I love to bake, and my husband, Aaron, is a physicist, so we had a lot of fun creating this pi pie. Aaron thought a play on i as “eye” would be a good starting point, so he thought of the equation exp(i pi) = -1 . Taking the logarithm of both sides, this turns into i pi = log(-1) .
My first idea for an edible representation was to use panna cotta for the eyeball, since the jiggly-ness would be perfect (and sort of creepy). Cherry pie filling seemed a good choice to hold the panna cotta upright in a chocolate cookie pie crust. Cherry partners great with chocolate and almond, so this became the overall flavor scheme, including using marzipan for the iris. As a bonus, piping the “goo” from the cherry pie filling worked beautifully to make the eyeball’s veins.
For the log negative one, I thought of the traditional holiday yule log dessert. I imagined a strategically placed slice cut from the end of a yule log would easily turn it into the number one. Another small roll of the log could make the negative sign. To keep with the chocolate-almond flavor theme, I added almond meal to a flourless chocolate batter, made a fluffy almond-flavored filling, and used marzipan for leaves. The ganache used to frost the log does double duty as a pie layer, keeping the chocolate cookie crust from becoming soggy from the cherry pie filling.
Placed side by side (with a couple strips of paper to make an equals sign in the middle), this reads as “eye pie equals negative one log” or “i pi = log(-1) ”!
Step 1: For Pie: ALMOND PANNA COTTA
ALMOND PANNA COTTA
2 T unflavored gelatin
2 c milk or half and half
3 c heavy cream
¾ c sugar
½ t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1 t almond extract or 1 T amaretto
Prepare the panna cotta mold
Mark, with tape, the outside of a large glass bowl at the location where the diameter is the same as the diameter of the pie plate you will be using. (I used a 2.5 qt Pyrex bowl.) This is the level to which you will pour the panna cotta mixture.
Make panna cotta
1. In small bowl, combine gelatin with ¾ cup of milk and set aside.
2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining milk, cream, sugar, and salt. Bring to a full boil, stirring to prevent burning and boiling over. Stir gelatin mixture into hot cream mixture until dissolved. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts.
3. Pour mixture into your prepared mold to the level marked. (see photo)Pour any extra into small bowl and refrigerate to enjoy later.
4. Carefully press and smooth a sheet of plastic wrap onto top of mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight before using.