This pie should’ve been a beer.
Rapp Brewing, everyone’s new favorite Tampa Bay brewery, makes a chocolate-hazelnut porter that I can’t get out of my head. The guys running the show at the tasting room are some of the friendliest I’ve met; they didn’t even kick us out when our card game got probably way too loud. They offer 20 rotating beers on tap, and this chocolate-hazelnut porter caught my eye but I wondered if it’d be too sweet. This being our first trip to Rapp, I decided to go ahead and give it a try.
A couple sips later and I couldn’t shut up about the porter. It tasted so clearly of dark chocolate, pumped up by the flavor of hazelnut. The beer was balanced rather than cloying. I regret not ordering a second. I can’t get this beer out of my head, and I can’t seem to get my hands on it either.
There are 30 miles between us and this brewery, and in the weeks after we first visited, I kept telling Danny we should go again. I wanted another glass of that porter. Finally, on a Friday night, we pulled up at the warehouse lot in Seminole. As quickly as I walked up to the bar, I was shot down. They were out of the porter.
This weekend, we spent Saturday trying some rare and new beers at Cajun Cafe on the Bayou. They host an especially good beer festival, and I found some new favorites that aren’t easily available anywhere else, including a raspberry habanero red ale from Daytona that is my new favorite spicy beer. At Rapp’s booth, I struck out again. I drowned my sorrows in the next best thing: their chocolate-peanut butter stout. I also consoled myself with a plate of red beans, crawfish cornbread, and slow-cooked pork.
I was told they’ll offer the porter again in a couple weeks or so. You better believe I’m filling up a growler when they do. Until then, we have pie to hold us over.
That night after the beer fest, I came across a frozen chocolate-peanut butter pie while flipping through a Martha Stewart cookbook I can’t seem to put down lately. I had an idea — why not swap in Nutella for the peanut butter? I also reduced the salt by half, and in the end had a glorious icebox pie. The filling is smooth, sweet, and melts in your mouth, which is perfect against the crunchy crust that is basically Oreo dust held together by butter.
The next day was 75 degrees, sunny, and we grilled hot dogs in the afternoon. This is a Florida fall, after all. A frozen dessert only seemed right, and that night I didn’t mind at all that this pie was not a beer.
chocolate-hazelnut icebox pie
Until I get my hands on my favorite chocolate-hazelnut porter, I’m whipping up this pie. You could also garnish the pie with shaved chocolate if you’d like. Danny also wants you to know that this pie goes really well with a cup of coffee.
for the crust and garnish:
8 ounces chocolate wafer cookies (about 40; I really liked these but chocolate graham crackers are a good substitute)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup hazelnuts
Heat oven to 350°F.
To make the crust, pulse chocolate wafer cookies in a food processor until they are finely ground. Combine the crumbled cookies, butter, brown sugar, and salt in a bowl. Dump the mixture into a clean 9-inch pie plate and press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Bake until set, 8 to 10 minutes. Let crust cool completely on a wire rack.
Spread hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and toast until fragrant and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them in a towel. Let hazelnuts cool slightly, discard the skins, and then chop the hazelnuts.
for the filling:
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar (aka powdered sugar)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/4 cups smooth chocolate-hazelnut spread (I used Nutella, which is much smoother than our homemade version)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup hazelnuts
To make the filling, beat cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy. Slowly beat in the chocolate-hazelnut spread and vanilla.
In a chilled bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. I like to start on a slow speed and gradually work my way up to a medium-high speed. Whisk about one-third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Carefully spoon the filling into the cooled crust, smoothing out the top. Freeze pie uncovered for at least 4 hours or covered with plastic wrap for 1 day.
Let pie stand for 10 minutes before slicing and garnish with chopped hazelnuts. Serve.
Makes one 9-inch pie.