Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy…
But here’s my pie–follow me maybe?
I love food festivals for many many good reasons, the best of which are 1) food, 2) eating, and 3) more food. In close fourth comes the company: there’s something oddly liberating about connecting with new people through the miracle of face-stuffing, ith delicious globs of cream dribbling down the side of your face as you and the stranger standing next to you rave over the ah-MAY-zing pie you both just tried.
Do you love coffee too? you ask. Cream pies are the best, right? he responds. What about that coffee crunch though? Isn’t it amazing? Are you going to finish that slice?
A few weeks ago, my friend sent me info on a pie contest that a local radio station was going to host. Of course, I was 110% excited, because I love pies. Eating an entire cake sounds like a terrible idea, but there is nothing more comforting on an autumn evening than snuggling up in your loveseat, inviting an entire Costco-sized pumpkin pie onto your lap, and eating the whole thing right up after a long swim meet.
Topped with a general scoop of homemade Biscoff meringue ice cream, if you fancy like dat.
After tons of debating and wiffle-waffling and probably more anxiety than necessary, I finally decided to adapt one of my favorite dessert recipes and create this Deep-Dish Tiramisu Pie with Coffee Crunch Crumbles. I slapped in a vegan shortbread chocolate chip crust, whipped up some rummy tiramisu filling, layered it with store-bought ladyfingers, dusted the top with cocoa powder, then topped the whole shebang off with this tricky but mind-blowing coffee crunch crumble, which was inspired by this famous Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake copycat recipe.
GOOD IDEA, ALA.
I won’t keep you in suspense: of the hundreds of entries, this pie did not win a blue ribbon.
It won me something even better, and that’s some new friends.
Now you know how much I love meeting strangers. I’m pretty reserved when it comes to most big-crowd friend situations–but throw me in a sea of strangers and suddenly I’m a total extrovert: I feed off of crowd energies like the Negaverse fed off the human population of Tokyo. (Anyone?) One of my friends recently told me at a party that he had no idea I didn’t drink; he simply assumed all our fabulous party conversations were drunk talks because I’m really sensitive to moods and catch the ‘happy drunk’ vibe pretty easily when I’m around other happy drunks.
I’m not sure whether to feel flattered or…well, flattered about that. But anyway. Pie.
Well over two hundred eager pie tasters came by my little booth on that scorching hot afternoon, and at least 30 used one of their two coveted sampling tickets to try my pie. Even folks who lamented that they’d rashly spent all their tickets wanted to learn about the pie and my blog, which I could talk about forever. I handed out business cards, showed folks my Etsy shop, served pie, made friends with some of the other pie contestants, and generally went into social hyperdrive.
My favorite part was when folks who tried my pie strolled away a few paces as they took their first bite, then watching them stop–turn around–and hurry back over with their eyes bright and their forks moving very quickly from plate to mouth.
One sampler actually ran back as the fair was closing up to find me and make sure I knew my pie was his favorite pie, like, ever. When I first met him, he was insanely excited: he had been scouring the whole fairground for a coffee-flavored cake and had given up hope when he stumbled across our hidden tent. We had an excited chat about the merits of all things coffee-flavored and parted with huge grins slapped on both our faces.
But here’s the real kicker.
He took my card and followed me on Twitter later that afternoon, which is how I found out, in the most unlikely way possible, that he’s not just connected to me by a degree of separation: he’s the kid brother of one of my former bosses!
If somebody would like to blast the Small World soundtrack on my behalf right now, I’d totally take it. We’re slated to get coffee in the area sometime soon.
The point is that you never know where every little decision and encounter might lead you. If I had decided I was too busy to enter a big pie contest, I might have missed the chance to talk with hundreds of fantastic folks who wanted to know all about food blogging. If I’d decided to indulge my first five ideas and stick with a fruit pie instead of adventuring with a tiramisu pie, I might never have met a new acquaintance with a surprising connection to my life. And of course, I would not have had this stunning pie to share with all of you!
If you love tiramisu, coffee, cream pies, pies in general, or being a happy human being, you’re going to love this tiramisu pie. It takes quite a few steps to make and assemble, but it is totally worth the wait and PERFECT for those big upcoming holiday dinners. Save this recipe, guys! If my experience is any indication, you never know what wonderful surprises this pie might send your way this holiday…
Vegan Shortbread Chocolate Chip Crust:
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup soy milk (or other dairy-free milk)
- 2 cups olive oil
- 1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
- 2-1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons instant coffee granules
- 9 tablespoons dark rum.
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1-1/2 pounds mascarpone
- 3/4 cup cold heavy cream
- 14 ounces dried ladyfingers (savoiardi); hard variety
- 3-1/2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 1/4 cup grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (optional)
Coffee Crunch Crumble
- 2 1/4 cups (15.75 ounces) sugar
- 1/3 cup (2.66 ounces) strong brewed coffee
- 1/3 cup (3.75 ounces) light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
For shortbread crust:
- Lightly grease two 8x8-inch springform pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until it forms the texture of wet sand. Divide dough in half; press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pans..
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from oven and set on stovetop while you prepare the filling.
For the tiramisu:
- Stir coffee, coffee granules, and 5 tablespoons rum in a wide bowl or baking dish until espresso dissolves; set aside.
- Set a metal mixing bowl over a pot of lightly simmering water, taking care not to let the water touch the bowl. Beat yolks in bowl with a whisk until just combined. Add sugar and salt and continue whisking vigorously so that your eggs do not scramble. Continue heating and whisking for 2 to 3 minutes, until your eggs become thick and pale yellow. Add remaining 4 tablespoons rum and whisk in until just combined. Add mascarpone and whisk in until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl once or twice. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside.
- In now-empty bowl (no need to clean bowl), beat cream with hand mixer at medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Using rubber spatula, fold one-third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set mascarpone mixture aside.
- Working one at a time, drop half of ladyfingers into coffee mixture, roll very quickly, remove and transfer a plate. (Do not submerge ladyfingers in coffee mixture; entire process should take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds for each cookie.)
- To assemble: Arrange 1/4 of your soaked ladyfingers in a single layer on top of one of the shortbread crusts. Spread 1/4 of the mascapone mixture over ladyfingers. Repeat layering, then sprinkle top of pie with cocoa powder, grated chocolate, and coffee crunch crumble (recipe below). Repeat entire assembly with second pie.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Remove springform pan sides, slice, and serve chilled.
For the coffee crunch crumble (recipe from Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake recipe:
- Generously grease a large baking sheet and set aside.
- In a heavy medium pot, combine sugar, coffee, and corn syrup over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the mixture reaches 270 degrees F (if you have a candy thermometer), or for about 10 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken.
- When the crunch reaches 270°F, increase the heat to high and stir constantly until the crunch reaches 305°F. (If you don't have a candy thermometer, watch carefully to make sure your mixture does not burn: this step will take an additional 2-3 minutes and plenty of stirring.) Remove from the heat and quickly whisk baking soda into the liquid--use caution, since the mixture will expand and then deflate very quickly! Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and allow it to cool undisturbed for 1 hour.
- Use a sharp heavy knife to break the crunch into pieces. It should break apart fairly easily. Store for up to one week in an airtight container or simply sprinkle over your prepared tiramisu pies!