The Kosher Gastronome

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Tag Archives: chocolate

Eclairs – January Kosher Link Up

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Another month, and another Kosher Connection Link-Up thingy. This month’s theme – Miniatures, which is great, because I made these here eclairs a little while back, and it was totally on purpose that they came out way smaller than I was expecting. Well then, let’s get going shall we?

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Of course we shall, what a ridiculous question.

Anywhoo, so eclairs, they’re pretty much awesome, correct? So why aren’t we making it more often? Well I don’t know, I guess most people assume that they’re pretty difficult to make, well I’m here to tell you not to assume (you probably think I’m going to say not to assume because it makes an ass out of you and me right? Wrong! You never assume because it makes an ass out of Uma Thurman, and that’s never a good thing). An eclair is simply baked pate a choux, filled with pastry cream, and topped with chocolate, and I intend to tackle each one starting…now.

Pate a choux, which translates into cabbage paste, luckily stuck around even after those damn Frenchies gave it that ridiculous name. Choux paste in it’s most simplistic form is melted butter with some water mixed together with flour, and then mixed together with eggs. It’s really a thing of beauty; It relies on the simple conversion of water to steam to deliver its lift, and what ends up happening is you end up with one giant bubble stuck inside the final product, which is perfect for filling.

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In order to make choux paste. First butter is melted in some water, and when ready, flour is added, and cooked for a little to remove any flour-y taste.

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The resulting batter is left to cool, and then eggs are added and mixed in, which will take a little time to fully incorporate,  and the resulting dough will go from the consistency of a paste to more like a thick pancake batter.

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The batter can then be “cooked” in a few different ways, and one of those ways is to bake it for eclairs/profiteroles. (frying would be another great way which would get you beignets, but that’s another post). I based the recipe off of Michael Ruhlman’s ratio for pate a choux, which means you need a scale (I’m telling you, if there’s one piece of equipment you really should have, it’s a scale, but you know me, I’m not preachy). The ratio he uses (in his book Ratio, which is a great book by the way) is: 2 parts water: 1 part butter : 1 part flour : 2 parts eggs. For me the eggs are usually the rate limiting step, and I base how big/small the recipe will be on the eggs. Since one large egg weighs 50 grams, if you use 1 large egg, you end up with: 50grams water, and 25 grams butter and flour (besides salt, and other flavorings like sugar and vanilla if you want).

For the pastry cream filing, I based it on another ratio in Ruhlman’s book, the ratio for Creme anglais. Creme anglais is a loose custard (whereby custard is defined by – a mixture of eggs and a liquid, which can either be free standing [eg – quiches, cheesecakes…] or not [ex – creme anglais, which includes French style ice creams, creme brulee, pastry cream]). For the non free standing types, there are different ways to thicken the resulting cream, and for our pastry cream (or Crème Pâtisserie if you want to be fancy) it gets thickened by a starch (cornstarch being the first choice since it’s pure starch, but flour, potato, tapioca/cassava would also work). The ratio he uses for creme anglais is: 4 parts Milk/cream: 1 part yolk : 1 part sugar.

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The general idea for making any type of custard usually is to mix the eggs and sugar together, to start dissolving the sugar, and to lighten the eggs with thorough whipping.

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Then the milk is heated up, along with your vanilla bean.

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In our case, I used some ground vanilla bean, which I got so graciously from Bakto Flavors via Kosher Scoop because I’m one of the taste testers…more on that in the future.

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Once the milk is at the desired temperature, it’s slowly added to the eggs a little at a time to temper the eggs (temper means to slowly bring the temperature of one thing that’s colder to the temperature of another thing that’s warmer, but done slowly and gently to avoid overcooking), once tempered, the remaining milk/cream is added to the eggs, and then it’s all poured back into the pot to cook a little more, and if needed strained out. In our case, to incorporate the starch, you first have to mix the cornstarch with some cold milk until it makes a slurry, and then you add the slurry to the heating up milk, and it will then start to thicken (starch only thickens at a specific temperature, which is also why you don’t want to dump it all in dry, because it will begin to thicken the second it hits the hot milk, and form clumps). Set aside to allow to cool.

