“‘This is your Christian day of rest,’ Janya said. ‘You bake pie all week, and tomorrow, even if Wanda’s is closed, you will be there preparing for Tuesday.’
Wanda stared out the narrow rusty window with its view of scrub and one screeching blackbird. ‘Wanda’s Wonderful Pies? That’s work. But creating a new pie in my own kitchen, even this scrawny, good for nothing excuse for a real kitchen? Well, that’s magic, pure and simple. You see the difference?'” (From Sunset Bridge, coming in July 2011)
I have to confess–actually I already did on these pages–that pie has never been my favorite dessert. But how can anybody write about pie or get to know Wanda Gray as intimately as I have, and not take home some of her enthusiasm? I’ve baked more pies in the years I’ve been writing the Happiness Key series than I ever made before. And no one at home is complaining, including me.
This holiday when faced with choosing a potluck dish for a Christmas party, I chose pie, of course. And I went right to one of my favorite pie cookbooks to see what would be festive enough. I first discovered Ken Haedrich’s Pie: 300Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie when I needed a prize to include in my contest to celebrate the arrival of Happiness Key in bookstores. After reading the reviews, I bought one for my winner’s basket, and one for myself. I’ve never regretted that impulse. After all, as Wanda says:
“Any woman who is afraid to be caught eating pie is a woman in need of a brain transplant.” (Sunset Bridge)
After careful study–what fun!–I decided to try Ken’s Snickers Brownie Pie for my upcoming party. It was decadent and rich enough to serve lots of partygoers, and no surprise, turned out to be one of the hits of the evening. When I mentioned this on my Facebook page, I got requests for the recipe. I tracked down the author’s email address and wrote to ask him if I could publish it here. Ken got right back to me and gave his permission. I’m sure Wanda would say pie makes friends out of strangers.
“Nothing was easier to talk about than pie. Wanda figured if countries at war could just sit over pie at the negotiation table and talk about recipes before they delved into who invaded what strip of land, then everything would work out just fine for everybody.”(Sunset Bridge)
So, with Ken’s permission and my hearty endorsement of this recipe. Here’s the recipe. I’ve made a few changes in Ken’s text to make it easier to understand in this shortened format, plus, for the same reason, I haven’t included the terrific recipes for either his Graham Cracker Crumb crust or for the Warm Mocha Sauce, both which you can find in his book. Of course you can also substitute similar crusts and chocolate syrups from your grocery store shelf.
Any possible mistakes are mine, not Ken’s.
Let me just add that this is a great recipe for a gathering of friends, but likely not something you’d whip up for a quiet dinner for two. It’s meant to be shared among many who will appreciate their small, indulgent slice of chocolately heaven.
Snickers Brownie Pie from Pie: 300 Tried and True Recipes by Ken Haedrich
1 large Graham Cracker crust
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Two 3.7 ounces Snickers bars, sliced crosswise about 1/2 inch thick
Prepare the brownie layer: Put the butter in the top of a double boiler set over, not in, barely simmering water. (Emilie’s tip: If you’re using two stacked saucepans instead of a double boiler, crumple aluminum foil in the bottom one so the top one will rest on the foil without spilling.) As the butter starts to melt, scatter the chocolate on top and leave for 5 minutes, then whisk to smooth. Remove the insert from the double boiler and set chocolate aside to cool for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the egg, egg yolk, and granulated sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and vanilla and mix until evenly blended. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Add to the chocolate mixture and stir until evenly combined. Scrape the batter into the chilled pie shell, smoothing the top with a spoon.
Bake on the center rack of the oven for exactly 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool 5 minutes. Arrange the sliced Snickers bars in a single layer over the brownie layer. Set aside to cool.
Peanut Butter Cream
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
Combine the peanut butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with the mixer until evenly combined. Add almost half the whipped cream and blend on low speed. By hand add the remaining whipped cream and fold in until evenly combined. Smooth the peanut butter cream evenly over the Snickers slices. Cover with loosely tented aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
“Did anybody’s grandmothers make cupcakes? No, that’s something a harried mother makes with a mix and takes to her kid’s classroom on his birthday, so little John and Jill Classmate don’t fight over the size of their pieces. But pie? That’s America, that’s our heritage, that’s our grandmother in the kitchen with a checkered apron and a rolling pin!” (Sunset Bridge)
Many thanks to Ken Haedrich for allowing me to publish this.