Salted Chocolate Humble Pie

Salted Chocolate Humble Pie by the Messy Baker

11 Dec Salted Chocolate Humble Pie

Salted Chocolate Humble Pie by The Messy Baker

Many children sport t-shirts that say, “Mother’s Little Darling.” Mine should have read, “Ruining Christmas Parties Since 1965.” I made a case for myself when I was 2 and disappeared at a Christmas open house. I sent everyone into a panic, only to be found sound asleep in the hosts’ closet surrounded by a dozen or so empty wine bottles. In my defence, they went into the closet nearly empty. I merely downed the last few drops. Admittedly, that adds up when you weigh less than the Christmas turkey. But I survived to spoil another day.

By the time I was five, I’d earned the t-shirt. The target this time was a Christmas afternoon tea Mom held for the women from the PTA. She’d made little cookies and finger sandwiches delicately stacked on a three-tiered tray, and served her best English breakfast tea. The food disappeared but no one asked for a beverage refill. In fact, most of cups were left half-full. This was puzzling given my mother’s ability to brew a fine cup. She was such a stickler we could steep a pot by the time she trusted us near a kettle of boiling water. Younger children were initiated with being tasked with minding the timer.

But that afternoon the tea sat cold in Mom’s best china cups. Once the guests had left, she tried a cup herself. Stronky — a word she reserved for any exceptionally objectionable taste or smell.

When Dad came home they made another pot of tea. Stronky. Perhaps it was the tea?

Dad went to the store and bought a fresh pack. The second pot was no better.

It must be the teapot. Mom never washed it, only rinsed it out with boiling water. Clearly some sort of mold had set in. So Dad went out and bought a new Brown Betty. The third pot of tea tasted just as bad.

He repeated the trek in search of fresh milk. Pot four was equally stronky.

By this time, my older sister, who had a very wise 10 years under her belt, suggested that perhaps sugar was the culprit.

“Sugar doesn’t go bad,” Mom said, dismissing the suggestion. “It’s a preservative.” Undaunted, my sister stuck her finger in the sugar bowl.

“It tastes weird,” she said in a tone that quivered between pride and disgust. Mom dipped her finger in the sugar bowl. Dad licked sugar from a spoon. My sister was right. The sugar was off. All eyes turned to me.

“Charmian, did you put salt in the sugar bowl?”

There was no point in blaming the baby. She couldn’t walk let alone climb the table.

“Why on earth would you do that?!” Mom was more dumbfounded than angry.

“I got bored.”

The night before, I had been confined to the kitchen table after dinner. I had refused to eat my peas and was left alone to finish them or face them for breakfast the next morning. I’d been given 10 long minutes to decide. The tea timer ticked the countdown. Knowing that adults often forgot their threats, I gambled. The peas weren’t going anywhere, and I had time to kill. I saw the clear glass salt shaker sitting next to the sugar bowl. Salt looked a lot like sugar. What would happen if I mixed them together? Would I be able to tell them apart? I shook salt liberally into the sugar bowl and stirred. The salt vanished without a trace. Cool!

The timer rang. I jumped down from the table. My little experiment bounced from my mind the moment my feet hit the floor. However, no one who drank a cup of Mom’s Christmas afternoon tea forgot.

Salted Chocolate Humble Pie

When Egg Farmers of Canada asked me to take part in their #ScrambledPlan campaign, I decided I’d use the challenge to undo some karmic damage. This is my edible apology for the tea party I ruined so many years ago.

Salted Chocolate Humble Pie by the Messy Baker

The chocolate base is my bitter cold-peas-induced resentment, which started it all. The crust is a sweet pastry with lots of sugar. It’s finished off with a deliberate dusting of undisguised salt. This time, the guests will want to finish it all. Maybe even ask for seconds. Tea is optional.

DISCLAIMER: I can ruin a party but I can’t tell a lie. This is a sponsored post. While I have been compensated to create this recipe, nothing can make up for The Incident. Sorry, Mom. You get an extra slice.

