Chocolate Meringue Pie


Here is a recipe for Chocolate Pie that is super simple and really delicious. I have also include my recipe, a fairly standard one, for pie crust that I use for both sweet and savory dishes. The pie filling can easily be prepared with a whisk so save the electric mixer for the meringue. Enjoy!

Pie Crust Recipe

1 Stick of Chilled/Frozen Butter (salted or unsalted)

1 Cup of All Purpose Flour

4-6 Tbs. of Ice Water

Salt to Taste


  1.  Cut the chilled butter into small pea size bits and chill in the freezer until very firm.
  2. Combine the flour and salt and mix thoroughly and chill in the freezer with the butter. The flour mixture can be poured directly over the butter pieces and chilled together.
  3. Remove from the freezer and work the butter into the flour to break down as much of the butter as possible. The texture should be somewhat sandy with some pea size pieces of butter remaining. Place back in the freezer until well chilled.
  4. When well chilled make a well in the center and add 4 Tbs. of ice water and mix the ingredients together.  Gradually add additional ice water to moisten all the flour and butter mixture creating a cohesive dough.  DO NOT OVER MIX. Once the mixture comes together and is smooth flatten slightly and wrap in plastic wrap and chill.  This recipe makes enough dough for one 9″ pie plate, bottom crust only. If you are making a covered pie such as apple simply double the recipe.

Chocolate Meringue Pie Recipe

3 Egg Yolks (reserve the whites for the meringue)

3/4 Cup of Sugar

3 Tbs. of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 Tbs. Flour

2 Tbs. Melted Butter

1 8oz. Can of Evaporated Milk

1 Cup of Water

1 Tsp. of Vanilla Extract


  1.  Mix the yolks and sugar until pale yellow.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly making sure there are no flour or cocoa lumps.


3.  Roll out chilled dough and place in pie plate. Pour chocolate pie filling into the plate and place in a 350° oven for 45 minutes or until filling has set.

4.  Place reserved egg whites into a stand mixer and slowly mix until soft peaks form. Add 4 Tbs. of sugar and finish mixing until stiff peaks form.

5.  Pour over baked pie and spread evenly with a spatula. Use a whisk to create peaks in the meringue. Return to the pie to the oven until the meringue has browned.

Orange Scented Walnut Cake


Here is a recipe that was inspired by a recipe for Pistachio Tea Cake that I have used for many years as a celebration cake. It is from a cookbook titled “Fifty Ways to Cook Most Everything” by Andrew Schloss and Ken Bookman. An old friend gave me this book some twenty years ago and I still reference it for basic recipes. It  is essentially  a study of recipes each changed up a dozen or so different ways. I don’t think there is a complicated one in the entire book. The very nature of the book sort of beckons you to take liberties with the recipes that more serious cookbooks do not.

Part of my inspiration was found at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago. I wanted to make the pistachio version, which by the way I have frankly always found to be on the dry side,  and stopped in to get the necessary ingredients at which point I stumbled onto an interesting package of oils extracted from Pistachios, Walnuts and Hazelnuts.  I added a good half a cup of the Pistachio oil to the Pistachio cake recipe and it cured the dryness leaving it moist and even richer in Pistachio flavor.

These oils are really great great quality. I remember several years ago picking up a bottle of pistachio oil in Paris and yes it was excellent quality and full of flavor; same goes for these! Anyway with the success of the pistachio version I couldn’t help but think of using the Walnut oil in the same way and replacing the Pistachios with toasted Walnuts. To brighten up the flavors I added a bit of citrus by way of orange zest. In all it has turned out to be a delicious alternative to the pistachios. The deep earthy flavor from the roasted Walnuts and the walnut oil lightened up a bit with the scent of the orange zest is pretty nice!

Orange Scented Walnut Cake

1/2 Pound Butter

2 Tsp. of Vanilla Extract

1 Cup of Sugar

4 Eggs

1 1/3 Cups of Flour

1 Tsp. of Baking Powder

1/4 Pound Toasted Walnuts (Finely Ground)

Zest From 2 Oranges


  1.  With an electric mixer beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy.
  2. Add one egg at a time scraping the mixing bowl down to keep the batter smooth.
  3. Sift in the flour and baking powder in three intervals.
  4. Stir in the finely ground Walnuts and the Orange zest.
  5. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9″x 5″ loaf pan and place in a 350° oven for 1 hour 10 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.


