Chocolate Chiffon Pie

Chocolate Chiffon Pie (August 6, 2016)

My chocolate chiffon pie is the condition to which all chocolate pies aspire. Chocolate velvet upon buttery brown snap crowned by a firmament of vanilla clouds. One could do worse than to be reincarnated as this pie.

Its inspiration is the French Silk Pie as conceived by the iconic Baker’s Square chain of restaurants. More than a few years of my childhood, it replaced birthday cake at my party. Which isn’t to say this is a taste-alike. The original is toe-curlingly sweet whereas mine is practically restrained in the sugar department.

Don’t spare the expense of best quality cream, chocolate, and butter here. These affordable luxuries make a huge difference in the final product. And you certainly deserve it.

This recipe makes a 9-inch pie, enough for eight generous portions.

Chocolate Chiffon Pie
1 recipe All-Butter Pie Crust
70g white sugar
2g salt
430g whole milk
5 egg yolks
22g cornstarch
12g vanilla extract
115g semisweet chocolate chips
200g heavy cream
20g vanilla sugar*
400g heavy cream

Blind-bake and completely cool pie crust in a 9-inch pan.

Weigh white sugar, salt, and milk into a saucepan. Whisk egg yolks in a separate bowl until lightened. Add cornstarch and whisk until smooth.

Heat milk mixture over medium until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and, while whisking eggs constantly, ladle in about half a cup of the hot milk. Whisking the milk as you do so, add the eggs back into the saucepan and return to medium heat.

Continue whisking constantly with special attention paid to the bottom and edges of the pan to prevent scorching. Cook for a full minute, whisking all along, after the mixture returns to a boil. It should read at least 180º on a thermometer. It will be frighteningly thick. Don’t worry, you did it right.

Immediately pour the pudding into a clean bowl and all the chocolate chips and vanilla. Whisk until the chips are completely melted and smooth. Cover the pudding with plastic wrap pressed right onto its surface and then place the bowl into an ice bath. Park it all in the fridge. Stir every ten minutes and chill to 60º.

Whip 200g of heavy cream to stiff peaks. Stir a third of the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate pudding until completely combined. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the finished chiffon into the blind-baked pie shell, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least six hours.

Add the vanilla sugar to the 400g of heavy cream and beat to firm peaks. You can spoon and smooth it upon the chilled pie or pipe it on with a #22 star tip. Whatever’s clever. Keeps in the fridge for three days but is at its best the day it’s made.

* To make vanilla sugar, split a vanilla pod and scrape out the beans into 600-ish grams of white sugar. Blitz in the food processor for one minute then pour into a sealable container with the spent vanilla pod. Or buy it on Amazon with overnight shipping. Patience is cheaper, though.

Eggless Cocoa Ice Cream

Cocoa Ice Cream (July 3, 2016) #1

As a kid, I used to sneak the packets of Swiss-Miss cocoa mix into my room and furtively eat their contents, dry, like an addict. That flavor is incomparable bliss on the tongue.

Somewhat less-than-blissful is ice cream making. Either you roll the food poisoning dice and hope they don’t come up salmonella with raw eggs or you cook and cool a custard. Me, I prefer to sidestep the debate entirely with the no-cook, eggless ice cream. (A double scoop of love to Ben & Jerry, whose eponymous cookbook turned me onto this technique.)

If you have the tub of your ice cream maker waiting at all times in the freezer (of course you do!) this recipe can be churning in about 20 minutes.

Recipe yields about 1 quart of churned ice cream.

Eggless Cocoa Ice Cream
50g cocoa powder
5g salt
100g boiling water
275g sweetened, condensed milk
460g heavy cream*
1 ts vanilla
a shot of domestic whisky or dark rum

Weigh cocoa powder and salt into a heat-proof bowl and pour in boiling water. Stir to make a smooth paste and set aside to cool for about 20 minutes.

While you wait, weigh remaining ingredients into a bowl, preferably one with a spout. Whisk to combine. Scoop cooled cocoa into milk and whisk until fully combined.

Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions and cure for at least four hours in an airtight container before serving.

*Up to two thirds of the heavy cream can be substituted with half-and-half or pure coconut milk.

Dark Chocolate Sauce

Triangles of Belgian waffles drizzled with dark chocolate sauce.

My dark chocolate sauce is really just a loose ganache, but I’m told by my husband that’s a super unappetizing description. Nevertheless, there you are. With all of the milk and cream, this sauce truly deserves to be called velvety.

I love it on my Caramel Belgian Waffles, but I’m sure you’ll find a million uses for it without a single hint from me. But if I was going to give you a hint, it would involve a slice of warm bread pudding and a scoop of rum ice cream.

This really isn’t the sort of sauce that takes to reheating, but if you must, do it very gently over the lowest flame (stirring constantly!) until just smooth.

