by Stephanie Zonis
8 to 10 servings
An angel pie is made with a meringue pie shell and a light-textured filling (here, the filling is chocolate and very rich). You'll need a 9-inch heatproof glass pie plate and a sturdy hand-held electric mixer (or electric stand mixer) for the meringue. The shell bakes for 2 hours at a very low temperature; it would be wise to check the temperature of your oven with an oven thermometer, as some ovens have difficulty maintaining a low temperature for a long period of time. Once baked, the shell must stand at least overnight (stored airtight at room temperature) before it is filled, but then again it can stand for several days before you complete the recipe. Do not make the pie shell on a humid day!
For the filling, you'll need good-quality chocolate. I use Callebaut Calets, which look like regular chips but are of very fine quality; use whatever you can find. Note that this pie must chill for at least 4 hours before serving. It is not a good "keeper"; even if held merely overnight in the fridge, the meringue shell will become rather soggy, though it will still taste fine, and the pie does not freeze. For serving, I recommend sprinkling the pie with dark chocolate shavings or topping each slice with a few thin lines of good-quality chocolate syrup. Either way, the darker chocolate appearance contrasts nicely with the pale pie shell and light chocolate filling. Sliced or whole fresh strawberries are a nice accompaniment, too.
3 egg whites, from eggs graded "large", at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
2/3 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
7 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 ounce good-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Few grains salt
2 cups heavy cream, divided
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sifted or strained confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Dark chocolate shavings or good-quality chocolate syrup
Sliced or whole fresh strawberries
For Pie Shell:
Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 9-inch heatproof glass pie plate; set aside.
The egg whites must be at room temperature (or slightly above it) to achieve proper volume when they are beaten. Place the whites in a medium bowl (or the small bowl of an electric stand mixer) and add the salt. Sift in the cream of tartar. Beat at medium speed until the cream of tartar is mixed in, then increase speed to high and beat until white, very foamy, and increased in volume.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Begin adding sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time. After each addition, increase speed to high and beat about 10 or 15 seconds. Decrease speed again before adding the next addition. When all sugar has been added, reduce speed again to add vanilla. Increase speed to high and beat vanilla in thoroughly. This should be a stiff meringue, and it should be at stiff peak stage but still glossy.
Working quickly, place the meringue by large spoonfuls all around the pie plate where the sides and bottom meet. Using the back of the spoon, form a thick layer of meringue on the bottom of the pie plate, then form a high standing rim on the sides (the meringue should be above the edges of the pie plate, but try to have it going up more than it goes outward). Make sure there are no air pockets along the sides or bottom of the pie plate.
Place in preheated oven. Bake for two hours. After one hour, turn the pie plate back to front. During baking, shell will brown slightly on bottom and may take a lighter color on the edges, but it shouldn't be a dark color anywhere. After two hours, turn oven off; allow baked shell to stand in turned-off oven (with door closed) for one hour. If the shell has not already cracked during baking, it will crack during this standing period—OK. Remove pie plate to cooling rack in draft-free area. Cool completely before storing airtight at room temperature at least overnight.
Chill a medium bowl and beater(s) from a sturdy hand-held electric mixer.
In small, heatproof bowl, combine chopped chocolates and salt. In small saucepan, heat 2/3 cup heavy cream (reserve and chill remainder) over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very hot. Remove from heat. Pour about half of hot cream over chocolate. Allow to stand for a minute or two, then stir or whisk until smooth. (If necessary, place bowl of chocolate over hot water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl). Stir frequently until melted and smooth, then remove from heat and hot water, drying bowl bottom and sides well.) Gradually stir in remaining cream.
Place softened cream cheese in large heatproof bowl. With sturdy, hand-held electric mixer, beat cream cheese at medium speed until smooth. Add one large spoonful of the melted chocolate mixture and beat in at medium speed until smooth, scraping bottom and sides of large bowl and beater(s) frequently. Repeat with another large spoonful of the melted chocolate mixture. Beat in remaining melted chocolate mixture in several additions, beating after each addition until smooth and scraping bowl bottom and sides and beater(s) frequently with rubber scraper. When all of chocolate mixture has been added, the result should be smooth and somewhat airy. Let stand at room temperature until cooled completely, stirring occasionally. If you are using the same beater(s) to whip the cream, rinse them and dry them thoroughly, then chill until needed.
When chocolate-cream cheese mixture has cooled to room temperature (test a little on the inside of your wrist to make sure), stir well to loosen slightly. In chilled medium bowl, beat remaining 1-1/3 cups heavy cream at high speed just until you can see distinct traces of the beater marks in the cream. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla; beat in at low speed. Increase speed to high; beat only until cream holds a soft shape—no longer!! If cream is overbeaten, the filling will appear curdled when it's done.
Stir chocolate-cream cheese mixture once more to loosen. Working quickly, add cream to chocolate-cream cheese mixture. Fold in gently but thoroughly; the filling will begin to stiffen while you're folding the two mixtures together. Pour filling into pie shell; it should fill or nearly fill the shell. If necessary, spread filling to edges. Place in refrigerator; chill at least 4 hours before serving, covering tightly when filling has set.
To serve, place the pie on a larger, flat plate or large folded napkin (when you cut into this, the meringue shell will almost certainly crumble, and having a plate or napkin underneath it will make cleaning up easier). Before serving, garnish sparingly with dark chocolate shavings or curls, or drizzle a few thin lines of good-quality chocolate syrup over the top. Cut the pie with a large, sharp knife; the first slice will probably be quite difficult to remove, so a thin-bladed spatula or pie server would be useful here. Pass fresh strawberries to go with the pie, if desired.
Copyright © 2000 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created May 2000
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