I know that José Feliciano's song "Feliz Navidad" is on lots of people's List of Terrible and Annoying Christmas Carols, but I kinda like it. It's upbeat and fun in a genre that's often a little bit dreary and slow, you can't deny that.
What Christmas songs chap your hide? On the other hand, what songs do you love? I'm a fan of the classics (Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, and Gene Autry know Noel) and a precious few newer ones, but that pop stuff can disappear into a black hole as far as I'm concerned. Though I can't pinpoint exactly why, I absolutely hate "The Christmas Shoes."
While I like the traditional carols, I don't mind a more modern dessert offering. If you're looking for something a little bit different to serve this year, consider this pie. It's essentially a chocolate cream pie (win!) but with the added bonus of some heat in the filling and some spice and extra chocolate in the topping.
This pie is creamy and rich, and the spices are subtle but complex. You'll notice the cinnamon first because it's probably one of the most aromatic ingredients in the world. The deep chocolate flavor will hit you next, and the cayenne brings up the rear, giving you a little kick at the end.
Go ahead and serve your gingerbread, yule logs, sugar cookies, and eggnog, but don't be afraid to try something new! Those classics will always be around next year.
Don't forget about my Christmas contest--plenty of time left to make your kabobs and send pictures my way!
Tarta de Crema de Chocolate
- 1-1/3 cups chocolate wafer or cookie crumbs
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2-1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided use
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate
- 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup chilled heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the crust, stir together crumbs, butter, and sugar and press on bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate; bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack.
To make the filling, heat the milk, cream, and 1/3 cup of sugar until a thin skin forms on top.
Meanwhile, viciously whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and egg yolks.
Add in the flour, cornstarch, salt, and cayenne pepper.
Temper in the very hot milk mixture, whisking well.
Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly with a spatula for 1 minute (filling will be thick).
Add the chocolates and let them melt into the mixture for a moment before blending it all together.
Force the filling through a strainer into a bowl, then whisk in the butter and vanilla.
Pour the filling into crust, cover the surface of the filling with wax paper and cool completely, about 4 hours.
To make the topping, beat cream with sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then spoon on top of pie.