Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Pie Project: Chocolate Cream

I had a lot of flexibility with February's pie, which is chocolate. I could have chosen to do the recipe suggested by Modern Farmer, which (I think) was a bit on the rich side. I could have made chocolate pudding pie (which was always a staple of my mom's when I was a kid). But I went with a chocolate cream pie, which I thought was a happy medium: not as rich as MF's recipe, but more difficult than pudding pie.

I was excited to get started, but more than a little nervous after taking a look at the recipe. I used one from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, and it definitely seemed out of my league. After all, here I was only two months into my challenge, and I was already making my own crust! And we all know a pie is nothing without a good crust. So the pressure was definitely on, but I think I managed to pull through.

Chocolate Cream Pie
Prep: 35 minutes  Chill: 3+ hours
Serves: 8 to 10

For the crust:
1 Oreo cookies, broken into rough pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the pie:
2 ½ cups half-and-half
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch salt
6 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 recipe Oreo Cookie Crumb Crust, baked and cooled

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream chilled
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

First thing's first: start with the crust (even I know that). Preheat the oven to 350°F. I used Tracy's food processor to cut the Oreos down to size. Once the cookies have been ground down to a fine powder (and with the machine still running), pour in the butter. Ideally, your mixture will end up looking like wet sand. You can now add this mixture t the pie plate, where you'll want to make sure it's patted down as much as possible. You also want to make sure the cookie crumbs are distributed evenly. Bake it for about 15 minutes, and then let it cool on a rack.

Next up is the filling. There are a few moving pieces to look out for here, so make sure you're paying attention as you work. First, mix the half-and-half, half of the sugar, and the salt in a medium saucepan. Bring them to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, what's left of the sugar, and the cornstarch together. [Tracy, here: To get your chocolate cream really smooth without straining, remove the white stringy stuff that clings to the egg yolks. This is called the chalaza and it will make your cream chunky! You should be able to just pinch it off the yolks once you've separated them from the whites.] Once this mixture is smooth and the first mixture is simmering, you want to combine them. Before you do this, slowly whisk 1 cup of the half-and-half mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper it.

Once that's taken care of, slowly whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the half-and-half mixture, and reduce the heat (medium should do nicely). Keep whisking the mixture until it simmers again, and then cook it until it's thickened and there are some bubbles on the surface (this should only take about 30 seconds).

When you've reached this point, turn off the heat completely, and mix in the butter, then chocolates, then the vanilla. Keep mixing until the mixture appears to be perfectly smooth. At that point, pour the whole mixture into the (hopefully) cooled pie crust. To prevent a skin from forming, lay some plastic wrap flush with the top of the filling. Refrigerate until the filling is cold and firm (upwards of 3 hours is recommended).

Just prior to serving the pie, you'll want to put together the topping. Jut mix the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a chilled bowl until soft white peaks form. Spread it on the pie and enjoy!

This pie turned out well enough that I barely had any leftovers to bring home from work and I would definitely recommend it. It's smooth, light, and rich all at once; perfect for a nice dessert or nighttime snack!


  1. Hi Tracy! The pie looks divine! I love chocolate pie so I'm going to have to copy your recipe! I especially like that it doesn't have Cool Whip! You're doing a great job with your challenge! Keep it up! Blessings from Bama!

  2. This recipe looks delicious! I love chocolate cream pie! I would love to invite you to share this post at my linky party, Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up

  3. Thank you for sharing your recipe at Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up. I hope you join us again this week! :)