I made four (yes, four) miniature apple pies and then enthusiastically taste-tested every pie, again and again…for the sake of accuracy, of course.

The apple peanut butter pie was my favorite of the bunch, though the apple cinnamon-raisin, made with cinnamon chips and golden raisins, was a close second. Anything with chocolate is better in my book, so I  ate more than a few bites of the chocolate apple pie. And while I was looking forward to the butterscotch apple pie, the addition of butterscotch chips was less than successful. They seemed to separate during the baking, becoming too liquid and then coagulating when cooled…not appealing. (A bit of butterscotch ice cream topping drizzled over the apples before baking may produce a better result.)

The following pie recipe is for a classic (full-sized) apple pie. You can make it as is or add in any of the optional ‘extras’ for  an interesting twist. I’m still undecided, but I think I’m going to stick with the perfectly plain, classic apple pie, served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, for my Thanksgiving dessert!

Ok, friends…I’m out of here until after Thanksgiving. Time to put all of my energy into preparing our feast. But I’ll be around if you’re in need of Thanksgiving meal recommendations or advice. Just shoot me a message as a comment on this blog or on The Gourmand Mom facebook page.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I count you all amongst my many blessings to be thankful for!

Apple Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 portions pie crust dough (homemade or refrigerated store-bought)*
  • 3 pounds of apples, peeled, cored, and sliced**
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter chips (optional)
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins (optional)
  • 3/4 cup cinnamon chips (optional)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

* I highly recommend a homemade all-butter crust. Click HERE to my my step-by-step photo guide.

**Use a combination of apples for an interesting flavor and texture. You’ll want to use mostly apples that hold there shape when baked, liked Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious, or Northern Spy, but I also like to throw in a few apples that soften when baked, like Macintosh or Cortland. (I used about 1.5 pounds Granny Smith, 1 pound Honey Crisp, and 1/2 pound Macintosh in my pie.)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Press one of the pie crust doughs into your pie plate. Toss the sliced apples with the sugars, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and flour. If desired, toss in one (or more) of the optional extras. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Cover the apples with the second pie crust dough and use a fork or your fingers to seal the edges. Cut off any extra pie dough. Use a knife to cut an ‘X’ in the center of the pie to allow the steam to vent during cooking. Bake for about 55 minutes. Allow to cool for a few hours before serving.

How to Make an All-Butter Pie Crust

Making a homemade pie crust is not difficult to do. It just takes a few simple ingredients, carefully blended together to create a flakey, buttery crust to be proud of. And it really does make a difference!

The key to making a great pie crust is keeping the ingredients cool throughout the process. You want the butter to remain in solid form, dispersed in small pieces throughout the dough, so that when the dough is baked, the little bits of butter will melt between the flour, creating delicious flakey layers. To this end, work quickly and handle the dough as little as possible (so the butter doesn’t melt by the warmth of your hands). Start with very cold ingredients and refrigerate the prepared dough before using to allow the butter to chill before handling the dough any further. A cold work surface, such as a marble slab, is handy, but not necessary.

Some people prefer to use a food processor to make homemade dough, but it’s very easy to do by hand. The only special equipment needed is a simple plastic or metal pastry/dough blender.

This step-by-step guide will produce enough dough for two pie crusts (or one double-crusted pie). But while you’re at it, make a couple extra and freeze them for the next time you need a quick crust!

You will need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into small cubes*
  • 1/2 cup ice cold water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Fork
  • A pastry blender/cutter
  • Rolling pin
  • Pie Pans(2)
*I use salted butter and skip the addition of extra salt. If desired, you can use unsalted butter and add a pinch of salt.

Pour 2 cups flour into a bowl.

Add 1/4 cup sugar.

Use a fork to blend the flour and sugar.

Add 1 cup (2 sticks) very cold butter (cut into small pieces) to the flour mixture. (I place the butter into the freezer for just a few minutes after cutting it to ensure that it’s extra cold.)

Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture, until the butter appears like flour-coated pea-sized pieces.

Gradually add the ice-cold water and stir with the fork until a loose dough begins to come together. You may need a little less or a little more than 1/2 cup.

You’ll know you’ve added enough water once the clumps of dough stick together when pressed.

Use your hands to pull the dough together into a ball. Remember, handle the dough as little as possible during this step.

Split the dough into two balls.

Flatten each ball into a disc-shape.

Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour, or overnight.

Once cool, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface, into a roughly circular shape, large enough for your pie pan. Periodically shift the dough to ensure it is not sticking. Add more flour under the dough, if necessary.

Once the dough is sufficiently large for your pie pan, using the rolling pin to help you transfer the dough into the pan. Carefully press the dough into the pan.

Use a knife to cut off any extra dough, leaving about an inch of dough around the perimeter.

Fold the edge of the dough under and use your fingers to press the edge into a fluted design.

Refrigerate until using. Or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for later use.

Check out those flakey layers!!

Coconut Custard Pie

Halloween has come and gone. Just like that. The costumes have been washed and packed away (though I think I’d put my baby in his monkey costume everyday if it were socially acceptable to do so). The candy has been picked over for the good stuff. (You know who I’m talking about, Almond Joy.) And the daily morning frost makes it feel more like winter than autumn. We’re on the fast track to Thanksgiving.
And with Thanksgiving comes one of my favorite meals of the year. Comfort food just doesn’t get much more comforting than Thanksgiving dinner. Savory stuffings, tart cranberry sauce, vegetables doused in cream, doughy buttered rolls, and pie. Sweet, delicious pie.
This recipe comes by request of a reader in search of a recipe for a graham cracker coconut crust to use for a fresh pumpkin pie. I decided to use my crust to make a seriously satisfying coconut custard pie, but this crust would also work beautifully with a fresh pumpkin coconut pie filling or any other filling you can dream up.
This recipe is written for use with a deep pie dish. If you have a more shallow pie dish, you will probably have some extra crust and custard. Spoon the extra custard into cups and top with some of the extra crust mixture for a tasty little treat!
Coconut Custard Pie
For the Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) melted butter (I use salted butter.)

