Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chocolate Pudding Pie

It's been almost 2 months...but I'm still here! Still cooking...though not cooking new, fun things as often...hence the disappearance. This whole job thing really gets in the way, ya know? It takes a recipe that's really worth it to get me into the kitchen for a couple hours, and taking photos - and this one was really worth it. Better late than never, right?

That is a slice of heaven - chocolate pudding pie. I've always called it chocolate pudding pie, because it's pie crust, pudding, and whipped cream. But the recipe I used called it chocolate cream pie. I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter. What does matter is how good this pie was. You should probably make one. Right now. You can thank me later.

One warning - this pie has to set up in the fridge for 8 hours, so plan accordingly.

Recipe adapted from Flour cookbook (thanks Bub!)

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (62 to 70%), chopped
3/4 cup half and half
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter. Mix with graham cracker crumbs until evenly distributed. Press into a 9-inch pie dish. If you have a second pie dish, press it on top of the crumbs to flatten them out. If not, use your hands to evenly spread the crumbs and press them down. Bake for about 8 minutes.

Sprinkle 1 ounce of the chocolate on the crust and bake for another minute. Brush the melted chocolate over the crust. (The recipe says this will protect it from becoming soggy when you pour the pie filling in...but she used a regular pie crust so I don't think it's as necessary with a graham cracker crust. It does make a nice little hard chocolate layer in the pie, though.)

In a medium saucepan, combine the half and half and 1 cup of the cream and scald over medium-high heat (bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan, but the liquid is not boiling). Meanwhile, place the remaining 5 ounces of the bittersweet chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Place over (not touching) barely simmering water and heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat. Pour the hot cream over the melted chocolate and whisk until thoroughly combined.

**Note: no picture here...because I was worried I was messing it up. I couldn't get the chocolate to completely melt into the cream, it looked like cream with lots of tiny chocolate flecks in it. I put the mixture back over the simmering water and it still wasn't uniform. But it turned out fine, so don't worry if it doesn't look perfect.

Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl, and slowly whisk in the sugar. Slowly pour the hot cream-chocolate mixture into the egg-sugar mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly. When all of the cream-chocolate mixture has been incorporated, return the contents to the saucepan, and return the saucepan to medium-low heat. Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan often to prevent scorching, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon thickly. To test, draw your finger along the back of the spoon; the custard should hold the trail for a couple of seconds before it fills. (First, the mixture will be liquid and loose, and then it will start to get a little thicker at the bottom of the pan. As it continues to thicken, it will start to let off a little steam. When you see wisps of steam steadily rising from the pan, you know the filling is almost done.)

When the custard is ready, immediately strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof pitcher or bowl, and stir in the vanilla and salt. Pour the filling into the chocolate-lined pie shell and refrigerate, uncovered, for about 8 hours, or until set, or up to overnight.

Fit the stand mixer with the whip attachment (or use a handheld mixer) and whip together the remaining 1 1/2 cups cream, the confectioners' sugar, and cornstarch until stiff peaks form. Pile the whipped cream on top of the chocolate filling, spreading it to the edges.

The pie can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. (You can also carefully, loosely cover it with tin foil if you don't have an airtight pie container.)

The recipe says to decorate the pie with chocolate curls (shaving pieces off a slightly warm slab of milk chocolate with a vegetable peeler), but I skipped that part because the grocery store only had really big, expensive pieces of chocolate. I was a little skeptical about making whipped cream with cornstarch, but it does need it so that the whipped cream doesn't get stiff when it's refrigerated. I can't even tell you how good this pie didn't last long in our household.