Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pudding pie

When it comes to food, some things you make.

Bagels. Granola. Spaghetti sauce.

And some things you buy.

I mused on this theory last weekend, as I spent a couple hours chopping, hulling and then drying my own strawberries for Strawberry-Ricotta Muffins (so uninspiring I have to make them again before I discuss them). As I placed tiny strawberry quarters delicately on my cooling sheets for 45-minutes in the oven, I remembered that Safeway sells tins of strawberries that someone ELSE dried.

You buy dried strawberries.

I moodily cursed this theory out this weekend as I attempted Martha Stewart's "Black-Bottom Pie." Last week, my husband was chomping on one of my Strawberry-Ricotta Muffins when he turned to me.

"You know what I really love to eat?" he asked, finishing the last muffin. "Black-bottom pie."

I had to search my mental records to make sure that was really a food, and not something racist or kinky.

Turns out it is a food. It's pie, with a chocolate layer, a vanilla layer, and a meringue/whipped cream layer. Or, as Martha puts it, "This classic meringue-and-custard dessert originated in the American South around the turn of the twentieth century. The bottom layer of chocolate pastry cream was thought to signify the dark, swampy lowlands lying along the Mississippi River."

So I figured I'd whip one up and serve it for my mother-in-law, stepson and husband when the former two came for a visit this weekend.

Yeah, right.

Too late, I learned that anything that calls for an "ice-water bath" can't be "whipped up." When he saw me pouring ice cubes and water into a pan, my husband remembered the past and thought the worst.

"Is that for when you burn your hand taking something out of the oven?" he asked.

I glanced at the red stripe still showing on my elbow before haughtily answering.
"No," I said. "It's for the custard."

As I scrambled across the kitchen, melting chocolate, whisking egg yolks, boiling milk and thickening gelatin, it dawned on me.

I was spending two-plus hours making pudding. Chocolate and vanilla pudding.

Sure, I was also whipping egg whites and sugar to make a meringue ... that I was just going to fold into the vanilla pudding.

I just dirtied every dish in my kitchen and spent what amounted to a feature-length film making pudding pie. I could have bought two boxes and a pie crust and had everything done in 15 minutes.

At this point, I was desperately annoyed by Martha. So I grabbed the meringue (still about 10 minutes away from "stiff, glossy peaks"), half-heartedly swirled it into the vanilla custard, and topped the pie crust and chocolate custard with it. Then I shoved the whole mixture into the fridge.

"I can't believe I just spent two hours making pudding!" I moaned to my mother-in-law, who looked suspiciously (but kindly) like she knew better. Then I froze and opened the fridge.

A container of heavy cream stood lonely on the top shelf. I pulled it out.
"I hope this wasn't supposed to go into the pie," I said quietly, feeling guilty for leaving out a simple ingredient that would have proved I did not just spend two hours making my own pudding.

I picked up the recipe and nearly threw it in the garbage disposal. I had indeed forgotten that heavy cream was part of the recipe.

For making my own whipped cream with which to top off the pudding pie.

My husband came into the kitchen and inspected the finished product.

"Love it or hate it," I told him. "I'm never making my own pudding again."

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1 comment:

  1. I am laughing out loud at this right now! It sounds delicious, but I'll let Marie Callendar do the work of making it. I love Sunset for its recipes, but too often I'll spend a fortune on unknown ingedients and an hour prepping what turns out to basically be granola or spaghetti sauce or something else I could have bought pre-made.