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To cook the eclairs, preheat an oven to 450, transfer the batter to a piping bag (what you really need is a tip coupler, which can turn any cut ziploc bag into a real piping bag), and pipe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, although you might want to pipe them a little bigger than I did. (You can push down any irregularities, by dabbing at it with a wet finger)

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Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, and then lower to 350 for the last 10-20 minutes, until nicely browned. Take out of the oven, and pierce with tip of paring knife to allow steam to vent out. When cooled enough to handle, use the star tip to pipe the pastry cream inside the eclairs (this will be hard if you don’t have the tips). Set aside on cooling rack.

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To make the chocolate topping, melt a whole bunch of chocolate in a double boiler with a little bit of some sort of fat (butter, vegetable oil, whatever), and dip eclairs into the chocolate. Allow the chocolate tool cool and it will slightly harden, but not too much because of the addition of the fat. (I tried making a ganache by mixing equel parts chocolate and hot milk, but it didn’t work as I had planned, but if I were to make it now, I would do it this way)

Comments: So I made a few mistake – From the beginning in order of appearance:

  1. The tip I have for my tip coupler was too small, resulting in these “mini” eclairs (which I guess wasn’t that bad of a result, but not what I was trying to do).
  2. I forgot to poke a knife in the eclairs as they were cooling, so they deflated (whomp, whomp)
  3. The pastry cream was way too thick. I think maybe because when I made the pastry cream, I forgot about the starch, so I had to heat it back up, and add the cornstarch slurry, but I think I added to much starch, plus I’ve never used ground vanilla bean, and I wonder if it also thickened the sauce more than anticipating.
  4. Because I forgot the deflate the eclairs, it made them soggy, so it was very hard to pipe the already thick pastry cream into it..so that didn’t really go over so great.
  5. I thought I’d be better off making a chocolate ganache…I’m not really sure why, but I made the ganache, that was too thin, and had to make it thicker, and whatever it didn’t work out either.

And there ya have it – eclairs. So it might seem like it’s a lot, with fancy words like: scale, piping bag, temper…oooh that sounds like it’s too much…too much of a patchke…well, it’s not, and you should do it. But do it better than I did.

And to the three people who read this much and haven’t been referred here from another blog (Hey mom, dad, and fan favorite Phoenix Fresser), don’t’ forget to Check out all the other participants in this months Kosher Link-up, by clicking on the funny frog thin-a-ma-bob under here.



Eclairs

adapted from Ratio by Ruhlman

Ingredients:

For the pate a choux:

  • 25 grams butter
  • 50 grams water
  • 25 grams flour
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Pastry cream

  • I used the ratio 4 parts milk/cream: 1 part egg yolk : 1 part sugar, and used 1 yolk, but I don’t remember how much everything else came out…yet another reason to get a scale.
  • Vanilla (if it’s a vanilla bean, you want to cut and scrape the pods into the milk as it’s heating up)
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons milk

For the Chocolate sauce:

  • 3-4 grams bittersweet chocolate chips (I know I’m old, because I find the sweetened ones to generally be way too sweet, and I like the Whole Foods brand which is like 70% cacao, which if I was 15, I would think tastes like bitter terrible-ness, but now I love it)
  • 1-2 teaspoon fat (butter, oil, whatever)

Directions:

To make the pate a choux:

  1. place butter and water in medium sized pot (to be able to accommodate the flour also), and heat over medium heat to melt butter.
  2. Once butter is melted, add all of the flour in at once, and with a wooden spoon, mix together until paste forms. Continue mixing and cooking for another 3-4 minutes to cook out the floury taste. Take off heat and allow to cool, 5-7 minutes.
  3. When cooled, add eggs (one at a time, if using more), and start to mix vigorously. At first it will look like the egg isn’t adding into the dough, but continue beating, and eventually it will all come together…trust me).
  4. Transfer batter to piping bag fittest with widest tube, and pipe large eclair shaped ovals (I guess it’s an oval…)
  5. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350, and cook until beginning to brown (about 10-20 minutes).
  6. When done, place on wire rack to cool, and when cool enough to handle, pierce eclairs on the side with a small knife, to allow steam to escape

For the custard:

