Chocolate salted caramel pretzel pie

The centerpiece of our family Christmas dinner this year was this rather magnificent ham. It was donated by my sister-in-law whose work had handed out hams as presents. Apparently everyone had a choice between receiving a ham or a selection of macarons. The idea that anyone would have conceivably picked macarons over ham had me laughing out loud. (Something along the lines of this, if you must know.)

Anyway, it’s rather fortunate that my brother married a truly lovely and wise lady, otherwise a few days ago you would have found me trying to balance a party hat on my head while attempting to carve macarons. Not a pretty sight.

After much feasting, our post Christmas meals have featured more sensible portions of rehashed leftovers. Sandwiches, kimchi ham fried rice and turkey curry. I’m already dreaming of the day when I’m eating notHam and notTurkey for dinner.

There were no dessert leftovers, so pie was made to keep us company.

Chocolate salted caramel pretzel pies :
(enough for 2 x 8 1/2-inch pies)

For the crust :
150g mini pretzels
100g melted butter

In a food processor, blitz the pretzels to a powder. Add the melted butter and pulse until well combined. Divide the mixture between two pie tins (I used foil pie tins). Press the mixture down and up the sides of the tin. It will seem a bit loose but persevere. The end result will be worth it. Chill the crust for 30 minutes then bake in a preheated 175’C oven for 12 minutes. Once baked, allow to cool down, then chill the pie crusts while you make the caramel filling.

For the salted caramel filling :
100g demerara sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
30g butter
good pinch of sea salt
100g pouring cream

(optional : 100g spiced peanuts, or roasted salted peanuts)

In a medium sized pot, combine the demerara sugar and corn syrup. Allow the sugar and corn syrup mixture to caramelise, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula. When it has reached a deep golden brown colour, remove the pot from the heat, add the salt and butter, followed by the cream, being careful not to scald yourself. Whisk until combined. Reheat the mixture gently over a low flame if the caramel hasn’t completely dissolved. Pour the finished caramel into a heatproof bowl to allow to cool down a little, before dividing it between the two pie crusts. At this point you can also sprinkle a handful of spiced peanuts over the caramel. Chill the pies while you make the chocolate filling.

For the chocolate filling :
225g 58% dark chocolate buttons
75g butter
60g water (or beer)

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Remove from the heat and set aside. Bring the water or beer to just below boiling point. Pour it over the chocolate-butter mixture. Let stand for 1 minute, then whisk to emulsify the chocolate. Divide the chocolate mixture between the two pies, then chill until just set. The pies are best served at room temperature but can also be served straight from the fridge. They take on a different, almost chewy texture when eaten chilled.

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Chocolate Daze


(Fran Bigelow’s The Reine chocolate torte)

I know what you’re thinking. It’s not looking good, is it? I must be in denial. I’m not a chocoholic, I tell ya. Yet, somehow when I made a list of things I wanted to bake as holiday gifts this weekend, it would appear that at least 80% of the list involved chocolate in some form or other.

Chocolate, glorious chocolate.

Perhaps it had something to do with the big bag of Lindt chocolate buttons I’d bought the other day. Or some recently acquired cookbooks. In any case, each item has a reason (or excuse, if you will) for being.

I made Fran Bigelow’s The Reine after yearning for a simple cake with a striking chocolate glaze. In keeping with the Christmas theme, some cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla were added to the batter; spices I usually associate with Christmas. The resulting cake was moist and delicious, but certainly didn’t hold a candle to the following brownies.


(Paul A. Young’s Chocolate Brownies)

These chocolate brownies from Paul A Young’s book are the ultimate fudgey brownie. I topped mine with dried cranberries for that festive feel, and folded cocoa nibs through the batter, instead of the recommended dessicated coconut. Once baked and chilled, they sliced beautifully, and if they manage to make it out of the kitchen, I will be wrapping bars of these in cellophane to give away.


(Claire Clark’s Chocolate red wine cake)

For friends with more ‘grown-up’ tastes, I couldn’t go past Claire Clark’s slightly mysterious and fruity chocolate red wine cake. It’s almost mulled wine in cake form, which is a good thing. So good, that this is the fourth or fifth time I’ve made this cake. I’ve provided the recipe below, but would encourage you to consider buying the book, as it also contains stellar recipes for all manners of cookies, cakes and plated desserts.

Of course, this is by no means my final post for the year, but I wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone for reading this year. The support has been greatly appreciated, and I’m sorry I haven’t anything to give to you in return except for a handful of pictures. If you are ever in the neighbourhood, please drop by for a cup of tea and a piece of cake. Possibly a chocolate one. 🙂

Chocolate Red Wine Cake :
(from Indulge : 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark)

125g softened unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
150ml red wine, at room temperature
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
65g dark chocolate (55-70% cocoa solids), grated

for soaking :
50ml water
30g caster sugar
125ml red wine

Preheat the oven to 170’C. Grease and flour a 25cm/10inch bundt tin.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the beaten eggs a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the wine and mix well.

Sift the flour, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa powder and baking powder together. Fold the dry ingredients a tablespoon at a time into the creamed cake mixture.
Lastly fold in the grated chocolate. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and level the top. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes, until the cake is well risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the tin for 20 minutes and then place a thin cake card over the top and invert the tin. Lift off the tin so the cake sits on the card. It will still be warm, so do not try to move it at this stage. Cool the cake completely.

To soak the cake, bring the water and sugar to the boil in a small pan and stir in the red wine. Fill the cleaned bundt tin with the red wine syrup and place the cooled cake back in the tin. It will quickly absorb the hot liquid. Once the liquid has been absorbed, reverse the cake on to the cake card as before. Remove the tin, being careful not to damage the cake. Leave the cake to cool before glazing.

[Note : I don’t have a bundt tin, so I made this in a basic round springform tin, and gently brushed the syrup over the cake, rather than lifting it out of the tin and pouring the syrup in first. You need to be careful if soaking the cake in a springform tin, obviously because it will probably leak a little. I usually do this in a tray next to the sink. Claire Clark finishes her cake with a redcurrant jelly glaze and discs of glossy tempered chocolate. In the mood for something a little more simple, I sprinkled the top of the cake with shaved chocolate instead]

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