Chocolate Crust Butterscotch Pie

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Pi(e) day is next week, which is a silly American non-holiday invented by maths teachers to promote knowledge of the number pi (get it? Because the date is 03/14?). You can really only celebrate it in the US because literally everywhere else in the world writes dates as day/month/year rather than the US way, but any excuse to make pie is a valid reason to celebrate in my book.

This year I'm bringing you two pie recipes, first this Chocolate-Crust Butterscotch Masterpiece and next week... well, that one will be a surprise. This pie, which requires butterscotch chips, marshmallow crème, chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs... all America-specific ingredients. So here is where I sourced my substitutes: butterscotch chips sent to me when I begged an American friend to mail me some, marshmallow crème from the foreign section of Waitrose (I bought their entire stock!), chocolate chips from Lupe Pinto's Mexican grocery store and Rich Tea biscuit crumbs.

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This pie is really good, but it is so rich. You know how a normal pie is like 8 generous servings or 10-12 tiny ones if it's something richer like cheesecake? If you can slice it thin enough, I think you could easily get 16 slices out of this pie because although delicious, a little goes a long way. I mean, look at the ingredient list: chocolate, butterscotch, marshmallow, cookies and brown sugar? It's sweet. But it's also really delicious, the butterscotch flavour comes through strongly and this is my new favourite chocolate crust that I'm making with all cheesecakes from now on because oh, man, the crust alone is worth making this recipe even if you just fill it with pudding or whipped cream or... eat it plain.

Next time I make it (and there WILL be a next time), I'm going to make it in tiny tart pans, which I think will be perfectly-sized and adorable. Make this for your favourite sweet tooth, or use it to teach a kid what pi is. They'll love it.

The verdict:

Four spoons out of five. I loved it enough to give it five, but I think the sweet overload is going to put some people off so I'm knocking off a spoon as a caution flag.

Click here for previous pies both sweet and savoury!

One year ago: Mocha cake with caramel frosting
two years ago: walnut butter cookies
three years ago: chocolate key lime pie

the recipe:

Chocolate Crust Butterscotch Pie

the directions:
crust:

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler or in very short bursts in the microwave.
Stir in crumbs and brown sugar and mix well.
Pat into bottom of 9-inch pie pan.
Wait 5 minutes until chocolate has just started to set, then press mixture up the sides of the pie plate (if you try to do so immediately, it won't stay on the sides of the dish).

Filling:

Melt butterscotch chips.
Once completely melted, add salt and stir until smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in marshmallow crème.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes while you whip the cream.
Whip cream until soft peaks form, then fold into cooled butterscotch mixture until smooth.
Pour into prepared crust and refrigerate at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

the ingredients:
the crust:

1 c (170g) unsweetened chocolate
1/3 c (75g) butter
1 c (85g) Rich Tea biscuit crumbs or graham cracker crumbs
¼ c (50g) brown sugar, firmly packed

the filling:

1 c (170g) butterscotch morsels
¼ tsp salt
2 c (160g) marshmallow crème
1 1/8 c (270ml) whipping cream

Chocolate Midnight Madness, or, Chocolate Tart with Pecan-Biscuit Crust

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Happy Galentine's Day! If there's one thing Eleanor and I have in common, it's that we both adore our lady friends. I was looking for a recipe to celebrate Galentine's Day and everything my friends have meant to me over the years when I found this recipe for Chocolate Midnight Madness. A dessert best served cold so you don't have to faff around with getting it out of the oven at just the right time: check. A deep, grown-up chocolate flavour that's just barely sweet with a crunchy, crumbly, toasted crust: check. A fun, silly name: check. And... the weirdest secret ingredient I never thought would work: check.

This tart contains mayonnaise, my friends. MAYONNAISE. This would be weird enough, but we've discussed ad nauseum my deep, dark hatred for mayonnaise. But what's a woman to do? I had already picked out the recipe, I loved the idea of a chocolate tart, so I went for it. And to my surprise, I was rewarded with the best chocolate tart I've ever made. I mean, mayonnaise is really only eggs, oils, a pinch of salt and a pinch of acid- all ingredients that are included in every cake, but I was still horrified. How was I to justify this? Answer: I didn't. I just made the tart and let it speak for itself. And if you didn't know it was condiment-based, you definitely wouldn't be able to tell.

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Fresh out of the oven and still a little puffed before being chilled.

Fresh out of the oven and still a little puffed before being chilled.

As you can see, the crust is reallllly crumbly

As you can see, the crust is reallllly crumbly

It may not look like much, but this is a dessert worth making for your besties, preferably eaten in the kitchen, directly out of the pie plate with a dozen forks scooping it up after you and your pals come home from a long night of dancing. Whether or not you confess the world's weirdest ingredient? I'll leave that up to you.

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. This tart is insanely good, super simple, and really impressive, even if tarts usually aren't your thing.

