Wednesday, April 14, 2010

That Smlovin’ feeling.

I am not much into baking. Baking generally requires time and accuracy, two things I have in short supply. Plus, it inevitably results in copious amounts of baked goods. While I’d be happy to eat muffins and cookies all day, I try to have more self-control than that. My self-control generally begins and ends with not having things around I know better than to eat. (See: potato chips.)

This is to give you an appreciation of what an insane idea it was for me to attempt this post’s titular confection. Red and I had a dinner date planned with a friend and her fiancé. Said friend was going to make vegan spanakopitas, and we’d sit around and drink wine and talk shit about people, which is pretty much my Wednesday night even when I’m home alone. I offered to bring dessert, but what kind? Since she was going to the effort of making spanakopitas, I couldn’t just show up with a quart of Soy Dream and some spoons. No, no, no. I had to show off. Her fiancé is omni (she is vegetarian), and I wasn’t going to let him eat half-assed vegan dessert.

Enter the Smlove Pie. The Rosemary’s baby of Veganomicon authors Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, it was allegedly spawned by the conjecture, “What would Paula Deen make if she were vegan?” And unholy it is, tempting the unwary with its potent combination of chocolate and peanut-butter caramel, punctuated with candied pecans and drizzled with extra chocolate. Also unholy is the Paula Deen impression that Red labored to perfect during the Smlove odyssey, squawking, “BUTTAH, Y’ALL!” at random moments.

So, how to make this beast? A graham cracker crust was the first order of business. Our hippie grocery does not stock vegan graham crackers, so I snagged a box of Annie’s chocolate bunny grahams. It took the whole box, plus two stale graham crackers I had laying around for s’mores, to make the crust. I had, in an unusual fit of foresight, borrowed my mom’s ceramic pie dish, which is heavy and handmade and deep enough to accommodate the heftiest of pies. The Smlove would prove to be a worthy adversary.

The bulk of the pie was easy. Blend melted chocolate and silken tofu, stir in the blood of virgins and a few other secret ingredients, pour into delicious chocolate crust, bake, and chill. There did not appear to be enough room left for the toppings, but I tried to keep the faith. I took a day off from Smlove-making, since it needed to spend a good few hours in the fridge. It lurked back there, though, hiding beneath its innocuous foil cover.

On Monday night, I tackled the rest of the Smlove. The candied maple pecans made me nervous, as I had never candied anything before and feared ending up with a molten lump of ruined nuts, but I prevailed. The peanut-butter caramel? Sticky and gooey and utterly delicious, spreading out over the pie like benign sugary lava. I tried to make a fancy symmetrical design with the pecans, but I suck at geometry and my mosaic turned into everyone’s favorite game of, “Oh, just shove them in wherever they’ll fit.”

Victory approached! I had but one step left, and I almost forgot all about it since the pie looked so damn pretty: chocolate ganache. How hard could that be? Boil soymilk, add chocolate chips, stir, and drizzle. Well, perhaps I added too much chocolate, or my soymilk didn’t boil enough, because while what I made was delicious and chocolatey, it drizzled about as well as Play-Doh. Frowning, I scooped it into a Ziploc baggie, snipped a corner, and tried to squeeze it out in graceful ribbons. I’ll refrain from describing what it originally looked like as it plopped onto the pie, but clearly I needed a Plan B. In desperation, I squeezed the mess out in the general shape of a circle, nudging it into place with a spatula. It looked better, but like a five-year-old had taken over my pie-making. In a last-ditch effort at artistic achievement, I gently scored the ganache with the spatula, hoping it would look vaguely intentional.

© World's Worst Photographer.

After that, I told the Smlove to go to hell and put it back in the fridge. I had neglected to eat dinner, preferring instead to lick all the bowls, pans, and spoons and rationalizing that the addition of a few handfuls of tortilla chips and some hastily gulped orange juice qualified as a balanced meal. As you might imagine, not only was my stomach unhappy, but I was totally pie-eyed with sugar. I snarfed a random Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala burger (why did we only have one in the freezer? The world may never know) and brown rice, and slowly my glucose returned to its pre-Smlove level.

The Smlove waited, patiently anticipating the havoc it would wreak.

Last night, my friend called me. Could we possibly postpone our dinner plans? she asked. “I’m not making this goddamn thing again, but I think I can freeze a few pieces,” I told her. She agreed. No sooner was I off the phone than Red headed for the fridge, gleefully unwrapping the Smlove. With the ceremony befitting such a dessert, I carefully cut two of the smallest slices I could manage. They fell apart a bit as I pried them out, but that’s pretty much any first piece of pie. Red tried to give me the bigger piece. I laughed at him and took the one that looked less likely to kill me.

Reader, the Smlove lives up to its hype. (In case I haven’t hyped it enough, there are Smlove-eating contests on the PPK. The current champion ate more than three-quarters of one in about an hour. She is still alive.) It is rich and chocolatey, with a texture similar to that of chocolate cheesecake, a sassy saltiness from the pecans, and yummy peanut butter notes from all that caramel. I struggled to finish my sliver, and Red put the rest of his back in the fridge. I’m not exactly a girl who obsesses over the nutritional content of everything that goes into her mouth (TWSS!), but I found out how many calories are in this motherlover, and it is extreme. I refuse to feel guilty about food, however.

That suits the Smlove’s dark ambitions just fine.


  1. I LOVE this recipe. I bring it to my office potluck every year. It's gone in about 10 minutes, and I'm usually the only vegan there. I have the same problem with the chocolate ganache, though.

  2. I love this post! I haven't had Smlove since two Thanksgivings ago. That is way too long to go without Smlove.

  3. Oh my GAWD that looks amazing. How have I not made this!?!?!?

    I love that this is what Paula Deen would make if she were vegan. That is how I know it will be good.

    Hahaha, you sound like me, licking all the spoons and bowls and leftover batter, and rounding out a meal with a handful of crackers and soy milk. Ahhh healthy living.

    Okay, come over to my house asap, bring another pie (or 3 or 4) and we can sit and talk shit about people, too. I think you'll find I am QUITE good at that. ;-)

    I refuse to feel guilty about food too (LOVE that you said that) so I'm going to make this and scarf as much as possible before I go into a sugar coma.

  4. So much about this post delights me. I especially appreciate the added touch of World's Worst Photographer. I live in the Dirty South, and honestly, Paula Deen nauseates me a lil... though I do own one of her grill pans and I love it. Nice Smlove Pie, I'll have to try this sugar bomb sometime.

  5. You are the awesomeness, Shannon! Too funny!