Friday, January 29, 2010

Chocolate Cream Pie and the Secret to Happiness

Last weekend I was aching for a chocolate cream pie. What does a pregnant woman do with her cravings? She buys it or makes it, of course. I chose the latter. I must have passed the cream pie ache on to Savannah because a few days later at dinner she stated, “I wish we had more chocolate cream pie.”

I told her I’d make another one some time soon. A sad look came over her face.

“I knew we should have made a bigger one.”

It all started with a harmless, miniscule sample at Central Market – the best grocery store in the world. Ok, maybe in the country. No? How about the metroplex? Seriously. They have everything a gourmet cook (which I’m NOT) could want including $125 / lb duck pate. You want the best smoked salmon money can buy? Go to Central Market. But what keeps us going back? The best produce selection around for comparable prices and a fantastic bulk section where you can buy rice, flour, and spices for dirt cheap. Have I talked about them before? I am seriously in love with this store.

But back to the subject of my post.....

Central Market has a fantastic bakery department (would you have ever guessed that?) and occasionally they’ll put out samples to tempt the customers into paying $40 for a creation so extraordinary you feel you can’t live without it. Savannah is good about running ahead of us to check the bakery for samples and snatching them up for each of us before they’re gone….and they go fast. Last Saturday she brought back bites of their chocolate cream pie with a graham cracker crust. I put that bite in my mouth and thought I saw fireworks exploding over a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end, and that pot of gold had a sign with my name on it. Oh – and George Clooney was holding the sign. (Sorry, Honey!) I looked at Pat and could tell he was thinking the same, except his vision may not have included George. I really don’t want to know who his vision included. I have a jealous streak.

And again I’ll pull myself back to the original subject….

With a mischievous look I hinted not so subtly that we needed to get that pie.

“Not for the price they want,” my party pooper husband replied.

And then a determination set within me to find the best chocolate cream pie recipe available. That evening I scoured the internet and cookbooks in search of what I felt would come close to Central Market’s version. You wouldn’t believe how many recipes out there call for pudding and frozen pie crusts, and all kinds of strange stuff that won’t bring the taste anywhere near what we experienced. Finally, I went to a southern cooks website, which I should have done to begin with because I’m southern and I come from a long line of southern cooks, and I may be biased, but I think they’re some of the best cooks in the world.

And there it was in all its glory. The recipe I’d been searching for. Complete with a buttery graham cracker crust. The filling is very similar to my chocolate meringue pie, which was passed down by my southern aunt. I knew it had to be good.

I had to wait to go load up on supplies until the next day, which was a Sunday. Then I had to wait until after church AND a basketball game. I was dying. Finally, the time came to put it all together with my trusty kitchen aid, otherwise known as Savannah. I did everything the way they described, not wanting to miss a step. At the end Savannah and I both took a taste of the filling and looked at each other. Slight disappointment came over our faces. It was bland, man.

I looked over the recipe to see what I missed and realized they didn’t call for salt anywhere. I heard my southern grandmother’s voice in my head, “You need to add salt to bring out the sweetness and flavor.” I added a little more than a dash, Savannah and I tasted again and voila! We had done it. I’m always so proud when I can elevate a recipe to the next level with my own little tweaks, no matter how small. Ask my mom how long it took me to tell the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. I’ve come a long way, baby.

We placed it in the coldest part of the fridge until that night, and when the time was right I spread Cool Whip over the top and served. I can’t begin to describe the happiness this pie brought to our home. Savannah and I were giggling with pure giddiness. It was gone in two days and has been severely missed ever since.

As Savannah lamented, “If my mouth was bigger, I could have put more in it.”

Amen, sister.


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