I cannot imagine a greater way to say "I love you" than with a plateful of chocolate bliss. Valentine's Day is Sunday, so have you given any thought to how you'll celebrate your love?
Try Mississippi Mud S'mores Pie.
It lies somewhere between a cake, a pie and a cheesecake, minus the cream cheese but just as rich. Just like cheesecake, it's made in a springform pan, and better yet, it's chock-full of chocolate.
The recipe is one that's been around for a while. I first saw it somewhere online about five years ago. Then just a couple of weeks ago it came across my email from Southern Living, so I thought I'd give it a try. I had everything I needed to make s'mores since we'd had a campfire over the holidays, and my pantry was still stocked with chocolates of all kinds, marshmallows big and small, and graham crackers. I was halfway there with the s'mores part of the recipe. Then the Mississippi Mud part uses ingredients most every baker has on hand — lots of butter, sugar, flour and, oh yes, more chocolate.
So I summoned the chocoholic in me and went to work. This cake, pie — whatever you want to call it — takes a little time, so plan ahead, but not too far ahead. You want to do the final touch shortly before you serve it. You can make the base earlier in the day or even the day before, but bring it to room temperature before crowning it with a pile of marshmallows and running it under the broiler.
When done, drizzle those marshmallows with a little chocolate sauce and some pecans. Happy Valentine's Day to all you lovebirds out there.
Mississippi Mud S'mores Pie
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted and divided
1 (4-ounce) semisweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups regular marshmallows, cut in half horizontally
2 cups miniature marshmallows
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 can sweetened condensed milk (fat-free OK)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
For pie: Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir together graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup sugar; press on bottom and 2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle 3/4 cup pecans over crust.
Microwave chopped chocolate and 1 cup butter in a large microwave-safe glass bowl on high for 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals.
Whisk flour, cocoa, eggs, extract, salt and remaining 2 cups sugar into chocolate mixture, whisking until blended. Batter will be thick. Pour batter into prepared crust.
Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Keep an eye on the pie. You don't want the crust to get too brown. Remove from oven, and cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes. The pie will firm up as it cools. Again, do not let the crust overbrown or it will become too hard to cut.
Shortly before serving, set oven rack in lowest position away from heat and turn on broiler. Place pie (in pan) on a jelly-roll pan. Toss together both marshmallows; mound on pie, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Broil 30 seconds to 1 minute or until marshmallows are golden brown. Do not leave. The marshmallows will burn quickly. Remove from oven, and immediately remove sides of pan. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes.
While cake is cooling, make chocolate sauce. In top of double boiler, stir chocolate and sweetened condensed milk until the mixture is thick. This may take 10 minutes or a little longer. When it's thick enough to stick to the back of a spoon, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter. Add water to thin it out. Drizzle over marshmallows; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup pecans.
Note: You will have enough chocolate sauce left over for other uses. Store, covered, in a cool place.
If you need ideas for a night out with your sweetheart, don't forget the Chattanooga-area restaurants running specials that we told you about last week.
Email Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.