Coffee Toffee "Pie"

We have transformed this classic dessert from Blum's coffee shops, which used to grace the streets of San Francisco, into a low-fat luxury[. We used caramel and Rice Krispies in the crust instead of fat-laden nuts. You'd never guess that the rich chocolate coffee filling has no butter in it.]

Total Time:
3 hr 50 min
25 min
3 hr
25 min

6 servings

  • For Crust:
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups puff rice cereal, partially crushed (recommended: Rice Krispies)
  • 1/2 ounce fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • For Filling:
  • 2 teaspoons instant-coffee granules or powder
  • 1 cup 1 percent milk, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dark rum
  • For Topping:
  • 1/3 cup well-chilled heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant-coffee granules or powder
  • 1 teaspoon dark rum
  • Garnish: bittersweet chocolate shavings (about 1/2 ounce, shaved with a vegetable peeler from a bar of chocolate)
  • Special equipment: a 7-inch springform pan or an 8 to 9-inch pie plate
  • Make Crust: Cook sugar in a dry small nonstick skillet over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar is melted into a deep golden caramel, 2 to 3 minutes.

  • Remove pan from heat, then immediately stir in cereal and quickly transfer to springform pan, spreading evenly over bottom and smoothing top with back of a small spoon. (If using pie plate, press crust up side of plate slightly.)

  • Sprinkle chopped chocolate evenly over warm crust to melt, then spread melted chocolate with back of spoon to cover crust. Cool until chocolate is hardened.

  • Make Filling: Dissolve instant coffee in 2 tablespoons milk in a small bowl, then stir in gelatin and let stand.

  • Whisk together cornstarch and remaining 1 cup milk in a 1 1/2 to 2-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring constantly (this will take about 15 minutes; 1 percent milk curdles easily if heated too quickly). Continue to simmer, stirring, 2 minutes.

  • Remove from heat, then add gelatin mixture, chocolate, brown sugar, and rum, whisking until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and cold water. Cool filling, whisking constantly (so gelatin doesn't set unevenly), just to room temperature, 3 to 5 minutes, then pour over crust in pan. Chill, covered, until set, about 3 hours.

  • Make topping: Beat cream with brown sugar using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Dissolve instant coffee in rum and fold into cream.

  • Spread evenly over chilled custard, then run a thin sharp knife around edge of "pie" and remove side of pan. Garnish with chocolate shavings.

  • Cooks' note: If using a pie plate, do not unmold.

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