Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Recipe Pairing - Seventh Sin Pie and Dragonwyck

In the 1946 classic movie Dragonwyck, Vincent Price plays an eccentric land owner in upstate New York who begins courting his own cousin while still married to his gluttonous wife. (SPOILER ALERT!) In fact, in an effort to speed up the process of this courtship, he feeds his wife a piece of poisoned cake. "More cake, Johanna?..." Twisted yes, but if you like old films and even historic films I recommend this one. I think it's one of Vincent's best (as a side bar - Vincent was quite the gourmand himself having published two cookbooks and hosting his own cooking show...)

The movie directly triggered the invention of this pie. I wanted to make something so over the top and decadent that it could lure even the most sweet resistant person to their downfall. I call it Seventh Sin Pie. And since the topic is already morbid, I'll go ahead and say I'm taking it to the grave as one of my most proud accomplishments along with my pork enchilada recipe and my ability to chew gum imperceptibly during meetings.

The pie begins with a graham cracker crust then has a layer of pumpkin pie filling, then a layer of rich, thick chocolate custard, followed by a layer of vanilla and oreo custard, then a layer of semi sweet chocolate chips, then a layer of fresh sweetened whipped cream and finally (are you still with me?) - a layer of toasted coconut. Obviously, you can leave out any layer that doesn't ring your bell and substitute with something else, or just use the entire recipe for the pumpkin filling (you'll have leftover that you can either make into a smaller trifle or pie. I would have cut the recipe in half but what's the point in saving a half a can of pumpkin?)

Serve this to someone you love...or despise.

Seventh Sin Pie
* You'll need a 10 inch deep dish pie dish for this. I use my Emile Henry which is a brand I highly recommend.
Makes 1 (10 inch) Pie.
* I hereby give you fair warning that this recipe is a time sucker so baker beware. The saving grace is that you can prepare the pie up to the vanilla custard layer then let set in the fridge overnight before finishing. That way all you have left is to sprinkle over the chocolate chips, spread the whipped cream over, and top with toasted coconut...
* The chocolate custard is Nigella's recipe, halved.

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham crackers, crushed
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a small bowl, combine the crumbs and sugar; add the butter and blend well with a fork. Spray your pie dish with nonstick spray, then carefully dole out the graham mixture evenly over the bottom. Ideally, using a soup ladle (I find this helps me not pack the crumbs too heavily as with my fingers so you don't end up with a baked graham cracker brick), evenly and gently press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the plate. You'll think it'll never make it up those sides, but it will, just keep at it patiently but sternly like you would a stubborn child. If any crumbs break off, just carefully pick them up and press them back into the walls of the crust at the top. Once formed, bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the crust is lightly brown. Cool on a wire rack before filling. While the crust bakes, then cools, you can start the first layer of pumpkin on the stovetop, as follows.

Layer 1 - Pumpkin Pie:
* You'll only use half of the prepared recipe for your pumpkin layer - unless you decide to omit one of the other layers.

1 (.25 ounce) package unflavored gelatin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

In a heavy saucepan combine gelatin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in condensed milk and beaten eggs, mixing well. Let stand one minute, then place on burner over low heat, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes, or until gelatin dissolves and mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin, mixing thoroughly, and pour mixture into the prepared graham cracker crust. Place in the fridge to chill while you start your chocolate custard (you can cover lightly with a sheet of plastic wrap if desired.)

Layer 2 - Chocolate Custard:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids, chopped
2/3 cups plus 1/2 tablespoon milk
2/3 cups plus 1/2 tablespoon heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/6 cup cocoa

Melt the chocolate on low to medium heat in the microwave, checking after 1 minute, though it will probably need a little more. Or you can place it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, set it aside while you start the custard.

In a saucepan warm the milk and cream over low heat, being careful to not let it form a skin (stirring prevents this.) Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cocoa in a large bowl. Pour the warm milk and cream into the bowl in three batches, swiftly whisking it into the yolks and sugar mixture to prevent the eggs from curdling. Stir in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides well with a rubber spatula to get all of it in, and pour the custard back into the rinsed saucepan. Cook over a medium heat until the custard thickens, stirring all the time. Make sure it doesn't boil, as it will split and curdle. Keep a sink full of cold water so that if you get scared you can plunge the bottom of the custard pan into the cold water and whisk like mad, which will avert possible crisis. Once thickened (your spoon should leave a wake in its path), set aside and let cool for 15 minutes (stirring a time or two) before carefully spreading it over the pumpkin layer. Return the pie to the fridge while you start the next pudding layer.

Layer 3/4 - Vanilla Custard with Crushed Oreos:
* Aha! You caught me. I cheated and used a boxed vanilla pudding mix. Of course you can make your own from scratch, but with all the other layers being made from scratch, I gave myself a tiny break here. And to be honest once you stir in the crush oreos, does it really matter? Finally the reason this layer is labeled 3/4 is that originally I kept the pudding and cookies separate, then decided they tasted better combined.

1 box vanilla pudding, such as Jello brand
2 cups whole milk
1 cup crushed Oreo cookies

In a thick bottomed, medium pan, stir the pudding powder into the milk. Bring to medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to boil. At this stage, DO NOT walk away and continue to stir until it thickens - about another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Give a good stir and cool another 5 minutes before stirring in the Oreos. Let cool for 15 minutes before spreading over the chocolate layer. Cover with plastic wrap and return to the fridge to chill for at least 5 hours to let all the layers set before adding the chocolate chips.

Layer 5:
1 cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips, sprinkled evenly over the vanilla and oreo layer after it has set.

Layer 6:
1 cup of chilled heavy cream, whipped with 1 tablespoon sugar until stiff and spreadable, then spread out evenly over the cooled, set pie (or you can use cool whip)

Layer 7:
1 cup toasted sweetened shredded coconut (baked on 325 for 5 minutes), cooled and spread gently and evenly over the whipped cream layer.

Decoration (OPTIONAL): Freshly grated chocolate, sprinkled in any patter over the pie, or evenly over to finish. Plastic spiders to warn friends and family what they're in for!

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