Salted Chocolate Humble Pie
Recipe type: Dessert
Cook / active time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Serves 8 to 10
Yolks make this chocolate pie silky smooth but with more body than a ganache. If the thought of orphaning half a dozen egg whites makes you cringe, fear not. Frozen egg whites keep well and defrost beautifully.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup salted butter, cubed
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 6 ounces good quality dark chocolate (65 to 70% cocoa), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 egg yolks*
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Finishing salt (Maldon is good. I used pink Himalayan.)
  1. Place the flour on the counter. Make a well in the centre and add the butter, and icing sugar. Using your fingertips, work the ingredients together until the flour feels grainy. Make a well in the centre again and add the egg. Using your fingertips, work the egg into the flour. When the dough begins to hold together, knead it until it’s smooth and pliable.
  2. Form into a disk. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. You can make the pastry up to 3 days before. Allow to warm a few minutes before rolling out.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a circle no more than ⅛-inch thick. Thinner is better. Aim for 1/16th inch if you can. Gently transfer the pastry in a non-stick 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable base. Prick the bottom with a fork. Chill while the oven preheats.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the pasty with parchment and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 10 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights and bake another 10 minutes. The pastry should be golden on the edges.
  5. Reduce the oven to 300°F and make the filling.
  1. In a small saucepan, over medium, heat the cream until it just reaches the boil. Remove from heat, add the chocolate and vanilla, and stir until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks until smooth. Sift the cocoa and sugar into the yolks and mix until the sugar has dissolved and no longer feels grainy. Slowly, pour the chocolate cream into the yolks, stirring gently. You don’t want to create any bubbles.
  3. Gently pour the filling into the pastry shell. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges are set but the centre has a tiny bit of wiggle. *
  4. Cool thoroughly. Remove from pan and sprinkle lightly with finishing salt. Slice and serve.
*To make 8 4-inch tarts follow the recipe with the following changes.
- Double all pastry ingredients except the flour. Only increase flour to 1¾ cups.
- Line 4-inch fluted tart shells with removable bottoms with the pastry.
- Blind bake as you would the pie, reducing the baking time once the weights are removed.
- Once filled bake 10 minutes.
* Don’t waste the whites. If you can’t use them right away, freeze them in a lidded container. Really.


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  • Robin Smart
    Posted at 09:04h, 11 December Reply

    My dear sister tells the tale well. It is all true. I was there, and can attest. Can’t wait to try the pie!

    • Donna Roylance
      Posted at 16:10h, 11 December Reply

      This are my wonderful wacky cousins and I believe every word~! Chocolate anything works for me ~!

      • Charmian Christie
        Posted at 09:45h, 12 December Reply

        What does it say about me that I tell a story about ruining a party and everyone who knows me responds with, “Sounds about right!” ?

        Happy to bribe you with chocolate any time. Guess that’s the reason the family hasn’t disowned me. :-)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:42h, 12 December Reply

      And I could have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you! :-)

  • Lori
    Posted at 07:11h, 12 December Reply

    Love hearing stories when you were little , brings back fond memories for me , when you used to sleep in the playpen beside my bed , on Suffolk Ave ,

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:46h, 12 December Reply

      I remember Suffolk Ave! And Snoopy the beagle. Brings back memories. Now I’m all verklempt!

  • Marie
    Posted at 12:06h, 17 December Reply

    I knew your #scrambledplan story would be the best of them all! What a great story teller you are. There’s absolutely nothing humble about this pie! Tartlets are one of my favorite treats, and I lose my mind over anything sweet & salty. So you really got me with this one! Happy holidays, and I look forward to seeing you again in 2016 <3 xx

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:51h, 17 December Reply

      Thanks so much, Marie! That means a lot.

      I remember your salted caramels you handed out at IACP in New York. I think you might like this tart :-)

      Have a wonderful holiday with your family and I hope to see you again next year!

  • Raj @
    Posted at 16:57h, 17 December Reply

    Ha! That’s funny. Well told Charmain! Great #ScrambledPlan

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 18:54h, 17 December Reply

      Funny now, but at the time? Needless to say, I haven’t lived it down. Nice to find a home for these family stories. Thanks for reading!

  • Ashley | The Recipe Rebel
    Posted at 19:07h, 17 December Reply

    Haha — I have a feeling I’m going to have a few of those stories to tell about my two little mischievous girls someday! I have none of myself, obviously, since I’ve always been perfect in every way…. 😉 You have totally redemmed yourself with this Salted Chocolate Humble Pie! :)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 11:21h, 21 December Reply

      I’m sure all parents experience this kind of story sooner or later. Hope when your time comes you can dine out on it.

      I might have redeemed myself with this pie, but family memory is long. I’m sure the story of me putting salt in the sugar bowl will be told at my eulogy.

      Hope your holiday baking is uneventful and delicious.

  • {Cooking with Friends} A Lesson in Baking with Chocolate, by The Messy Baker - Food Nouveau
    Posted at 10:13h, 08 May Reply

    […] recipe for Cherry Cointreau Truffle Puddles. Christmas presented an opportunity to share an elegant Salted Chocolate Humble Pie. My go-to potluck dessert is a pan of Deep Dark Cherry Chipotle Brownies. And when I interviewed […]

  • Lauren Einhorn
    Posted at 16:55h, 15 November Reply

    Can this be made a day or two ahead or is it really best served the day it’s made?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 17:30h, 20 November Reply

      I often make this the day before it’s eaten. It should keep for a couple of days without issue. Thanks for asking.

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