Yes, I have just gotten back from Hawaii, Maui to be exact, and am completely in the Aloha frame of mind. I am still mentally sipping on Mai Tais, humming “Tiny Bubbles”, and trying so very hard to keep that relaxed, casual vibe going.
That’s where this holy WOW, crazy, crazy chocolatey mac-nut pie comes in. With its salty and crispy macadamia praline crust, and the devilishly rich dark chocolate cream filling, it is sliding in for a homerun in this little game I have been playing called, “Pretend I am still in Maui”. It’s a fun game and whether you have been to Hawaii or other tropical paradise or not, you can still play along.
You must get the following materials together for this game: #1 Set up Pandora for Hawaiian music, #2. Make a very awesome Mai Tai, #3 go here for a fresh Ahi Poke salad recipe and have that at the ready (super simple and tasty) and finally plan ahead and make this dream worthy mac-nut pie. More than any dessert in the world (well minus this one perhaps), it shouts “ALOOOO-HA!” from the rooftops and sends you to a transcendental place that usually only comes from other things.
It was one of the best two things I ate on Maui and I ate ALOT of superb food. This particular little doozy was found at Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop known for its executive chef, Sheldon Simeon (Of Food and Wine and Top Chef fame). Of course, I rushed home to replicate this pie because that is just the kind of excellent service I provide over here at Sweet and Crumby. I am nothing if not a giver.
I served it to our Sunday Dinner focus group who I affectionately refer to as my family (all 12 of us) and not a soul hasn’t mentioned this pie’s deliciousness. I don’t think there is honestly a better bite in the world than the bite that is created by forking into the crispy macadamia praline crust, deep chocolate creamy middle and the fresh whipped cream top with sprinkles of chopped macadmias and dark chocolate shards. Your eyes may roll back and your guests will assuredly ask for another slice and before you know it there will be none left for breakfast the next morning. Dammit.
Maybe you should make two pies or just one for yourself and hide it from view. Yes, I think that is the answer.
—P.S. Bloggers’ note…this is an especially important pie to take pics of BEFORE ANYONE GETS THEIR HANDS ON IT or otherwise you will end up with one droopy leftover pie slice with one suspiciously large missing bite taken out of it—hence photo above.
Chocolate Mac-Nut Cream Pie
This very rich pie serves about 12-14 people. Tiny slices are in order here due to its intensity.
Macadamia Praline Crust – an S&C original Recipe
3/4 c. toasted chopped macadamia nuts
3/4 c. toasted chopped pecans
2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c. of butter, unsalted
1/4 c. of light brown sugar, firmly packed
Creamy Chocolate Filling adapted minorly from The Hungry Mouse
8 Tbls. butter, cut into chunks
11 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used dark chocoalte chips for ease)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
9 egg yolks (save whites for meringues!)
3 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 T. dark cocoa powder (I used King Arthur’s black cocoa powder)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Whipped Cream Topping
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. of confectioners sugar, sifted (if you like it sweeter, you can add a couple tablespoons more of the sugar)
Garnishes: chopped Macadamia nuts and grated bittersweet chocolate or see here for a step-by-step how-to on making chocolate shavings.
To make the Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place pecans and Macadamia nuts on cookie sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Toss them around during the baking process every so often. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes and then place in a food processor and pulverize to crumb texture. Pour out crumbs and save in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Put approximately 20 squares of graham crackers in the food processor (break them up by hand as you put them in) and pulverize. Measure to make sure you have 2 cups…if not throw more grahams into the food processor. Scoop into mixing bowl with the nut crumbs.
Stir together graham crumbs and nut crumbs. Melt butter in microwave (about 30 seconds or so) and add brown sugar and melted butter to the crumb mixture. Stir until the mixture comes together. Press into an ungreased pie plate, making sure to evenly press crumbs up the sides. Use wax or parchment paper to press down on the crumbs to flatten crumbs and compress mixture evenly. You can even press the back of a large measuring cup onto the wax paper to try to flatten the crust. Bake for 15 minutes in the 350 preheated oven. Let cool while making filling.
To make the filling: Chop you chocolate and butter and have them ready for later.
Separate your nine eggs and place them in a bowl and whisk them together. Set aside. In a small bowl, using a whisk, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar. Add the egg yolks to the sugar and beat until it is creamy and mostly smooth. Set aside.
In a medium-sized pot, heat the half-and-half over medium heat and slowly increase to medium-high heat. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot. When ample small bubbles form, but is NOT BOILING (the milk will burn if you let it boil), turn off the heat and in a slow drizzle, pour a scant amount of the hot half and half into the egg yolk mixture, whisking the mixture so the eggs do not curdle. Slowly and gradually add another drizzle/stream of the cream and stir. Repeat the process until all of the hot half-and-half has been incorporated into the egg mixture. You are tempering the eggs so that they slowly heat up. This way you avoid curdling (scrambling) your eggs.
Pour the hot egg and milk mixture back into the pot and heat over medium heat again. Whisk constantly until it has thickened considerably (about 4 minutes). The mixture should amply coat the back of your wooden spoon when thickened. Stir in your chocolate and butter until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and whisk together. Push the chocolate mixture through a sieve into a medium-sized bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, fitting/pressing the plastic wrap against the top of the pudding, not the bowl itself, to eliminate “pudding skin”. Refrigerate for an hour. It will continue to thicken while cooling.
After refrigerating, pour the pudding mixture into the crust. Refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve (or up to 1/2 hour ahead), make the whipped cream. Have chopped macadamia nuts and shaved chocolate ready to go to garnish pie.
To make the whipped cream: Whip one pint of heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk, or use a hand beater and a large bowl. Whip on medium speed at first, gradually increasing the speed to high as it thickens. Once it is thick and soft peaks form, add sifted powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating in between additions. Beat until stiff peaks form.
If you want to pipe the whipped cream onto the pudding instead of spreading it over the pie, simply scoop half of the whipped cream into a prepared piping bag fitted with a GIANT star tip. Pipe from outside in. Then refill bag with last half of whipped cream and finish the piping. Top with chopped macadamia nuts and shaved chocolate.