Writing the following entry will be interesting for me. For the majority of readers, campfire pie is something entirely foreign to them. It is essentially the classic campfire dessert, the "'smore," pie-ified. While there are many different takes on such a dessert, like "smores pie" or "chocolate marshmallow pie," I really like the romantic connotations the title "campfire" gives. I used Cindy Pawlcyn's recipe. Chef Pawlcyn is of Northern California Wine Country fame, where she owns three notable restaurants. I was lucky enough to eat at Cindy's Backstreet Café, where I enjoyed the campfirey goodness firsthand. She apparently also appeared on an episode of Giada's Weekend Getaways, which was great, because the recipe for campfire pie is now available on the Food Network website. Here's a clip of her introducing herself and her food philosophy from her stint on Top Chef Masters:
Someone stressing the values of healthy food would be hard pressed to find a more decadently sinful dessert than campfire pie. In this way, I thank Chef Pawlcyn for allowing her more devious side it's time to get down and dirty with sugar, butter, and cocoa. However, this recipe is by no means perfect. It is extremely time consuming, has a bit too much butter (I know, I never thought I'd say it either), is time sensitive, and it's extremely rich. That being said, it's delicious if you enjoy it bit-by-bit and there's nothing like it.
Let us begin. We'll start component by component.
9 ounces of chocolate cookies (you could either go with Oreos sans frosting or Nabisco Chocolate Wafers)
2 1/2 oz. unsalted butter, melted
Grind the cookies in a food processor until powdery. In a medium bowl, blend the powdered cookies and butter until the mixture resembles a moistened sand. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of a 10" pie plate. I find that a circular, metal 1/2 C measure works as a great tool to press the crumbs. Freeze to set, about 10 minutes minimum.
This is where tragedy struck for me. I found that the recipe called for much too much butter. 5 ounces? Where there's only 3 ounces of almonds? Hmm. The following is what I believe to be a more appropriate amount.
3 oz. whole blanched almonds (I used slivered almonds)
2 oz. sugar
5 oz. butter (my recommendation: 1 oz. butter)
The bitter chocolate sauce:
Again, I take issue with the amount of butter used. It simply floats on top of the sauce like oil on water. It's unappetizing, and bears notice. I would start with half that amount.
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 1/2 oz. cane syrup
7 oz. butter (my recommendation: 3.5 oz.)
5 oz. heavy cream
Combine the chocolates, cane syrup, and butter over a double boiler and gently melt. Stir in cream. Set aside.
At this point, it's also important to note that you'll need 8 ounces of dark chocolate cookie chunks. To accomplish this, I bought some local bakery cookie dough, baked the cookies myself, and crumbled them.
Lastly, the heart of the recipe, the marshmallow:
4 sheets of gelatin, soaked in water (according to packaging amounts)
3 oz. water
5 oz. egg whites
1/8 t cream of tartar
8 oz. sugar
1 1/2 oz. cane sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
Hydrate the gelatin sheets in a small saucepan. Gently warm the gelatin until dissolved and set aside. Place the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. In another saucepan, bring the sugar, corn syrup, and water to a boil. Using a candy thermometer, bring the syrup to 230°F. Start whipping the egg whites on high speed and continue to boil the sugar syrup to 240°F.
Pour the syrup into the egg whites in a thin stream while whipping the egg whites until all the syrup is incorporated. While continuing to whip, add the gelatin and vanilla. Whip for one minute longer.
Remove the chocolate wafer crust from the freezer and immediately spread 1/3 of the marshmallow fluff onto it. Then, sprinkle half of the cookie chunks, almond ding, and chocolate chips on top.
Just after a sprinkling of cookie chunks.
Drizzle 2 ounces of the bitter chocolate sauce on top. Spread another 1/3 of the marshmallow fluff and follow up with the remaining cookie chunks, almond ding, chocolate chips and 2 oz. bitter chocolate sauce. (There will be leftover bitter chocolate sauce, which you may reserve for plating at serving time.) Top off with remaining marshmallow fluff and shape the top with tufts by using the back of a spoon.
Cover and refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.
To serve, preheat your oven to 400°F. Slice into 8 equal pieces and bake for 5 minutes.
So there you have it. Smores in a pie. It's not a perfect recipe by any means. But I did enjoy struggling through it and enjoying its richness. In the future, I'd like to devise a recipe that incorporates less chocolate and more graham cracker elements. a smore is, after all, 1/3 graham cracker. But if you do care to execute this recipe, note my butter reductions and work quickly through assembly. And if you can't find gelatin sheets at specialty foodstores, you may need to order them online.
Keep it classy, y'all!