FARGO - We all have holiday traditions. Mine include watching "White Christmas," spending too much money and - as of late - making crazy dessert mashups. I blame my fellow Forum columnist Tammy Swift for planting the seed when she wrote about the Cherpumple in 2010. You've probably heard of the Cherpumple, which is three pies (apple, cherry, and pumpkin) baked inside three cake mixes (yellow, white, and spice or carrot). Swift described it as a "gastric Chernobyl".
She might not have been impressed but I was. A few years later, I treated my family to the Pumpecapple, which is similar to the Cherpumple, but contains pumpkin pie surrounded by spice cake, pecan pie surrounded by chocolate cake and apple pie surrounded by caramel cake. I called it a "monstrosity" at the time but my family seemed to enjoy the spectacle of it all.
So this year, I was looking for my next mashup when I found a link for the PieLogen by Executive Pastry Chef Zac Young at Food.com. It followed the madness of the mashup by combining an eggnog cheesecake with a pecan pie and a chocolate caramel cake log. But it also looked spectacular - like a real Christmas log. I read the recipe and it looked fantastic, but also a little time-consuming. I encourage you to go to his site to try it yourself.
Because I was feeling a little time-crunched this week, I decided to simplify Young's PieLogen. (I also think we need to tweak the name. PieLogen almost sounds like a computer program. Let's go with PieLogNog, to celebrate all three layers of the dessert.)
For the simplified versions of the recipes, go to my blog at thegreatindoors.areavoices.com. But to summarize, I used Young's recipe for the chocolate caramel log, but a different recipe for the eggnog cheesecake, one that uses store-bought eggnog instead of creme fraiche and whiskey. I also completely cheated by using a frozen, store-bought pecan pie along with a Pillsbury Purely Simply Buttercream Mix and caramel sundae sauce. (I hope Santa doesn't put coal in my stocking.)
For this dessert, how you put it all together is key. Watch that process in our video. Because the eggnog cheesecake turned out to be larger than the pecan pie, I used it as the base, followed by the pie, then the caramel chocolate log. I took Young's advice and used Heath bar pieces to accent the bottom of the "log". And because we're in the north where Christmas is almost always white, I also sprinkled a bit of powdered sugar on the log. In the end, I'd say my simplified PieLogNog looked a little more rustic (ahem...messy) than Young's PieLogen. I guess that's why he's the professional pastry chef. But I was pleased with the results.
This is an absolutely decadent holiday dessert. According to Young, one piece (about ⅛ cake) is 2,350 calories. That's shocking, but after having just a couple of bites of the cake, I have a hard time believing anyone could eat more than just a few bites. It's very good, but very rich. The eggnog cheesecake was my favorite part because the creaminess of the filling and the sweet graham cracker crust was even better when some of the pecan pie filling would ooze into the bite. The salted caramel buttercream that makes up the bark of the log is also a nice complement to the dark chocolate cake.
I'd call the the PieLogen (or even my simplified PieLogNog) a definite holiday tradition worth repeating.
For the simplified versions of the recipes, go to my blog at thegreatindoors.areavoices.com.