Last week, the family I used to nanny for invited Mr. K and I over to dinner. They have two sweet and bright young boys that I am extremely fond of, and it had been almost a year since I saw them last. I started as their nanny when the boys were 6 months and 3-1/2 years old, respectively. I worked for them for almost two years, and over the course of those two years I came to view them as my extended family. The 6-month old is now almost 6 YEARS old. He has independent thoughts and asks questions like, “Can you come back over again tomorrow?” and “Do you have a baby yet?” Of course, with the latter comment, I just smile awkwardly and say, “Let’s draw something together!” I also have great affection for the boys’ parents. They both have extremely stressful jobs and yet give themselves tirelessly to their kids whenever they have a free moment. The mother, in particular, is a woman whom I have much respect for. I learned a plethora of things from talking to her and observing her as a mother.
I was reluctant to become a nanny, but I had a hard time finding a job after graduate school and so I took the position. Whenever someone asks me about my experience as a nanny, I always respond that it’s a lot harder than it looks. I gained much more respect for parents in general as well as for child-care workers. But another thing happened. By becoming part of this family and seeing a different style of parenting from the way I was raised, it helped heal the wounds I had leftover from my upbringing. I had always been fearful that I wouldn’t be a good mother and therefore had no interest in having children. At the end of the two years, I left the position knowing, feeling, that I was a changed person. For the first time in my life, I saw that being a parent could be an enriching experience.
I volunteered to bring dessert to dinner last week. I wanted to make something somewhat whimsical that the boy’s might like as well. Cupcakes were out of the question (I am about as anti-cupcake as they come, unless they are the heavenly cupcakes from Broadway Baker). This Chocolate Cream Pie sounded delicious and as my readers know, I am a sucker for all things chocolate. If you’ve never made a cream pie before, this is a straightforward recipe to start with. Most cream pies have three separate components and this one is no different: a crust, filling (or pudding), and whipped topping. I didn’t have any whole milk on hand, so I substituted 1/2 almond milk and 1/2 heavy cream and it worked just fine. This recipe will satisfy any chocolate lover. The coarse sea salt sprinkled on top not only prevents the pie from being too sweet, but deepens the flavor of the overall chocolate.
Chocolate Pudding Pie
Adapted from Gourmet
Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings
1-1/3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (I scraped out the filling of OREOs and used the wafer cookies)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Stir together crumbs, butter, sugar and salt and press on bottom and up the side of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack.
3. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then slowly add milk, whisking continuously. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, continue whisking, then reduce heat and simmer (continuing to whisk) for one minute. Filling will be thick.
4. Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours.
5. Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.
6. Just before serving, beat cream with sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then spoon on top of pie.
7. Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder over whipped cream.
8. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of fleur de sel over pie (optional).