Friday, April 11, 2014

Gilding the Lily: Chocolate Cream Pie

I know that I seem to be doing a ton of baking at the moment.  Perhaps it's because it's Spring, or maybe I just want more sugar in my life.  But whatever the reason, I've been going through a whole lot of sugar and flour.
While I make and bake a lot of things, I don't make pie crust.  When I have made crust in the past, it's turned out tough and non-flaky.  As a result, it's a whole lot easier to just buy the frozen ones and get on with things.  I mentioned to J that I had a frozen crust in the freezer, left over from when I made pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  He asked me to make his favourite:  chocolate cream pie.  
Chocolate cream pie has never been one of my favourites.  I think of it mainly in 2 ways:  as the pie on the dessert buffet that invariably looks good but never tastes that great, and a graham cracker crust concoction with instant chocolate pudding and Cool Whip topping.  Neither really tickles my fancy.  I'm also not a huge fan of gelatinous cooked pudding, which is what the filling for a chocolate cream pie really is.
But then I saw this recipe on Pinterest, and it looked delicious.  I clicked through and saw the recipe was from King Arthur Flour.  It sounded even better.  Cooked pudding or no, this is a filling on steroids - there is nothing that would remind you of a Jello cooked pudding in this.  Then you ice the whole thing with real whipped cream.  J wanted a chocolate cream pie, and I had found a recipe that I was sure would be a winner.
When I told my mother that I was making a chocolate cream pie, her response was, "Yuck."  I kind of get where she's coming from.  As a woman who has made a pie a month forever, she makes a lot of really great pies - but mostly fruit ones.  I now firmly believe it's because she's not tasted this pie.  Obviously I'll have to make it again when I know she's coming.
I present to you now King Arthur Flour's Chocolate Cream Pie:

1 Pie Crust, baked (I used a Tenderflake Deep Dish made with Vegetable Oil.  Next time, I want to try making my own crust again)

2 Tbsp butter
1-1/3 c chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 c sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp instant coffee granules
1/8 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
1 c cream, divided
2 c milk

1 c cream
1/4 c icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1.  In a large bowl, place chocolate chips, butter and vanilla.  In a saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, coffee and salt.
2.  Stir 1/4 c cream into the cocoa mixture until smooth.  Add a second 1/4 c of cream, repeating the process.  Add the 3 yolks and blend. 
3.  Place the saucepan over medium heat and gradually add the remaining cream and milk, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute as the mixture thickens.  DO NOT STOP STIRRING!
4.  Remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate chip mixture.  Stir until chocolate and butter are melted and fully incorporated.  Cover filling with plastic wrap, pressing down on the surface so a skin does not form.  Cool completely in the refrigerator.
5.  Make the topping:  Beat cream until soft peaks form.  Add sugar and vanilla, and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, taking care not to overbeat.
6.  Assemble the pie:  Fill cooled pie shell with chocolate filling.  Smooth the top of the filling, and top with whipped cream, smoothing to the edges.  Chill until ready to serve.
From King Arthur Flour

Next time, I need to use pie weights.  And prick the sides of the crust to let the steam escape.  I also think I'd like to try making my own crust again because the foil pan is small.  All of the filling didn't fit in this shell.  Not that we minded - we got 2 bowls of pudding to eat for lunch, but I'm pretty sure my own pie pan would have taken all this filling.
When the cream is mixed into the dry ingredients, it's really pasty.  KAF recommends a wisk, but I used a wooden spoon.  It moved better through the thicker filling.  I made sure everything was very smooth before starting to add the cream and cook.
I did, however, use a whisk to incorporate the chocolate and butter into the hot mixture.  I wanted to make sure everything was well distributed.  Isn't it gorgeous?  It tasted as good as it looked.  I let J lick the whisk, and then got the rest of the filling in the fridge quick.
When this firms up, it doesn't jiggle.  There is no gelatin here, even with the cornstarch in the cooked filling.  It's just dense and delicious.
Then you ice with whipped cream.  Easy and yummy.

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