The Quantum Pontiff

Spicy Pi Bacon Squared

3.141592…om nom nom nom! Behold! Mrs. Pontiff’s entry into the Scienceblogs pi day pie contest, variously known as “Spicy Brittle Bacon Chocolate Pie”, “Spicy Pi Bacon Squared”, or “Bacon brittle…om nom nom nom nom!”

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(On the March 14, a poll will open on scienceblogs for the pi contest. Then all two of the readers of the Quantum Pontiff (hi mom!) can then vote for Bacon Bacon Bacon Pi Pi Pie Pie!)

Pi is a miraculous number. Who would have thought that the ratio of the circumference of a circle to it’s diameter was always the same? Or that you could express this number with some 4′s and a lot (err…infinite number) of odd numbers:

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Or that pi could inspire bad MIT cheers (via Eve who lived down the hall from me at Caltech), very long domain names (click for fine music: http://3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097.org/ ), and the dropping of needles on lines (Buffons Needle Problem.)

Bacon is a miraculous food. Who would have thought that the cured belly of a swine carcass was always so delicious? Or that it could be made into a lattice and rolled around cheese (If I Die A Bacon-Related Death, I’d Like It To Be Because Of This)? Or that it could inspire a greater understanding of the connectivity of actors (The Oracle of Bacon. I can get from my father, Larry Bacon to Kevin Bacon in three steps, but the oracle does not know this.) Or that Sir Francis Bacon invented the refrigerator (bad joke?)

Thus, it being established that pi and bacon are both miraculous, upon hearing of the Scienceblogs pi day pie competition, it was quite natural for Mrs. Pontiff to get extremely excited and to shout out “I know exactly what that Pi contest needs: Bacon!” Now Mr. Pontiff, when he hears Mrs. Pontiff getting motivated to attempt to win a contest, knows that his best course of action is to dive, quickly, behind the sofa (where the dog is also hiding, being faster of foot than her sloth toed master) before great globs of creativity start shooting out of the Mrs. Pontiff’s fingers (hey, if you met someone like that you’d marry her too.)

And then, after much mad blending, refrigerator opening and slamming and omg running to the store for that missing ingredient, fire alarms blasting and being thrown out the back door, and tons of mutterings about proper ratios of spicy to savory to sweetness (think the Swedish chef for a lose approximation of the pronouncements) out emerges the Mrs. Pontiff with omg omg omg pie! Even better: chocolate pie! But wait what is that on the chocolate pie? Is that specially made whipped cream and a dusting of chile? And, and, and, is that….Bacon brittle?

Recipe for Spicy Brittle Bacon Chocolate Pie

Ingredients

Crust
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

Bacon Brittle
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup Bacon that has been cut up into Bits

Chocolate filling
2 1/4 cups whole milk, divided
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (such as Scharffen Berger or Valrhona)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
4 teaspoons cornstarch
4 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
3 tablespoons fine grade sugar
Chile Powder for dusting

Preparation for the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish.

Mix melted butter, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Add flour and mix until well blended. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of prepared dish; crimp edges decoratively. Bake crust until golden brown and cooked through, about 18 minutes. Cool crust completely on rack.

Preparation For bacon brittle:
Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Stir in Bacon bits. Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Behold, below, the tablespoonsfuls of bacon brittle mixture:

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Bake until mixture spreads and is deep golden brown, about 18 minutes (mixture will flow together into 1 piece on baking sheet). Remove from oven; cool completely on sheet.
Break Bacon Brittle into irregular pieces or shards. This is what it looks like before it’s broken into pieces or shards (there’s a technical difference between these but I was afraid to ask Mrs. Pontiff for the details.)

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Yeah it looks funky but om nom nom nom!

Preparation for chocolate filling:
Bring 2 cups milk to simmer in heavy medium saucepan; remove from heat. Whisk egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and remaining 1/4 cup milk to blend in medium bowl; whisk in cocoa powder and cornstarch until smooth. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and butter; whisk until melted and smooth. Pour filling into cooled pie crust. Refrigerate until filling is cold and set, about 4 hours.

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Preparation for whipped cream
Put mixing bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes. Using electric mixer, beat cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form.

Cut pie into wedges. Serve with whipped cream and Bacon Brittle.
Sprinkle chile powder on top.

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The final part of the recipe is: run fast to the kitchen to get it before others do because this pie is oh so delicious.

Note for the Seed magazine judges. I could not arrange for a piece of the pie to be sent to your offices, seeing as how we ate the whole damn pie, but on the other hand if you’re in Seattle, I can promise great epicurean delights.

(Recipe was modified to from a chocolate pie recipe on Epicurious.com)

Comments

  1. #1 Ian Durham
    March 12, 2009

    Um, are you bringing any of these things for us to sample in Pittsburgh next week? What if I provide you with a kitchen?

  2. #3 chezjake
    March 12, 2009

    Oh, absolutely awesome. The only change I’d be tempted to make would be using dried, ground chipotle instead of cayenne in the chocolate filling.

    A couple bits that need clarification:
    1. It looks like the bacon in the unbaked brittle batter is already cooked. Is this correct? So the measurement is 1/4 cup cooked bacon bits?
    2. Is the oven temperature for the brittle also 350°F?

    I am definitely planning to make this pie soon.

  3. #4 The
    March 12, 2009

    ummm dried ground chipotle – I like it.
    Yes, cook the bacon before adding it to the brittle batter. I also cut off all the fatty bacon and only included the crunchy meaty parts in the batter. (350°F is perfect for the brittle and the crust)

  4. #5 Jared
    March 13, 2009

    Why does it have to be kosher salt? Is the bacon kosher?

  5. #6 Dave Bacon
    March 13, 2009

    Cosmic balance?

  6. #7 sep332
    March 13, 2009

    Kosher salt has a different texture than regular table salt. It’s generally better for cooking with. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes-and-cooking/kosher-vs-table-vs-sea-salts/index.html

  7. #8 Mary Jo Anhalt
    March 14, 2009

    This would definitely make my “Angry Liver” positively livid!! Oh to be young and able to eat anything!! I’ll be making a peach-blueberry pi(e) for today.

  8. #9 Isis the Scientist
    March 14, 2009

    The bacon brittle may have won it!!!

  9. #10 Frank the SciencePunk
    March 18, 2009

    Congratulations! Bacon and the internet was always going to be full of win.

  10. #11 bioephemera
    March 19, 2009

    That is seriously out of control – I totally have to make it for my boyfriend. I think he’d eat old upholstery if it were stuffed with bacon.

  11. #12 anna
    March 8, 2010

    A hit of sweet smoked paprika (aka pimenton)wouldn’t hurt either.
    Bacon rules.

  12. #13 anna
    March 8, 2010

    Question- I’m assuming the bacon is cooked pre-brittling?
    It doesn’t specify raw or cooked, & it appears cooked in the photo.

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