Sunday, April 10, 2016

Pork and Pie Post-Easter

In case you were wondering why I had no Easter post this year, it's because Easter didn't quite happen the normal way in my family. (Does anything normal ever happen in my family?)

I spent the past month in rehearsals for my latest play.  I had very little time to cook or bake anything elaborate.  When I did have time to bake, it was for the concession stand at the show.

Even more importantly, my brother spent Easter in Florida with his in-laws.  There weren't too many people here up north to have a big family dinner.

The only solution (other than canceling Easter altogether) was to have Easter dinner two weeks late.  Then it would be after my last performance and long past the day my brother's family returned from Florida.

Dinner was a collaborative effort.  Mom hosted and provided the bulk of the food and beverages.  I had a special request to bring the pork.  I had several ideas for how I would prepare a pork shoulder (my favorite cut), but my brother requested I make one of my family long-time favorites:  Pork with Wine and Grapes, from my old Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine cookbook.

I have made this recipe a few times before and have shown it on the blog.  I have even made some more simplified, slimmed down versions.  I thought I'd reshare it.

When I have made this in the past, I usually used a loin.  The recipe actually calls for a butt.  A butt is certainly a better cut for this dish since it would do a better job of standing up to a slow braise.  The meat is supposed to a 4lb boneless roast.  One reason I always used the loin is that it's not easy to find a boneless, 4lb butt.

I was quite daring for this meal and purchased a bone-in butt from Heritage Foods USA.  Even though my knife skills are not the greatest, I managed to cut out the bone and tie it up. I had more meat attached to the bone than I wanted, so I cut those chunks off and stuffed them in the middle.   It was ready for the marinade of brandy, thyme, onions, and garlic.

After an overnight marinade, it's browned and then braised in white wine and the marinade.  At the end of cooking, you add the grapes and a cup of heavy cream.

Make sure when you serve it you have plenty of bread handy to soak up that delicious juice.

Dessert was also my responsibility.  Easter is a time for chocolate.  When I think of Easter I think of chocolate bunnies, and caramel, and Cream Eggs.  I wanted lots of chocolate and lots of goo.  I wanted decadence that would still be accessible to the children in the family. I went for rich chocolate and gooey caramel.

This was a variation on my old turtle pie, meant to be a pie version of turtle candies (chocolate ganache on top of caramel and pecans).  This pie had no nuts in it though, and was primarily milk chocolate.  Why didn't I just make the turtle pie?  It was mostly for the sake of the kids.  They don't like nuts and most kids prefer milk chocolate.  My husband prefers milk chocolate too.

The pie started with a cookie crumb crust.  Once it was baked, I added a layer of thick homemade caramel sauce.  Next I added a layer of milk chocolate ganache gently flavored with a nip of Baileys.  Finally I put a thin layer of dark chocolate ganache just for contrast.  I drizzled a bit more caramel sauce.

Do you think it was rich enough?

We also had spinach lasagne, asparagus, potatoes, and key lime pie. Dinner started with a big antipasto platter since dry sausage and bread are some of the few things my nephew will eat.

Now I will provide what you have all been waiting for:  The pie recipe.  I decided to call it Candy Bar Pie as it is like eating a large, gooey candy bar.

Candy Bar Pie


  • 1 package chocolate wafer cookies
  • 1 Tbl sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 Tbl unsalted butter

Milk Chocolate Layer
  • 8 oz milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbl Bailey's Irish Cream
Caramel Layer
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbl light corn syrup
  • 2 Tbl water
  • 4 Tbl unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cream
Dark Chocolate Layer 
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grind the wafer cookies into crumbs in a food processor (or you can put the cookies in a plastic bag and manually beat them with a rolling pin).  Place them in a bowl and blend with sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Add the butter and blend in until thoroughly combined.  Gently press into a 9" pie plate.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Bring sugar, corn syrup, and water to a boil over medium high heat.  Swirl the pan a bit as the sugar begins to caramelize for even color.  When it is a uniform dark amber, remove from heat and add the butter.  Return to the stove and add the cream.  Remove from heat when it comes to a boil.  Allow to cool.  When it is cool but still pourable, pour it into the chocolate crust, reserving 2 tablespoons for garnish.  Refrigerate the pie.

Place chopped milk chocolate in a small bowl.  Bring 1 cup of cream to a boil.   Pour over chocolate.  Wait about a minute and gently stir until smooth.  Stir in the liqueur.  Cool slightly and pour over the caramel layer while still pourable.  Keep refrigerated.  You need the ganache to solidify.

Bring the remaining 1/2 cup cream to a boil.  Place dark chocolate in a small bowl and pour the cream over it.  Let stand and stir any lumps.  Pour it over the milk chocolate layer when cool.  Chill the pie several hours.  Serve garnished with swirls of the reserved caramel sauce.