This pie wasn’t supposed to happen like this, but between Joe’s and my schedule, we’re learning to roll with it.
We were going to a friends’ house for dinner on Friday, and Joe proposed that we take nice beer and a dessert. Having debriefed in the gym parking lot, we decided to get take-out salads that night and make the dessert. I headed home to pick out a recipe while Joe got his work out on. However, our plans were derailed when Joe called to tell me that he had been called back to the hospital for a surgery. The bright side was that he would likely be off the next day, and he volunteered to make the dessert by himself.
I selected this pie, something we already had all of the ingredients for, and I left out the non-perishable ingredients on the counter. I sent Joe the recipe via e-mail along with some tips, mentioning that he could use a frozen pie crust but would probably need to blind bake it. And, for God’s sake, if he had any questions, to call me or page me.
All throughout my work day, I didn’t hear a peep from Joe. It seems as if he didn’t need my help. When I got home, I peeked in the fridge and saw a beautiful chocolate pudding pie. He had even whipped the cream and stored it in a separate container.
As we prepared to top the pie with the whipped cream, I asked Joe if he had baked the crust. He looked at me blankly.
“Didn’t you see that I had mentioned you might need to blind bake it?”
“Yes, but I didn’t know what that meant.”
I thought we might be able to serve it in a slightly soggy crust, but Joe broke off a piece of the unbaked pie crust and promptly vetoed that plan. Fortunately, he had purchased a pre-made chocolate cookie crumb crust, so even though it wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing, we scooped the chocolate pudding into the crust, topped it with the whipped cream and sprinkles and were on our way.
It went over smashingly. The pudding was light in texture but with an intense chocolate taste. The crust is secondary to the filling in my mind anyway. As always, the homemade whipped cream was vastly better than anything out of a can. Now if only we had gotten the crust right…
Chocolate Pudding Pie
as seen on Smitten Kitchen
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not more than 60% cacao), finely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1 crust’s worth of your favorite pie crust recipe
Bittersweet chocolate shavings or chocolate sprinkles for garnish (optional)
Prepare pie dough: Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 11-inch round, then fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under and crimp edge decoratively. Prick bottom and side of shell all over with a fork, then chill shell 30 minutes. While shell chills, preheat oven to 375°F with a baking sheet on middle rack. Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
Bake on baking sheet until pastry is set and edge is pale golden, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove weights and foil, then bake shell on baking sheet until pale golden all over, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool shell.
Make pudding filling: Whisk together cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk [tips alert!] in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, two minutes (mixture will thicken). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla until smooth.
Pour filling into cooled shell and chill, its surface covered with wax paper (if you want to prevent a skin from forming), until cold, at least two hours.
Just before serving, beat cream with remaining two tablespoons sugar until it just holds soft peaks. Spoon onto pie and garnish with bittersweet chocolate shavings or sprinkles, if you’re feeling fancy.