Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dark Chocolate Cream Pie - A New Old Classic

Have you ever been unable to find the exact recipe you were looking for?  Well that is what happened to me when I went searching for a Classic Dark Chocolate Cream Pie to add to the Thanksgiving dessert menu.  I saw several that were chocolate, on chocolate, with more chocolate, which is usually never a bad thing in my book.  But I had my mind set on a buttery, flaky crust that would offset an intensely chocolaty filling, complimented with a mountain of fresh whipping cream. Nothing was screaming, "I'm your pie", so I was forced to go make a pie and see if I could get just what I wanted. Sigh!!

Sometimes I feel like the unofficial "Turkey Hotline" and the panicked calls I got this year included a need for pie crust help.  Rather than repeating myself again next year, I figured why not write it all down for you.  That way you don't have to arrive at your in-laws with a store bought pie out of defeat, I promise!

Single Pie Crust
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced 1/2" and kept cold
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons ice water

I had an older crust recipe but felt it didn't make enough and didn't leave me enough to do edge designs, so I re-vamped it into a larger version, I'd rather have a little leftover than not enough.

In the bowl of a food processor add the flour, salt and sugar, pulse two or three times to combine.

Add butter and shortening and pulse until the butter is in large crumbs.  Add the ice water and pulse until the dough is barely holding together.  Make sure the butter is cold; straight out of the fridge usually works best. Be sure the butter is cut up or it will heat up too much from the blade of the processor.

If you don't have a food processor, use a pastry cutter or two knives.  Basically you need to cut the butter into the flour.  I used a pastry cutter for about 10 years until I bought a food processor, and let's put it this way - I'll never go back.

If you don't want to use shortening, just swap the shortening for an equal amount of butter in the recipe.  I think the shortening makes the crust a little flakier and easier to roll out, but that is just my opinion.

Your crust is ready when it is just starting to clump together.

Place the crumbly crust mixture onto a large piece of plastic wrap and form a flat large circle. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a couple of hours.  I usually make my crusts the night before, that way they are ready for rolling the next day.  Let the dough sit on the counter for five minutes or so prior to rolling to make rolling easier.

My secret weapon for less mess and easier rolling is to take a large piece of freezer paper and tape it to my table or counter.  Put a little flour down so the crust won't stick, flour your rolling pin and roll the crust to about 1/4" thick.  Roll the crust back up onto the rolling pin and dust off any excess flour with a pastry brush.  Place the crust in a 9.5" glass pie pan that is sprayed with no-stick spray.

Once the crust is in the pan, use your fingers and make sure it is adhered to the bottom and sides, trim any excess crust and start crimping.  About a 1/2" overhang of crust is usually enough to get a good crimp.  Crimping is just placing one bent finger on one hand between two bent fingers on the other hand.

An easy alternative for crimping would be to trim the top of the crust off with a knife and then cut shapes out with a small cookie cutter and place them around the top edge of the pie dish, pressing down slightly. That is what I did for my pumpkin pie this year.  

When you are making a pie that isn't going to be baked, you have to blind bake it first.  

Spray a piece of tin foil with no-stick spray and place it into the crust, pressing it to the bottom and sides. Try not to disturb the rim.  Place pie weights or beans (you don't want to cook with) in the bottom and bake in a 425 degree F oven for 15 minutes.  Remove the crust from the oven and remove the foil and weights and return it to the oven to bake 5-10 minutes longer, until nicely browned.

If you don't want the crust edges overly browned, cover the top of the crust with a piece of foil for the first half of baking and then remove it for the second half.  Set the crust aside and let it cool.

Dark Chocolate Filling
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (I like the 1 pound bars from Trader Joe's)
4 large egg yolks, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature, cut up

In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk, heavy cream, and espresso powder, whisk to combine.  Bring to a boil on medium heat, then add chocolate and whisk for a minute or so until the chocolate starts dissolving.  Add a little bit of the hot liquid to the eggs and then add the eggs into the pot, whisk constantly for about 4 minutes, you will see the mixture thicken before your eyes.

Remove from the heat.  Add the vanilla and butter and whisk until smooth.  You can sieve the mixture if you want, but if you whisk enough you shouldn't have any noticeable egg bits.

Pour into the cooled pie crust.

Immediately place a piece of plastic wrap on the top of the chocolate and cover it to the edges. This will prevent a film from forming.  Place into the fridge for 3 hours to completely cool.

Just prior to serving, make the whipping cream.

2 cups heavy whipping cream (or 1 whole pint)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of a mixer, combine cream, sugar and vanilla, whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Place whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip if you want sharp peaks on your design. You can also just spoon the whip cream on top.  What, you don't have the 1M tip, well it's in the Give-away I'm having at the moment, have you entered?  The chocolate pearls on top came from Trader Joe's, and they added a nice little crunch.

Still scared of tackling homemade pies for next year's feast?  If you would like me to show you how to bake them in person and you live in Europe, and can send me an airline ticket, I'm available to leave tomorrow!!!

What you really wanted to know though was - did my niece kick my b*** in the Dance-Off this year.  Let's put it this way, my niece thinks she is all video game master and everything, well look kid - Aunty is tired of you winning and she has her spandex and leg warmers on at the moment practicing her new moves for next year's competition.  That's a visual huh; please don't dare me to put up a photo of me in spandex and leg warmers, please (because I would)!