  1. Mix together yolk and sugar vigorously until the color of the yolks lighten (we’re after incorporation of air (which lightens the color) and for the sugar to start dissolving into the yolk)
  2. Heat milk or cream over medium heat (I hate heating up milk, because if you turn around for one second it will boil over, and make a big mess…true story…like every time I heat up milk), and if using a vanilla bean, cut lengthwise, and scrape the pods from the inside, and heat up until just about boiling…If using vanilla extract, add it to the egg/sugar mixture…I used ground vanilla bean from Bakto, which I got via Kosher Scoop to test out, and it’s really cool…more on that to come…eventually)
  3. Slowly pour a little of the heated up milk to the egg yolk mixture, and whisk constantly, to heat up the eggs  ever so slightly (ie – temper), and once warm enough, dump the rest in, whisking constantly. When fully mixed, add it back to the pan, over medium-low heat, to heat up some more.
  4. While milk egg mixture is heating up, mix together the 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 2 teaspoons milk, until no clumps are left, and add to the milk-egg mixture, and continue cooking until custard has thickened (when you drag the spatula on the floor of the pan, it should leave somewhat of a trail…does that make sense? meaning – it should take a little bit of time for the mixture to fill in the void the spatula created)
  5. Strain through fine mesh strainer, and set aside.

For the chocolate:

  1. Place chocolate chips on double boiler (that is: you take a medium sized pot, fill it a tiny bit with water (like an inch or so), and heat up to a simmer. Place smaller metal bowl over top of it) and heat up chocolate gently, with the fat in it, constantly mixing with a spatula, and stop just as everything is melted, because it will continue to cook, and you don’t want to burn the chocolate)

To assemble -

  1. With star tip on piping bag, pipe custard into eclairs slowly, while back out, and stop when custard starts oozing out.
  2. Dip each eclair into chocolate mixture, and set aside to cool/harden
  3. Eat every last one of them with out shame knowing full well it’s 100% fat free if you make it yourself

Awesome Brownies

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It’s been so long since I last posted, that I forgot how to start…Um…So I just flew in from New York and boy are my arms tired..Thank you! I’ll be here all week…and remember to tip your waitress.

How was that? It was weird, I know…sorry.

Anyway, to make up for it I present you with these here mighty fine brownies. Brownie recipes are like a dime a dozen, every cook book has at least one, and yet for some reason most people would rather reach for a boxed mix. Why is that? I think it’s partly because most people get lazy in the kitchen, and looks for shortcuts, but I gotta be honest with you, there’s something about the texture of boxed brownies. They’re soft, mushy, and somewhere in between fudge and cake, it’s something magical. So why am I here trying to convince you to make your own home-made brownies? Well, for one, I’m a firm believer that no matter what, it’s always better to make it yourself. I feel that part of what’s wrong with the way we eat, is that “home-made” is more the exception than the rule, but I digress. However, I think the main reason why you should make these is because they taste so much better than the boxed stuff. They’re flavor is so much more complex, they’re chocolaty-er, and plain old tastier than the other stuff, I promise. I dare you to make these, and tell me that they are not better than duncan hines…go on, I dare you.

Ok, now that you’re on board, let’s go.

I got this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, and one of the things that make this recipe unique is the type of fat used. Fats can pretty much be either saturated or unsaturated. You can imagine a fat molecule like a row in a parking lot, and instead of cars, we’re dealing with hydrogen atoms. When a fat is saturated, every slot is taken, and there are no openings, when a fat is un-saturated, there are open slots for the taking. These open slots in the molecule, causes the molecule to bend in certain ways, and when the molecules line up on top of each other, they don’t really fit well, and therefore they become a liquid. As opposed to saturated fats, when these molecules line up on top of each other, they fit perfectly together, and therefore are solid. So back to our brownies – basically, traditional recipes call for making brownies with more saturated fats (like butter) than unsaturated, but by switching that ratio up, and using more unsaturated fats, the end result is a fudgier, mushier, splendid-er brownie, and let’s be honest, isn’t that what you came here for??

Truth be told, there’s a lot more to talk about in the subject of fats, like the difference between mono and poly unsaturated fats, or the whole trans fat thing, but I can tell you’re thinking to yourself, I’ve been reading this for like 20 minutes already, and we haven’t even started making anything yet?! Get on with it!

All right, start by melting some margarine, and set aside (the original recipe called for butter, but I wanted to keep this parve). In a large mixing bowl, combine dutch process cocoa powder, and instant coffee powder, and pour boiling water over it, and mix to combine.

