Baked Sunday Mornings: Frozen Swiss Chocolate Pie

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Summer weekends are for eating frozen things, preferably involving chocolate. And if those frozen chocolate things happen to be slathered in fudge and whipped cream, ALL THE BETTER. Our last recipe for Baked Sunday Mornings was in honor of National Dog Day; this week we are celebrating Grandparents’ Day with Frozen Swiss Chocolate Pie from Baked Occasions. I grew up with neither dogs nor grandparents, so I haven’t had much to say about either occasion, but I suppose that in the realm of “National [Anything] Day”, they are nice to celebrate. Incidentally, can someone please tell me where Swiss Chocolate Pie comes from? Or what exactly defines a Swiss Chocolate Pie, for that matter? I could not find so much as a Wikipedia entry for it, so I’m not quite sure what makes a Swiss Chocolate Pie, “Swiss”; nevertheless, this pie was ultra rich and decadent, and grandparents or not, I loved it!

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This pie consists of a walnut crust filled with a frozen mousse-like filling. I much prefer a nut or graham crust to a pastry crust when it comes to creamy chocolate pies, so that was already working in my favor from the get-go. I must say that walnuts have really grown on me thanks to a number of BAKED recipes (see here, here, and here, among others). Especially when toasted, they are wicked delicious with chocolate. Anyway, things didn’t go quite perfectly, but I was still pretty pleased with the results.

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I started off by making the aforementioned tasty walnut crust, which is simply a mixture of ground toasted walnuts, sugar, and melted butter. The quantities listed in the recipe yielded a very liquidy blend– there was no way to press it into the pie dish, so I toasted and chopped another 50g of walnuts and folded them in to soak up some of the butter. I was very glad I did this because I like a thick crust, and as it was, there was more filling than what the crust could contain. (In other words, if I had used only the amount of walnuts in the recipe, my crust would have either been very thin or would have been way too short to call a “pie”.)

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There are 4 steps (read = lots of dirty dishes) for making the chocolate cream filling. First, I melted the chocolate –I used Guittard 72% Coucher du Soleil chocolate couverture wafers— then added the espresso powder. Once that cooled, I beat together softened cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream, then added the cooled chocolate.

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The next step is beating egg whites and folding them into the chocolate, but by the time I had beaten them, the chocolate mixture had stiffened to a fudge-like texture, so it was very difficult to fold in the egg whites and the mixture wasn’t totally smooth. (Now that I think about it, I wonder if I filled my 1 ½ tablespoon-measure twice with cream or not; that might account for the stiffness, or maybe that particular combination of ingredients is just going to do that after a few minutes regardless…)

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Next, I whipped heavy cream with whiskey and folded that into the batter, but this was also challenging because of the thick, uneven mixture, so the finished filling was studded with dark chocolaty bits throughout, which looked something like chocolate chunks… not necessarily a bad thing.

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There was a huge cloud of cream filling– it’s important to use a deep pie dish here. After a sprinkling of walnuts, the pie went into the freezer for a long nap; the instructions say at least 4 hours, but it was about 48 hours until I cut into it. Except for some freezer burn on top, the swirly chocolate cream looked just as pretty as it had when I put it in the freezer.

The recipe says that you can either thaw the pie in the fridge for 2 hours or leave it out at room temperature for 20 minutes. Mine was in the fridge for an hour, then I took it out to thaw the rest of the way, but it still needed another hour or so on the countertop before I could even begin to cut it. (Or I could have looked at the recipe again to see that it says to use a hot knife… Details.) Anyway, it was very difficult to get a clean slice out until I had dug out enough to get the pie cutter fully underneath! But hey, ugly pieces are just as tasty. 😉

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The recipe suggests freshly whipped cream and hot fudge– I would pretty much call them imperative. It’s not that the pie doesn’t taste good on its own, but these accoutrements take it to a whole ‘nother level. I used an espresso chocolate sauce, which was lovely because it brought out the hint of espresso in the pie filling. There are so many flavors and so much textural contrast going on there– a veritable dessert symphony in your mouth! It was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious and decadent. A word of advice: The filling was very light brown, so I was glad that I had used 72% dark chocolate; I think with a less intense chocolate, the flavor could get a little lost. The espresso powder and whiskey give it a nice depth as well. The only thing I would change is that I’d like the filling to be a little creamier– it was rather crumbly when frozen. This could simply be the way it is, or maybe I did in fact leave out a bit of cream accidentally. We’ll never know.

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Still, this dessert is top-notch. When I had finally put it in the freezer and took a look at the stack of dirty-dish carnage, I was doubtful that I’d make it again… but after tasting it in all its fudge-and-whipped-cream glory, I think I would break out all my beaters and do it again. I initially thought it would be not the best traveling dessert, but it actually took hours to thaw to a softer texture, so it’s fine for shorter distances– I was unexpectedly able to bring it to work. (In fact, I think I liked the texture better simply chilled rather than frozen.) I mean, it would be a shame not to share this with loved ones… OR WOULD IT. 😉

If you would like to shovel this glorious Frozen Swiss Chocolate Pie into your piehole (it is made for that, after all), head over to Baked Sunday Mornings for the recipe– and take a look at my fellow bakers’ pies too! It will be a welcome treat at any gathering in the last warm days of the season.

And all this pie business aside, today and every September 11th, my heart is with New York City….

UPDATE 9/12/2016: I now understand what makes the pie “Swiss”– the egg white/sugar mixture that gets folded into the chocolate mixture is a Swiss meringue. Mine didn’t have that telltale bright white, glossy look, so I didn’t make the connection at first, but some of the other bakers in the group demystified it for me. 😉

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2016.

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