The first step I took to making my new place a home was to plant. I’ve longed for a garden to dabble in but didn’t want to admit it for a while (I was convinced that apartment living was perfect for me). Now, I am grateful for the opportunity to make a small outdoor space, green, colourful and tranquil.
With the help of my husband, parents and children, we’ve slowly dug up the grass, cleaned up the litter in the yard and trimmed back some of the overgrown shrubs. A gardener’s work is never done but I am satisfied with what has been accomplished this season thus far. Herbs are growing wildly in their pots, some almost ready to be used in our kitchen. Annuals and perennials are establishing themselves, the peony is in full pink splendor. We planted a hardy sapling in the front yard (our lovely neighbor, told me that he did the same thing with his family almost 40 years ago. They now have a beautiful, mature birch tree to remind them of that time. What a wonderful memory).
The more I work in the garden, the more I realize I have no clue what I’m doing! There is so much to learn and I welcome the challenge and physical labour. It is so very satisfying to see the changes from one day or one week to the next. Do you have a green thumb? What is your favourite flower, herb or tree?
As promised in last week’s post, I have made a dessert that requires your oven to be on less. Enter, chocolate pudding pie. Chocolate can be an enjoyable treat in the warm months (think ice cream and milkshakes). It is easy to whip this pie together and have it ready for a BBQ. It has a light touch that is perfect for summer (in the winter, I would suggest something heavier like a custard based pie). The crust will stay firm and crunchy for 3 days so long as the pie is in the refrigerator. If you cannot eat it all within that time, I suggest freezing it. You can enjoy it as frozen treat or unthaw before consuming. Happy baking!
Chocolate Pudding Pie with Cookie Crumb Crust
Makes: 1 9-inch pie
Time: Prep time (crust 10 minutes plus cooling time and filling 10 minutes) + Cooling time (2-4 hours) +Assembly (5 minutes)
Cookie Crumb Crust
185 g (1 ¾ cup) cookie crumbs 185 grams I bought Dare Digestives and used about ½ a package
85 g (6 tbsp) salted butter, melted
2 tbsp granulated sugar
40 g (1/4 cup) cornstarch
68 g (1/3 cup) plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
720 mL (3 cups ) whole milk
115 g dark chocolate 70% cacao content (this is about ¾ cup when finely chopped)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
250 ml (1 cup) or more whipping Cream
Granulated Sugar to taste
Dark chocolate shavings or curls for presentation
Cookie Crumb Crust
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
2. Crush up cookies in a blender (the easiest way) or use a potato masher to break them up (I used about a half a package of Dare Digestives). Pour into a medium bowl.
3. Stir the cookie crumbs, butter and sugar together. Press evenly into an ungreased pie pan.
4. Bake for 5 minutes and fully cool before pouring in the pie filling.
1. Mix the cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder and salt together in a medium saucepan. Slowly, whisk the milk in over medium heat. Bring to a boil and whisk about 2 additional minutes or until it thickens.
2. Remove from heat and gently stir in the chopped chocolate. Stir in the vanilla extract.
3. Pour into the prepared cookie crumb crust and smooth with the back of a spoon. Place a piece waxed paper over the pie and refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours so that it will set.
Serve with chocolate shavings, fresh berries and whipped cream.
Adapted from the Pioneer Woman and Smitten Kitchen.
* I add the whipped cream to the top of the pie right before serving. When I made this pie it was on a humid day. I had prepared the whipped cream in the morning only to discover that it had gone a bit runny. I pulled out my hand mixed and beat it until it was fluffy again. The dessert was saved!