When I think of Valentine’s Day, my fondest memories are of my elementary school days. I loved making our Valentine Mailboxes. Some teachers would have a specific theme or art project planned, while some gave you free reign to turn that shoe box into whatever festive creation you wanted it to be. Mine were everything from basic red and pink hearts cut out of construction paper to clever themed boxes that looked like a fish tank or a flower garden. I remember in 2nd grade at Lincoln Elementary there were 3 classes of mixed 2nd and 3rd graders, and we switched classes for various subjects like math and spelling. It was a different concept for its time, but for some reason I have lots of memories of that time period, and all of them were pretty good so apparently the concept worked. I even starred as The Lost Little Valentine in our Valentine’s Day play! However, that was also back before the days of mandating that everyone bring a valentine for everyone in the class, so I panicked when a cute boy dropped a card in my mailbox and I didn’t have one for him! Luckily one of the teachers came to my rescue with an extra card and all was well with the world.
When my kids were young, we’d load up on candy and cards from Target, writing out names on envelopes the night before. And as they got older, I continued to give them little gifts or treats. We also made Valentine’s Day a family holiday, having a “fancy” dinner at home with candles, decorations, non-alcoholic sparkling apple juice, and fun desserts. When my girls went off to college, I continued spreading the love with care packages. However, I know my girls well and while they do indeed love candy (who doesn’t?!), there are other “treats” with the same sentiment they would much rather have. One year I bought a box of chocolates, and replaced each piece of chocolate with a $1 or $5 bill, then carefully re-sealed the cellophane wrap. As a college kid without any money, my daughter loved this gift! This year, they are both very much into working out and eating clean, so a box of junk food would definitely be frowned upon. I instead found cute little wall hangings for their apartments and threw in grocery store and beauty gift cards so they could go load up on whatever they wanted.
Chocolate Silk Pie – my husband still dreams of a slice he had years ago at a Perkin’s restaurant: rich, creamy, chocolaty. 25 years later, his middle-age digestive system simply cannot handle the creamy buttery goodness that is French Silk Pie. I’ve seen recipes that use avocado in place of butter in chocolate dessert recipes, and was about to try that out when I stumbled upon a couple different recipes for a dairy-free chocolate angel pie. I liked that the filling used eggs, like a traditional silk pie does, but the angel chocolate pie is served in a meringue crust, and I wanted to use a traditional pastry crust so the result was more like the chocolate pie that my husband had been craving.
French Silk Pie uses raw eggs, and while the egg yolks in the recipe below are cooked into the chocolate filling, the raw egg whites are whipped into a meringue and folded into the chocolate mixture, so there is raw egg in this recipe. The safest method is to use pasteurized eggs, but to be completely honest, I just use good quality Eggland’s Best. People have been using raw eggs in recipes (as well as cocktails) for many years, so the idea of uncooked egg whites really doesn’t concern me, as long as the eggs are handled properly, and are clean and fresh. However, if you are pregnant, or if your immune system is compromised, you should definitely spend the extra money to get the pasteurized eggs (around $5/dozen).
This recipe is not by any means a true French Silk Pie – but it is a great dairy-free (and gluten-free) substitute, which a texture similar to mousse.
Speaking of gluten-free: chances are your mom or grandma taught you that you should never handle piecrust too much, or it will become tough, and not light and flakey like a piecrust should be. For gluten-free baking, you can toss out everything you’ve learned about handling dough. What makes traditional dough tough is the gluten. Since there is no gluten in this recipe, the toughness from over-mixing or over-handling doesn’t happen. If anything, I’ve found that you should mix, need, and work gluten-free doughs and batters more than you normally would, as it helps reduce the graininess that often accompanies GF baked goods.
GF DF Piecrust
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour (plus extra for rolling)
Pinch of sea salt
3 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ cup room temp or chilled coconut oil (solid, not melted)
1 egg, beaten
1/3 to 2/3 cup water
Sift flour, salt, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the coconut oil with a fork or a pastry blender until the mix is crumbly or resembles small peas. Using a fork, mix in the beaten egg until well incorporated and forming a dry crumbly dough. Slowly add water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer crumbly and holds together – be careful, as you don’t want the dough to be too dry, but you don’t want it too sticky either. Form the dough into two balls; place one in the fridge to use for another pie. Place the other on a large piece of parchment paper, lightly sprinkle with some flour, and gently roll out the dough into a large circle. Don’t make it too thin, or it will fall apart. Gently slide the dough over a glass pie plate and pull back the parchment paper. Don’t panic if pieces fall apart during this step, simply press the dough into the pie plate and up the sides, forming a nice-looking crust. Place in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
DF Chocolate Filling
1 package unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut milk
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3 eggs, separated and at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Place the gelatin, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and salt in a sauce pan. Stir in the coconut milk, turn the heat to medium, and continue stirring until the sugar and gelatin have dissolved. Whisk in the cocoa powder, then add the chocolate, whisking until melted. Reduce heat to low.
In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks, then slowly add a 1/4 cup of the warm chocolate mixture to temper the eggs (if you don’t do this, you’ll end of with scrambled eggs in your chocolate sauce – YUK). Whisk the egg and chocolate mixture back into the pan, increase the heat to medium, and continue to cook, stirring until slightly thickened, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes to prevent the formation of a skin on top.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, then add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Once the chocolate mixture is cool, gently fold in the whipped egg whites. Pour the filling mixture into the cooled crust and refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.
Be sure to keep this in the refrigerator; it should be good for up to a week, however my hubs will kill the whole thing in about 5 days. Serve with dairy-free So Delicious CocoWhip