"that's a good meatball."

You could probably get by in my house if you kept a stash of movie lines in your pocket from any of the following: Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, The Wedding Singer, Seinfeld, Dumb and Dumber, Wedding Crashers or any Saturday Night Live skit involving Chris Farley. Call us old school, but we still think they're all pretty darn funny. And quotable. And perfectly acceptable for holding a conversation. Just this morning my Dad told me to lock it up over a spat involving the little known fact that he doesn't take his blood pressure medicine on a regular basis and I can always tell because his face gets really hot pink and I have to remind him about it.


For those of you that spent the 90's under a rock and missed out on the immature glory of Adam Sandler flicks, let me catch you up to speed. There's a scene in the Wedding Singer where Adam's character, Robby Hart, gives singing lessons to a little old lady and accepts meatballs as payment. So cute. So after one particular lesson, she realizes she's out of Tupperware and insists he take the meatballs in his bare hands. With marinara sauce dripping between his knuckles, she demands he take a bite so "she can watch him enjoy, it's her favorite part." (I know how she feels.) So, Robby dives face first into this meatball, the little old lady wringing her hands in delight the entire time, and he proudly announces, "That's a good meatball." We've managed to work it into every day life: anytime your favorite team wins, or you ate a really good slice of say, chocolate pudding pie, it's perfectly within reason to proclaim it a delicious meatball and everyone in my house would know what you mean.

I'm usually not one for custards or puddings - it's a texture thing, I feel like I'm eating baby food, but I was invited to dinner with some very sweet people and I had prior knowledge that one of our hosts was quite the picky eater. And by prior knowledge I mean he made it known at our last get together, where I showed up with two dozen in hand, that he hates walnuts in his chocolate chip cookies. I frantically scanned the room looking for an easy way to get rid of them, perhaps I could nudge it into the garbage without anyone noticing? Can I chuck it out the window Frisbee style and whistle casually as it thuds against the ground? Not happening - I would just have to redeem myself for the next time. Since the fall brings football and football brings me misery, I make it a point to think about baking while everyone else is shouting at the television. I managed to ignore the score of the Steelers game and made a mental note that the Walnut Hater does like one kind of dessert- a chocolate pie with whipped cream. Check.

So I swallowed my pride and ripped up the contract I signed swearing to never make anything with pudding in my entire life unless I absolutely had to...tugged on my apron and got to work. I dug up a recipe for chocolate pudding pie that didn't sound too sweet or rich - it's made with cornstarch and milk instead of dozens of heavy egg yolks and is chocolately enough to curb a craving. It's topped with lightly sweetened, fresh whipped cream and those crazy chocolate curls I made on a whim. Ah yes, I do walk on the wild side. My first rodeo with this pie only further convinced me that I should not be making pudding pies in the first place - I dropped the first crust on the floor and it shattered into a thousand bits and pieces, never to be recovered from my German Shepherd's belly. I did it to myself by breaking my own rule about never using vegetable shortening because it's weird and mysterious, and I made a part butter and part Crisco crust, which I never do and will never do again. All butter is all flavor. And I've never had a butter crust shatter into a thousand bits. Not once.

For someone who doesn't particularly care for pudding-anything (I've just now come around to banana pudding, let's not get too crazy) I adored my slice slowly, bite by bite, blocking out the screaming fans coming from the television and banter of the commentators. It was a good meatball. I think that's the best way to go.

Chocolate Pudding Pie
Adapted from Gourmet 

Half recipe of All Butter Pie Dough

Pudding filling:
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not more than 60% cacao), finely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chilled heavy cream
Bittersweet chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)

Prepare pie dough: Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 11-inch round, then fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under and crimp edge decoratively. Prick bottom and side of shell all over with a fork, then freeze shell 30 minutes. While shell chills, preheat oven to 375°F with a baking sheet on middle rack. Butter the shiny side of a piece of foil and wrap it snugly around the pie shell.

Bake on baking sheet until pastry is set and edge is pale golden, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil, and press down any air bubble with the back of a spoon, then bake shell on baking sheet until pale golden all over, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool shell.

Make pudding filling: Whisk together cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, two minutes (mixture will thicken). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla until smooth.

Pour filling into cooled shell and chill, its surface covered with wax paper (if you want to prevent a skin from forming), until cold, at least four hours.

Just before serving, beat cream with remaining two tablespoons sugar until it just holds soft peaks. Spoon onto pie and garnish with bittersweet chocolate shavings.


  1. Seeing this makes me feel that much sadder that Gourmet got canceled..

  2. I know, it's heartbreaking. At least they're keeping the virutal stuff going with Epicurious, but I will miss my glossy magazine...


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