Mississippi Mud Pie

Mississippi mud pie

Mississippi mud pie has been on my to-bake list for absolutely ages, although I really don’t know why considering it falls within the Pony’s number one most requested category of baking – ‘a big chocolate pie’.

I actually first made this about 4 years ago, and although it was super chocolatey and went down well with everyone who tried it, I wasn’t entirely happy as it seemed a bit hard in texture, so I vowed to one day make it again.

There are loads of recipes out there for Mississippi mud pie, which vary hugely with coffee ice cream even added to some, but I used one from Simon Rimmer on the BBC Food site, as I think he is probably second only to James Martin when it comes to celebrity chefs who make incredible looking and sounding desserts.

The only change I made to the original recipe (and as far as I can remember to what I did first time around) was to swap double cream for half fat sour cream, just to try and keep the calories down a little.

I can’t really imagine that made a huge difference to the texture of the pie, so I think I must have just overbaked the first time around as this one has the perfect contrast of crunchy biscuit crust and soft, smooth filling, with a deliciously gooey, fudgy icing on top.

It’s very rich so a small slice is plenty. It’s supposed to be served cold, but warmed up worked well too, and if it were me eating it I’d definitely go for a scoop of ice cream on the side – if you’re going to indulge in something like this you might as well go the whole hog!

Mississippi mud pie (adapted from BBC Food)

For the crust:

  • 300g bourbon biscuits
  • 65g butter

For the filling:

  • 85g dark chocolate
  • 85g butter
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 85g light brown sugar
  • 100ml sour cream

For the topping:

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 150ml sour cream
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 60g (3tbsp) golden syrup
  • grated dark chocolate to finish

Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin or blitz in a food processor. Melt the butter in the microwave, then stir into the biscuits. Press the mixture into the base and about an inch up the sides of a 9″ round springform tin, then chill in the fridge for half an hour.

For the filling, melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water then set aside. Whisk the eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes with an electric whisk, or until thickened and more than tripled in volume. Fold in the sour cream and melted chocolate and butter, then pour over the biscuit base. Bake at 180 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until just set in the middle, and leave to cool.

For the topping, melt all the ingredients together in a saucepan, stirring until the chocolate has melted and sugar has dissolved. Pour over the top of the pie and leave for 10 minutes, then sprinkle the grated chocolate on top to decorate. Chill in the fridge until completely cold, then cut into slices to serve.

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Serbian pie and an adventure

Serbian Pie

I don’t often blog about cakes that I haven’t made myself, but over the next four weeks things will be a little different here…

The picture above is of a Serbian pie, which I would probably describe as the Eastern European equivalent of a cheesecake.

It has five layers of super thin pastry, not quite as crisp as filo but a lot, lot thinner and crispier than shortcrust; layered and baked with a mixture of soft cheese, eggs, honey, vanilla and raisins.

The texture of the cheese mixture is denser than a regular cheesecake and not as sweet, making it easier to consume large portions in one sitting – although this slice was way bigger than it looks in the picture and I could only eat about a quarter.

So why am I eating and blogging about a Serbian pie? Well, I’m not in Serbia which would maybe be the obvious answer, but I am off on an adventure in another part of Europe – Romania!

Serbian pie is actually a traditional Bulgarian recipe, brought to Romania a couple of hundred years ago. It was at a time when Romanians and Bulgarians weren’t the best of friends, and so people moving to Romania from Bulgaria pretended to be Serbian so that they would be welcome.

This was eaten at a restaurant called Cocosul Negru, in the city of Targoviste in southern Romania. I’m here on a four-week Group Study Exchange programme organized by Rotary International, and will be traveling to four different parts of the country taking part in vocational activities and building relationships with various Rotary clubs.

A team of five of us will be blogging about our adventures at www.gseromania.wordpress.com, so if you’re interested in what I’m doing please head over there and take a look.

I’ve had a bit of a baking frenzy over the past few weeks so I do have some normal recipe blogs scheduled to post, but hopefully I’ll also have the chance to share some of the traditional Romanian food I get to try throughout the trip.

Internet access is limited and I’m going to be super busy so apologies if I don’t reply to any comments as quickly as normal, but I will do my best!

Chocolate pudding pie

Chocolate pudding pie

This is most definitely a dessert of indulgence.

It’s pure chocolate bliss – crunchy chocolate biscuit base, dark and rich chocolate filling, puffed up and cracked at the edges, sunken and silky smooth in the centre.

As reluctant as I am to bring up the V-word in January, if your other half is anything like the pony this would make the perfect end to a romantic meal – just make sure you haven’t filled up too much on the starter and main because it’s very, very rich!

