It was Alisa’s birthday – she is what we like to call our “young friend who is a student who lives with us and helps out now and then” – long title, but she is no longer an au pair and she is not just a student, she is truly part of our family.  So…anyway…it was her 25th birthday and I really wanted to make her something special.  Well…success!  This pie is extremely good.  I’m not even a custard girl (although I think I’m becoming one!) and oh…the cookie crumb crust, the whipped cream and pudding – all together, delicious.  I mean it.  Alisa was very happy and exclaimed “this is perfect for me!” and  “I love it!”  She said she had to hide it in the refrigerator when her friends came to celebrate and I believe it.  If you grind the cookie wafers and make the pudding the day before it is a breeze to assemble the following day.  All the small steps are fairly simple, but I guess added together take a little time and effort.  But please, make this, bake this…and enjoy!

chocolate pudding pie (barely adapted from Williams-Sonoma Pie and Tart Cookbook):

cookie crumb crust (this is an extra half recipe because I enjoy a hearty crust…but decrease if you don’t) –
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (I used Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers – in the cookie aisle – but next time maybe make home-made wafer cookies)
7.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4.5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

pudding filling
2 1/2 cups whole milk
5 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

whipped cream topping
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

chocolate curls for the top or shavings

For the cookie crumb crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grind the cookies to fine crumbs in your Cuisinart.  Mix the cookie crumbs with the melted butter, sugar and salt and stir to combine until all the crumbs are moist.  Press firmly and evenly into a 9 inch pie plate – making sure that the crumbs come up the side of the pan.

Bake in preheated oven for about 8-10 minutes.  Remove and let cool.

For the pudding:
In a sauce pan over low heat, warm the milk and chocolate together whisking until the chocolate has melted.  Don’t worry the mixture will look a little grainy.  Do not boil.

In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow.  I did this by hand, just whip vigorously for a minute or two.  Add the cornstarch, salt and vanilla extract and beat again.

Slowly add the warm milk mixture to the eggs…mixing well after each small addition…and then finally mixing all of it together.  Return mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens and begins to bubble slowly and look like pudding.  This should take about 5-8 minutes.  Remove it from the heat and stir a bit more – another minute or so.

Pour the pudding into the baked and cooled pie shell and cover with plastic wrap – so that the plastic actually touches the top of the pudding.  (This will prevent skin forming on the pudding.)  And refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

In the meantime, make the chocolate curls or shavings.  I failed a bit here – and ended up with shavings – and my only excuse was that I was rushing.  But to make the curls, just warm a hunk of semisweet chocolate (wrapped in plastic wrap) in your hands.  With a vegetable peeler, gently “peel” your chocolate pulling the peeler up and towards you to make the curls.  If the chocolate is too cold (like mine) you’ll get shavings (which is not the end of the world).  So practice and see.  I will too!  You can store these in the refrigerator until ready to assemble pie.

OK, lastly,once the pie is set and cool, make the whipped cream by placing the cream, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment or with hand held beaters and whip until nice soft peaks form.  Do not over whip!  Look to freshly whipped cream post for more help if you need it.

Spread the cream on top of the cooled pie and place curls or shavings on top of the cream.

Refrigerate the pie but try to pull out for 20 minutes before you serve for maximum flavor and enjoyment.  (Takes the chill off.)

Enjoy- really.  This is good!

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