For the Custard:

  • 3 cups milk*
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
*If you’re looking to reduce the calorie and fat content, skim milk will work just fine!

Directions

To make the crust: Combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut, brown sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of a deep pie dish. Bake for 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

To make the custard: Bring the milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and cornstarch to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently so that the sugar and cornstarch dissolve. Once the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, reduce the heat. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks. Gradually whisk about 1/2 of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, starting with a slow drizzle. (Gradually incorporating the hot milk into the egg yolks tempers the eggs, allowing them to slowly rise in temperature without scrambling.) Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in the pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 3 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Stir in the shredded coconut.

Pour the custard into the prepared crust. Cool for a few hours, until set.

Garnish with whipped cream and toasted coconut or crushed graham crackers before serving.

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Pudding Pie

By measure of my sweat clothing collection, one may assume I was some sort of elite athlete. For why would anyone require so many pairs of sweat pants and sweat shorts in so many different colors?

Alas, I will never be considered an elite athlete. Unless finishing an entire Chipotle burrito is considered sport. I am, in fact, purely obsessed with soft, stretchy comfort. Having spent the past five years in a near constant state of pregnancy or postpartum recovery has certainly increased my longing for clothing with elastic waistbands. Jeans are like a prison on my skin. Give me soft fleece. Give me stretchy cotton. Give me pants I can wear during the day and keep on as I slip into bed at night.

It’s true. My daywear collection is nearly indistinguishable from my pajama collection.

I find myself assuming that everyone must share the same disdain for buttoned pants as I do. I admit to dressing the baby in soft, one-piece pajamas almost everyday; the ones with cute little animal faces on the soft attached feet. And I fill the older boys’ drawers with stretchy fleece pants we refer to as the “cozy pants”. I’m envious of the cozy pants.

But, my four year old loves his jeans. Loves them. I can’t wash his jeans fast enough for him to wear again. (The painter’s jeans are his favorite.) The kid’s got more fashion sense than all the rest of us combined. It’s the little special touches he adds which really make his outfits so unique. Like when he comes running into our room in the morning wearing jeans, a long sleeve tee, and a tweed suit vest. Or the way he’ll clip a red necktie onto his rock and roll tee-shirt. Or casually pop a newsboy cap onto his head, turning a typical kid outfit into something which is dripping in effortless fashion.

He’s so much cooler than we are.

But, get your cozy-pants out for this one, because you’re going to want that elastic waistband. It’s a chocolate pudding pie with a irresistible twist. We’ll start with a pretzel crust, lined in rich chocolate ganache. Then we’ll fill the chocolate-covered pretzel crust with smooth chocolate pudding and fresh whipped cream.

Go ahead, treat yourself.

Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Pudding Pie

Ingredients

For the Pretzel Crust

  • 2 cups pretzel crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted

For the Ganache

  • 4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate (4 squares), chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the Pudding

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions

For the Pretzel Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the pretzel crumbs and sugar.  Pour melted butter over the crumbs and mix to combine.  Press the mixture into the bottom and along the sides of a pie plate. It will be quite crumbly, but should stay in place. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

For the Ganache:

While the pretzel crust is cooling, heat cream in the microwave until it just begins to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate completely melts and the mixture is smooth.  Pour over the pretzel crust. Gently swirl the pie plate so that the ganache coats the bottom and sides of the pretzel crust. The ganache will act like a glue to help the crust stick together. Refrigerate to set.

For the Pudding:

In a saucepan, mix together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt. Whisk in 1 cup of milk, stirring until combined. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup of milk and the 3/4 cup of cream. Continue whisking over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes. Whisking constantly, continue cooking for another minute or two. Be careful to whisk into the corners and along the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Whisk in the chopped chocolate and vanilla, stirring until fully melted. Allow the pudding to cool at room temperature, stirring frequently to prevent a skin from forming. Once pudding is no longer hot, pour it on top of the cooled ganache (which should be firm by this time) and spread into an even layer. Refrigerate for a few hours until pudding is completely cool and set.

For the Whipped Cream: 

Beat together the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the pudding layer.

Garnish with a few crushed pretzels.

Happy Pi Day!

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Any fellow math geeks out there?

Happy Pi Day! That’s right…it’s March 14, a day to recognize that special number, 3.14! And what better way could there be to honor this significant number than with a nice slice of homemade pie??

So, pull out those circular pie pans, take your pick from one of the links below, and let’s celebrate Pi!

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Coconut Pie

Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Pie

Chocolate Eggnog Pudding Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Grasshopper Pie

Not only is today Pi Day; it’s also Kids Cook Monday! Now, my little guys are not quite ready to tackle the mathematical concepts of radius, pi, circumference, and area. But, we can take a few baby steps in that direction by identifying circles in the kitchen and doing a bit of hands on measuring with our circular pies.

Looking to get older kids involved in the kitchen? Take this opportunity for a bit of tasty math practice. Measure the diameter of those pies, determine the radius, and then put that pi to work while calculating the circumference and area of your pie! Then, as a reward for all of that challenging math work, treat yourselves to a well-deserved slice of pie!

Wishing you all a very tasty Pi Day!

P.S. The Gourmand Mom is now on Facebook! Check it out!

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