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While Reason Sleeps

Dark chocolate pie

Dark chocolate1 pie

By Tim Hazell

Fantasy worlds where nightmare and reality coincide and intermingle are a part of everyone’s experience. Sleep may move through overlays of reverie, teetering between wakefulness and somnolence. Mental life at such a crossroads is often the languorous realm of spirits. In legends, wizards use the subconscious, associated with nocturnal passions, as a medium of entrapment.

Malevolent powers can be invoked, casting suspicion upon the innocent. Occult rites and sacraments have an infinite number of variations. Certain natural mineral, plant, or animal substances are present as ceremonial or alchemical facilitators. Basques customarily employed birch oil to anoint objects associated with strong emotions, such as amulets. In native lore and superstition, allegorical stories celebrate our dream states.

The Celts had deep connections with the spiritual and mystical. Their sagas of tragic heroes, banishment, betrayal, and empowerment are about voyages of discovery with the romance of adventuring in hot blood. Occult practices in Celtic and Norse societies were conducted in symbiosis with natural processes of the seasons and animal behavior. Habitat meant finding nature’s inner sanctuaries. Reassuring images of hearth and home that occurred in children’s stories were exaggerated in tales of demonic tenancy and sorcery. They embodied unrelenting cycles of life and death.

The occult continues to inspire modern movements in revolution and art. Icons of Social Realism such as Francisco José de Goya (1746–1828), gambled recklessly in a quest for essentials stripped bare. Goya dared to spearhead enlightened thinking in nihilistic eighteenth-century Spain with his series of “Caprichios” prints. His infamous “Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” provided a springboard and a theme. Goya delineated the topography of imperfection, hypocrisy, and anxiety. The artist’s caustic revelations about the nature of humankind were delivered with his awareness of an encroaching apocalypse.

Enchanter and temptress, a femme fatale uses charm or coercion to conceal her darkest secrets. Seductive and sinfully rich, this “enchantress” is filled with an unctuous mixture of chocolate-cream ganache, produced by pouring boiling cream over grated chocolate. Serve it plain, topped with kiwi fruit or raspberries!


Dark Chocolate Pie


One 9-inch graham cracker or pre-baked pastry pie crust


Ganache filling:

8-ounce block dark chocolate, coarsely grated

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 large egg yolks, room temperature

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract



Grate chocolate into a heat-resistant bowl, set aside. Ensure the butter is soft (not oily). Beat 1 tablespoon of heavy cream with the egg yolks and vanilla until mixture is smooth. Place rest of the cream into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour hot cream over chocolate shavings. Let stand for 30 seconds. Using a whisk, delicately blend the cream into the chocolate. Allow to cool for another minute. Fold in the egg yolk mixture, followed by butter. Pour filling into the pie shell. Jiggle crust lightly to even it out. Allow setting overnight in the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature two hours before serving.


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