Monday, July 09, 2007

Creamy Coffee Pie (aka I love my life)

Sometimes I think we’ve all gone mad in our household. After the utterly painful uncertainty, anxiety and single-minded focus involved in renovating our house, followed within minutes (and slightly overlapped) by the exhaustion and complete lifestyle change brought on by the addition of a newborn baby, we have finally reached a comfortable and easy stage in the life of our family.

The house is finished (with the exception of all those projects that go on until the end of time, and a new major renovation that I'm planning), and The Carnivore has moved on to fun yard work during the weekends. Odd Toddler, who spent the first year of his life waking up all night every night, and was seemingly permanently attached to the breast, is now potty-trained, eager to hang out with his papa, and can usually even be reasoned with. The Carnivore and Odd Toddler often run errands together early on Saturdays, freeing me up to go to the farmer’s market (all by myself), and then they’ll often spend the afternoon together outside. It’s almost like having my old carefree life back – only better.

I think all mothers fall into this trap (how do you think my mother ended up with 39 children?). We wean the first kid, forget how bad labor was, finally get to sleep all night again, do the potty-training thing, and then decide life has gotten too easy. So we get pregnant and start all over again. Like I said, I think we’ve all gone mad.

I’m in my seventh month of pregnancy now, with 18 extra pounds of abdominal insulation in 90-degree heat, and feeling more like a hippopotamus than ever before. And my sweet tooth has decided that now is the time to come back. With a vengeance.

I got hooked on white chocolate Chips Ahoy when I was pregnant with Odd Toddler. And things would quickly turn ugly when the grocery store ran out of them. I’m sure it was that particular craving that at least partially explains why I gained twice as much weight during that pregnancy as I appear to be gaining in this one. Since that time, I’ve become much more adept at making my own desserts, and it’s a rare day indeed when I will even be tempted to eat a store-bought dessert (with the notable exception of chocolate truffles, of course).

I’ve recently gotten back into baking desserts on Saturday afternoons while The Carnivore and Odd Toddler are off somewhere in the yard, piddling and playing around. The house is strangely quiet at those times, so I’ll often listen to an NPR podcast in the kitchen and sift through my cookbooks looking for a new brownie recipe to surprise the boys with. Actually, ‘surprise’ is probably the wrong word these days, as Odd Toddler can hear the mixer from two acres away and he’s been known to come barreling into the house to grab his metal stepstool and scrape it maddeningly across the floor so that he can reach the counter and see what’s going on. “Mom!” he’ll shout, “Can I have a taste?” (Which he’ll repeat, growing ever louder, in staccato-like sequence until I give in and turn the mixer off so that he can grab a glob of batter and stuff it into his mouth and across his face with glee).

Last weekend, not sure if I would need to bring a dessert or a vegetable for a potluck that we’d waited until the last minute to respond to, I cut out a recipe for a Café au Lait pie from the AJC Food section, salivating at the thought of the flavor combinations and delighted at how, well, easy as pie the recipe sounded. When I found out only moments later that the hostess had plenty of desserts and was only in need of a side dish, I had already worked my pregnant self into a frenzy over the pie. Mildly disappointed, I tossed together a Black-Eyed Pea salad. And promptly decided that my little family would greatly benefit from the pie anyway.

The original recipe called for Cool Whip (blech) and a store-bought pie crust (argh) along with a mocha-flavored instant coffee that I didn’t have on hand, but the idea of a creamy, cold, coffee-flavored pie filling was too much to resist. With a little bit of tinkering and a whole lot of holding-my-mouth-just-right, I came up with my own version and waited nervously for it to chill.

We’re in love. The pie was elegant enough for a dinner party (not that we would have felt like sharing) and was rich and delightful. The crunchy, crumbly chocolate graham cracker pie crust was the perfect foil to the luscious creaminess of the filling, and the flavor was unique without being weird. It was a little rich for Big Mama’s taste (as she puts it, “The first three bites were great, but then it was just too much), but The Carnivore and I were huge fans. Granted, Big Mama did have a point – the pie was so rich that it ended up lasting us four or five days, but we were willing to make the sacrifice nonetheless. I can’t wait to make this again.

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbs instant coffee granules (I used General Foods International Hazelnut Belgian Cafe)
  • 8 oz heavy cream
  1. Stir together the first three ingredients, and press into a 9-inch pie plate.
  2. Bake crust at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
  3. Cool crust completely.
  4. Meanwhile, whip the cream at high speed in a mixer until stiff peaks are formed. Do not overbeat. Set aside.
  5. In a clean bowl, beat together the cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar in a mixer until creamy. Beat in the coffee, then fold in the whipped cream.
  6. Pour the mixture into the pie crust and smooth the top.
  7. Freeze for at least two hours before serving.

But now I'm curious. At what point can I call a recipe my own? I mean, I took someone else's recipe and switched out a couple of things, and whipped my own cream and made my own crust, but does that mean I can call this MY recipe? Or did I just ADAPT someone else's recipe? I need some help here...


Anonymous said...

You changed this enough to be your own! Take the credit. I can't wait to eat this one.
Rachel D.

yestheirmine said...

That sounds so good, I'll let you know how mine turns out.