I Love Chocolate

by Stephanie Zonis


Mocha Chiffon Pie

One 10-inch pie, 12 servings


I never cared much for chiffon pies before--they were always too sweet and lacked good chocolate flavor. This pie overcomes both of those difficulties. It's unusual in that the filling is water-based, but don't let that fool you; the flavor is a semisweet mocha, and it's very rich, though light-textured. The filling uses a large amount of unflavored gelatin, but it's smooth and creamy, with just enough "set" to enable you to cut and serve it easily. A great pie for happy times--or anytime. Please do not omit the whipped cream topping on this pie! In addition to looking beautiful, it is the perfect foil to the pie filling.

Because this is made with unflavored gelatin, it will not freeze. However, if you wish, you can make the pie a day ahead of serving (the whipped cream topping goes on just before serving, of course). Store it, tightly covered, in the fridge. The crust won't be as crisp as it is if you serve the pie the day it's made, but otherwise the pie will hold up nicely. If your immune system is in any way compromised, please think twice about eating this, as the egg whites in this pie are not cooked. For a speedier method, see the Note at the end of the recipe.

1-1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup walnut pieces
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

5 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 eggs, graded "large", separated
1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
1-1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
Pinch salt
1-3/4 cups water, divided
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. plus 1-1/2 tsp. unflavored
   gelatin (you must measure this!)
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream

1-1/3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar

Finely shaved or grated semisweet chocolate


For Crust:
Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place graham cracker crumbs in medium bowl. In food processor fitted with steel blade, combine walnuts and sugar; pulse on-and-off until nuts are finely ground. (Be careful; you don't want walnut paste!) Add ground nut mixture to graham cracker crumbs, and mix well with large spoon. Add melted butter; combine thoroughly.

Turn crust mixture into 10 inch heatproof glass pie plate. Form high rim on sides, using about two-thirds of crust mixture. Press remaining crust mixture firmly onto bottom of pie plate. Try not to have crust too thick where bottom and sides meet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, just until edges of crust are a slightly darker golden brown. Cool completely before filling.

For Filling:
Place chopped chocolates in large heatproof bowl. Set over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl); with large whisk, stir often until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and hot water; set aside near stovetop.

Place egg yolks in small heatproof bowl and egg whites in medium bowl. Cover whites and chill until needed. Add instant espresso powder to egg yolks; with fork or small whisk, beat well to combine. Set aside near stovetop.

In one quart heavy-bottomed pot, combine 1 cup sugar (reserve remainder), salt, and 1 cup water (reserve remainder). Place over medium heat. Stir frequently to dissolve sugar, then stir occasionally until mixture comes to a boil. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Stirring yolks constantly, very gradually add about half of sugar syrup to them. Be careful! The syrup is hot and thin. Return this mixture to the pot, stirring constantly. Still stirring constantly, return pot to LOW heat; stir for 1-1/2 minutes. DO NOT allow this mixture to boil. Remove from heat (mixture will still be thin--OK).

Strain about one-third of the hot yolk-syrup into the melted chocolates, then whisk the mixture well to combine (the chocolate may seize and clump initially when the yolk-syrup is added--OK). Scrape the bowl sides and bottom well. Gradually strain in remaining hot yolk-syrup, whisking it in to mix. When it is all added, the chocolate mixture should be perfectly smooth. Whisk in vanilla. Place in refrigerator to chill for 15 to 20 minutes (chocolate mixture is too hot to add gelatin now).

While chocolate mixture chills, soften the gelatin by sprinkling it over the remaining 3/4 cup water (this water must be cold) in a one-cup liquid measuring cup. Allow to stand at room temperature for at least 5 minutes. Now, dissolve the gelatin; place the liquid measuring cup in hot water over low heat (the hot water should not come more than halfway up the sides of the measuring cup). Stir frequently with a non-aluminum metal spoon just until gelatin is dissolved, then remove liquid measuring cup from heat and hot water and carefully dry cup bottom and sides. Remove chocolate mixture from refrigerator; you should be able to hold your hand on the bottom of the bowl. Add dissolved to chocolate mixture and whisk in well. Return chocolate mixture to the refrigerator. Remove egg whites from refrigerator now. Add to them the cream of tartar (just put it into the whites; you needn't stir it in). Allow whites to stand, covered, at room temperature.

Chill chocolate mixture until it resembles a thick sauce, about 60 to 80 minutes. Whisk the mixture briskly about every 15 minutes, and scrape the bowl bottom and sides when you do so. Whisk more frequently as mixture thickens. During this time, measure the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Of sugar and have it ready, along with a hand-held electric mixer. Chill a small-to-medium bowl in which you'll whip the cream.

When whisked chocolate mixture resembles a thick sauce, remove from refrigerator. At high speed, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy and increased in volume. Gradually add the 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, beating at high speed between additions. Beat to stiff peaks.

Quickly whisk the chocolate mixture well to loosen it slightly. Turn the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. with large spatula, fold in thoroughly, just until well-combined. Set aside.

With same beater(s) (no need to wash them), beat the cream in the chilled bowl at high speed just to soft peak stage. Turn into chocolate mixture; quickly but thoroughly fold in (the cold whipped cream will thicken the chocolate mixture).

Fill your pie shell as full as you can. You'll have some filling remaining; this is as it should be. Allow the extra filling to remain at room temperature while you chill the pie for about 15 minutes. Pile the remaining filling into the center of the pie; with back of large spoon, smooth fillings together, leaving center of pie higher than outer edges. Don't fuss too much over this part (the top of the pie will be covered with whipped cream, remember). Replace pie in refrigerator. Chill at least 3 hours, covering tightly with plastic wrap after about 90 minutes.

For Topping and Garnish:
At least 15 minutes before serving, chill a medium bowl and beater(s). Beat cream in chilled bowl at high speed until it holds a shape. Add confectioner's sugar; beat at low speed until incorporated. Increase speed to high; beat cream to stiff peaks.

Pile whipped cream on top of pie. with back of large spoon, spread to edge of crust or leave a narrow rim of pie filling showing at crust edges. Sprinkle with shaved or grated semisweet chocolate. Serve immediately. To cut, use a large, sharp knife.

For a speedier method, prepare pie as above except: do not chill egg whites. After gelatin has been added to slightly warm chocolate mixture, place bowl of chocolate mixture into a larger, shallower pan containing about 1 inch of ice and cold water. Whisk chocolate mixture frequently, scraping sides and bottom of bowl when you do so. The chocolate mixture should thicken to the correct consistency in no more than 15 to 20 minutes, but you must watch it very carefully. I remove it from the ice water a couple of minutes before it's thick enough, as it seems to continue to thicken slightly on its own.


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This page created November 1999