Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate cream pies are a popular and tasty dessert. They can be intimidating for novice or casual cooks but this shouldn’t be the case. A basic cream pie has a relatively simple recipe and requires no special equipment or extraordinary talent. Patience is the most useful thing to have when making a cream pie for the first time. observing the stages of the pie will give you an idea of what to expect when you make it the second, third and fourth time. All you need to make a cream pie is a large saucepan, some mirowave safe bowls, a couple large mixing bowls, a pie dish, a spatula and a whisk. An electric mixer is ideal for producing the whipped cream topping.

The first step is to make the crust ready for your filling. If you’re short on time or don’t feel like it making your own crust, just pick up a pre-made cookie crust in the grocery store.

For the crust:
1 1/3 cups crushed chocolate cookies, such as Oreos or chocolate wafers
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350Ã?°F. Crush up the cookies using a food processor, or with a fork. If you have some heavy duty Ziploc bags, place the cookies inside and crush them with a rolling pin. You’re looking for same pieces, no larger than the size of a dime at the most. Stir in the melted butter and sugar thoroughly, until the cookies are sticky and easy to clump. Spread the cookies out in a pie pan, making a fairly even layer across the bottom and sides. It won’t look perfect but so long as the cookies cover the bottom of the pan that is unimportant. Bake the crust for 15 minutes, and then let cool on the counter top while you prepare the filling.

For the filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate melted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Take a large pan, something like a 3 quart sauce pan, and whisk together the cornstarch, sugar and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks, which will cause the mix to clump up around the whisk. once you no longer have any loose cornstarch or sugar, slowly pour in the milk. Keep whisking as you add the milk so it the egg mix blends instead of remaining one big clump. Turn up the heat to medium level. Now this is the trickiest part of cooking the filling. You want to keep whisking so the mixture doesn’t become lumpy. try whisking for 5 to 10 seconds, then allow the filling to settle. It will develop a froth on the top. Watch for signs of boiling. You will slowly feel the mixture start to congeal, and may feel lumpy bits on the bottom of the pan. If you feel lumps, give it some extra whisks. Sometimes there will be an odor of coking eggs, but don’t worry about this. The process will take several minutes, so be patient and don’t abandon your filling. While this is going on, put your chocolate in the microwave for one to two minutes. This will allow the chocolate to heat and be ready for mixing into your filling. Using the microwave makes it less likely for your chocolate to scorch. Make certain your dish has no water in it, as water could cause the chocolate to seize up and become a grainy, chunky mess.

When you see the large bubbles of a boil, and your mixture feels thick, lower your temperature to a simmer. Keep whisking for one minute on simmer.The filling will be almost sludgy, and have an almost buttermilk color. After one minute, take the pan off the heat. The next step is tricky, and sometimes works best with a partner to hold the sieve. If you don’t have a helper, make sure you have a sieve the balances across your bowl. Strain the mix through the sieve to remove any lumps of cornstarch or egg. Use a spatula to press the thick filling through the mesh into a large bowl. With your trusty spatula, stir in the melted chocolate and softened butter. Gently stir the filling, chocolate and butter until it’s a uniform, chocolate color. The filling will still be hot enough to melt the butter, so try not to stick your fingers into it.

Once the cream filling is completely blended, spoon it into your crust. It will spread easily with the spatula or a spoon. Put your pie into the fridge for it to cool and settle. It’s best to let it sit for five or six hours, though overnight is best. All that it needs now is whipped cream.

For the whipped topping:
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

Try to use a metal mixing bowl when making cream. For extra help, place it in the freezer for a moment or two before you start. Make sure the cream is as cold as can be, and then use an electric mixer to beat it until it holds soft peaks. Be warned, this process can sometimes take several minutes. You may be tempted to just give up, but let the mixer keep running. Once you have your whipped cream, spread it over your pie. For variety you can add a teaspoon or so of mint extract or another flavoring to the cream if you wish. You might also decorate the cream top with crumbled cookie bits, cherries or chocolate shavings. Whether you decorate it with sprinkles or leave it bare, you will have a tasty chocolate cream pie of your own creation. Enjoy!

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