Oh, hello there! It has been a while!
Since last we spoke I have traveled to Ireland for my Kerrygold adventure, lost my sweet little beagle Zuzu, and spent the last seven months (and counting) in and out of hospitals and rehab facilities with my father who has been given two death sentences only to recover and go back to rehab. He is stubborn! I have also written another cookbook (The Everything Dutch Oven Cookbook out in August and available for pre-order), worked on some really fun freelance projects, and won a pie contest. (I was the only person to enter a pie into this contest, but a win is still a win!) It has been a rough ride, and I am committed to making time for the blog again. Blog time is really me time, and I have had very little time for me lately.
When you get down to brass tacks, I love my little blog and the recipes I create for it. Late last year I struggled with where Evil Shenanigans was going. Should I make changes to the content, start making (really bad) videos because they are super trendy right now (even though I am terribly camera shy), or even start adding lifestyle content (ugh!). Dealing with my father’s extended illness, the loss of my little dog, and taking on an abundance of freelance work taught me to treasure what I really love and not to get too wrapped up in what other people are doing, or what they think is important. So, I am going to continue sharing fun recipes. Nothing too serious, certainly nothing too heavy, and never anything too trendy. I am about good, solid, terribly naughty recipes.
So, I return to you my dears with a pie contest ‘winning’ pie that had people buzzing. My part-time day job (yes, I still have that) has a baking competition every spring. This year I submitted the following pie, and I won. Now, you might not think much of that, but let me tell you how people responded to my entry. One co-worker sent me an email saying she knew the pie must be mine, and letting me know it was better than the pie she gets from our local, critically acclaimed pie shop. High praise. I also got a number of instant messages from others asking if I made the pie, and that it was their favorite entry of the whole competition. Buzz, buzz, buzz. One co-worker told me she wanted to start a religion with the pie as the deity, and that she would have more members than a certain celebrity religion that involves space ships and rudimentary lie detectors. Fun?!
This pie is a study in textures. Crunchy, buttery graham cracker crust. Thick, chewy fudge brownie filling. Lighter than air salted caramel cheesecake topping. It hits the bliss point – the point where you want to keep consuming the pie even though you are full, it is pretty rich, and you want to fit into your swimsuit in a few months. Swimsuits are overrated. Some points to consider when making this pie. First, the crust is baked twice, but it will not burn. Second, do not over-bake the brownie filling. You want to pull it from the oven while still jiggly for a moist, chewy interior. Finally, chill, chill, chill the pie. Make it a day ahead so the topping can get good and cold and so the flavors can develop. You want that. You really want that.
- For the crust:
- 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
- For the brownie filling:
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup chocolate chips, melted and cooled
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- For the topping:
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- 4 ounces (1/2 bar) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons salted caramel sauce, plus extra for garnish
- Mini-chocolate chips for garnish
- Heat the oven to 350F.
- Begin by making the crust. In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter. Mix until all the crumbs are coated in the butter, then press the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Cool to room temperature.
- Next, prepare the brownie filling. In a medium bowl combine the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Mix until well combined, then add the melted chocolate and butter and stir to combine. Add the cocoa powder, flour, and salt and mix until just combined, about 10-12 strokes.
- Carefully spread the brownie mixture into the prepared crust. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the edges of the brownie are set and the center is still wobbly. Remove from the oven and cool completely to room temperature.
- Finally, prepare the topping. In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, add the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Whip the cream on medium speed until thickened, about 1 minute, then increase the speed to high and whip until firm peaks form, about 1-2 minutes more. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and refrigerate.
- To the work bowl of the stand mixer add the cream cheese and salted caramel sauce.
- Mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined and smooth, about 2 minutes, then increase the speed to medium high and whip until the mixture is lighter in color, about 3 minutes.
- Add the whipped cream to the bowl and beat on medium speed until the mixture is well combined, about 30 seconds. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the pie. Garnish with mini-chips and additional salted caramel sauce, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.