This is another recipe from the Green & Black’s cookbook I was given for Christmas, and another resounding success – I have a feeling this book will be getting plenty of use throughout the year!

Not only was this delicious but it’s really very simple to make – I highly recommend you give it a go, and buy the book while you’re at it!

Chocolate pudding pie (from Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes)

For the base:

  • 80g butter
  • 60g dark chocolate
  • 225g digestive biscuits

For the filling:

  • 180g butter
  • 180g dark chocolate
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 180g brown sugar (recipe calls for dark but I used light)
  • 180ml double cream

To make the base, melt together the butter and dark chocolate (microwave will be fine), and crush the biscuits, either with a rolling pin or in a food processor – they need to be fairly fine crumbs. Stir in the melted chocolate and butter to thoroughly coat the biscuit crumbs, then press into the base of a greased 9″ round springform tin, and leave in the fridge for half an hour while you make the filling.

For the filling, melt the butter and chocolate together as before, then leave to cool. Add the eggs, sugar and cream to a food processor and blend well, then pour in the melted chocolate and butter and blend again. Pour the filling over the chilled base, then bake at 180 degrees for about 45 minutes – it should puff up at the edges and be firm to the touch, but with a slight wobble. Leave to cool, then dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder to serve.

Apple pie

Apple Pie

Apple pie has been on my to-bake list for forever, and I really don’t know why I’ve taken so long to get around to making it – I love apples, love pie, it’s easy to make, doesn’t need any fancy ingredients and it’s perfect for the autumn/winter. I must have been mad for not making one sooner!

I did fancify this one a little bit by trying out a cream cheese pastry and adding a caramel sauce, but as baking goes it’s still very much at the simple end of the scale. If you can chop apples and press the ‘on’ button of a food processor you’re basically good to go!

I didn’t fall in love with the cream cheese pastry, apart from cutting calories I can’t really see any major benefit to it, but overall I loved the pie and would definitely make it again. It’s such a traditional favourite I don’t think there are many people who would turn down a slice!

Apple pie

For the pastry

  • 75g butter
  • 75g light cream cheese
  • 300g plain flour
  • 25g icing sugar

For the filling

  • 6 large granny smith apples
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche

To make the pastry, add the flour and sugar to a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and cream cheese and blitz until it goes past being breadcrumb-like and starts to come together into a dough. With the food processor running, slowly pour alittle cold water down the chute, until the dough forms a ball that leaves the sides of the blender. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into two pieces, one roughly twice the size of the other. Roll out the larger piece of dough and use to line a 10″ fluted flan tin, or smaller high-sided  pie tin if you prefer. Roll out the smaller piece and use a star-shaped biscuit cutter to cut as many stars as you can, re-rolling and cutting until all the dough has been used up.

For the filling, peel and core the apples, chop into quarters, lengthways, then cut into fairly thin slices. Toss in a bowl with the cinnamon, nutmeg and 1tbsp of the sugar, then spread evenly on top of the pie crust. To make the caramel, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the rest of the sugar, stirring until it starts to bubble and thicken. Whisk in the creme fraiche, then pour over the apples.

Finish the pie placing the pastry stars all over top, making sure they slightly overlap each other. Brush with egg wash or milk, then bake at 180 degrees for about an hour, or until the apples are tender and cooked through. You can cover the pie with foil if the pastry starts to brown too much. Cut into wedges and serve!

Apple and blackberry crumble pie

I am fully in Autumn/Winter baking mode now, and as far as I’m concerned nothing signifies the end of summer and start of autumn more than blackberries.

This pie is adapted from a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe for the Guardian, which was about pairing the last of the summer’s produce with the start of the autumn’s, and used raspberries with the apples. He must be living in some strange micro-climate as raspberries were long gone around here when it was published!

Luckily the blackberries were still ripe for picking, and are a classic partner for apple. I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter, but I found Hugh’s quantities for both the pastry and the crumble were far too much, you could probably make 3/4 of the pastry and 2/3 of the crumble and still have some to spare.

