This month’s session is about beer desserts and I chose this particular recipe for several reasons: 1) Joe is obsessed with Banana Cream Pie, 2) I already had most of the ingredients, and 3) Saying “I’m going to make a beer cream pie today” makes a person extraordinarily happy.
First, start by pouring yourself a glass of your porter of choice. I chose Meantime’s London Porter because, well, we had it in our beer cave. It’s delicious, not too bitter (important), and has more light chocolate notes than it does coffee flavors. At the same time, pour out one cup of porter into a measuring cup to let it come to room temperature. I drew from several recipes for this, but mainly from Martha Stewart’s coconut cream pie recipe.
Jasmine’s Porter Cream Pie
1 1/4 cups flour (I chill mine in the fridge beforehand)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
2 tbsp. ice water
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks, plus one whole egg
1 cup porter
2 oz. dark or semi-sweet chocolate
4 oz porter
1-2 tsp. sugar to taste (depends on how bitter of a porter you use_
Crust (you can just use a store-bought frozen 9-inch crust if you like. I was going to, but Joe made fun of me. Make sure you bake and cool it before adding the filling!): In a food processor, combine flour and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 sec. Then, with machine running, add ice water just until dough holds together without being sticky. Add more 1 tbsp at a time if it needs it. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hr. and up to overnight.
After chilling, roll out dough to fit 9-inch round pie pan. Fit to pan, trimming off all but 1/2 inch overhang. Prick dough all over with fork. Line with parchment and fill with pie weights or dried beans (small clean rocks will work as well. I had none of those things, so I put an ovenproof bowl in as a weight–it didn’t actually work wonderfully. I wouldn’t recommend it. I should have just opened up the bag of corn postole in our pantry…). Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 min. Remove weights and bake another 15-20 min. until golden brown all over. If edges of crust are getting too dark, cover with foil. Cool crust completely.
Porter Filling: Prepare an ice bath. Set aside. Lightly wisk egg and 3 yolks into room temperature porter in small bowl. Set aside. Whisk the cornstarch well into 1/2 cup of the milk (this seems like extra work, but trust me on this one). In a saucepan, whisk together remaining 2 c. milk, sugar, salt, vanilla, and cornstarch mixture. Bring to a simmer (do not boil) and cook for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly.
Still mixing, pour porter and yolk mixture into milk mixture slowly. Continue whisking 3-4 minutes, until bubbles appear in center and custard becomes thick (do not undercook or cook too fast here or your custard won’t set up). Transfer to a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface to prevent a skin from forming. Set in ice bath until completely chilled, 30 to 35 minutes. (Filling can be kept in refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, up to 1 day.)
Chocolate coating: Simmer 4 oz. of porter in small saucepan until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat. Break chocolate up into pieces and stir into hot liquid until smooth. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Set aside until cool to touch, stirring occasionally.
Once crust and chocolate are both cool, coat the crust with chocolate using a pastry brush (yes, that is a BBQ brush I’m using. I don’t have a pastry brush). Reserve 1 tbsp of chocolate. Put crust in freezer until firm to touch, about 10 minutes.
Fill crust with custard, spreading evenly with an offset spatula. Optional: spread a layer of store bought or homemade whipped cream over the top–about 1 inch thick. Drizzle remaining tbsp. of chocolate over the top. Refrigerate pie at least 3 hours before serving.
I am beyond pleased with the results. I haven’t had a lot of success cooking with beer in the past–it seems like it just adds bitterness to everything I try to put it in. But the cream of this pie is delicious, not bitter, and actually tastes like the porter, which is excellent. It was very important to me to make something that was good BECAUSE it had beer in it, not in spite of it. It didn’t come out perfectly, but I think the recipe just needed some tweaking, which I changed above to reflect what I THINK needed to be done. You can see the rest of the picture set here. This is definitely one to bring to parties!