Life really is like a box of chocolates. This, I realized after I ate nearly the whole box that Martha gave us—yes, I ate the gift given to me and KP…perhaps a box of chocolates also has something to teach me about marriage— They were incredible by the way, want to give a shout out to the chocolatier nuns at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey. The best is necessarily and always the last, because you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Or, if you are like me, the anticipatory grief sets in about one bite before it’s gone…
And then, thank God, there’s pie.
Raspberry Cordial Vanilla Cream Oreo Pie
Adapted from Baking Illustrated
OREO COOKIE CRUST:
16 Oreo cookies (with filling), broken into rough pieces)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Vanilla Cream Filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar , plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon table salt
5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 cups milk, whole or 2 percent
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 vanilla bean, about 3-inches long, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon brandy or more to taste (I used raspberry cordial that our neighbors Eric and Katie gifted us during the holidays)
Whipped Cream Topping
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°. In bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, process cookies with 15 one-second pulses, then let machine run until crumbs are uniformly fine, about 15 seconds. (Alternatively, place cookies in large zipper-lock plastic bag and crush with rolling pin– However, Abby and I had a philosophical discussion about the ethics of graham crumbling and the greatest good, she argues, is when crackers are crumbed by hand. Much more love involved. And, she says, the baggie method is subject to dispiriting tears.) Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle with butter, and use fingers to combine until butter is evenly distributed.
Pour crumbs into 9-inch pie plate. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and use a spoon to evenly cover the bottom of the pan while pressing crumbs into the corners and all the way up the sides of the pan.
For the Filling: Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium saucepan. Add yolks, then immediately but gradually whisk in milk and evaporated milk. Drop in vanilla bean. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently at first, then constantly as mixture starts to thicken and begins to simmer, 8 to 10 minutes. Once mixture simmers, continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute longer. Remove pan from heat; whisk in butter and brandy. Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and whisk them back into filling.
Pour filling into shallow pan (another pie pan works well). Put plastic wrap directly over filling surface to prevent skin from forming; cool until warm, about 30 minutes. Pour warm filling into pie shell and, once again, place sheet of plastic wrap directly over filling surface. Refrigerate pie until completely chilled, at least 3 hours.
Whip cream to soft peaks. Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla; continue to whip to barely stiff peaks. Spread over filling and refrigerate until ready to serve.
You know, I forewent this pie. I am just not a fan of cream-textured foods. The chocolate cream pie was borderline. Gelatinous foods nauseate me like no other. But KP and the other folks who put a dent in this one seemed to really dig it. I was satisfied by the name alone.