Sunday, June 5, 2011

First Day of Winter... Sweet Pumpkin Pie & Chilli Hot Chocolate

I have been fighting a bug for the past few weeks but after pushing myself to the limit in recent times, my body finally succumbed to illness.

My health is gradually improving and on my better days I have developed an appetite. The good news? I have started baking again.

I had purchased half a pumpkin for 78 cents/kilo two days earlier when I had decided to make pumpkin soup but something changed my mind.. I remembered a chilly morning in Armidale not quite a year ago when I baked my very first pumpkin pie.

And so it was on the first day of Winter I baked another sweet pumpkin pie.

Byron kindly chopped and cubed the pumpkin before baking it with honey at his home. We then drove back to my house and he left for the evening, whilst I dozed. After waking feeling more refreshed I commenced the pâte brisée and mashed the pumpkin with an ordinary old potato masher (Julia Child eat your heart out, I have gadgets for doing things by hand too!).

After rolling the first sheet of chilled pastry, I turned to wash the rolling pin and who should jump up on the freshly rolled pie base, planting two perfect paw prints in the middle of the pastry but Maxi cat.. He quickly inspected the flour to check it was safe to eat...

... Before allowing me to continue baking.

Luckily I had made ample pastry (though I was saving it for a rainy day as it can keep for a short time in the freezer) so I rolled another pastry base, lined my wonderful pyrex glass baking dish and pre-baked my pie crust. Meanwhile, I blended the ingredients for the pie filling. These ingredients saw me venture out to purchase double cream as I had forgotten it. I hastily blended the pumpkin mash (too lumpy to be purée) with the sugar, spices, lightly beaten eggs and cream and poured the sweet filling into the crust.

Whilst I baked the pie, I made some decorations for the top from leftover pâte brisée. I sprinkled these with a light dusting of cinnamon sugar and baked them on a separate baking dish for the last ten minutes of pie-baking time.

The smell of cinnamon really does lift the senses.

Byron arrived home surprised to find me awake (No surprises there really as I had slept almost the entire day), I heated some milk on the stove and made chilli hot chocolate, with just a hint of orange. This really is a treat to enjoy with another person.

Chilli Hot Chocolate

Heat 3 cups of full cream milk over low heat in a milk pan together with a large chunk of couverture chocolate, stirring occasionally. The amount of chocolate you use will depend on how chocolate-y you want the drink to be and if I'm being honest- Anyone who personally knows me will confess that I am a chocoholic so of course I tend to use a giant chocolate chunk, usually more than 150 grams.
Once warm, add a generous pinch or two of red chilli powder, the amount depending on how much 'kick' you want to give your hot chocolate, I used one pinch and don't screw up your nose but I also added a tiny pinch of salt to enhance the flavours.
The orange flavour came from adding two spoonfuls of Maggie Beer's Dark Chocolate and Orange Ice Cream. Once all ingredients had melted together (I don't like super-hot chocolate), remove the milk pan from the heat and strain into cups. Sip and enjoy.

After the pie was removed from the oven we simply couldn't wait!

We grabbed two spoons from the cutlery drawer and plunged them deep into the creamy hot middle of the pie.

Now this is how you eat a pie!!

Not such a shabby start to the coldest season of our year.

Bella xx

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Love Bella xx


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