Chocolate Cream Pie
This summer, one of the things that was on my unofficial baking bucket list (which I maintained in my head and never formally put to paper), was to make more pies. I’ve made my fair share in the past, but I really wanted to focus on some of the old-fashioned pies that tend to be neglected nowadays. We make fancy things like strawberry cream cheese crumble tarts, Take 5 candy bar pies, frozen chocolate-peanut butter pies and chocolate bourbon walnuts pies. This summer, I wanted to go back to classic and simple… to graham cracker crusts and whipped cream toppings. I made a key lime pie, a coconut cream pie, a cherry pie and now, finally, a chocolate cream pie. Cool, creamy and filled to the brim with rich chocolate flavor. As summer winds down, it’s the perfect way to give the warm days a proper send-off, and maybe even make the back-to-school transition a little easier.
The pie is constructed of an Oreo cookie crust that’s filled with a chocolate pastry cream and topped with freshly whipped cream and chocolate shavings. I saw a lot of different types of recipes for chocolate cream pie – some that had a traditional pastry crust, some with an Oreo crumb crust… some with a classic pastry cream filling and some that used gelatin as a stabilizer… some with a whipped cream topping and others with a meringue. In the end, I decided more chocolate is always better and went with the Oreo cookie crust over a pastry crust. Homemade pastry cream makes me weak in the knees, so it was no contest when it came to the filling. Finally, I’ll choose whipped cream over meringue any day of the week so that decision was easy as well.
The result is a wonderfully creamy, smooth-as-silk pie loaded with chocolate in every bite. Don’t be surprised if you end up standing over the counter, eating it from the pie plate with a fork. (ahem) Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Chocolate Cream Pie
For the Crust:
24 Oreo cookies, crushed into crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
For the Chocolate Cream Filling:
2½ cups half-and-half
1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 egg yolks, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 6 pieces
6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Whipped Cream Topping:
1½ cups heavy cream
4½ teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Make the Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the Oreo cookie crumbs and the melted butter in a medium bowl and toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer the crumbs to a 9-inch pie plate. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, forming a crust. Refrigerate the lined pie plate for 20 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes, until the crust is fragrant and set. Cook on a wire rack while the filling is prepared.
2. Make the Chocolate Cream Filling: Bring the half-and-half, salt and 3 tablespoons of the sugar to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Stir together the remaining sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk the yolks thoroughly in a medium bowl for about 30 seconds, until slightly thickened. Add the cornstarch mixture and whisk until the mixture is glossy and the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 1 minute. When the half-and-half reaches a full simmer, drizzle about ½ cup hot half-and-half over the yolks, whisking constantly to temper; then whisk the egg yolk mixture into the simmering half-and-half. Return to a simmer, whisking constantly, until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on the surface and mixture is thickened and glossy, about 15 seconds longer.
3. Off the heat, whisk in the butter until incorporated; add the chopped chocolate and whisk until melted, scraping the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula to fully incorporate. Stir in the vanilla, then immediately pour the filling through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Using a spatula, scrape the strained filling into the baked and cooled crust. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling and refrigerate the pie until the filling is cold and firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
4. Make the Whipped Cream Topping: When ready to serve, beat the cream and sugar in the chilled bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed to soft peaks; add the vanilla. Continue to beat to barely stiff peaks. Spread or pipe the whipped cream over the chilled filling and garnish with shaved chocolate, if desired. Serve immediately.