Chinese Laundry Mud Pies 2

Valentines. Ack. Just the thought strikes fear in the hearts of many. I well remember my first attempt wading into this pool…. Grade 6. Inverary Public School. I had a crush on the cutest little guy, by the name of Tyler Tallen. Of course I never said anything. Or did anything…. until…. Valentines Day. I was feeling brave I suppose, reaching out to someone, at that tender young age… so, amongst the Valentines given to other (read female) classmates, I also gave one to Tyler. But didn’t sign it. The teacher (remember Mrs Hunter, from a previous post…) found out and we all got a lecture. I still remember how stern she was about it and still remember how I just didn’t get it. Thinking about it, all these years later….I’ll bet she knew it was me – just by the look on my face. That was well before my card playing years and knowing what a poker face was. Was worth it though… cute little Tyler got my valentine!!!!!

So here we are, with Valentines Day around the corner. How do most celebrate???? As they say, anyone can pick up a phone to make a restaurant reservation. To up this a few notches… get the services of a intensely fab Personal Chef – like me – to create, make AND serve a custom made, designed just for you meal. In your home. Not in your budget…? Get in the kitchen and cook. Yes, cook. You. There’s always pointers online, in magazines – there’s even a 24 hour food network now!! You have no excuse. And I can pretty much guarantee, the points you’ll score just for the attempt….. well worth your efforts.

If you do indeed go this route, remember these things: do NOT make it too complicated, keep away from things that may put a damper on your, um, after dinner activities… ie raw onions, too much garlic and lastly, for much the same reasons, do not make heavy dishes. Unless of course you want the one you’re cooking for to fall asleep on you…..

Oh and there’s this…

Be sure to have some chocolate on hand as well as some of you/your dates’ fave beverage – whatever that may be. Champagne… if you have the dosh. Prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine is a delicious and inexpensive alternative. It has bubbles. Who doesn’t love bubbles, esp the kind you can afford!!! If alcohol is not your thing… have a bottle of your fave alternate.

Other things to set the mood, at the table of course. Lighting. Dim. Candles. Music. Soft. Quiet. The focus, and your focus, should be on your loved one. Paying attention to them. Spoiling them. Like they deserve. Like you’d want to be treated.

And…..if……like many, you happen to be single don’t let that stop you! Celebrate your life, with a good friend or a few, or alone if you like. These days, rules for everything are out the window. Besides… who cares. Its your life. Treat yourself well. Celebrate how you see fit – life is too short to not.


For the last word, I offer up a recipe, a beloved recipe, from a funky café I worked at years ago, in Kingston, ON. You may or may not be familiar with what was the awesome Chinese Laundry Café – perfectly downtown and very close to Queens University. My first position there was as baker, then cook… then also as server and bartender/barista. I’ll tell you it was very easy, and a lot of fun, selling the made-from-scratch desserts – that I had also baked!!

Everyone loves these – and that’s not just me bragging. I haven’t the right actually, as the recipe was the owners, not mine. Ann Marie, I’m sure would not mind. It’s been years since the café was open and I’d like to think it would make her happy, that some memories (and food) have carried on!

I’ve made these for years since as the recipe has always stuck with me… much like the cheesecake recipe, which I think I could still make in my sleep. When making these treats, be sure to time the cooking of the sugar exactly – too little and they will not set, too long and you will have a big bowl of crumbles. BTW, if the latter does happen…. it is tasty sprinkled over ice cream or yogurt. Just sayin’.

Chinese Laundry Mud Pies

There is no baking required, just use parchment or foil lined baking trays (you’ll need two) to ‘drop’ the Mud Pies on. They  can stale quickly at room temperature, so freeze what’s not eaten right away. The temperature does not affect the fudgy texture – in fact, I think it enhances it.

2 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup coconut
2 cups
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Line two sheet pans/cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil.
In a large heatproof bowl, combine the oats, cocoa & coconut, and set aside.
In a thick bottomed medium sized sauce pan, add the sugar butter and milk – but do not stir. At all, during the cooking. Turn the heat to medium high, taking care to not burn the bottom of the pan. Once the sugar mix starts to boil, set your timer for exactly 7 minutes and watch it carefully.
You know your stove top best – if you think the mix may burn or boil over, lower your heat, but keep it at a steady rolling boil. If the bottom does get a little too dark…. simply do not scrape it when pouring the cooked sugar mix from the pan.
When the mixture is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla – be careful as it will bubble up. Carefully pour the cooked mixture over the oat mixture, and work quickly to combine, using a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to stir. (When the sugar mixture starts to cool, it will start to set!)
Using 2 tablespoons, start dropping the mixture to form the pies, on your prepped pans; let them sit to finish cooling – they will firm up in no time. This will make approx. 15, depending on how big you make them.
Chinese Laundry Mud Pies

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2 thoughts on “Chinese Laundry Mud Pies

  • JP

    Wow – I am so happy. For years, about twice a year, I have googled 'Chinese Laundry mud pie' and now I have the recipe!! My roomates used to give me a gift certificate for 10 mud pies, my absolute favourite, on my birthday, many years ago. Thank you sooo much… and you even posted it on my birthday, February 12. 🙂 JP

  • Joanne

    Hi JP! What a fantastic comment… LOVE IT!! It's bringing back many great memories – we may even have met, all those years ago! Enjoy the recipe… perhaps you can surprise your friends with some mud pies~