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While the water is still hot, add the chopped up unsweetened chocolate, and whisk until melted.

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Then add in the melted margarine, and oil and mix it together. Then add in your eggs, yolks, vanilla, and stir until homogenous, and then add in your sugar, and mix until fully incorporated.

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Then add your flour, salt, and bittersweet chocolate, and fold with a rubber spatula, until it just comes together, making sure not to over mix it.

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One thing, you know the whole mise en place thing? Having all your ingredients prepared before you start working? Well I never have my act together enough to do that, but in this case I recommend it, especially for the part where we poured the hot water over the cocoa, and then added the chocolate chunks, it will make your life that much less miserable.

Mise en place 

Pour it into a 9 x 13 pan, and bake at 350 until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool for at least an hour, embrace your inner fat guy, and shove the brownie into your face by the shovel-full.

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For those who were keeping count, there are three different types of chocolates. We have our dutched processed, our unsweetened, and our bittersweet chunks that are like little surprise chocolate bombs hidden throughout the brownie, you won’t find that in those boring boxed mixes, and really this whole thing doesn’t take that long to put together. 

Now because you were good today, and you kept up with my ramblings, and you stuck by my side while I went awol the past few weeks, I’m going to leave you with the best part:

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Enjoy

Awesome Brownies

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate , finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted margarine (or butter), melted
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups (17 1/2 ounces) sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate , cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350, and prepare your 9×13 pan.
  2. Whisk cocoa, instant coffee and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth.
  3. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted.
  4. Whisk in melted margarine and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.)
  5. Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous.
  6. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated.
  7. Add flour and salt and fold with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.
  8. Pour batter into prepared 9×13 pan, and bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool for an hour, and enjoy.

S’more Pie

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Just the other day I thought to myself, and said: “Self, we need to up our game. We need to take this whole making a mess in the kitchen to newer and broader levels.” Well being the kind hearted gentleman that I am, I obviously obliged. And with out further ado, I bring you s’more pie.

As I’m sure you can guess, s’more pie is nothing more than graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallows, but in pie form, sounds simple enough right? Well yeah, but that was before I decided to try my hand at making my own marshmallow topping for this. Why, you ask? Well, because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone It, people like me, that’s why.

Ok, a word on marshmallows. Marshmallow actually derives from the mallow plant which grew in marshes, and the roots of the plant were very mucilaginous (yeah, that’s an actual word, at least according to spell check, that means: contains mucilage, I hope), and was used to make different stuff varying from medicinal substances (is it me, or does the word “medicinal” all of a sudden sound illegal), to candy making. And no I’m not making this all up, although I wouldn’t put it past me. Anyway, fast forward a couple thousand years, and instead of using the marshmallow plant to make marshmallows, we now use gelatin.

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Gelatin is basically a protein derived from connective tissue in animals, that when heated up is a liquid, but when cool, is a solid, thus providing strength, integrity, and ethical decision making to our marshmallows (and p’cha/galeh if you’re into that sort of stuff…I’m not). Traditionally, gelatin was extracted from wherever there is connective tissue (I’ll spare you the details, but for the most part, it’s not necessarily stuff you would eat per se), and then combined with whatever and cooled. Like in our p’cha example, it’s pretty much combined with garlic, and made into what I like to call, garlic Jell-o, which to me is nauseating. Nowadays, they mass make gelatin, so you don’t have to think about where they come from. All you have to do is combine the gelatin with warm water, and allow it to cool so it can set up. To specifically make marshmallows, you basically take a sugary syrup, froth it up by whipping it, add gelatin, and allow it to cool and set up.

By the way in regards to kosher gelatin, I was under the impression that it was made out of fish, but apparently after reading the side of the gelatin box, it said “100% bovine gelatin” which in layman’s terms means: cow parts. But as always, for all your kosher/halachik/general Jewish queries please direct your attention to any of our in house residence orthodox rabbis, our very own –Rabbi Phoenix Fresser, or R’ Baruch Fogel, aka Big Brother. As we say here in kosher gastronome headquarters, our orthodox rabbis, are always your local orthodox rabbis. Catchy no?

