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Minirecipe #3: Chocolate Pie for One

August 13, 2009

Today’s minirecipe stems from a day spent on the couch feeling under the weather, in desperate need of some serious comfort food. I’ve often considered this, as you can find store-bought pies in personal sized servings at all the convenience stores, and as the concept of the “cup pie” was even brought up on the show Pushing Daisies (which I don’t actually like but have seen several times if for no other reason than the pies themselves).

The Chocolate Pie. For One.

The Chocolate Pie. For One.

I made this pie in a small Pyrex glass bowl. It’s important to note that my instructions are based on this cup, which was approximately 1/4 the size of a small pie pan. I.e. 6 oz. If you’re going to try to replicate this yourself, you can try what I did: take the small, oven-safe dish which you intend to bake your pie in, and see how many of them it takes to fill a pie pan with water. Not very scientific, but it gives you an idea of the scale. (And yes, if you multiply this recipe by 4, you’ll get the recipe for the 9 inch pie pan variety).

The recipe turned out well – the filling was perfectly chocolatey, the crust fantastic (it’s my grandma’s recipe, so it always turns out well for me) and for me, the ratio of crust-to-filling was ideal. However, I should note that if you use a Pyrex, you will find that there is a rather higher crust-to-filling ratio than there would be for a regular slice. For me, no problem, cuz I love this crust. But FYI, if you’re anti-crust, you might want to pick a shallower dish. I also wouldn’t recommend serving this at a dinner party or anything in the Pyrex cups, because you have to eat it directly out of the bowl, which can get a little…ungraceful (witness Lisa, armed with a fork, contorting into fantastical positions to dig out that last little crunch bit of crust from the bottom).

So. The Pie.

Ingredients

Crust:

3/8 c. flour

1.5/8 c. crisco

splash water

1/4 T sugar

Filling:

3/8 c. milk

3/8 c. sugar

1 T flour

2/3 T cocoa

1 egg yolk (white goes in bowl with an additional 1 T sugar for meringue)

3/8 T butter

1/8 tsp vanilla

Method

Crust:

This is a traditional bottom-crust recipe, that you must prebake (since the filling’s so liquidy). Take the dry ingredients into a bowl. I used my trusty old Kitchen Aid hand mixer (gift from my grandma – and yes, it’s avocado green and from the 70s), rather than the stand mixer, because it was such a small quantity.

Drop the Crisco into the dry ingredients one spoonful at a time, mixing between adding spoonfuls. When the mixture starts to form pea-sized balls (keep adding Crisco until this happens), add the ice cold water. Mix until incorporated and just pulling away from the bowl. Put the ball of dough in some plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer for like…15-20 minutes.*

After your dough’s chilled, preheat the oven to around 375°. Roll out the crust until it’s like 1/4 of an inch thick (or less – whatever your preference).** Be aware if you’re using the Pyrex that you’ll need more than you think – those cups are deep!

Once your pie crust is as thin as you like it, carefully move it from the surface into the pan. You can do this by wrapping the dough onto the rolling pin and dropping, or, if you’re me, by folding the dough carefully in half, and in half again, then putting the point in the bottom of the bowl.

Carefully press the dough down in the dish. Once in place, carefully prick the crust with a fork, so that the steam from the cooking can escape and you can avoid bubbles in your crust. The finished product should look something like this:

Pie crust

Pie crust

Pop the crust into the oven to brown (should take like 20 minutes but check it after the first 10). While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.

Filling:

In a small saucepan, mix together the dry ingredients. For this task, since it was a minirecipe, I used a miniwhisk from an old box of hot cocoa mix given to me by Laura’s mom (the Laura who just got married) back when I was a freshman in college:

Tiny whisk

Tiny whisk

Once the dry ingredients are well incorporated, add the egg yolk, then the milk, whisking well so there are no lumps. Add the pat of butter, then turn the whole mixture on medium to medium-low heat (again – small quantity, not much cooking necessary). Cook, stirring relatively constantly, until the filling is so think that the bubbles coming up from the bottom make a “gloop!” noise and leave large holes (very scientific measurements here). Basically it should be the consistency of pudding. Add the vanilla just at the end, stirring well to incorporate it.

Backtracking a bit, but when you crack the egg, make sure to put the white into a separate bowl – in this case, my Kitchen Aid. You want to add 1 T of sugar to the whites – I add mine when I put the whites in the bowl, so the sugar has time to melt. Once the filling’s basically done, flip the mixer on low, to mix in the sugar, then to high. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, like this:

Meringue

Meringue

At this point, your filling should be finished. Fill the pie shell with the filling.

Filling in the crust

Filling in the crust

Once the filling is ready, put the meringue on using a spatula. You can use as much or as little as you like – in my case, one egg white made more than enough meringue (though I should note – if you were to up the recipe for a full-on pie, you would probably need one more egg white than yolks in the recipe, since in a traditional pie the diameter-to-depth ratio will be much higher).

Put the finished pie in the oven at 325° and brown the meringue. This can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes – just watch it until it’s brown like you like it. Take the pie out of the oven, let it cool on a rack, then refrigerate for at least an hour for best results.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

That’s basically it – my grandma’s old recipe, new proportions! Ideas for the next minirecipe?

*The way you get flaky pie crusts is through the fat-based part of the recipe: butter or (in this case) vegetable shortening. The shortening or buttercreates small pockets which melt when baked, thereby breaking up the crust so it’s not solid. Chilling the dough keeps the pieces of shortening whole, which increases the flakiness, so this step is quite useful.

**Instructions for rolling out dough: put the ball of dough on the counter and squish it flat while it’s still inside the plastic (this gets it closer to the right shape without it sticking to your hands). Now, it’s messy time. Flour your surface, whether that’s wax paper, parchment paper, the countertop (clean, please), or a silicone baking pad. Flour the dough also, a little on the top, and then flour your rolling pin.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. emily permalink
    August 13, 2009 8:44 pm

    Looks yummy but Patrick thinks you should leave the “cats spit” off.

    • lisam permalink
      August 13, 2009 8:46 pm

      Patrick wouldn’t know good meringue if it slapped him in the face!

      But since these are PERSONAL pies, you could just leave his off! 🙂

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