Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. If you were toying with the idea of tempting your “true love” with something decadent, here’s an idea. A pie composed of aphrodisiacs: chocolate, almonds, and cinnamon.
I made a chocolate cream pie recently with a bar of Valrhona dark chocolate. It was delicious, but the crust was frustratingly crumbly. And in my opinion, the pie was just too sweet. It’s hard to appreciate great chocolate when it’s masked by sugar. So, I started thinking. What do I want out of a chocolate cream pie? My mind traveled to warmer places, and I thought of the hot chocoate in Oaxaca — I was inspired. Something exotic, with Ceylon cinnamon, roasted almonds, and good dark chocolate. The south-of-somewhere-pie.
This pie is truly a satisfying dessert. The crunch of the roasted almond chocolate graham crust side by side with the thick and creamy cinnamon infused chocolate pudding is the perfect balance. Topped with freshly whipped cream, barely sweetened, some citrus zest and your dessert is complete. Wishing everyone a very happy Valentine’s Day!
Chocolate Amante Pie
by Stephanie Kunstle
Note: this pie is truly simple to make, but you need to factor in time to cool the pie so it is set. So, if you are not in a cold climate where you can stick it outside for a quick cooling (my preferred method), plan a good 8 hours from start to finish.
Ingredients for filling/pudding:
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1/4 c cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 c whole milk
- 1 stick Ceylon cinnamon, crushed by hand
- 5 oz. El Rey Apamate 73.5% Dark Chocolate or other good dark chocolate finely chopped (El Rey’s Apamate is single-origin from Venezuela and is fairly traded, so if you can find it, this is an excellent choice).
- 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Ingredients for the crust:
- 1 and 1/4 chocolate graham crumbs (I put mine in a mini-prep to really grind to a powder)
- 1/2 whole almonds
- 3 Tbsp. superfine sugar
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Ingredients for topping:
- 1 and 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
- 1 heaping Tbsp. powdered sugar
- zest of a celementine or orange
- shaved dark chocolate
- In a 3-qt. saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add the egg yolks and beat in well. The mixture will at first resemble the thickness of peanut butter, but keep whisking as it will turn softer, become a creamy yellow color, and finally smooth and bubbly. Slowly add the milk while whisking, and continue to whisk until completely combined without any lumps. Crush the cinnamon stick in your hands, and toss it in.
- Over medium heat, stirring frequently, bring the mixture to boil. Once boiling, turn it down to medium-low, and simmer while whisking for one minute. Cover with a lid and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes to allow cinnamon to further infuse the pudding.
- Strain the pudding through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl containing the finely chopped chocolates, discard cinnamon stick solids. Beat the pudding well into the chocolate until the chocolate is completely melted and there are no lumps. Stir in the softened butter and the vanilla. Cover the pudding surface with plastic wrap (you do not want a skin to form as it cools) and allow to cool outside of the fridg for a couple of hours.
- While your pudding is cooling, it’s time to make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the almonds on a baking sheet, and roast for 4 minutes. Toss them, move them around, and roast for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the hot pan and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor or mini-prep, grind your chocolate graham crackers or chocolate graham cookies until fine (same texture as flour). You want 1 and 1/4 cups measured AFTER the grahams are ground. Place in a small mixing bowl.
- Then grind the almonds until they are as fine as they can be. Add them to the grahams, along with the superfine sugar and the melted butter. Mix with a spoon to combine and distribute the butter well. If you pinch a small bit between your fingers, it should stick together.
- Press the mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie pan and bake 20-25 minutes until the crust feels nearly crisp. Cool completely on a rack.
- Once the filling has cooled, pour it into the pie shell using a rubber spatula to distribute pudding evenly and refridgerate for several hours (about 6) until chilled and set.
- Whip your heavy cream and powdered sugar, until soft peaks form. Scoop it onto your chilled pie and decorate with chocolate shavings and finally citrus zest. Serve to your loved ones!