Black Bottom Vanilla Cream Pie with Salted Caramel Sauce

Black Bottom Vanilla Cream Pie with salted caramel sauce by

I have a new habit of slapping a black bottom on every pie I make – it’s my new favorite party trick.  I put one on the incredibly delicious peanut butter chocolate pie, my nutella pie, and lately I’m throwing this down on all my cream pies like banana cream and coconut cream pie.  This cream pie recipe is one you’ve maybe seen here before, but not when it’s atop a decadent layer of ganache and dripping with salted caramel sauce.  This was an experiment that paid off MAJOR! I was so happy with it and it’s not very hard to make! The combination of flaky pie crust + bittersweet chocolate ganache + rich vanilla cream filling + fresh whipped cream + salted caramel = 💯

Crust: Traditional pie crust – our recipe is awesome and easy.  I made this in a deep dish pie pan, but it would work in a standard 9″ – it would just be really full – you could save some ganache for later if it looks like you’re filling it too full before you get to your cream filling.
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup crisco
4 tablespoons ice water

1 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips (I love it with a dark bittersweet chocolate)
1/3 cup heavy cream

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 (scant) teaspoon salt
3 3/4 cup whole milk
7 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons butter (cut into small pieces)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Salted Caramel: 
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

  1. To make the crust, mix your flour and salt, then add the Crisco and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender as you add the cold water.  It will start to come together at which point you can pull in all the dry parts with your hands and quickly knead it into a ball.  Flour your work surface and roll it into a thin circle.  Roll it onto your rolling pin and slowly into your (ungreased) pie pan.  Make a ridge around the outside and crimp as desired.  Poke all over with holes or put beans or pie weights into your crust with parchment before baking.  Blind bake at 450 7-9 minutes until lightly browned.
  2. While crust is cooking and cooling make your chocolate ganache.  You can melt your chocolate and cream in a double boiler on the stove, or with  my preferred method –  Place chocolate and cream in a glass pyrex in the microwave on defrost for a few minutes or in 20 second increments on full power until the chocolate loses it’s shape and you can whisk it all smooth.   You don’t want it to get too hot so the key is to heat is slowly.  Pour your ganache layer into your (mostly) cooled pie crust and put it into the freezer or fridge so it can harden while you make your filling.
  3. Put sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan with a thick bottom.  With your burner on medium/high (I keep mine just above medium) slowly pour in the milk and stir until combined then add your egg yolks one at a time, whisking after each until no yellow streaks remain.  Now switch to a heat proof rubber spatula and stirring constantly bring to a simmer.  Once the bubbles come up and you know it’s starting to boil scrape down the sides of the bowl and whisk until smooth then return to the heat and stir constantly for 1 minute while your mixture slowly bubbles (wear an apron!).  Remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla until all is combined then pour into your prepared pie crust on top of your cooled ganache.
    black bottom vanilla cream pie by
  4. Put plastic wrap directly over the top before refrigerating.  Be sure to let it cool a solid 4 hours or so before you top it with whipped cream and salted caramel.
  5. For the Caramel whisk together sugar and water in a medium (heavy bottom) saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until sugar is just dissolved.  Add butter and bring to a slow boil without stirring.  Continue cooking over medium heat until the mixture turns a deep golden brown, almost copper (DO NOT STIR).  Remove from heat and immediately but slowly add the heavy cream.  Be careful as your caramel will bubble and steam.  Add salt.  Whisk the final mixture together well and set aside to cool – it will get thicker as it cools.
  6. To make the cream, whip heavy cream in a cool bowl and add sugar as it starts to thicken to desired consistency.
  7. To serve, drizzle caramel over each slice then serve and store refrigerated…if there’s anything left!

Cream Pie recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking vanilla cream pie and Salted Caramel adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.

Double chocolate French Macaroons

This fancy desert has eluded me for years, I’ve made, and even posted them before, but they were far from perfect.  Deserts that require perfection have never really been my thing, but I knew I could at the very least improve so I kept trying and finally I figured out how to make an smooth, leggy, gorgeous macaroon that tastes as good as it looks! (uncommon with perfect deserts in my experience).  One key to my success has been this little hand-pull food processor I got from my MIL that is the most incredible kitchen tool –  it’s made by Zyliss, and here’s a link to buy one! it was a game changer for making my cocoa, sugar, and almond flour SUPER FINE – which is how you get that beautiful smooth top.  You can use a traditional food processor of course, but in my experience this small one does a much better job of engaging the ingredients and not leaving them caked up in corners.  The other thing that is NON-NEGOTIABLE in making successful macaroons is a food scale.  Weighing ingredients made ALL the difference in getting perfect puff every time.  This recipe is totally by weight, because I’ve learned that it’s the only way they come out right consistently.  A few more things you need are large piping bags and a large flat piping tip.  I also find it helpful to print out a template that I slip under the parchment so I can pipe them into uniform circles.  They are truly not difficult, just a bit more time consuming than your average cookie, but don’t be intimidated, get a food scale and GO FOR IT! You’ll be glad you did!

For the macaroon (I sift all of these together on a big piece of parchment):

100 grams almond flour (processed to be extra fine then sifted)
170 grams powdered sugar (process and sift)
15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (process and sift)
100 grams aged egg whites at room temperature (to age whites, put them in a container in your fridge overnight then get them out a few hours before you began to reach room temp)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
35 grams extra fine sugar (or take normal sugar and food process it)

  1. Line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment and put your circle templates under to help you pipe – remember to remove template before you bake your cookies!
  2. Place almond flour, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder in your food processor (I do them separately in my Zyliss) and process until they are very fine and mixed together. Sift mixture to remove any lumps (leave lumps in the sifter).
  3. In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy.
  4. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat on medium high speed until the meringue just holds stiff peaks (that means when you pull the whisk meringue holds straight out with no drooping).
  5. In 3 additions add the sifted almond mixture into your whites.  While folding cut through the meringue then fold up and over making sure to scrape the bottom.  You want to take volume out, but not all the volume.  You will know it’s time to pipe when the batter falls from your spatula in a thick ribbon.
  6. Fill your pastry bag with the meringue almond mixture fitted with a large plain tip.  Pipe rounds onto the parchment paper very carefully- in the beginning you won’t even need to squeeze your piping bag, do not use a circular motion, just position tip in the middle of the circle and once your mixture has come out to almost the edges then with a small circular motion you can release the bag and pull it up to go to the next.  I recommend this joy of baking video.  I use their recipe as well!
  7. Once you have made your circle cookies drop the cookie sheet on the floor to pop bubbles then place the sheets up where they can dry out a bit – and heat your oven to 325.  You want them to rest about 30-60 minutes (30 is enough in dry dry Utah) so the tops are no longer tacky when touched.
  8. Bake them one rack at at time about 12-14 minutes.  The macaroons are done when they just barely separate from the parchment paper.  Remove and let them cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack.

Chocolate Ganache Filling:

4 ounces (120 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate cut into small pieces
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tablespoon butter

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring just barely to a boil.
  3. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to stand a few minutes before you stir it gently until smooth.
  4. Let sit at room temperature until thick and piping consistency.  You can also cool it in the fridge if you frequently take it out to stir.  Put into a large piping bag with a plain tip.
  5. To assemble cookies, take one macaroon, hold it gently and pipe chocolate until almost at the edges then carefully place another on top.  Voila! You’re a macaroon master!

Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking French Macaroons recipe