A Southern summer

South Carolina was the place to be last summer when myself and a bunch of friends travelled over to the states on a J1 visa. We had originally planned to spend our time in Chicago, but with huge volumes of J1 students expected in the city that year, we changed our plan.

I had never been to any of the southern States before, so the experience was fantastic. The hillbilly accent was one thing that took a while to get used to but in no time I was pretty much speaking with the same twang myself. Much to my embarrassment, I was even saying words like ‘trash’ and ‘band aid’, and referring to the time ‘half eleven’ as ‘eleven thirty’ – cringe. However, it all added to the authentic southern experience.

To my disappointment, I didn’t bag myself a job in any of the local bakeries. However, I got work in a super fun clothing, souvenir and knick-knack store called Tiki Jim’s. I worked with a bunch of other J1 students from different parts of the world and a number of locals too, which added to the whole experience and the craic was unreal.

Many of the others had simply travelled to the states to make as much money as possible and some even worked two jobs, but ¬†that wasn’t for me. We explored the state in our spare time, travelling to places like Myrtle’s Inlet. We also went to baseball and basketball games and enjoyed experiencing the southern way of life. That’s not to say that we didn’t go out on the town almost every night as well.

While there, my keen interest in food and baking had me trying every tasty southern treat that my broke Irish behind could afford to sample and, although the dessert doesn’t originate in South Carolina, my all time favourite had to be Mississippi Mud Pie.

This traditional southern dessert with it’s rich chocolatey filling and it’s whipped cream topping will have you feeling guilty for a week after eating a slice but believe me, it’s well worth it. I’ve baked the dessert on a couple of different occasions since I’ve been home, and, each time, the delicious smell of the pie in the oven brings me straight back to the summer I spent in that sunny southern state.

You might have guessed that the dessert in question is in fact the infamous pie featured in The Help, but, you’ll be extremely glad to know that unlike Mini’s, my mud pie doesn’t have a horrendous secret ingredient.

Recipe adapted from Love Food’s gorgeous book ‘Bake’.

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 175g Plain Flour (sieved)
  • 25g Cocoa Powder (sieved)
  • 40g Light Muscovado Sugar
  • 85g Butter (softened)
  • 3 tbsp Cold Water

For the filling:

  • 85g Dark Chocolate
  • 85g Butter
  • 85g Light Muscovado Sugar
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 100ml Whipping Cream
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

For the top:

  • 250ml Whipping Cream
  • 100g Dark Chocolate

Method

1) Preheat your oven to 200C/ 400F/ Gas mark 6 and grease your round tart dish with melted butter.
2) The water for the pastry works best when it’s really cold so place a small glass of water into the freezer at the beginning.
3) Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl and stir in the sugar.
4) Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the mixture until it resembles small breadcrumbs.
5) Add the tbsps of water until the mixture binds a dough.
6) Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface – make sure that it’s large enough to cover your pie dish.
7) Prick the base multiple times with a fork, cover with greaseproof paper, and fill with baking beans. If you don’t have baking beans, simply sit a small plate on top and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
8) After the 10 minutes have passed remove the base from the oven and reduce the temperature to 180C/ 350F/ Gas mark 4.
9) For the filling, melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan on a low heat.
10) Whisk the sugar and eggs together until smooth and then stir into the chocolate mixture along with the cream and the vanilla extract.
11) Pour the mixture over the base and bake for 20-25 minutes until firm.
12) When ready, leave to cool while you whip the cream.
13) When the tart is fully cool spread the cream over the filling. Then drizzle melted chocolate over the cream using a spoon or, if you want to be extra fancy, fill a plastic food bag with the chocolate, pierce it with a cocktail stick and squeeze the chocolate over the top.

Serve chilled and enjoy!

For more of Paula’s delicious recipes, check out her food blog Yummmmyy.

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Paula Murphy

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