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Flour girl: Pie with a kick

Cappuccino Cream Pie. (Leigh Lambert/The Washington Post)

Even if you're out and about for the holidays, you may find yourself hosting impromptu guests, neighbors, family. You can have something sweet on hand to offer with very little effort. I like this Cappuccino Cream Pie recipe, which can be made a couple of days ahead and sliced whenever you're ready. It's a nice with a coffee to underscore the flavor, or some champagne.

Recipe Included

You can save time by using a pre-made chocolate-cookie crumb crust. Akasha Richmond, author of "Hollywood Dish" (Avery, 2006) and the creator of this recipe, rightfully advises not to omit the whipped cream topping. It's a must-have that balances the pie filling's pudding-like consistency. And let's be realistic: Any resolutions to eat healthfully should be saved until 2010.

This dessert is an interesting combination of kiddie-sweet and grown-up tastes. It can be enjoyed by both age sets. It can also straddle a.m./p.m. service. If you have a sweet tooth early in the day you can sneak a piece left from last night's festivities. Personally, I like to get up early and start the day with my favorite vices: sugar and chocolate. For breakfast.

-- Leigh Lambert

Cappuccino Cream Pie
12 servings

For the crust
8 ounces chocolate wafers, pulverized to crumbs in a food processor
5 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegetable shortening, melted
2 to 4 tablespoons sugar

For the filling
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups low-fat or soy milk
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder, such as Medaglio D'Oro
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the topping
1 cup chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces espresso-flavored chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, shaved or grated

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have a 9-inch pie plate at hand. Combine the crumbs, butter and sugar in a medium bowl and mix well. Firmly press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Bake for 8 minutes, then let it cool while you make the filling.

For the filling: Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan (off the heat). Gradually whisk in the milk, making sure the cornstarch dissolves. Add the espresso powder and salt, then whisk in the eggs, mixing well until no sign of yolk remains.

Place over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble at the edges. Remove from the heat and scrape the pan with the spatula, reaching all the surfaces, then whisk again until smooth. Return to medium heat; once the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, cook for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Pour into the cooled pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap or wax paper directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate for at least 4 hours so the filling firms up.

For the topping: Place the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer or electric hand-held mixer; beat on low, then medium-high speed until frothy. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then the vanilla extract, increasing the speed to high to form stiff peaks.

Just before serving, use the whipped cream to cover the top of the pie. Garnish with the shaved or grated chocolate.

Per serving: 349 calories, 5 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates, 21 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 105 mg cholesterol, 184 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 25 g sugar

By Leigh Lambert  |  December 24, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Flour Girl , Recipes  | Tags: Flour Girl, pie, recipes  
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Next: Holiday favorites: Cocktails

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