Today, Maya Angelou turns 86. Heath Ledger would have been 35. Thom informed me that Caracalla (uhh, who?) was born on this day in 188. And this time 26 years ago, my dad was celebrating the birth of his 9 pound (sorry, ma) baby girl at the Cincinnati Reds opening day game.
Not only is today the anniversary of my birth, but it also happens to be the day I get booted from my dad’s insurance plan. It’s one of those birthdays I’ve been dreading since the moment I learned how much private health insurance plans actually cost. So naturally (and very strategically) I spent my last day as a 25-year-old-with-insurance having my teeth cleaned by someone else (no cavities, WOOP), allowing someone to poke me and steal seven vials of my blood, and trying to convince my nurse practitioner that oral contraceptives are wildly unnatural so I’M NOT GONNA TAKE ‘EM (side note: I adore Elenore). After what felt like an eternity of her trying to persuade me otherwise, I realized I should have just taken the easy way out and told her I’m a devout Catholic: We don’t believe in the pill because NATURAL LAW, YO. Except I’m not Catholic (anymore) and I’m pretty sure it’s frowned upon to lie about your religious affiliation.
Impending insurance cancellation, I spent the better part of last night researching various healthcare plans and murmuring more swear words than usual. $378 a month for insurance? FOR INSURANCE? And I still have a sizable deductible and a 20% co-pay? WTF is the point of a co-pay, anyway? Is it too much to ask for more affordable health insurance options from a nation whose elected servants (and other exceedingly patriotic inhabitants) deem it The Greatest Country in the World? PREEZY OF THE UNITED STEEZY, ARE YOU LISTENING?
Now I’m just being facetious. In all seriousness though, this insurance business is for the birds. But enough about insurance because I’ve got all month to worry about that.
My Oma claims it’s a god given right to do whatever you want – within reason – on your birthday. So since it’s my birthday I’m going to take her advice and go on a long run (free therapy!), take an even longer bath, and then I’m going to eat a piece of this pie for breakfast because I think Oma would agree that starting the day off with pie is totally within reason. Especially after a long run. I’m also going to eat sushi (is it sushi if it’s only filled with cucumber and avocado?) (don’t answer that) until my guts feel like they’re going to explode and I’m going to refrain from getting obnoxiously drunk like I did last year because falling asleep at the Sigur Rós show was not my proudest moment.
Oh, and while I have you here:
Oh, Ladycakes is a Best Original Recipes finalist for Saveur’s Best Food Blog Awards. It’s an absolute honor to be nominated among so many of the people who inspire me on a daily basis – and although best is certainly subjective, I appreciate the nod. If you’d like to cast your vote for Oh, Ladycakes you can head over to Saveur’s site (the Best Original Recipes category is 10th from the top) to make it happen. Unfortunately you have to register to vote, but all that’s required is an email address, username, and password (and I promise they won’t send you a bunch of junk). Voting lasts through next Wednesday, 9 April.
Notes: If you don’t want to prepare an 8-9″ pie, you can prepare this recipe in tartlet pans. The pie filling can be made with the plain mousse or peanut butter mousse, but is also great with the whiskey mousse variety: wwhiskey + pretzel crust = awesome. If you’re not into the idea of this being a fancy peanut butter cup tucked into pretzel crust, feel free to omit the peanut butter and use plain coconut whipped cream, instead. If the idea of making chocolate mousse seems like too much work, simply mix the melted chocolate and milk and pour it straight into the crust – it won’t be nearly as light as the mousse, but it’s equally as delicious. For the pretzel “flour”, simply blend approximately 255g pretzels in your food processor or spice grinder until they produce a fine flour with a few larger flecks. You could make a graham cracker crust, as well.
Update: A number of people have emailed asking if the pretzels can be crushed instead of ground in a food processor/spice grinder. Unfortunately they cannot, as the end result needs to be the consistency of flour to work properly in this recipe.
CHOCOLATE MOUSSE PIE WITH PEANUT BUTTER WHIP + PRETZEL CRUST
2 cups + 2 tbsp pretzel flour (see notes above)
2 tbsp cane sugar, optional
13-14 tbsp non-hydrogenated shortening, room temperature
Peanut butter whip
1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, or more
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp powdered cane sugar
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line the bottom of an 8-9″ tart pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with oil; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the pretzel flour and sugar, if using. Add 13 tablespoons of the shortening and use a wooden spoon to mix it with the pretzel flour until it’s combined and the mixture resembles large crumbs. Press the mixture together with your hands – if it sticks together fairly well, you don’t need to add the final tablespoon of shortening unless you want to. Firmly press the crumbs into the prepared tart pan and bake at 325˚F for 10 minutes then set aside to cool. If you don’t want to use the crust right away, it can be kept frozen in an air tight for up to 3 months.
Prepare the chocolate mousse using the recipe and method described here. If you want to amp up the peanut butter flavor, go with the peanut butter variation that’s listed just before the recipe. Once you’ve prepared the mousse, pour it directly into the crust and transfer it to the refrigerator to chill. The mousse will firm up within 10 minutes but the pie will still need time to cool.
While the pie is chilling, prepare the peanut butter whip by scooping the white layer of cream off the top of your can of coconut milk; put it into a large bowl. You can discard the water or save it for use in smoothies. Add the peanut butter and vanilla extract and, using a hand mixer on high speed, beat the mixture until it’s combined and no clumps remain. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix until light and fluffy; 20-30 seconds.
Remove the pie from the refrigerator and top with peanut butter whip. Allow to chill for at least another 2 hours before serving – the shortening in the crust needs some time to solidify to keep the pie structurally sound. When ready to serve, top with crushed pretzel sticks and chopped chocolate, if desired. Pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to four days, but if you want to add the crushed pretzel topping, I recommend waiting until serving (or else the pretzels get soggy).
Yield: 10 slices