Although I made this mainly for the pony to have for breakfast, I think it’s a perfect dessert for chilly evenings, served hot with a big dollop of custard. Which is probably why winter makes me fat…

Apple and blackberry crumble pie (adapted from The Guardian)

For the pastry:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 35g icing sugar
  • 125g butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg yolk

For the filling:

  • 6 medium apples (about 750g), peeled and cored
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 225g raspberries

For the crumble:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 75g butter
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 50g rolled oats

To make the pastry, stir together the flour and icing sugar the rub in the butter with your fingertips, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, cutting through the mixture with a butter knife, then add a little cold water, a tiny bit at a time, until the mixture starts to come together and can be pressed into a dough. Wrap the ball of dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, then roll out and use to line a 10″ flan tin. Bake blind for 10 minutes at 180 degrees, then remove baking beans and paper and bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

For the filling, quarter and slice the apples, then heat in a heavy based saucepan for about 5 minutes, or until starting to soften. Hugh FW uses butter for this, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Add the brown sugar and leave on the heat just until the apples are starting to caramelise, then transfer into the baked pie case. Scatter the blackberries on top.

For the crumble, rub the butter into the flour then stir in the sugar and oats. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the fruit, clumping some of it together a bit, then return the pie to the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the crumble is golden and the fruit juices are bubbling. Remove from the tin and serve while warm.

Mini ginger peach pies

Peaches are one of my favourite fruits and I definitely don’t bake with them enough.

Quite often that’s just because I can’t resist eating them as soon as they’re ripe enough, but when I saw punnets on sale for a bargain 50p I bought them specifically with baking in mind, and managed to stick to the plan to make these mini ginger peach pies.

Pretty much everything gets 10x cuter when made in miniature so I’m a bit in love with these cupcake sized versions of a traditional lattice topped pie.

The pastry was a bit of an experiment, I didn’t have a spare egg so used some leftover condensed milk instead – luckily it turned out ok and made a nice crumbly shortcrust.

I’m not quite sure what inspired me to pair the peaches with ginger, but it worked really well and added a nice amount of heat to the sweetness – which would be even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side!

I’ve gotten quite into working out the calories of things I bake recently, using the My Fitness Pal calculator tool, and these pies worked out at a virtuous 190 calories each – brilliant!

Mini ginger peach pies

(makes 7)

  • 4 ripe peaches, stoned, peeled and diced into roughly 1cm cubes
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1tbsp brown sugar
  • 170g plain flour
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 80g butter
  • 1tbsp condensed milk (light if you care about calories)

Heat the chopped peaches, ginger and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan until the peaches soften and release their juices, then transfer to a bowl to cool.

To make the pastry, combine flour and sugar then mix in a food processor with the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the condensed milk while the processor is running, then add cold water a teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together into a ball. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

To make the pies, roll the dough out to about 3mm thick, then use a pastry cutter to cut approximately 10cm rounds. Use these to line 7 holes in a greased and floured cupcake tin, then spoon in the peach mixture (you might need to drain off some excess liquid first). Slice the rest of the dough into thin strips and use to create the lattices on top – lay three strips vertically, then weave in three strips horizontally, trim and press down at the sides to seal. Bake at 180 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden on top and the juices are bubbling. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.

I’ve just realised that these pies are perfect to enter into this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by Kate of What Kate Baked and Karen of Lavender and Lovage – the theme being Picnic Pies!

Chocolate truffle pie

As soon as I showed the pony a picture of this chocolate truffle pie on Handle the Heat, he was pretty adamant that it had to be the next thing I baked.

With a chocolate digestive base, chocolate ganache layer, chocolate mousse layer and whipped cream on top, I could kind of see where he was coming from…

It took a while to make, but only because of all the chilling stages, each individual part was really simple and the only thing that actually needs baking is the base.

Aside from about 1/10 of the pie which I ate, the pony polished the rest off in 4 days, and since he finished it hasn’t stopped going on about how much he misses it and wants it again, so I think it’s safe to say it’s every bit as good as it looks!

Chocolate truffle pie (recipe adapted from Handle the Heat)

Serves 10 people or one friendly pony

Biscuit layer

  • 250g chocolate digestives
  • 50g melted butter
  • 1tbsp sugar

Ganache layer

  • 170g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 2/3 cup double cream (165ml)

Mousse layer

  • 170g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups double cream (375ml)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream layer

  • 1 cup (250ml) double cream
  • 50g icing sugar
  • chocolate shavings to decorate

Start by greasing a 9″ high sided tin (I use an oil spray for this). Blitz the biscuits and sugar in a food processor until there are no big lumps left, then gradually add in the melted butter while the mixer is running – you might need a bit more or a bit less, but it should look like wet sand when it’s ready. Press the crumbs down into the base and up the sides of the tin, then bake at 190 degrees for 8 minutes, or until crisp and a little browner.

For the ganache, heat the cream until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate has melted, then pour over the base, spreading to the sides, and chill in the freezer for half an hour while you make the mousse.

