So I recently acquired another outstanding cookbook — Perfect Pies: The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes from America’s Pie-Baking Champion. The “pie baking champion” being Michele Stuart, National Pie Festival champ, Bobby Flay’s Throw-Down contestant, and owner of Michele’s Pies in Norwalk, CT.
One of these days I’ll try the Chocolate-Pecan-Bourbon Pie, the Maple Walnut Pie, Coconut Custard Pie, Lemon Chiffon Pie and maybe the Candyland Pie; but naturally, the first one on the docket was Michele’s Chocolate Cream. This may be my favorite chocolate cream pie yet.
Michele took a basic chocolate pie filling (one I recognized from my own grandmother’s collection) and perfected the amount of egg yolks, cornstarch and chocolate to make the perfect balance of smoothness, sturdiness and chocolate flavor (though I did add a little chocolate extract since I’m putting it in everything these days). Also, the pie slices beautifully, which is important when you’re trying to make a great presentation at Thanksgiving or just about any other event where you need to impress people.
Here’s my adapted version of the recipe, but do yourself a favor and buy the book!
- 1 prebaked 9-inch pie shell
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional, but good!)
- 3-oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1 to 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 2o 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Chocolate chips or chocolate shavings for garnish
- Off heat, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a medium size saucepan, then whisk in the milk and egg yolks. Place the mixture over medium heat, constantly whisking and scraping the sides of the pan until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken.
- Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. When all of the butter is mixed in, add the vanilla and chocolate extract (if using). Add the chocolate a little at a time, giving each addition of chocolate the chance to melt into the filling before adding more. Keep the mixture over the heat until the chocolate is smoothly melted and the cream thickens.
- Pour the chocolate filling into the pie shell. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to cool for at least 1 hour before serving. When ready to serve, remove the pie from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap.
- Whip the cream and sweeten it with the powdered sugar. Stir in some vanilla. Spread or pipe whipped cream over the top.
Filling The change I made to the filling was to add about 3/4 teaspoon of chocolate extract. You could definitely taste it in the pie, so make sure to use a good chocolate extract. The only one I’ve tried is Nielsen Massey’s and I’d say it’s good. Also, I added both extracts after taking the pie filling off the heat. I noticed in Michele’s recipe it’s added as the filling is being cooked, but I am in the habit of adding it last because I’m always worried it will burn off.
Topping If you want less whipped cream, use only 1 cup cream and 2 tablespoons sugar. I like more cream so I whipped 2 cups of heavy cream and added 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla then piped it on with a large French star tip. You could spread it on or just pipe big dots of it out of a zipper bag with a hole cut out of the corner. For the chocolate shavings, I stole some Hershey bars from Fuzz’s Halloween candy stash and shaved off bits with a peeler.