Saveur’s Ridiculous Chocolate Cream Pie: A Three-Day Photo Diary
When I went home to Pennsylvania for Christmas, my mom and I had our hearts set on making a coffee-infused, sour-cream based chocolate layer cake with chocolate icing. The last time I had it was at my college graduation dinner, and I can still taste it. Alas, the cake didn’t come to fruition, so since Christmas, I’ve had this nagging impulse to make something really stupidly rich and chocolatey. When I picked up the latest copy of Saveur, I knew I had found my recipe: chocolate cream pie.
Their photo says it all. My photos don’t say much, and don’t do the pie justice, so check out their professional pic on the Saveur website. Did you look? Yeah. Check that out. Now you know why I had to make it.
The subtitle for this post explains the reason for the various locations/light conditions of my photos. It also shows that this pie is not a quick dessert to make before dinner guests arrive. It’s not time consuming, in the sense that it takes a long time to physically make. It’s actually relatively easy, just food-processering, stirring, and more stirring. But because it’s so heavy with egg yolks, butter and cream, it needs time to sit and chill.
Photo 1, Friday night after work. Made pie crust and filling.
I decided to make this pie for a Saturday dinner party, because there is no way I was going to make this for two people. It has NINE egg yolks. No way. So after work, I made the cookie crumb crust and the filling. The crust recipe calls for chocolate wafers, but all I could find at the store was a box of generic brand chocolate teddy grahams, and it turned out fine. I also did the worst thing a baker can do when I planned the recipe—I didn’t check my cupboard. So when the time came to melt the butter and light brown sugar together, I realized (gasp) that I didn’t have ANY brown sugar. So I used the same amount of white sugar, which I don’t actually think you’re supposed to do, but again, it was fine. This pie is very forgiving.
So I made and baked the crust, and I also made the chocolate filling, so it could chill for four or more hours before being spread in the crust. The crust also went into the fridge overnight.
Photo 2, Saturday morning. Stirred filling.
The chilled, set filling was so dense, I had to have my sous-chef/husband (heh) stir it.
Photo 3, Saturday morning. Put filling in crust.
Then I spread it into the pie crust and threw it back in the fridge. My very intelligent sous-chef pointed out that if we put plastic wrap right on the surface of the filling, it wouldn’t get that icky pudding skin. So we did that. He’s so smart.
Photo 4, Saturday night. Whipped cream, and finished pie.
I brought the fixins for whipped cream to our dinner host’s house, so it tasted and looked as fresh as possible. After dinner, I set to work with the hand mixers, then spread the creamy goodness on the pie and served. I have to say that this was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to cut and serve. Because the crust was chilled, and therefore hard, I went through three types of knives before I found that a seriously sharp, serrated knife was the best to work with. You’ll really have to cut hard to get the bottom crust to break into your desired number of slices. My desired number was ten. It should have been twenty—this thing is killer, in a good way. Seriously, most of the dinner guests couldn’t finish their 1/10 of a pie slices, it was that awesome and rich.
Photo 5, Monday morning. Took pictures of carnage.
This photo isn’t pretty, I’m sorry, but it shows all the craziness that ensued when I tried to cut this thing. Chocolate everywhere! It was on the table, on my jeans, in my hair. Carnage. Stupid crust.
My husband and I had a bite of the leftovers on Sunday night, and we agreed it was better after the crust got a tad softer. So my recommendation would be to make this and let the completed pie (minus the whipped cream) sit in the fridge at least a day before you need it.
Chocolate Cream Pie
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes and chilled, plus more for pie plate
1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 9-oz. package chocolate wafers or graham crackers finely ground (about 2 1⁄4 cups)
3 1⁄2 cups half-and-half
2⁄3 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
9 egg yolks
9 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
Dark chocolate, for garnish
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch glass pie plate with butter; set aside. Heat 8 tbsp. butter and brown sugar in a 1-qt. saucepan until sugar dissolves. Transfer butter mixture to a medium bowl; stir in ground wafers. Transfer mixture to pie plate; press into bottom and sides, using the bottom of a measuring cup or small bowl to compress crust. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake until set, about 15 minutes; let cool.
Heat half-and-half in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until it just begins to simmer; remove pan from heat. In a large bowl, whisk together 2⁄3 cup sugar and cornstarch; add egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Drizzle half-and-half into egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until smooth. Return mixture to saucepan; heat over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until bubbles rise to the surface and mixture is very thick, 3–4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add remaining butter and chocolates in small batches, whisking until smooth; stir in 1 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla. Set a sieve over a medium bowl and strain chocolate mixture. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing plastic onto surface; refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
Remove plastic wrap from chocolate filling and, using a rubber spatula, stir mixture until smooth. Spoon mixture into reserved crust, forming a dome, and smooth surface with the spatula. In a large bowl, whisk remaining sugar, remaining vanilla, and heavy cream until stiff peaks form; spread on top of filling, forming a dome. Using a peeler, shave some of the dark chocolate onto top of pie. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
SERVES 8 – 12