Cake: Chocolate and Chartreuse


Almost every year for Christmas, without exception, I make a chocolate cake  heavily doused with Chartreuse, that wonderful liqueur made in France by the Chartreux monks. The recipe is one I found in In Madeleine’s Kitchen by Madeleine Kamman, page 52.  It is actually a charlotte of sorts and does not have cake like layers but is made predominately with a chocolate mousse that sets up to a very dense but silky consistency. As it would happen last year proved to be one of those rare exceptions. Due to the amount of travel we engaged in during both Christmas and New Years there was simply no time to make the traditional Christmas Cake.  So one month later and a new year, I took this as an opportunity to break with tradition a bit by creating a new recipe that still takes advantage of the great combination of chocolate and Chartreuse. The inspiration here comes from a recipe from Daniel My French Cuisine by Daniel Boulud.  In Daniel’s recipe it is a real chocolate layered cake or bombe with a chocolate ganache frosting decorated with chocolate shavings. His recipe calls for a chocolate syrup that moistens each of the layers of the cake. In this version I have replaced  the syrup  with the Chartreuse to moisten the layers recapturing the combination of chocolate and Chartreuse. Daniel’s recipe uses a classic genoise style cake but here I have made it with a traditional chocolate cake baked in a 3 quart stainless steel bowl for a nod to Daniel’s original recipe, Cocoa-Dusted Dark Chocolate Bombe.  I my version I have used only the ganache as the frosting.

Chocolate Cake Recipe

• 1 1/2 cups white sugar
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, Ghirardelli 100% Pure Cocoa Powder recommended
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup milk
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 cup boiling water
• Chartreuse (about ½ cup)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 3 quart stainless steel bowl.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared bowl.

Ready To Bake

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in for 15 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. When cake is cool enough to handle slice into three equal layers.
5. Use a pastry brush to soak both sides of the bottom two layers with the Chartreuse.

6. Frost the bottom two layers with enough ganache to equal the thickness of the individual layers.

7. Stack the layers back together and frost the cake.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

3 ¼ cups heavy cream
2 ¼ cups sugar
12 oz. unsweetened baker’s chocolate chopped, Ghirardelli 100% unsweetened cocoa bar recommended


1. In a medium saucepan heat the heavy cream and the sugar an allow to simmer until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Chop the chocolate into medium to small pieces and place in a heat proof bowl.
3. Pour the heated cream/sugar combination over the chopped chocolate and allow to sit for one minute.
4. Stir to blend the melted chocolate with the cream until smooth and transfer to a shallow baking dish. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and allow to cool at room temperature.

Apple Cake – Roman Style

Cakes are popular here in Italy. I am not sure I realized the few times we had come to Italy that they held such high esteem in the culinary rubric. But they are a mainstay at most cafes; usually perched on one end of the bar or even tucked behind the counter where only those in the know can ask for a slice.  These are not typically layered cakes.   They are most often baked in a decorative mold or a simple spring form pan.  I have most often seen them with no icing though occasionally one turns up with a light glaze of some sort. They also tend to be less sweet than what we are accustomed to in the States.  A particular favorite of mine is the Apple cake.  Certainly this time of the year is the optimal season to make it.  Here is one such recipe that I that I have adapted, through some trial and error, from a recently purchased cookbook, Roma in Cucina.  Enjoy!

Continue reading Apple Cake – Roman Style

Bolognese Rice Cake

I did not have a photo of the rice cake I mentioned in a previous blog about the lunch at All’Osteria Bottega so I figured that would be a good excuse to track down a recipe and share it here.  As you will see it is really a simple recipe but does take some time in preparing the rice. After that it is really straight forward.  This makes a really moist cake that is delicious for breakfast with coffee or tea or as a traditional dessert after dinner.


Rice Cake Recipe

1 quart of whole milk

4 oz. of arborio rice

3/4 cup of sugar

3 eggs

1/2 cup of finely chopped toasted almonds

1/2 cup of chopped candied fruit peel, **See note.

the peel of 1/2 a lemon

1-2 jiggers of Amaretto or other liquor (I used Brandy)


  1. Bring milk to a boil. Add the sugar, rice and lemon peel  and reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for 45- 50 minutes. Make sure to stir periodically to avoid burning the rice.
  2. When the rice and milk mixture has thickened (the mixture should be completely thick with no liquid visible) remove from the heat and let stand to cool completely.
  3. When thoroughly cooled add one egg at a time. Stir in vigorously with a wooden spoon to make sure all eggs are well incorporated into the mixture.
  4. Add the candied fruit peel and the finely chopped toasted almonds and Amaretto. Stir until all is well incorporated into the rice batter.
  5. Butter and flour a 10″ x 10″ cake pan. I used a small pyrex dish and it came out fine.
  6. Place in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for one hour (mine took about 15min. more).   Check the center with a  toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean remove from the oven and allow to cool before trying to remove from the cake pan.
  7. When cooled remove from the cake pan and slice into small cubes.

RiceCake1***Note: If you can’t find candied fruit peel you can always substitute with the zest of your preference. Also the cake I had at the restaurant used Amaretto but you can use whatever type of alcohol you prefer. I did not have Amaretto so I used Brandy.