I always forget about Pi day until it’s too late. And, it’s not like you can just whip up a pie. It takes some time and planning between the filling, topping, and crust. This is especially true when you add children and work to the mix. But, this year I remembered!! When, I was trying to decide what to make for my Wednesday post, I was looking at the calendar and saw the date was 3/14. I just have to make a pie! My husband doesn’t really eat pie, so I decided this must be chocolate for the rest of us. I saw this recipe for chocolate cream pie in Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts and it looked delicious. I like that it has a chocolate wafer crust as opposed to a rolled pastry crust for 2 reasons: it takes less time and I think it tastes better with a chocolate filling. The custard was really easy to make too, just a lot of whisking to make sure it doesn’t burn. It is thickened with cornstarch with an optional addition of gelatin if you like a firmer filling. I went without the gelatin, and while it did set, it just didn’t slice as nicely as I hoped. So, next time I think I would add the gelatin, well at least half of it anyways. The whipped cream is the perfect sweetness to complement the filling. The chocolate curls, though optional, are surprising easy to make and they look so impressive. When I finished putting all the parts together, the pie looked just as I hoped it would. That doesn’t always happen. I was excited because I just knew Jack and Sammie would love this pie and they did! I love to watch them eat it and smile with their little faces all messy with pudding and whipped cream, asking for another piece before they’ve even finished their first. That’s always a good sign.
Martha’s Chocolate Cream Pie for Pi Day
25 Chocolate wafers (6oz) or 1 1/2 cups wafer cookie crumbs.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the wafers until fine crumbs form. Add butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a food processor until well combined.
Pat mixture into a 9-inch pie dish, pressing firmly into bottom and up sides. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Bake until crust is fragrant, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Chocolate Custard:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cup milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 %), finely chopped
1 tsp unflavored powder gelatin (optional) I omitted
2 Tbsp cold water (only needed if you use the gelatin)
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat milk and chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until chocolate melts.
Whisk 1 cup hot milk mixture into sugar mixture until smooth. Whisk milk-sugar mixture into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick, 4 to 5 minutes total (about 2 minutes after it comes to a boil).
If using gelatin, sprinkle 1 tsp over 2 Tbsp cold water in a small bowl. Let it sit until softened, about 5 minutes.
Whisk yolks in a medium bowl until combined. Pour in milk mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking until completely incorporated. Return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbles appear in the middle, 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add softened gelatin, if using, and whisk until dissolved. Stir in vanilla. Let custard cool about 10 minutes, whisking 2 or 3 times.
Pour custard into baked and cooled chocolate crust. I poured through a large stainer to get ultimate smoothness. Press plastic wrap directly on surface of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until custard filling is chilled and firm, at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.
For the sweetened whipped cream topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
Chocolate curls if desired.
With an electric mixer on med-high, whisk cream just until soft peaks form. Add confectioner’s sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form. Spread whipped cream over custard. Garnish wit chocolate curls just before serving if desired.
- I put my mixer bowl and beater in the freezer to make them super cold to make the best whipped cream
- To make the curls, use a peeler to shave large strips of chocolate off a warm chocolate bar. (Warm the chocolate bar in the microwave at 5 second intervals until just warm to the touch)
- Press the warm custard through a large strainer with a spatula right into the crust for maximum smoothness.
- Because of the cornstarch, the filling sets up pretty well. But, for nicer slices, I think I would add the gelatin next time…maybe half the amount?