I swear to life that all things that are good for our soul comes in the form of slabs of butter, eggs, coffee, chocolate, and sugar. I want to believe the five food groups are adequately covered in these lone ingredients. I eat them on their own (there was a time when my idea of toast was a thin slice of bread and 3 heaping tablespoons of butter). The idea of combining them to create different matters of glory just makes my life so much easier. And so I did. Thanksgiving at my parents’ house is very tradition in the American sense. The turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beens, cranberry sauce, pecan pie, sweet potato pie and the the list goes on. You get it. I don’t always. As American as I am… as D.C. as I am, I’m Cuban at my core when it comes to breaking bread at their table. Sure, we have a more “Cuban” experience for Noche Buena, but when it comes to the biggest feast ever, my Mom takes a break from our ethnic tradition. And so I’ve given in, mostly. If you read my last post, you get an idea of what her traditions are. Traditions that I’ve been struggling with for year and have been on a steadfast mission to reverser. At least scale back with the intention of eliminating altogether. Yes, I’m talking about the abominable canned cranberry sauce and the likes. In my lobby for diversifying the plethora of American classics, and sneaking in a bit of our culture, I decided this year to do some additional baking and introduce a pie that incorporates a dash or two of my daily staples. Really, all of those single foods that sustain my life.
A salted almond, chocolate espresso pie with dulce de leche ice cream. Yes, readers, you read every bit of that right. I lost my mind a bit and I’m basking in the momentary crazy I experienced while making it. Truthfully, it was inspired in part by my Southern Pecan Pie and a multi-nut pie I saw recently in a magazine. My pecan pie is great but way too sweet for my palate. The nutty one I saw in print was pretty but was missing something. Still, I managed to intermix the two concepts, with a bit of my intuitiveness to come up with something I think will forever be the main pie at my Mom’s table.
It’s simple. It takes all of 30 minute to assemble and 90 minutes to bake. Here’s the really fun part. The recipe calls for Mexican chocolate. You know, the artisanal kind that’s known for its superb flavor and texture? Yea, that one. If you can’t find it at your local market, and chances are you won’t, make your own. I was pressed for time and didn’t have a break to make a beeline for World Market where I know they sell it, so I improvised and made my own. A pinch of cinnamon, chili powder for heat, maybe a thick pinch of butter, and some sugar added to dark chocolate morsels I melted and them tempered. It won’t be the exact same but it does the trick so well. Try it.
The salted almonds are the highlight in this pie. They have a distinguishable sweet and savory crunch factor not often enjoyed in pies. The mildly spicy chocolate marries so well with the espresso that it balances all out wonderfully. They all sing on their own but their harmonious chorus keeps you clapping for more. You can opt out of ice cream, but why?! I went for dulce de leche as a simple way of tying in the theme. I thought at first the added sweetness from the chunks of caramel would commission the presence of the Tooth Fairy. It didn’t. In fact, it gave the pie a layer of creaminess I think it needed. Still, it was good enough on its own I had that single slice for breakfast the next day. Because eat dessert first as often as you can.
I hope with this pie I can start moving the needle in the direction of a more varied experience. I love the staples and classics but with a family of 20 and 10 more heads that come with takeaway containers, there is plenty of room for growth!
From mi casita to yours, sweet friends. I pray you have a delicious day filled with so much joy, laughter, and love, all while remaining thankful for the abundance we enjoy every day.
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.
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- 1 Pre-rolled pie crust
- 1 1/3 cup unsalted almonds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cups light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. ground espresso
- 1/3 cup butter butter, melted
- 3 oz. Mexican chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, chopped *