I knew my husband was the one for me when he chose chocolate.
We met at church one summer Sunday a bunch of years ago, and after our first brief conversation, he wandered out to the foyer. A church lady offered him a leftover doughnut, and he picked one with chocolate frosting. At which point I thought, “Yeah, I could spend the rest of my life with this guy.”
We got engaged a few months later, and I’ve spent our marriage bringing him fully into the land of chocolate, where I live.
One of the chocolate desserts he loves best is chocolate cream pie. And I love my husband, so sometimes I make him chocolate cream pie.
My daughter Anna also loves chocolate cream pie. And I love my daughter Anna. So I sometimes make her chocolate cream pie, too.
Anna, in particular, is a chocolate-cream pie (CCP) fiend. When I ask what she wants for dessert, she’ll answer “chocolate cream pie”…nonchalantly, as if I can just whip one up on the spur of the moment.
The thing is that my full-on CCP requires a significant commitment of time and the securing of certain special ingredients. But out of love for Anna and for my husband (and, admittedly, out of my own CCP addiction), I occasionally make the effort.
The Over-Achiever incarnation of CCP features the world’s best pie crust (my mom’s…so good it could make a grown man weep) and homemade chocolate pudding based on a gorgeous Dutch process cocoa worth the mail-order price tag. I top it off with whipped cream or whipped topping (more on that later) and a liberal shower of real chocolate sprinkles.
(By “real,” I mean that they are made of actual chocolate that melts in your mouth as opposed to the usual type of hydrogenated-oil sprinkles that, as far as I know, don’t melt anywhere.)
I think this pie is worth the investment of time and money. But I know life sometimes calls for a CCP infusion when both time and money are short. So, I’ve also come up with a Cheater CCP: bake off a packaged pie crust, fill it with instant or cook-and-serve chocolate pudding, slather it with whipped topping or whipped cream, and finish it off with mini chocolate-chips–which while not “sprinkly” are, in fact, actual chocolate.
(There are some compromises we cannot make in chocoholic land, and fake chocolate is one of them.)
OR: cobble together a Cheater Over-Achiever CCP using components of both recipes. In the interest of full disclosure, this is what I do, because I do not keep whipping cream in the house, but I do maintain a steady supply of “spray” whipped cream (actual cream in a handy if environmentally evil aerosol format) as well as totally-without-redemptive-qualities reduced-fat non-dairy whipped topping.
Whichever road you take to get there, if your journey leads you to Chocolate Cream Pie, I think it was worth the trip.
Over-Achiever Chocolate Cream Pie
1 9-inch homemade pie crust (my mom’s recipe…or your mom’s…or someone’s off Pinterest, fully baked and cooled)
1 recipe Homemade Chocolate Pudding
Adornments and Add-Ons
My Mom’s Pie Crust:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into smallish pieces
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cold
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup ice water
- 1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt with a fork. Throw in the pieces of butter and tablespoon-size “portions” of shortening and cut all these into the flour mixture with a fork or two knives or a pastry blender. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, ice water, and vinegar until the egg has fully joined the party. Toss this mixture with the flour/fat mixture just until all the flour mixture is moistened. It’ll be a little crumbly. If it seems more than a little crumbly, add in a few extra drops of water.
Form the pie dough into 3 equal balls and wrap well in plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour before you deal with it further.
If you want to completely bake your crust, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Roll out your crust (one ball makes one crust…and take heart here: it’s supposed to be a circle sort of like the Earth, but mine always looks more like Africa), fit it into your pie plate, and crimp the edges. Line the crust with a piece of parchment paper and fill with beans or fancy-schmancy pie weights, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the bean/weights and parchment paper, lower the oven temp to 350 degrees, and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the edges are golden. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
- 9 tablespoons (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) sugar
- 6 tablespoons (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsweetened baking cocoa (I love this Dutch-process version from King Arthur Flour)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 cups milk (I like at least 1%)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
In a large microwave-safe bowl (I use an 8-cup glass measure so I can see what’s going on), whisk together the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Add in about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the milk JUST to form a thick paste. This is how you’ll avoid lumpy pudding. Once you’ve got a thick, smooth paste, gradually whisk in the rest of the milk. Microwave, uncovered, on high (100%) power for 3 minutes. Whisk again. Microwave on medium-high (70%) power for 3 minutes. Whisk again. Microwave for an additional 2-5 minutes on medium-high (70%) power until your pudding is thick and bubbly in the center. This is NOT the time to get started on that marathon viewing session of some TV series you’ve been waiting to binge-watch. Unless you want a chocolate-flavored volcano to take over your microwave, watch your pudding carefully at this point. When thickened and bubbly, remove from microwave and whisk in the vanilla and chocolate chips until smooth. Immediately pour into your prepared pie shell. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding and refrigerate until completely chilled. Before serving, top generously with Adornments and Add-Ons. Will probably serve 8-10 in your house.
Adornments and Add-Ons
- sweetened whipped cream
- real chocolate sprinkles (I love these from King Arthur flour)
Cheater Chocolate Cream Pie
1 packaged pie crust, baked in a 9-inch pie plate according to package instructions and cooled completely
1 (4-serving size) box chocolate pudding mix, instant or cook-and-serve prepared as for pie filling according to package instructions
frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed, and/or whipped cream in an aerosol can (such as Reddi-wip)
mini semisweet chocolate chips
Pour prepared pudding into prepared pie shell. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto pudding surface to avoid the dreaded Pudding Skin Syndrome. Chill thoroughly. Top with whipped topping or whipped cream and mini chocolate chips. Serves 8-10, unless you’re in my family, in which case it will serve 4-6 if everyone is restraining themselves.