  1. You're more brave than I am...I just baked my first-ever pie tonight, but used a frozen pie crust b/c I'm still scared of homemade crust! I've made lots of no-bake pies, but my Daddy asked me to make him a homemade pecan pie. I couldn't turn him down!

  2. Mmm!!! I love those "pearl" on top! You did good, Gina!

  3. Gina, this is so pretty! Thanks for the step by step. I'll bookmark this recipe for Christmas :)

  4. Wendy, I say whatever works for you is what you should do. I'm sure your dad loved the pecan pie you made for him.

  5. Gina, the pie looks fantastic. these chocolate mini tiny balls on top are so cute!

    p.s. I still don't know what type of sugars you have, even with the tips you gave us. Looking forward to the answers

  6. I also make my pie crust in the processor; always a success. Love your heart in the flour. Who could resist a chocolate cream pie?

  7. Gina- Such a gorgeous pie! Thank you for the tutorial. I can always use the help. Would a plane ticket to Chicago entice you? I'm sure this pie was a hit a your dinner!

  8. Oh my friend. I'll bet you were hoping I didn't land on this because you know I read every word.

  9. Great post Gina, I can almost taste this dark chocolate cream pie!
    You're The SpCookie Queen hotline for all our cooking and baking needs;-) and we really appreciate it and all that you do!

  10. Can I just come live with you? I have been dreaming of this kind of pie for ages. I won't take up much room I promise. I'll be happy in the kitchen. Just a slice (or two) of everything you make is all I ask.

  11. This is a fantastic post, Gina! I love the photo with the flour in a heart shape! Your chocolate pie is stunning!

  12. Becky, I'd come to Chicago for you.
    Christiane, because what you ask for and be prepared to shield your eyes.
    Jean, I'll get your room ready - straight away.

  13. I'm still scared...but the heart shaped flour makes me feel better :)

    This is an AMAZING cream pie, darling! I love the little flare with the chocolate pearls!


  14. Oh, Gina, I can't have my hubby seeing this post...he'll want your pie yesterday! It is the PERFECT chocolate cream pie. I know I'll be making it eventually...but too many cookie plans in the way right now. I'll be checking back for those Spandex photos, later :)

  15. What a gorgeous pie!! Pie crust is not my favorite thing to make, but your instructions will be sure to help!! Thanks!
    Love the mental image :)

  16. You had me at "dark chocolate".

  17. This is such a pretty pie! Black and the combination.

  18. The whole reason I started making up my own recipes was because I get an idea in my head and can't find any such recipe. Guess that's why we are recipe developers! Your pie is so pretty and your flaky crust looks divine.

  19. Mmm, that looks so rich and glorious :) I'd love a slice!

  20. 1) the pie looks amazing! Mocha flavor to boot! Nicely done! 2) I dare ya to put up pics *runs away*

  21. Hi Gina-Your pie is so pretty! I would love a slice right now. Just gorgeous. Hope you are doing well. xo

  22. What an amazing pie! I love the picture of the individual slice!

  23. I should really try again at making a flaky pie crust, yours looks so pretty! Maybe I'll give it a go for the family party this year...

  24. Gina, I had a little giggle imagining you fending off questions on the Turkey Hotline! Just love your detailed explanation of crust-making here, especially the cookie cutter edges...I MUST try that. Those chocolate pearls are just too much, and makes the pie look so darn glamorous.

    Oh btw, I DARE you to put up that spandex and leg-warmers photo, plus your winning pose in them! ;)

  25. I never thought to "dust away" the excess flour while the pie crust was on your rolling pin. Duly noted. I love this retro pie - love bringing things back from the past - the reason people made this for so many years is because it was so good. And when possible, I always reach for dark chocolate before the milky version. Such a delicious delight.

  26. Oh how I love dark chocolate, and I have to say I never NEVER thought to make my pie crust in a food processor how much easier my life will be now.

    Thanks so much Gina your pies are delicious!

  27. Can I come be your sidekick in Europe? I'm good at washing dishes.

    I like your idea of using a cookie cutter to crimp pie crust.

  28. LOL!!! You are so funny..I have to read that last part twice..I will go with Maya and dare you too! haha
    Your pie is pielicuous!!!!! Love every single element of that pie..just give a big spoon and I'll be all over it lol! Have a great night rock!!!

  29. "Turkey hotline" made me giggle & I totally know what you mean! Your pie looks gorgeous, dark chocolate filling sounds divine!

  30. Old or new, this looks fantastic :) I am a dark a dark chocolate and a pie lover!

  31. I double dog dare you to put up a photo ! :)

    As I was reading your post I kept thinking to myself that it would be better to just have you show me how to do it in person. Then there I see your words about an airline ticket to Europe, you read my mind! Gina the pie looks amazing. My hubby always talks about chocolate cream pie and banana cream pie. I may have to make this for him soon :)

  32. You are too funny lady, and yes I dare you ;)
    This chocolate pie is just evil, I mean how scrumptious can you get! And since I don't live in Europe, your not going to teach me how to bake :(
    Does it help that I am French and I have relitives in Europe? :)

  33. The husband loves chocolate pie, and we love, love, love dark chocolate. He always requests a chocolate for special occasions. I think I'll have to bookmark this for Valentine's Day! It sounds delicious.