Heat 1/2 cup of the cream (125ml) for the mousse in a bowl with the vanilla and chocolate, stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Leave to cool to room temperature (don’t try and speed this up in the fridge as it will quickly set too much). Whip the remaining cup (250ml) cream until vey soft peaks form, then fold in the cooled chocolate mixture. It might look like it’s not combining, but it will.

Spread over the ganache layer, then leave in the fridge overnight to set. To finish the pie, whip the cream and icing sugar until it can just hold it’s shape, then spread on top and sprinkle with chocolate shavings or whatever you fancy. Cut into thin slices – it’s quite rich! – and serve.

 

Frangipane mince pies

I have a confession. Until this time last year, I had never eaten a mince pie.

Sure, I had tried the odd nibble – enough to know they are something disgusting that I definitely would never like – but I’d never eaten a whole one.

That all changed last year, when my colleague Jenny brought mince pies into the office. I felt I ought to try one out of politeness, as she always tries all my bakes, but I was certain I wouldn’t like it.

Jenny’s mince pie was a revelation. It wasn’t your average mince pie, but one with a frangipane topping rather than a pastry lid. And it was delicious.

This year I decided to have a go myself and I wasn’t disappointed – frangipane mince pies are the future! Make these immediately, even if you hate mince pies!

Frangipane mince pies (adapted from A Spoonful of Sugar’s recipe, with my own recipe for the pastry)

Makes 12

For the pastry:

  • 170g plain flour
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 80g butter
  • 1 egg yolk (save the white for glazing)
  • zest and juice of 1 orange

Put the flour, sugar, butter and orange zest in a food processor, then blitz until it looks like a breadcrumb-like texture. Add in the egg yolk and half the orange juice, blitz again. It should come together in a nice, soft dough, but if it looks a bit dry add the rest of the orange juice and mix again. Chill for half an hour, then roll out to about 3-4mm thick and cut into 12 rounds to line a cupcake tin, and use the leftovers to cut out 12 stars to go on top. Chill again while you make the filling.

For the filling:

  • 150g-ish mincemeat
  • 1 egg
  • 45g caster sugar
  • 45g melted butter
  • 45g ground almonds

Whisk the egg and sugar together until light and airy. Add in the melted butter while still whisking, then fold in the ground almonds. Spoon about a teaspoon of mincemeat into each of the pastry cases, then top up with the frangipane mixture. Place one the star lids on each and lightly glaze with the leftover egg white. Bake at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the frangipane has puffed up and browned.

Serve while still warm, dusted with a little icing sugar.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

I’ve eaten pecan pie once in my life, ever. It was when I was in my early teens, and I made the recipe for chocolate pecan pie from Joanna Farrow’s Chocolate cookbook.

Since then, it hasn’t been made, as my main cake eaters (first my dad, and then the aforementioned friendly pony) claimed to not like nuts, so it seemed a little greedy to make one that only I would eat.

I think the fact that I couldn’t make it made me build it up in my mind to be the nirvana of baking, the most delicious but unattainable dessert in existance.

Recently however, the friendly pony has started to come around on the nuts thing, and when asked to choose between chocolate pecan pie and nutella tart, surprisingly chose the pie.

However, after all these years of waiting, I have to say I was slightly disappointed. It had a perfectly good chocolate pastry, sticky chocolatey syrupy filling and crunchy pecans, but it was somehow just not quite as good as I remembered.

Still, at least my 10+ year craving for it has been satisfied and I can finally move on, to bigger and better baking!

Chocolate Pecan Pie, from Joanna Farrow’s ‘Chocolate’

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 175g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 125g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • cold water

Method:

  • Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl with the butter, and rub together until it makes breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and egg yolks and mixx together, then slowly add water until it comes together as a dough
  • Chill in the fridge for half an hour (or 10 mins in the freezer) then roll out large enough to line a 25cm. Trim off any excess pastry, then chill for another half hour. Blind bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees, then for 5 minutes normally (I have a rather novel way of doing this as I don’t have baking beans, forgot to take photos this time but will next time I blind bake).

Filling Ingredients:

  • 175g caster sugar
  • 150ml maple syrup
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g pecan nuts, roughly chopped

Method:

  • Put the sugar and syrup in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted. Leave to cool slightly thn stir in the cocoa powder and eggs.
  • Scatter the pecans into the pastry base, the pour the filling on top.
  • Bake at 160 degrees for about 50 mins, until slightly crispy on top but still gooey inside.
  • Serve with whatever you like, I prefer ice cream, the friendly pony likes custard, would also be great with clotted cream or creme fraiche.