The rest of the pie, is as easy as, well pie. The base is a graham cracker crust, which happens to be, is one of those things that is so crazy stupid easy to make, that it kills me to even think about buying it…nevertheless, I don’t do all the shopping here, and for some reason we had a few graham cracker crusts lying around, and it would just be a waste to not use it. Anyway, take your cream (parve if you want), and bring it to a boil, and pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and let it sit for four minutes to melt the chocolate, and whisk it smooth. That right there is what we cool people call a ganache, which is French for – expensive sounding chocolate. Then add an egg, whisk it all up, pour it into the pie crust, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

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To make the marshmallow layer, combine the gelatin with cold water in your mixing bowl, and let it “bloom” for about a minute.

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In a pot, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup and heat it up until it reaches 260 degrees on your candy thermometer.

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Once the sugar syrup is finished, attach the whisk, and start whisking the gelatin, and slowly add the syrup to the mixing bowl, being careful to pour the syrup into the bowl, and not on the whisk itself.

So you know how candy is hard? Like super annoying hard, and sticky? Well, remember how I said that this was all about making a huge mess…do you see where I’m going with this? Well if not, lemmesplain…That syrupy sugar thingy, is essentially liquid “candy” and when it cooled, you know what it did?? Yeah, it made a mess, how’d you know? That’s why you wanna pour it directly into the bowl, and not on the whisk, because it will literally throw these tiny hard strands of candy everywhere, trust me.

Ok, I might be painting a grimmer picture than it was, and yeah, with a little warm water it will all come out, but it’s a little annoying nonetheless.

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That right there was pretty annoying to take off.

Anyway, whip up the whole shebang until it’s tripled in volume, about 5 minutes, add the vanilla, and stir to combine.

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Then pour it over the chocolate, and let it sit for at least 4 hours, or overnight, in the fridge. You’re going to want to pour it right away, before it starts to set up.

After 4 hours, pre-heat the boiler, and broil until the top is just browned. Since my broiler stinks, it pretty much burnt it in some areas, and made it look pretty ugly and shnasty. However, it was still pretty darn tasty, and even though it sounds like a huge pain in the tushy, and turned out looking like the pie was some sort of alien monster that forgot to put on sun tan lotion, while tanning on the sun, I would still do it again, because it was awesome, and what’s the point of cooking if not to make your loved one clean up after you, ammiright?

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Not the prettiest of pictures, and to be honest most of you will walk away from reading this (assuming any one actually is reading this) never wanting to ever make this, but you know what? Confucius once said – Frankly I don’t give a darn.

S’more Pie

adapted from Just A Taste

Ingredients:

  • one 9-inch pre-made graham cracker pie crust
  • 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream, or parve creamer
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • ½ cup cold water, divided
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. For the chocolate filling: Bring the cream to a boil, and pour hot cream over the chopped chocolate in a large bowl, and let it sit for 4 minute.
  3. Whisk together the chocolate and heavy cream until it’s thoroughly incorporated and smooth.
  4. Gently whisk in the egg and a pinch of salt until combined then pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust, and bake the pie for 20 to 25 minutes, just until the chocolate is mostly set but slightly jiggly in the center.
  5. Allow the pie to cool on a rack for one hour while you make the marshmallow topping.
  6. For the marshmallow topping: add ¼ cup cold water to the bowl of a heat-proof stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it stand until firm, about 1 minute.
  7. Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, a pinch of salt, and remaining ¼ cup water in a heavy saucepan and bring it to a boil over moderate heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil it until a candy thermometer registers 260ºF, about 6 minutes.
  8. Begin beating the gelatin mixture on medium speed, then very carefully pour in the hot sugar syrup in a slow stream. Try your best to avoid the whisk.
  9. Once all the syrup has been added, continue beating it on medium speed until the mixture has tripled in volume and is thick and glossy, about 5 minutes.
  10. Add the vanilla and beat it just until combined and then immediately pour the marshmallow topping over the pie. It will be loose enough to spread. Refrigerate the pie for one hour, uncovered, then cover it with plastic wrap that has been coated lightly in vegetable oil and chill it for 3 more hours.
  11. Preheat the broiler.
  12. Place the pie on a cookie sheet and very carefully rotate the pie under the burner, about 3 to 4 inches away from the flame, just until the top is evenly browed, about 3 minutes.
  13. Let the pie cool for 10 minutes before slicing it
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