Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Chocolate Blood Orange Pi(e)

I'm not usually in favor of third-tier holidays. It probably has something to do with being Jewish. Why do I need to celebrate National Doughnut Day, I make Shabbat every week? I already have shpilkes a month in advance thinking about Passover.

But Pi Day is different. Because math is perfection, and we should take every opportunity to celebrate it. Because Pi is the ultimate ratio, and understanding proportion is what makes a great cook. Because how hard is it to make a pie?

So, here's my Pi Day contribution. My starting point was a recipe for orange tartlets topped with meringue from Mimi Thorisson's incredible blog, "Manger." Even if I was capable of following directions (and liked meringue), I would never make individual tarts for my family. My kids would each eat three bites, leaving me with three half-eaten tartlets. It would be a sin to waste them, so I'd eat them all. In no time, I'd be big as a house. Clearly, making a whole pie is the only sensible alternative.

You can leave this pie plain, or just decorate it with chocolate lines. But if you're making it for Pi Day, you might as well take the extra five minutes and pipe the first thirty digits or so of Pi. It's much easier than it looks.

Chocolate Crust
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (140g)
2/3 cup powdered sugar (80g)
3 tablespoons dutch processed cocoa powder (20g)
pinch of table salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (90g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks

Blood Orange Curd
1 cup blood orange juice
1 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons zest
4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 eggs, plus 2 yolks
1 stick butter
pinch of salt
1 drop red food coloring (optional)

melted chocolate (optional)
cocoa powder (optional)

9" tart pan with removable bottom
food processor

For the crust:
In food processor, pulse flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and butter for 20 seconds. Add vanilla and yolks, and turn the machine back on. (Stop thinking about all those recipes that urged you to handle pie crust gently. They are not the boss of you.) Leave the machine running for at least a minute, listening for the sound to change from whining to thumping. (Yes, I'm serious!) When it starts to come together in clumps, gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. 

Roll out onto a piece of wax paper and fit to a 9" pie plate. Prick the bottom of the pie several time with a fork, and place in the freezer for an hour. Spray a piece of tinfoil with oil and fit it snugly into the pie crust. Make sure to push it into the corners and up the sides to prevent shrinking. Bake for 20 minutes at 350˚, while you get on with the topping and filling.

For the Blood Orange Curd:
In a large, glass bowl, combine the melted butter, eggs and sugar. Pour in juice, and whisk to combine. Microwave at 30 second intervals, whisking after each. Stop about 4 minutes in, when the mixture is just slightly thicker than melted ice cream. Strain out any lumps, and whisk in zest and optional food coloring if you prefer a more vibrant curd. Pour into crust and bake until filling is just set, about 25 minutes. Cool on counter for an hour, and chill in fridge for two hours to firm up filling completely.

For the Garnish:
Throw a handful of chocolate (chips, chunks, wafers, bars, whatever) in a glass bowl. Microwave in thirty second intervals, stirring after each. Let it cool for several minutes, then load it into a piping bag with a tiny corner snipped. Draw your designs on wax paper and let them cool until fully set before placing on the pi(e).

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