Taza Chocolate Pudding Pie
I first found out about Taza Chocolate at SoWa, an open market that occurs every Sunday in Boston's South End. They had a small table set up and were sampling squares of their Chocolate Mexicano Disc series, just large enough to get you hooked. Although I am not typically a fan of dark chocolate, the unique flavors like Chipotle Chili and Chocolate Ginger intrigued me. I grabbed a flyer for their factory tour and made a mental note to pay the Somerville location a visit. After that, I started seeing Taza Chocolate everywhere. Every restaurant, ice cream shop, and bakery seemed to be infusing something on their menu with the hometown hero's products. I knew with flavors like Salt + Pepper and Cinnamon Chocolate, I could make something extraordinary. I searched food blogs and took inspiration from past desserts and began to build the ultimate Taza Chocolate Pudding Pie.
I formed the sweet honey graham cracker crust foundation by banging crackers to dust with the bottom of a cast iron skillet and then coating them with melted butter. After ten minutes in the oven, the crust was promptly transported to the refrigerator to cool and prepare for the second layer.
I then slowly melted down three discs of Taza Salted Almond from the Mexicano series and poured the molten chocolate into the graham cracker shell. While the layer was still hot, I covered it with chopped salted almonds and transferred it back into the fridge to harden overnight into a solid layer.
Next came a layer of rich chocolate pudding that used the 70% Dark Chocolate Taza Baking Squares as well as cocoa powder. It thickened to the perfect consistency by staying creamy yet still able to hold its shape.
The last step was the Almond Whipped Cream. Since I am without a hand-mixer while in Boston, this was my first time hand-whipping heavy cream. As tough as it was, it was also a point of pride and I don't think I would do it again with a mixer in the future! The cream was flavored with almond extract and effectively pulled out the other almond flavors in the pie. Finally, I garnished with chopped almonds, and shavings from the last disc of Salted Almond Taza Chocolate.
The Taza Chocolate Pudding Pie was one of the best pies I've ever eaten. Between six of us, we devoured it in a single afternoon. The chocolate, which is stone-ground by Taza, was subtly gritty and added interest and contrast to the Nestle and Hersheys we've trained our pallets to expect. The first two layers created a sweet-and-salty perfection that did not go unnoticed. The silky chocolate pudding smudged the corners of our mouths and practically melted onto our tongues. It offered a sweet start and bitter aftertaste that only high quality bittersweet chocolate can provide. The almond whipped cream intensified the Salted Almond Taza chocolate and added and airiness to contrast the dense pudding beneath it. The garnish of chopped salted almonds and shaved chocolate gave the slice a nice bit of texture as well as visual appeal. When these elements combined - sweet, salty, rich, light, and crunchy, the finished product was irresistible.