Wednesday, March 16, 2011

chocolate cream pie with malted whipped cream and macadamia brittle


This decadent pie is a close interpretation of one served at Bar Tartine, hands down my favorite San Francisco restaurant.  There’s no denying the pie has a lot going on; yet each component is intrinsic to the final result.  Silky chocolate filling and buttery graham cracker crust mingle with comforting malted whipped cream and the salty sweet crunch of macadamia brittle in harmonious accord.  The recipe requires a measure of advance planning but the steps are well laid out and your efforts will be handsomely rewarded.



3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar 
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream + 1-1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch salt
4 egg yolks 
4 ounces semisweet chocolate (such as Scharffen Berger), finely chopped 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar


macadamia brittle
1 cup shelled macadamia nuts (salted)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cane syrup (lyle’s or steen’s)
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda


malted whipped cream
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1- 1/2 tablespoons malt powder
1- 1/2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush a 9-inch pie tin with melted butter.

In a food processor, finely grind macadamia nuts with graham-cracker crumbs, flour and sugar.  Blend in butter. Press mixture into bottom and up the sides of prepared pan. Chill in freezer for 10 minutes.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Return to freezer for 10 minutes.  Bake 6-8 minutes longer. Cool crust, 30 minutes.


In a small saucepan combine sugar, 3/4 cup heavy cream, buttermilk, cornstarch and pinch of salt, and whisk until smooth. Place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil, whisking from time to time for the sugar and cornstarch to dissolve and the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking at a low boil for an additional 5 minutes, whisking constantly.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly. Pour 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into the egg yolks and whisk thoroughly. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan and whisk over the heat until thoroughly combined and very thick, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl, and whisk in the chocolate, butter and vanilla. Continue whisking until thoroughly combined (mixture will be very thick). Cover the mixture with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface and refrigerate until cooled to room temperature, about 30 minutes.


Place 1 1/3 cups heavy cream in a chilled mixing bowl and add the confectioners' sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cool chocolate pudding mixture.


Spoon the chocolate mixture into the prepared pie crust and refrigerate until firm and cool, at least 4 hours for best results.  In a pinch, 2 hours in the freezer should do the trick. When ready to serve, top the pie with malted whipped cream and brittle.  Serve immediately.


macadamia brittle
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread the nuts on a baking tray lined with parchment and toast them in the oven until light golden, 4-6 minutes, turning the nuts after 3 minutes to toast evenly.  Remove nuts from the pan and cool to room temperature. Coarsely chop the nuts and set aside.

Put the sugar in a medium saucepan. Add the cane syrup and water.  Stir to mix and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Continue boiling, undisturbed, until a layer of bubbles forms on top, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and continue to boil undisturbed for 5 minutes longer. Place a wooden spoon on top of the foil to keep down.

Remove the foil and add the butter.  Gently stir with a wooden spoon a few times. When the butter has combined with the sugar mixture and forms a soft boil, add your candy thermometer.  Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer inserted into the mixture registers 300 degrees, about 8-10 minutes (depending on your cookware). Meanwhile, grease a 9 x 12 inch sheet pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.

When the sugar mixture reaches the desired temperature, immediately but carefully stir in the salt, baking soda and chopped macadamia nuts. Using a long metal spatula, spread the nut mixture as thinly and evenly as possible over the prepared pan. Leave the brittle to cool to room temperature. The brittle will harden very quickly.

When the brittle is completely cooled and hardened, run a clean, dry towel over the brittle's surface to absorb some of the oil, if needed. Carefully cut or tap the brittle with a mallet to break it into irregular pieces. Store in one or more airtight containers at cool room temperature.

malted whipped cream
Place the heavy cream in a chilled bowl, add the malt and confectioners' sugar.  Beat until stiff peaks form.  Cover and chill until needed.

Spoon malted whipped cream into a pastry bag or plastic bag with one corner snipped off.  Pipe poufs of whipped cream on each slice of pie.  Garnish with shards of macadamia brittle.  Serve.


Chocolate filling adapted from Emeril Lagasse.  Macadamia brittle from  Crust adapted from ‘Baked: New Frontiers in Baking’ by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

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