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)!