Monday, January 3, 2011

Pie Month - Choco Late

"Month" may be a relative term - I set out in October to make at least 4 pies, a new endeavor for this girl. Well, two months went by but I got the fourth one made. Not-so-hot on the heels of tasty apple pie, pumpkin whoopie pies and lemon meringue pie, I set out to make a Chocolate Walnut Meringue Pie.

After reading about my newfound meringue skills, my sister sent me a recipe from Cooking Light and asked if I could contribute a pie to our Christmas celebration this year.

The crust is made up of graham cracker crumbs and crushed walnuts. A few quick pulses in the food processor reduced them to the right size. Adding melted butter gave the mixture a stickier quality allowing me to press it up against the sides and bottom of a 9 inch pie plate.
While the crust bakes in the oven for a bit, I got to work on the chocolate filling.
Finally, the time consuming meringue was added to the top. I ended up having enough crust and chocolate filling left over to fill a couple ramekins. While the pie was to be saved for the next night's dessert, we split the ramekins up as soon as they were done in the oven - a good "taste test" for the dish.
Giving the pie a good full day to chill in the fridge helped keep the crust together and cut into pieces easier - a challenge I had read about in some of the comments of the recipe.
Yum-o. The pie provided a delish refreshment during our traditional family gift opening intermission. Here's the full recipe:

Chocolate Walnut Meringue Pie
from Cooking Light
Crust:
1 1/2  cups low-fat graham cracker crumbs (about 10 cookie sheets)
1/2  cup finely ground walnuts
1/4  cup butter, melted
Cooking spray

Filling:
3/4  cup sugar
3 1/2  tablespoons cornstarch
Dash of salt
2  cups evaporated fat-free milk
4  ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3  large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1  teaspoon vanilla extract

Meringue:
4  large egg whites
1/4  teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4  teaspoon salt
1/2  cup sugar
1  teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º. To prepare crust, combine the first 3 ingredients, tossing well. Press into the bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350º for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside. To prepare filling, combine sugar, cornstarch, and dash of salt in saucepan; whisk in milk and chocolate. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually add 1/2 cup chocolate mixture to egg yolks, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return egg mixture to pan. Cook over medium heat until thick (about 4 minutes), stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla. Spread mixture into prepared crust. Reduce oven temperature to 325º. To prepare meringue, place the egg whites, cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy . Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes). Add vanilla, beating just until blended. Spread meringue evenly over filling, sealing to edge of crust. Bake at 325º for 25 minutes. Chill thoroughly before serving.

And with that, my extended Pie Month concludes!

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