Twin Peaks Dark Chocolate Cherry Pie

 

The cult classic Twin Peaks is returning to television this week. Which means coffee “black as midnight on a moonless night” and cherry pie will also be making a comeback.

Since few things are darker than Special Agent Dale Cooper’s investigation of Laura Palmer’s death, I decided my cherry pie had to reflect that. So I painted the base of my shell with melted 85% dark chocolate before filling it with the darkest sweetest cherries I could find.

Below is the recipe. I hope you like it.

 

Ingredients for the pie shell and top crust:

170 g cold unsalted butter

400 g cold flour

1 tsp cold Crisco (or another vegetable shortening like Trex)

1/4 c ice water

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1 egg yolk (save the white for later)

1 tsp caster sugar

a pinch of sea salt

10 g dark chocolate

 

Method: Cut the fat into the dry ingredients (excluding the chocolate). You can do it with a fork or pastry cutter or blitz them in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. Shape the dough into two disks. Cover them with plastic wrap and chill them in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Place a rack in the lower middle position of the oven and preheat it to 425°F/220°C/Gas7.

Roll out one round and place it in a 9″ pie dish. Line the dough with baking paper and fill with weights.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the parchment and weights.

Poke some shallow holes in the crust with a fork then return it to the oven. Bake it for another 5 minutes or until the crust looks dry.

Turn off the oven and remove the pie shell. Allow it to cool completely.

While it’s cooling, melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler. Once the chocolate has melted, use a kitchen brush to paint it on the bottom of the pie shell. Allow the chocolate to cool.

Now it’s time to make the pie filling.

 

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6.

 

Ingredients for the filling:

750 g pitted cherries (I mix sour cherries with sweet cherries)

1/4 c corn starch

1/2 cup to 2/3 cup caster sugar (add enough to suit your taste)

the juice of 1 lemon

a pinch of salt

a drop of vanilla extract

 

Method: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. If your cherries are very juicy, you can cook down the liquid sans cherries until it thickens up a bit. Pour the filling into the chocolate lined pie shell. Roll out your top crust and place it over the filling.

 

Brush the top of the pie with a bit of egg white. Sprinkle it with Demerara sugar if you have any to hand.

Bake the pie for 25 minutes on the middle rack.

Then reduce the heat to 350°F/180°C/Gas 4 and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is brown.

Allow the pie to cool before serving. This will give the filling time to set. If you cut into it while it’s still hot, the filling will run allover the place.

 

La Tupina, Sheep’s Cheese, and Cherry Jam

Off the quai in Bordeaux, between St. Michel and Ste. Croix where George is still slaying a dragon, there exists a street called rue Porte de la Monnaie.  At the top of it is an arch and down it a restaurant that is now my favorite in France.  Its name is La Tupina which means the cauldron and how fitting as the place is filled with many of them. george pont de pierre Several Sundays ago I stood under gray skies on the edge of the Garonne taking in the Pont de Pierre and picking wildflowers along the banks to compliment my outfit.  Sure, it was lovely pretending to be Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face and hearing Fred Astaire on a loop in my head, but mostly I was killing time with my husband before a much anticipated lunch. hotel room We didn’t know what to expect.  The reviews we read had been so mixed.  In Fiona Beckett’s 2012 review, she said she detected a slight sense of ennui in Chef Jean-Pierre Xiradakis.  She also described “the kitschness of the place” by saying “If Disney were to recreate south-west French food, it would look like La Tupina.”  Then again, former restaurant critic for The Times, Jonathan Meades, loves the place and has named it his favorite restaurant. When the clock at the local church struck one, my husband and I looked at each other.  Neither of us asked for whom the bell tolled.  We just took each other’s hands and then a chance on lunch at La Tupina. arch After crossing the street and passing under the arch, we saw an old man walking a white cat on a leash.  If black cats are bad luck then this sighting had to be good.  The old man smiled at us and tipped his hat just as my husband opened the restaurant door. outside window From the moment I entered, I saw everything La Tupina had to offer.  Literally.  As the heart of the restaurant is laid bare for all to see.  A giant chimney for smoking, an enormous hearth for roasting, a generous countertop laden with meat and baskets of produce that would be used up by closing time. Many restaurants open up their kitchens to give an element of theatre to their diners, but I always feel it’s a bit contrived.  Not at La Tupina.  Nothing about it evokes the high pressure of a celebrity chef’s kitchen or a televised cooking competition.  On the contrary, the mise en scène there was warm and welcoming.  Like walking into the kitchen of a French friend’s grandmother.  It was charming and not at all like anything I’ve ever experienced at Disneyland. waiter2 Once seated, we ordered glasses of champagne.  They arrived with the silkiest most savory rillettes.  Next we had white asparagus with vinaigrette.  For the main course, my husband had duck breast that had been cooked in the chimney.  I opted for the Noir de Bigorre, which was a plate-sized chop from a black thoroughbred pig whose history in the region can be traced back to Roman times.  This tender fatty pig was served perfectly pink with a single roasted garlic clove on top, salad and mashed potatoes on the side.  It was so delicious I stopped caring about the couple next to us who were making fun of us in French for having ordered a half-bottle of wine instead of a whole.  NB: Just because I’m American and my husband is a plummy Englishman does not mean my schoolgirl French isn’t good enough to know when you’re mocking me.  But like I said, lunch was so good their rudeness didn’t detract.  At least not much.