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ONE YEAR AGO: CRAZY CHOCOLATE CAKE
TWO YEARS AGO: CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH DATE FILLING

the recipe:

Chocolate Midnight Madness

the directions:

Blitz the biscuits and pecans in the food processor until the mixtur e is fine crumbs.
Pour the crumb/nut mixture into a removable-bottom tart pan or pie plate and spread across the bottom of the plate.
Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and stir to combine, then press crumb mixture to edges and up the sides of the plate.
Set crust aside while you prepare the filling.
Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Beat cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth, then add sugar gradually.
Beat until well-blended, then add eggs, one at a time.
Add vanilla and blend.
Pour a few spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture into your bowl of melted chocolate and beat with a spoon or whisk until combined (this will keep the mixture from splitting when you combine it).
With mixer on low speed, drizzle chocolate mixture into cream cheese mixture, then continue beating until very smooth.
Bake 30 minutes until edges are set and middle has a slight wobble when nudged.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least four hours or up to overnight.
Serve plain or top with whipped cream, and eat it in the middle of the night with your best girlfriends.

the ingredients:

1 c (85g) Rich Tea biscuit crumbs or graham cracker crumbs
¼ c (30g) pecans
¼ c (60g) butter, melted
8 oz (240g) cream cheese
½ c (115g) mayonnaise
½ c (112g) sugar
2 eggs
6 oz (180g) semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla

Lincoln Logs, or, Double-Chocolate Almond Cupcakes

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There hasn't been a lot of presidential celebration in the Recipe Box kitchen lately, and since technically our leader is Theresa May, I guess that makes sense. But then I found a recipe in the box that is specifically for celebrating Abraham Lincoln's birthday. I'm not sure why anyone who isn't Mary Todd Lincoln or the parent of a child in the 1950s would need a specific baked good to celebrate Lincoln's birthday, and if you DID need one, I'm not sure why you'd want to make him cupcakes shaped like logs? Wouldn't he appreciate a cupcake decorated to look like a penny? A tiered cake built like the Lincoln Memorial? Or maybe he's more of a pie guy? DID BETTY CROCKER EVEN THINK TO ASK HIM?

In an effort to answer these vital questions, I did some research on Lincoln Logs so you don't have to, and here's what I learned: a lot of weird stuff. Lincoln Logs, in case you did not grow up in the US, are log-shaped pieces of wood out of which you can build houses and buildings, toys marketed to young buys as an alternative to blocks. They're notched at both ends so the things you build look like actual miniature log cabins. I assumed (or maybe was told?) that Lincoln Logs were named after Abe Lincoln because he was born in a cabin, but I always thought that was weird because, like, a billion people were born in cabins in the 1800s, so why does he get called out specifically? Turns out I was onto something: Lincoln Logs were invented by Frank Lloyd Wright's son, who named them possibly after Abe Lincoln, but equally plausibly after his father's original middle name (Lincoln) or as a pun (Linkin' Logs) because of how they fit together.

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It gets even more surprising: the original idea came to Wright when he was in Japan viewing a building there that was thought to be earthquake-proof on account of it's cross-hatched base (so why did he market it as a Western American thing, especially when Japonism was at its height in the early 1900s?). And strangest of all (to me), the original kits came with instructions to build Lincoln's house (would this not be the White House?) and Uncle Tom's Cabin (why?!).

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What does this have to do with this cupcake recipe, you ask? Nothing. And that's my quibble with the recipe. The cupcakes don't even look like Lincoln Logs, they just look like logs... and only if you squint. Plus, I can't think of a reason I would need to make a dessert for Lincoln's birthday, and if you didn't explain that's what they were for, you're just left with unexplained log-shaped desserts, which somehow manages to be EVEN WEIRDER than log-shaped desserts in honour of a former president's birthday.

the verdict:

3 spoons out of five. The cake was soft and plush, the frosting was easy to pipe and to die for delicious... but the finished product comes in a serving size of two cupcakes, which seems excessive, and, really, why would you want a cupcake shaped like a log to begin with?

one year ago: Crazy Chocolate Cake
two years ago: Chocolate Cake with Date Filling

the recipe:

Lincoln Logs

the directions:
cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 200C/400F and grease 18 muffin cups.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Beat in almond extract, shortening, milk, yolks and chocolate.
Beat 2 minutes on medium speed until very smooth.
Fill muffin cups ½ to 2/3 full, then bake 15-18 minutes until the top springs back to the touch.
Remove cupcakes from tins and allow to cool completely on cooling racks.

Frosting:

Beat butter and powdered sugar until smooth, light and fluffy.
Add vanilla and cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.
Set aside ¼ of frosting.
To the remaining ¾ of frosting, add chocolate and beat to combine.
Use a small amount of chocolate frosting to 'glue' the flat bottoms of two cupcakes together.
Use a knife to frost the ends of your 'log' with the white frosting, adding a swirl with the knife to resemble the cut side of a log.
Using a piping bag with a round tip, pipe the chocolate frosting in lines connecting the two ends of the log (you'll have to leave the very bottom unfrosted as a 'rest' for the log to sit on).
If you're keen, you can use a knife to swirl the chocolate frosting so it looks more like bark, but by the time you've done this nine times, you're probably not going to be too interested in doing so.

the ingredients:
the cupcakes:

1 ½ c (180g) flour
1 c (200g) sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract
½ c (102g) shortening or Stork
¾ c (175ml) milk
4 egg yolks
2 oz (60g) unsweetened chocolate, melted and well-cooled

the frosting:

½ c (110g) butter
4 ½ c (500g) powdered sugar
2 ¼ tsp vanilla or almond extract
3-4 tbsp cream
4 oz (120g) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled