Chocolate Pie with Toasted Meringue

If you catch me in the right mood, I may just be able to devour a whole pie by myself. Pie is my weakness, especially when it's filled with silky chocolate mouse and topped with a fluffy toasted meringue. There is something so satisfying about running a torch over a detailed meringue and watching the swirls brown. 

I've been spending most of my spare time watching Big Little Lies and The Great British Bake Off. Big Little Lies causes me to drink and The Great British Bake Off makes me want to bake, the latter being slightly more productive.

I've had to increase my cardio activity just to keep up with these caloric demands, but in my eyes, it's been totally worth it. When it comes to baking, I will draw the line at biscuit towers and novelty cakes - I don't have the steady hands for anything that intricate - but everything else is fair game. As for my drink of choice, it's almost always wine.

We've been going through a great deal of butter around here, from the multiple batches of puff and choux pastry we've been experimenting with to our attempts at gougeres, Kouign Amann's, macarons, loaves, cakes, and doughnuts. This weekend I'm inviting over some friends to help me eat the two-dozen cream filled doughnuts I'm going to make, because, in my experience, doughnuts taste much better (even incredible) when they're fresh out of the fryer.

Last week I took a crack at making my first chocolate pie. I'm not going to lie, I completely destroyed the first crust during the blind-bake (Mary Berry would have been so disappointed) and had to make another. That, along with the overnight chill of the mousse, it sort of felt like I had been making this pie for a week straight. I invited over some friends to help me eat it, because I know my weaknesses, and let me tell you, I probably could have eaten this whole pie myself.

The crust was thin, flaky and buttery. The mouse was light and airy, a bit silky, with the taste of dark chocolate and coffee. The meringue topping was like a billowy cloud perched on top, light and airy, and the crispy toasty bit's gave it a resemblance to S'mores. It was incredible.

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makes 1 pie

prep time: 24 hours

cooking time: 60 minutes

crust ingredients

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed

1/4 cup ice cold water

chocolate mousse

12 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

3 tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 cup coffee

3 large eggs, separated

4 tsp granulated sugar, divided

1 tsp table salt

2 cups heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

toasted meringue

4 large egg whites

1/2 cup superfine sugar

prepare the crust

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add half of the butter, and with your hands, crumble it into the flour until you have small pea size pieces. Add the rest of the butter and crumble into large pieces, the size of lima beans. 

Slowly add the ice cold water and combine with your hands until the dough starts to come together. Knead into a ball and then flatten into a disk. Wrap the dough with Saran wrap and then place into the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. 

Remove the dough from the fridge. Sprinkle flour on your work surface and rolling pin, then roll out the dough, roughly 1/4 inch thick. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and then transfer to a pie plate. 

Using a tempered-glass or aluminum pie plate will help prevent shrinkage when baking.

Press the dough into the plate and then cut and crimp the dough around the edges.

I like to leave a little extra dough hanging over the edge of the pie plate, just to be extra safe in case it shrinks.

With a fork, place a few pricks in the base of the crust to help let air escape while baking. Place the pie crust in the freezer while the oven preheats. 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Remove the pie from the freezer. Cut a large square of aluminum foil and press it into the pie crust. Drape it over the sides and then fill to the brim with pie weights, granulated sugar, beans, or rice. Place the pie plate onto an aluminum baking sheet and then into the oven for 1 hour, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before filling. 

prepare the chocolate mousse

In a double boiler or a bowl placed over boiling water, stir the chocolate, cocoa powder, and coffee until melted. Let the mixture cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 2 tsp of granulated sugar, and salt until the yolks thicken slightly and become light yellow in color. Add a ladle of the chocolate at a time to the yolks and whisk until combined. 

Using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the remaining 2 tsp granulated sugar and continue beating on medium-high until soft peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate and combine. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold in until it's almost mixed but you still see some egg whites.

In a large bowl, beat the cream and vanilla until you have soft peaks. Fold into the chocolate mixture. 

Pour the mousse into the cooled pie crust. Cover with Saran wrap and place in the fridge overnight. 

prepare the meringue

The next morning, prepare the meringue. Beat the egg white until soft peaks. Slowly add a tbsp at a time of the sugar (with the mixers still running). Once combined, beat until stiff peaks. 

Remove the pie from the fridge. Remove the Saran wrap. Scoop the meringue on top of the mousse and swirl in a decorative pattern. Using a kitchen torch, toast the meringue. Slice and serve.