For pudding I had walnut ice cream.  It was served with walnut liqueur that tasted of the best amontillado sherry.  My husband indulged in a plate of local ewes’ and goats’ milk cheeses.  They were served with strawberry jam.  After the consumption of which, he couldn’t refuse our waitress’ offer of armagnac.  “Higher alcohol content is better for aiding digestion,” she said. wine henry cannele fraises The food at La Tupina could never be called haute cuisine nor nouvelle.  It’s better than that.  It’s classic and nothing about its legacy is as ephemeral as foam.  Dishes of the region are its specialty.  They are tried and true and as old and delicious as the pigs of Roman times.  Lunch at La Tupina is history on a plate.

Jonathan Meades has noted the “ewes’ milk curd with berry jam” among his favorite dishes at La Tupina.  Having tasted it myself, I see why.  It’s the perfect marriage of sweet and savory.  The book he’s presently working on, The Plagiarist in the Kitchen, includes Chef Jean-Pierre Xiradakis’ recipe for Poulet à l’oignon.  I hope it will also include a few more.  Like that jam recipe.  Until then, here is my recipe for cherry jam.  It’s wonderful on toast and also with sheep’s cheese from Southwest France.  Serve it on a Scottish oat cake with a slice of Ossau Iraty and there you have the flavors of the Auld Alliance.  A snack worthy of Mary, Queen of Scots and a marriage far happier than her own.  I hope you enjoy it.

Cherry Jam

Ingredients: 

2 kg cherries (I used 1kg from spain and 1kg from Kent.  I like to mix mine for different flavor notes.)

the juice and zest of 2 lemons

1.3 kg sugar

a candy thermometer or a cold plate in the fridge (I use both)

Method: Wash and dry your cherries.  Then pit them and cut them in half.  Macerate them slightly with a bit of the sugar.  I use a few tablespoons.  Next, transfer them to a large maslin pan. Add your thermometer to the pan.  Cook the cherries over low heat until they are tender.  When they are, stir in the sugar and lemon.  Keep the heat on low and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Once it is, bring the fruit mixture to a rolling boil.  Be sure to stir it so the fruit doesn’t stick and also be careful about bringing the heat up too high.  You don’t want to burn your fruit.  When the mixture thickens and goes glossy or when it is about 102ºC, test the setting point.  Pull your cold plate out of the fridge and put a small teaspoon of jam on it.  Wait a minute before pushing it with your finger.  If it wrinkles like jam, then it’s set.  If it doesn’t, give your mixture a few more minutes of cooking time.  Do not let your mixture pass 104ºC.  This is the setting point of jam.  If you pass this temperature, you’ll end up with glue.  Nobody wants to eat glue.  When your jam is ready, take it off the heat and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes.  Finally, pour the jam into sterilized jars and store. 2kg cherries jam fairy jars jam close up toast cheese and jam