Self Portrait With Chocolate Fudge Pie.
I have many many people that I look up to in this world. For example: Susan Blackwell. She is extremely funny and clever, she has a very cool job and she's aspirational - despite (I'm sorry Susan Blackwell, if you're reading this - and if you are, hiii!) not having the most bankable voice, she starred in the Tony-nominated musical [title of show]. As herself. I love that she has created basically the only role I could ever hope to play in a musical (apart from maybe the girl from A Chorus Line who can't sing), for having one of the few songs that I can absentmindedly sing along to without stopping mid-note and saying "oh forget it" which is what happened when I was singing (yes, lustily) along to Aquarius from the musical Hair the other day. These days, among other things, she has her own joyful online show where she interviews Broadway stars in an array of locations. It's called Side By Side By Susan Blackwell. I basically would like to model my life upon her career trajectory. Except with the addition of authoring an extremely excellent cookbook. Perhaps if my (still hypothetical) cookbook becomes exceptionally popular, I'll just be able to command that someone puts on a local production of [title of show] and casts me as Susan. That's quite the "if" though...
Anyway, the point of all this is that in one of her recent segments of SBSBSB, she interviews stage and screen actor Billy Crudup, and, in the process, they make his grandma's recipe, Chocolate Fudge Pie. I was captivated by this; its name, its provenance, its promise of chocolate, fudge, and pie in one handy substance...and vowed to make it pronto.
Obligatory pouring-of-mixture into receptacle shot, which I can never quite get right.
I adapted this very American recipe into metric (hello, cups of butter, what?) but the only thing I had trouble with was the original request for "six squares of bittersweet chocolate". Figuring that because "this America, man," these squares are probably fairly large. Even taking into account that I'm halving the recipe presented on the show, 70g of chocolate felt about right. Enough for plenty of flavour plus a little bit of mixture-tasting.
Billy Crudup's Grandma's Chocolate Fudge Pie
With thanks to Billy Crudup, Billy Crudup's Grandma, Susan Blackwell, and whoever hired Billy Crudup on Broadway so that he'd be a legitimate interview subject for Susan Blackwell thus creating the opportunity for him to share this recipe in a place that I was likely to find it.
70g dark, dark chocolate (I used Whittaker's Dark Ghana)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup plain flour
pinch of salt
Set your oven to 160 C/325 F. Grease a 20-22cm pie plate (like the one in my picture. You could also use one of those throwaway tinfoil tins that are very, very cheap at the supermarket) I also cut a circle of baking paper for the base, because I'm nervous like that.
Carefully - either in the microwave, in a double-boiler contraption (rest one heatproof bowl over a small pan of simmering water, not letting the water touch the bottom of the bowl) or just in a pan over a low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together. Set aside. Whisk the living daylights out of the eggs and sugar, pour in the chocolatey butter, the flour (good to sift it to prevent lumps) and the salt.
Bake for around 45 minutes until no longer super wobbly in the middle. I found 45 minutes perfect for me but you may want to check it at 35, in case your oven is a bit enthusiastic.
This pie rules. Like brownies, but somehow superior, because here in every single slice there is an ideal and just plain nice ratio of cakey exterior to melting, squidgy centre. It's not off-puttingly rich, and the relatively scanty quantity of chocolate somehow flourishes while baking to create a result of astonishing chocolatey depth. It'd be completely fantastic with some ice cream on the side, slowly liquefying into its pliant, satiny centre - but is still practical and cake-resembling enough for me to take a clingfilm-wrapped slice to work in my handbag for lunch.
My attempt at prettying up this brown spongey savannah with icing sugar was patchy to middlingly successful, at best.
I'm not just saying this because the recipe came to me via someone that I think is really, really really cool (I'm talking about Susan Blackwell, not Billy Crudup by the way, hence the 'via') but this recipe is amazing and will most definitely become a regular fixture on my circuit. Speshly because it gives me a legitimate excuse to bore people about [title of show], as my knife hovers with maddening endlessness over the pie and they wait for me to serve them a slice. "It's about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical!"
By the way, I did three really clumsy things on the day of making this Chocolate Fudge Pie. Firstly, I dropped my phone into a bowl of salad. Secondly, I dropped and smashed my Kilner jar, at least half full of homemade quince brandy (oh, the swearing and endless vacuuming that ensued) and finally, I dropped a full, open, king-sized box of weetbix (not actual weetbix, but those "weeta-brix" knockoff type ones) down the back of the pantry. Yet I managed to make this entire pie, chocolatey and eggy and rich, in a white shirt, without getting one particle of it on myself. At this point, I was really expecting to get covered in mixture, somehow it didn't happen. I'm not sure what my message is here, apart from: enjoy life/your nice alcohol/applicable consumable item now, rather than saving it for an appropriate occasion, because you never know when it might slip out of your hands and smash to pieces. On carpet. Even as the jar of brandy fell I remember thinking "wheeee-ew, it's landing on carpet, it'll bounc-ohhhh no."
Title via: Bloc Party's Helicopter. I really like these guys, although it's hard to know if my view of them is softened because they really remind me of living in the UK in 2005. Although I spose any music can be affected by the circumstances that you hear it in, I'm pretty sure this is still a good song with or without my contexty lens over it.
Probably said it before, but while the movie adaptation of the musical Hair is pretty awful, they got one thing right in the casting of Cheryl Barnes to sing the song Easy To Be Hard; it's so beautiful. Even then, I hate that the camera cuts away from her so much.
@Peace, a new creation from Homebrew's Tom Scott and Nothing To Nobody's Lui Tuiasau. You can stream it, or you can buy it - and in a cool but bold move from its makers - pay what you like for it, right here. It's all excellent, with silky as production from Benny Tones, and if you're not sure, the title track is a good place to start (although so is the opening song, "this goes out to all walks, living in this village that we call Aucks")
Next time: Completing the completely coincidental trifecta (pie-fecta?) of blog posts about pies, and entirely inspired by Twin Peaks, which Tim and I have been obsessively watching lately: Cherry Pie.