Chocolate cream pie with graham cracker crust, be still my heart. Pies and tarts with edible pastry became popular during the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Americans taste for pies, both sweet and savory kinds, arrived in the New World along with colonists. Sweet pies entered our baking repertoire once the domestic sugar industry took hold in the early 1800s. Cream pies were a resourceful way to use ingredients at hand, such as eggs and dairy found on many farms. I’ve always been a big cream pie fan and welcome their comeback just in time for the holiday season.
What Are Cream Pies?
Cream pies are chilled pies with flour, chocolate, or graham cracker crusts, that are baked before being filled. Chocolate, banana, coconut and Key Lime are the most popular kinds of cream-style pies around. Chocolate cream pies, are made by adding semisweet, bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate to the custard filling while cooking. I use a combination milk and half-and-half, plus egg yolks, in my recipe to make the custard extra creamy.
Cream Pies vs. Custard Pies
Custard and cream pies are very similar, hence their confusion. The differences between between the two is actually in their preparation. A custard pie filling of eggs, sugar, milk, plus flavorings gets whisked before being added to a pie shell, and baked.
Like custard pies, most cream pies have similar fillings, but their filling gets cooked stove-top before being added to a pre-baked pie shell. This precooking allows for cream pies to have a softer filling that’s more pudding-like than a custard pie.
Cream pies are typically faster to prepare than custard pies. This is because cooking the filling on the stove takes less time than baking plus set time. Custard pies are a little more hands-off during the prep since it just requires mixing. But both kinds of pies require refrigeration and setting time before serving. Meringue or my favorite, whipped cream are the two classic cream pie toppings both which make for an easy finish.
Chocolate cream pie with a creamy chocolate custard, sweetened whipped cream, chocolate curls and graham cracker crust makes a decadent and irresistible prep-ahead dessert for chocolate-lovers. And although some would say this is a warm-weather dessert, I disagree completely. A chocolate cream pie disappears just as fast in my house on a holiday such as Thanksgiving, just in case you’re wondering.
Chocolate Cream Pie With Graham Cracker Crust
- For the Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, about 12 full sheets
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 6 Tablespoons butter , melted
- For the Filling:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup half and half
- 5 large egg yolks
- 8 ounces semi-sweet, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
- 5 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- For the Topping: (optional)
- 2 ounces semi sweet chocolate, shaved
- Step 1 For the Graham Cracker Crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Using your hands break the graham crackers and place them in the bowl of a food processor, such as a Cuisinart fitted with blade attachments. Add the sugar, and melted butter and pulse on and off till finally chopped. The mixture should resembles coarse sand.
- Step 2 Pour the crumb mixture into an 8″ – 9.5″ pie pan. Use the back of a tablespoon to press it firmly in the bottom of the pan and a little bit up the sides of the pan.
- Step 3 Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes until slightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Set aside.
- Step 4 For the Filling: In a medium mixing bowl add the chopped chocolate and vanilla. Place a fine mesh strainer over the chocolate bowl and place near your work station.
- Step 5 In a medium pot, add the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt, whisk to blend. Add 1/4 cup milk and blend until smooth and paste-like. Once blended, slowly whisk in the remaining milk and half and half. Next, whisk in the egg yolks.
- Step 6 Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook, while whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like constancy, about 5-6 minutes. Be sure to watch very closely so you don’t over heat and break the pudding.
- Step 7 Strain the chocolate pudding mix through the fine-mesh strainer directly over the chopped chocolate. Whisk the mixture until the chocolate has melted and the pudding is creamy. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding. Place in the refrigerator and chill 30 minutes.
- Step 8 In the bowl of an electric mixer, such as a KitchenAid, fitted with a whisk attachment, add the heavy cream and beat on high until soft peaks form. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and blend.
- Step 9 Remove the pudding from the refrigerator and using a rubber tip spatula, fold in about 1 cup of whipped cream and mix until just incorporated. Next, pour the filling into the cooled graham cracker crust. Place in the refrigerator and chill for about 4 hours. Place the remaining whipped cream into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until serving.
- Step 10 To Serve: Top the pie with the remaining whipped cream overing the pudding. Use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate shavings. Sprinkle the top of the pie with chocolate shavings, slice and serve. The pie will in the fridge for about 2-3 days.
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