What I had for dinner:
A multicultural Thanksgiving dessert:
In my continuing quest for the perfect combination, I decided to try to extend the fairly standard cranberry-hazelnut pie with a chocolate shell instead of the usual pie shell. Chocolate from the south, maple from the north, cranberries from the east, and hazelnuts from the west.
The pie shell is inspired by Maida Heatter's mousse pie:
4 oz of semisweet chocolate are left to melt in a warm oven (190 F); meanwhile, 4 egg yolks and 1/3 cup of sugar are beaten energetically, until smooth. The chocolate is beaten in, then 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract.
4 egg whites and a little cream of tartar are whipped until firm. The egg whites are then incorporated into the chocolate mixture, with vigorous mixing for the first 1/3 or so, then by folding in gently the rest until the mixture is homogeneous. It is then poured into an 8" pie dish well buttered and dusted with fine bread crumbs. As much as possible, the edges should be built up to generate sides for the shell, but this is not essential.
The mixture is cooked for 25 min at 350 F, then left to cool on a rack. The cooked mousse will sink in the center, forming the pie shell. If needed, push it down further with a spoon.
Meanwhile, for the filling, combine 1 1/2 cup of cranberries, sliced or chopped coarsely, with 1 cup of packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup of maple syrup, 1/2 stick of butter, a pinch of salt, and 1 tsp of vanilla. Heat gently until boiling, and cook until the cranberries are well cooked and the mixture is a bit thicker. Add 1 cup of coarsely chopped, toasted hazelnuts, and cool the mixture in a pan of cold water until it is just warm. Beat well two whole eggs, and incorporate them into the mixture. Pour it into the pie shell, and bake at 300 F until the filling is set, 30 to 45 min. Test the center with a knife blade: it should not come out wet, and the filling should feel firm when the pie is shaken sideways.
Let cool to room temperature before serving.