This recipe yields about a cup of sauce.

Dark Chocolate Sauce
113g semisweet chocolate chips (I’m partial to Ghiradelli 60% dark)
a heavy pinch of salt
6g cocoa powder, sifted
10g sugar
58g heavy cream
61g whole milk
14g unsalted butter
12g rum
2g vanilla

Into a medium, heat-proof bowl, weigh chocolate chips, salt, cocoa powder, and sugar.

In a small saucepan, heat cream and milk until barely simmering, stirring constantly. The sugars in the milk want to stick to the bottom of the pan, so a heat-proof silicon spatula is your best friend here.

Immediately pour the hot cream into the bowl and whisk for ten seconds. Allow to stand for a minute and then whisk until smooth. Add butter, rum, vanilla, and whisk to combine.

Chilled Chocolate Coffee Flip

The original version of my Chilled Chocolate Coffee Flip used Nespresso's Elvato blend.

“Can you make us a recipe for a chilled coffee drink, not too sweet, that shows off the texture of our Elvato blend,” asked the folks at the Nespresso counter adjacent my demo kitchen at Bloomingdale’s today. “Give me five minutes,” I replied, wiggling my nose Tabitha-style.

At first, I was going to go for something lightly creamy with a bitter cocoa powder kick. Then the Kitchen God whispered to me, “flip it.” As in the classic port, brandy, cream, egg, sugar cocktail popular at a time when raw eggs weren’t terrifying. I have better things to put in my mouth, and have thus never tried a flip, but the gustatory imagination assumes it’s not unlike fresh eggnog. And I like eggnog for the same reason you do: it sticks to the mouth in such a pleasant way because of the emulsifiers in the eggs.

It’s a science thing. Trust me on this. Emulsifiers make liquids delicious, and eggs are full of them. So is chocolate. (Thanks, lecithin.) Eureka! Chocolate chips make coffee flips!!! Note that your coffee needs to be hot for the chocolate’s emulsifying powers to act in this recipe.

Here in Los Angeles, everyone’s drinking almond milk. But please do try it at least once with half and half. I won’t tell the girls.

Chilled Chocolate Coffee Flip
8 oz. hot, freshly brewed coffee
2 tsp. packed brown sugar (reduce to 1 tsp. if using Frangelico)
1 tbsp. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. cocoa powder
very heavy pinch of cinnamon
3 oz. cold dairy (or unsweetened non-dairy) of your choice
6 oz. ice
1 oz. Frangelico (optional)

Pour coffee, brown sugar, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and cinnamon into the pitcher of your blender. Place the lid on the blender and remove the plastic plug in its center, placing a clean kitchen towel over the opening. The heat can pop the top when you start the blender and send all of that hot coffee onto your face if you leave the plug in. And no one wants that.

Blend the coffee for fifteen seconds or until the chocolate chips are completely dissolved.

Add the dairy, ice, and optional (as if!) Frangelico. Replace the lid, cover with the towel, and blend for another fifteen seconds on high or until completely smooth. Pour into chilled glasses and enjoy immediately.

Treehouse Brownies


Cocoa-rich, chewy brownies were my mother’s default dessert setting as were they her own mother’s. Not surprisingly, I will make brownies for no reason other than it’s a day ending in “y.” Anyone can get a pan of these assembled and in the oven, with the kitchen tidied up, in under fifteen minutes. Like my foremothers, I like a dense, chewy brownie with crisp edges, and that’s what this recipe delivers.

These brownies require no special equipment and lend themselves to endless variation.

I normally make these with Trader Joe’s cocoa powder, and Hershey’s Special Dark does one proud. The best of these, though, are made with Valhrona. I’m talking “snag a husband” levels of goodness.


Treehouse Brownies
227g a/p flour
397g white sugar
57g cocoa powder
5g baking powder
215g sunflower oil
224g eggs (4)
4g vanilla
40g honey
12g dark soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350º and line a 13×9″ baking pan (the heavier, the better) with aluminum foil.

Weigh into the larger of two bowls the dry ingredients. Be sure to sieve the cocoa powder as you add it. Whisk dry ingredients to combine.

Weigh wet ingredients into the smaller of two bowls and whisk well to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together with a large spoon until flour has just disappeared.

Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth, and bake for 30 minutes uninterrupted, then test. Done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and edges are firm.

Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before lifting out by foil and cutting as desired. These will keep, covered, at room temperature for a week.



Substitute any extract that strikes your fancy for the vanilla. Or add it in addition to the vanilla.

Peanut, olive, and walnut oils can be added in whole or partial substitution.

Add a cup of any chunky thing you like from cereal to nuts. Don’t be afraid of dried fruit!

Brown sugar bakes up a less sweet, softer brownie.

Get a wallop of citrus by running the zest of two such fruits in a blender on top speed with the oil for a couple of minutes.