Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chocolate "Mousse" Pie

This is one of the easiest, most impressive desserts you can throw together in a few minutes (plus a few hours to let it chill). It is a dense, firm, rich, dark chocolate pie but it can be easily made with less chocolate for a more kid-friendly dessert.   It is also very simple to make it dairy free/vegan, as the "mousse" is silken tofu (but no one will ever know, unless you reveal the secret). If you make it as-is, cut small, thin slices for your friends – it’s that chocolately rich. Serve with a dollop of homemade whipped cream (if you’re not required to be dairy-free), ice cream (coconut-based would be delicious), and/or a blended sauce ("coulis") made from your berries of choice. Really, this recipe just BEGS to be served with fruit.

Dense, dark chocolate "mousse" pie with fruit and ice cream.
I have also made this pie sans crust for a dense chocolate pudding. When I make it without the crust, I usually add more spices for interest – cinnamon, red chile – to make it a more Mexican chocolate pudding type recipe.  I’ve also mixed in peppermint extract at Christmastime, and sprinkled over the top (at the last minute) crushed-up candy canes. I have also served the pudding, using a tiny melon-baller scoop, on top of lemon bars. That was very attractive and successful. Just remember that the mousse/pudding will be very strong and firm, so you don’t need much.

The ingredients listed here are mostly from Trader Joe’s and are known to be lactose free as of the time of this writing – trust me, I’ve made this for a severely lactose-intolerant friend who knows the Trader Joe’s product inventory inside-out. If you live in the Land of No-Joe, substitute other products for the cookie crust and chocolate, but if you’re trying to make this dairy-free then check the ingredients lists on the cookies carefully. The best resource would probably be to search dairy-free or lactose-intolerant blogs for detailed information on various cookies.

I always make this pie at Thanksgiving to go along with the usual pumpkin pies; it provides a nice contrast for non-pumpkin-pie eaters. It can be made 1-2 days before serving, and keeps well.

Note that not all chocolates are created equal when it comes to melting. I have successfully used the various varieties of dark chocolate Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bars, and also Ghiradelli semi-sweet and bittersweet chips (but NOT milk or white chocolate chips).  Some chocolates seize up and don’t melt well.
Crust made from Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's, a dairy-free cookie.

The pie before refrigerating. Don't worry, it sets up nice and firm.
Drizzled with raspberry sauce and served with
ice cream.

Chocolate "Mousse" Pie

Makes 1 9” pie. I’ve been making this for so many years, I don’t remember where the original recipe came from.

Crust recipe inspired by this one
20 Vanilla Bean Joe-Joe’s cookies* (with filling) (or other cookie of choice)
¼ cup butter or non-dairy spread (like Earth Balance) (if using coconut oil, reduce to 1 Tbsp)

Mousse filling:
1 package Firm silken tofu 12.3 oz (shelf-stable variety – not the tofu found in the refrigerated section. Extra Firm will work too, if they don't have Firm, but will be, well, firmer.)
1/3 cup powdered sugar (adjust to taste)
11 oz (315 g) Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar, 72% chocolate (or other good chocolate)
Optional flavors – peppermint extract, cinnamon, chile powder or cayenne pepper (to taste)

Optional toppings:
Raspberry sauce: 1 package frozen raspberries (or other berry of your choice) + powdered sugar (to taste), microwaved then blended); homemade whipped cream; ice cream (dairy-free or regular); fresh sliced fruit; caramel sauce

To make crust: Melt the non-dairy margarine or butter. Blend the cookies and butter/margarine in a food processor until very finely crumbled. Patiently press the mixture into a 9” pie pan. It may not look pretty, but neither do most graham cracker crusts, unless they’re machine made and store-bought. Trust me, it'll look great later. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before filling.

Take a break – you’ve deserved it! Just kidding, but it only takes 10 minutes to make the rest of the pie, so wait a little while before starting. OK, if 20 minutes have passed, place your chocolate in a dry microwave-safe bowl (water + melted chocolate = bad). Heat on medium power (60% on my microwave) for 3 minutes. Check the chocolate and stir. At this point it will probably not be entirely melted. If it is, stop. If not, stir and continue to heat in 30 second increments (still at medium power) until melted. You don’t want to burn the chocolate.

Wipe the food processor clean after making the crust before adding the filling ingredients. Process the tofu (drain the water first), chocolate, and 1/3 cup powdered sugar in the blender until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides and mix in the top. Taste and adjust the sugar if necessary. It should be RICH.

When it all looks sufficiently blended (it’ll never be PERFECT, but you want to get it as smooth as possible), scrape into the prepared crust with a rubber spatula. Let cool for 3+ hours or until set.

When ready to serve, toss the frozen berries and powdered sugar (to taste) into a microwave-safe bowl and heat until thawed and warm. Blend in a blender. Strain, if you don’t like the seeds. Serve drizzled attractively over a thin wedge of pie with a dollop of non-dairy (or dairy) whipped cream or ice cream.

* Vanilla Joe-Joe's from Trader Joe's are very sweet cookies. Almost too sweet. However, I think they make a nice contrasting crust for this pie because the chocolate mousse filling is so dark and dense and rich.