Friday Pie-Day {Chocolate Cream}

This week marks the half-way point of our Summer of Pies.  Isn’t that a bit happy and a bit sad at the same time?

Today’s pie is one of my best-loved recipes.  I first made this Chocolate Cream Pie when Timm and I lived in Frisco.  His parents came to visit us, and I wanted to make a really great dessert.  I had just discovered Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, and it was love at first sight.  This pie was a perfect ten the first time I made it, and it has never let me down.  That being said, I need to be honest with you about a few things.

I hope you won’t let this post negatively affect your interest in making Chocolate Cream Pie.  If you had asked me up front for a fool-proof decadent crowd-pleasing pie, I would have handed you my well-worn copy of Cook’s Illustrated Chocolate Cream Pie.  The pie is amazing.  This post is not.  I just kept goofing up along the way…and instead of editing it all and fixing all my mistakes, I decided to present you with an imperfect post hoping that you find encouragement in all of my “real life” moments.  Won’t you join me?

Here are the ingredients for Chocolate Cream Pie.

This pie has an Oreo crust, a chocolate filling, and a whipped cream topping.

In addition to the ingredients, I thought it would be helpful to include a photo of the tools you will need to make this pie.  Nothing is high-tech {except for the food processor}, but you will need everything you see here.

The key to success when it comes to this pie is having everything prepped and ready to go before you begin.

Let’s talk about egg yolks.

For this recipe you need six egg yolks at room temperature, and you need to remove the chalazae.  The what?  The chalazae.  Chalazae is a fancy words for the string of protein that is attached to the yolk.  You need to remove it so that your chocolate cream filling is super smooth.  Bring the eggs to room temperature before you separate them.

Crack the whole egg into your bare hands over the sink and allow the egg white to run through your fingers.

Put the yolk in one hand and locate the white stringy part attached to the yolk.

Gently pinch the base of the protein string and remove it.

It may take a few tries before you can get a good grip on it, but just be patient and keep pulling.  You may also accidently burst the membrane that surrounds the yolk {as I did with one of my eggs…my first of many oops} and end up with yolk running through your fingers into the sink.  No big deal.  Just start over with another egg.

This is what the egg yolk should look like after it has been separated from the white and after the chalazae has been removed.  Place the yolks into the small bowl {see photo of tools above}, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Now let’s make the crust.

Break the Oreo’s into large chunks and put them in the bowl of the food processor.

Process them until they are uniformly fine.  {Alternatively, you can crush the Oreos in a gallon-sized zip-lock baggie…but make sure you really pulverize them.}

Dump the crumbs into the pie plate…

…and drizzle with the melted butter.

Use your hands to combine the crumbs and butter.

Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.

If you find the crumbs sticking to your hands as you press, you can use a sheet of plastic wrap and the back of a spoon to press them into the pan.  Chill the crust for 20 minutes.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Allow the crust to cool while you proceed.

In a small saucepan, bring the half-and-half, salt, and about 3 tablespoons of the sugar to a simmer over medium heat.  Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.

Find the bowl in which you put the egg yolks.  Sprinkle the cornstarch and remaining sugar over the yolks.

Whisk for one minute until the yolks are glossy and the sugar is dissolved.

Continue whisking until the yolks are thick, about 30 seconds more.  Place the yolk bowl with the whisk and the ladle next to the stove where the half-and-half is cooking.

This is where my wheels started to fly off.  I lost my photo helper at this point in the pie-making process.  Since I needed both hands to cook, but I also needed to snap some shots of the action, neither turned out great.

Let me explain what’s about to happen.  You have a bowl of egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch.  You have a pan of simmering half-and-half, sugar, and salt.  You need to combine them.  But if you put eggs directly into hot liquid you will end up with scrambled eggs in your filling.  Gross.  So you have to temper the egg yolks.  Tempering means you slowly add a bit of the hot liquid to the egg mixture which will slowly raise the temperature of the eggs.  Then you add the warmed egg mixture to the pan of hot liquid and end up cooking the eggs without scrambling them.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.

While whisking constantly, slowly add a ladle or two of the hot half-and-half mixture to the egg yolk mixture.

{Imagine a photograph here.}

Then add the egg mixture to the pan of hot liquid, constantly whisking it.  When you do this, the mixture will almost instantly begin to thicken…in 30 seconds you go from milk to pudding.  It happens fast.  I wish I had photos of this step for you…but {sigh} I don’t.  I’m sorry.

My other big oops?  In the midst of everything, I wasn’t watching my half-and-half or stirring it, and it burned.  Not too terribly, but enough that were little brown flecks of burned dairy product floating around in my filling.

So this is the filling after adding the tempered egg mixture.  Remove it from the heat once it thickens.

Whisk in the butter.

Whisk in the chocolate.  {See all of my brown burned bits?}

Once the chocolate melts and is fully incorporated, you have the filling.

Take the slightly cooled crust…

…and pour in the chocolate filling.  This was just about the moment when I realized I forgot to add the vanilla.  Oops…AGAIN.  Well, nothing much I could do about it at this point.  Continuing on…

Cover the pie with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the surface of the filling to prevent a skin from forming on the chocolate.  Chill for at least four hours or overnight.

When you are ready to serve the pie, remove the plastic wrap…

…and top with fresh whipped cream.

Time for yet another oops.  I didn’t take photos of the whipped cream.  But you can click {here} to see how I made the whipped cream topping for Frozen Key Lime Pie.  It is the same.

Spread the whipped cream evenly over the pie, and…

Voila!  Chocolate Cream Pie {without vanilla but with burned half-and-half}.

Two things make this pie stand out in my opinion.  First, is the depth and intenstity of chocolate flavor that comes from using a combination of bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate in the filling.  And the Oreo cookie crust finishes it off nicely.  The second thing that is how beautifully it cuts.  Usually cream pies are gooey or runny or don’t hold a nice pie-shaped wedge very well.  Not this one.  It’s picture-perfect every time.  Except for this time.

I served this pie when we had the Walker family over for dinner last week {it was a sweet reunion dinner}.  And I kept telling myself, “Don’t forget to take a picture, don’t forget to take a picture.”  I forgot to take a picture.  And when I realized my mistake, all I had left was this…

It looks like wild animals attacked the pie and left nothing but a few morsels.

So…I’m done.  My favorite pie.  My least favorite pie post.  But that’s how it goes sometimes, right?

Click below to download a printable copy of the recipe, and thanks for hanging with me through this joke of a pie post.

{Chocolate Cream Pie}

PS.  Did you see my nail polish in the egg yolk pictures?  It’s Clambake by Essie…my new favorite for summer.

You may also like:

This entry was posted in Cooking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Friday Pie-Day {Chocolate Cream}

  1. Alethea says:

    I see a lot of interesting content on your page.

    You have to spend a lot of time writing, i know
    how to save you a lot of work, there is a tool that creates unique, SEO friendly articles in couple of minutes, just search in google – k2 unlimited content

  2. Wendy says:

    Good girl with the nail polish shout out…these are the things we all wonder! ;-) And your pie looks amazing, even without the vanilla. How have I known you for so many moons and I keep missing out on these all-star recipes? We need to have dinner soon where we’ll bring whatever you want as long as you make this pie and that corn on the grill that made me want to eat my monitor.

  3. Jenni says:

    I was so going to ask you what nail polish that is!

  4. Rachelle says:

    Thanks for the ps. That was my question the whole time. Screw the pie. What color polish is that?!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>