Brownies, Pie and Lobster: Summer Holiday on PEI

Brownies, Pie and Lobster: Summer Holiday on PEI
Five-year-old cousins working together: adding pecans to the brownie batter. 

Five-year-old cousins working together: adding pecans to the brownie batter. 

We're back! My family and I spent last week on Prince Edward Island, soaking up all the sun we could manage. We were at a big family reunion, with 35+ relatives eating dinner together every night, and the food was awesome. We did manage to fit in some cooking with the kids along the way, too. It was mostly of the holiday variety - ie, dessert. My kids, along with their first cousin, helped Great Auntie make her famous brownies.

Three-year-old mixes brownie batter, 5-year-old and Grandma look on

Three-year-old mixes brownie batter, 5-year-old and Grandma look on

He had fun, really! 

He had fun, really! 

It was a very exciting week, with lots of treats. We don't eat dessert at home unless it's a special occasion, so having dessert every night for a week was a truly spectacular party for my kids. There was a lot of marshmallow roasting by the bonfire. Other desserts included Lemon Meringue Pie, Rhubarb Crisp, Carrot Cake, and Fudge, and that's not even half of the week's selection. I made Chocolate Cream Pie from Smitten Kitchen, and Cash had fun helping me dollop the cream into the pre-baked crust. Desserts are, of course, one of the easiest types of dishes for little kids to help out with, given that they usually involve just simple spoons and bowls and spatulas and the like. And how much fun it is, as we all know, to lick the spoon afterwards. 

Every night was a giant family dinner, which was very special. One night we had a wine and cheese and my talented cousin Derrick produced a basket of amazing bread he had made: sourdough baguette, olive rosemary, and several others.

Cash smoothing the tops of the Chocolate Cream Pies. On holidays, we work in our pyjamas, of course.

Cash smoothing the tops of the Chocolate Cream Pies. On holidays, we work in our pyjamas, of course.

My cousin's homemade bread for family dinner. We're a lucky family, no doubt about it.

My cousin's homemade bread for family dinner. We're a lucky family, no doubt about it.

A highlight of the week was our annual lobster picnic feast. Both the kids were game to try the lobster again this year, and Polly in particular liked chewing on the legs, and dipping them (and double- and triple-dipping them) in the bowl of melted butter. I wrote in more detail about helping your kids try new foods in my last post, if you'd like to read more about it.

Lobster legs in an idyllic setting

Lobster legs in an idyllic setting

If you have any summer family gatherings coming up in your house, try this pie. It pairs perfectly with hot summer afternoons, children running around, and dozens of relatives. 

Chocolate Cream Pie
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

This is an ideal dessert for making ahead of time, as it needs to cool and set in the fridge for 6 hours or more. It's my general policy for any dinner party to make dessert first, so this works perfectly. It's an extremely rich pie that serves about 10 people, probably 12. If you're making this pie at a cottage, as I was last week, just grind the cookies to crumbs in a food processor before you leave, and pack them in a container to take with you. Then the crust takes even less time. 
NB: For a gluten-free version, serve a portion of the filling, topped with the garnish, in its own ramekin (crust-free). My sister declared it delicious this way!

 

Chocolate Crust
1½ cups (130 g) chocolate-wafer crumbs (I used Mr. Christie's - probably the most commercial-type ingredient I've ever bought for baking, but it's holidays I just went with it)
2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, melted

Filling
12 tablespoons (170 g) butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 g) sugar
3 oz (85 g) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Garnish
1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
Optional: chocolate curls (shave from bittersweet chocolate bar)

METHOD
Crust

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the cookie crumbs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter.
Carefully press crumbs evenly across bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie dish.
Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then set aside to cool completely before adding filling.

Filling
Whip together the butter and sugar until the mixture is fluffy and pale, about 3 minutes.
Drizzle in the melted chocolate while mixing at low speed.
Add eggs one at a time, beating at medium speed for 5 minutes after each addition. Then scrape down the bowl.
Add the vanilla and blend again.
Spread the chocolate filling across the prepared (and cooled) crust. Smooth the top, place in fridge to chill at least 6 hours.

Garnish
Just prior to serving, whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks are formed. Spoon this cream onto the pie and finish with bittersweet chocolate shavings.