Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chocolate Cream Pie

Here’s an easy pudding pie recipe you can make next time you have company over. It looks good without being overly pretentious, tastes delicious, and most of the prep can be done earlier in the day. (Actually, the pie requires time to chill, so you will NEED to make it ahead of time.) I’ve made this twice recently for dinner parties, and both times it was really well received.

This recipe largely comes from Diner Desserts, by Tish Boyle, a cookbook I’ve found is one of my favorites despite its somewhat narrow genre of recipes.

For easy serving and pretty presentation, I make this in a 9” fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. (The idea of a pan with a removable bottom is one of the best ideas ever!) It’s so much easier to get the individual slices out of the pie.

Chocolate Cream Pie
Makes 1 9" pie

Make the crust first, it needs to cool slightly.
16 ounces chocolate/cream sandwich cookies, like Oreos or a similar knock-off
8 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9” tart pan with a removable bottom (a 9” pie pan will work if you don’t have a tart pan). Pam spray works well.

The easiest way to make the crust is to use a food processor to crush the cookies and mix in the melted butter. If you don’t have a food processor, you can smash the cookies sealed in a thick plastic zip-lock bag with a rolling pin – it will take longer and the results won’t be as even, but it will work.

Place the cookies in the work bowl of a food processor, pulse repeatedly to crush the cookies. With the processor running, drizzle the melted butter through the feed tube; process to incorporate. Scrape the crumbs out of the bowl into the prepared tart/pie pan. Use your fingers and a spoon to shape the crust up the sides of the pan; flatten the center part evenly into the pan.

Bake the crust for 8 minutes, until it has set. Let the crust cool on a wire rack. (Use caution when moving the pan around so you don’t inadvertently push up on the removable bottom and break the crust.)

3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, like 99% cacao
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk in about 2 tablespoons of the half-and-half until it is a smooth paste. If it lumps up in the whisk, that’s fine, just shake it all out.

Whisk in the remaining half-and-half; keep whisking until the mixture looks kind of like chocolate milk. Set the bowl aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, and chocolate. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the chocolate has completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk about a 1/2 cup of the hot chocolate mixture into the half-and-half mixture.

Whisk this mixture into the remaining chocolate mixture in the saucepan. Return the pan to the heat an cook over medium high heat, whisking constantly. When the mixture begins to bubble, continue to cook, whisking constantly, for one minute.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and then the vanilla. Scrape the pudding into the cooled tart shell. Cover the pie with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pudding, and refrigerate the pie until thoroughly chilled, at least four hours.

Whipped Cream Topping
I usually wait until just before serving the pie to make the whipped cream topping. Then the cream is at it's maximum volume at serving time - looks the prettiest!
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mini chocolate chips, for garnish

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream and sugar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in the vanilla.

There’s several options to apply the cream to the pie. You can simply scoop it on, using a rubber spatula to create swirly billows of whipped cream. Or, you can pipe it on with a pastry bag. In my photos I used a Wilton #364 tip fitted onto a pastry bag and made little stars over the top of the pie.

More recently, I purchased a Wilton #2110 (1M) tip (which takes the large size coupler) and piped big stars on the top of the pie. I preferred the appearance of the larger #2110 (1M), but didn’t have a chance to take any I guess you’ll have to take my word on it... At any rate, either will work, just get the whipped cream on the pie.

Once you’ve topped the pie with the whipped cream, garnish it with mini-sized chocolate chips.

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