Grasshopper Brownie Pie
Week Twelve: I’m Running Out of Ideas Pie
Ok, that’s not true. But, just between us, I may be burning out on pies, then again, maybe that’s just this week. Anyway, when I begin to feel uninspired, I find it most motivating to attempt something stupid. Nothing like a high probability of total failure to get you hopping (Editor’s Note: Pun intentional for my brother-in-law. I hope you’re happy now Herb.).
One of the unexpected challenges this summer has been coming up with different crusts. It would be terribly easy to just use the same basic crusts over and over (and over), but that’s just not very “Summer of Pie.” Ever since I had success with the cookie dough crust I’ve been wondering if I could make one from brownie batter. Now, it’s easy to get the bottom to work, it’s the up the sides part that proves problematic. Something I’ve definitely learned this summer is blind baked crusts have a tendency bordering on an imperative to slide down the sides of the pan and pool unattractively along the bottom while in the oven. I was almost certain that brownie batter would be disastrously unstable in this regard, so, of course, I had to try.
I am now happy to report that the brownie crust worked wonderfully — better than I could’ve hoped actually. I’ll leave the details for the recipe, but suffice it to say I solved the sagging sides problem with well placed tin foil and cursing.
So this week I offer you a fine pie and a sure-fire cure for the late summer humdrum. Now let’s get out there and do something stupid.
GRASSHOPPER BROWNIE PIE
(From King Arthur Flour’s “The Best Fudge Brownies Ever.”)
8 oz (one stick) butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla
2 large eggs
3/4 cups flour
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
Butter and flour a 9 or 10″ pie pan.
In a medium-sized microwave safe bowl melt the butter. Add sugar and stir until combined. Stir in cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Add the eggs and beat until smooth. Add the flour and chips, and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, being care to bring it up the sides and over the top slightly. Make as thin a layer as you can as the batter with puff in the oven. Place in the refrigerator for 30 min – 1 hour to set.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Line chilled crust with foil, pressing it firmly but gently against the sides (note: I might try parchment paper next time); fill with weights. Bake for 20-25 minutes until it’s no longer wet. Remove from oven and carefully remove the foil (or parchment). This will strip the top layer from the crust, but if you’re careful the crust will remain intact. Ugly, but intact. Set aside to cool.
White Chocolate Shell
8 oz white chocolate
4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla
Combine chocolate and cream in a microwave safe dish and melt at medium power (for about 45 seconds). Stir in vanilla until smooth. Spoon into the prepared pie crust and gentle smooth a thin layer up the sides. Place in refrigerator to set for 30 minutes.
(Adapted from Epicurious.com’s “Frozen White Chocolate Grasshopper Mousse Pie”)
1 1/3 cups half and half
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
3 tbsp cornstarch
8 oz white chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp green crème de menthe
Combine half and half and salt in heavy small saucepan. Whisk egg yolks and cornstarch in medium bowl. When half and half is steaming, slowly whisk into egg mixture to temper. Return mixture to saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture thickens. It will quickly look curdled — don’t panic. Continue cooking until mixture is smooth and has a pudding-like consistency. Remove from heat. Add white chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Stir in crème de menthe. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to cool, but not set. Pour into prepared crust and spread smooth. Refrigerate until set for at least 5 hours.
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
Combine whipping cream and sugar in a large bowl. Beat with mixer on high until stiff peaks form (frosting consistency). Pipe or spread onto finished pie.
I had a lot of ideas for decorating this pie. Of course, you needn’t do anything more at all, but what fun is that? So, here are a few ideas for decorating the top of the pie:
1. Chocolate shavings or curls. Use either semisweet, white or both. I also found a lovely mint infused chocolate by Green & Black which would probably be fantastic.
2. Use your favorite mint candy either whole or chopped. I think this is a great idea, though I had it pointed out to me that using my favorite mint candy (Junior Mints) might result in a pie that appeared to be covered with animal droppings.
3. Use chocolate syrup in decorative patterns. This is what I ultimately did. I used Trader Joe’s Midnight Moo (no high fructose). First I “drew” concentric circles of syrup on the top of the pie, then I used a bbq skewer to drag evenly spaced lines into the center of the pie until I’d achieved a spider web lattice pattern.