Chocolate Cream Pie – My perfect pie crust is baked to perfection and then filled with a chocolate pudding filling and topped with a fresh whipped cream that is sure not to wilt due to my special ingredient.
Chocolate. Cream. Pie. What is there to say about a dessert whose name can be split into three separate entities that can stand so well on their own?? Is it chocolatey? Oh you betcha. Is it creamy? Uh huh. And is it pie? Obviously.
But what makes this pie so spectacular is the way all three elements come together to make one incredible dessert. The salty, buttery crust pairs perfectly with the rich chocolate pudding, which is then tamed a bit by the fresh whipped cream. I mean…does it get any better than this??
This chocolate cream pie is just the pie to make if you’re trying to switch up your Thanksgiving traditions. Sometimes you need a break from the pumpkin pie and pecan pie!
What is chocolate cream pie?
Chocolate cream pie is traditionally made with three ingredients: flaky pie crust, chocolate pudding, and whipped cream. I personally think chocolate pudding pie describes it better but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
The pie is “no-bake” which means that the filling is added to a fully-baked pie crust. This is the first “no-bake” pie that I’ve featured so there’s lots to share about these types of pies that I learned in this process. So let’s chat!
How is this pie made?
First, this pie starts off with my perfect pie dough. The dough is rolled out and placed into the pie dish. Then, you’ll fill it with pie weights and bake for 20 minutes. This helps keep the crust flat and formed into the pie pan. After 20 minutes, you’ll remove the weights to let the crust brown beautifully.
After the crust is completely cooked, it’s time to make the pudding. The pudding is a very traditional chocolate pudding, made with milk and eggs and two kinds of chocolate – cocoa powder and semis-sweet chocolate pieces.
The pudding starts by heating milk on the stove. Meanwhile, you will whisk the eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, and cornstarch together in a medium bowl. Once the milk is hot, you’ll slowly add it to the egg mixture. If you do this too fast, the eggs will scramble and the pudding will get lumpy. And trust me- a lumpy pudding is not a good look for a creamy pie like this one.
Next, the pudding is cooked to thicken it up. Once it thickens up, the vanilla and salt and chocolate is added to finish it off. The vanilla is added last so that the flavor doesn’t cook out. The chocolate is added last to give the pudding it’s beautiful shine.
Once the pudding is done, it’s added to the baked pie crust and placed in the refrigerator to set for 2 hours.
The whipped cream
Once the filling has set, it’s time to finish off the pie with some fresh whipped cream. However, as anyone knows, adding whipped cream to a cake or pie before serving could turn into a mess if you’re not serving the pie immediately because whipped cream will melt or wilt over time as it loses it’s structure.
But I have a solution for this – unflavored gelatin! The gelatin is melted and whipped with the cream. As the gelatin gets cold, it firms up and makes a whipped cream that won’t wilt. Hooray!! Now you can make this pie ahead of time and focus on making the rest of Thanksgiving dinner.
Tips & Tricks
- This pie dough recipe makes two crusts. You’ll only need one for this recipe. You can freeze the other disk of dough for up to 3 months to use for another pie or tart recipe.
- If you don’t have pie weights, you can use dry beans instead. However, you’ll have to throw them out after using them.
- Do not stop stirring the pudding while it’s cooking. This ensures the pudding doesn’t overcook in some spots and create lumps.
- If your pie gets lumpy, don’t worry! You can push it through a metal sieve to smooth it out.
Chocolate Cream Pie
For the pie crust*:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ sticks unsalted butter cold
- ⅓ cup vegetable shortening cold
- ½ cup cold water
For the filling:
- 2½ cups whole milk
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chopped
For the whipped cream topping:
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
For the pie crust*:
- Add flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Cut the cold butter into cubes. Add to the flour mixture along with the vegetable shortening. Turn processor on and let run for 5 seconds. Then, drizzle in cold water. Keep processing until mixture begins to clump.
- Pour dough mixture onto a clean surface. Using your hands, pull the dough together into one ball. Cut ball in half and form two discs of the same size and shape. Cover each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours. (see * note below for what to do with the second disc of dough).
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes to soften up. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Once dough is ready, roll it out into a disk using a rolling pin. The dough should be 10½ to 11 inches in diameter. Gently fold rolled dough in half and place onto 9-inch pie pan. Unfold the dough so that it is covering the dish completely. Let the dough lay into the dish so that it is not stretched or pulled. Fold over excess edges and press into a smooth or fluted edge, ensuring that the whole outside edge is the same thickness.
- Line pie shell with a loose piece of aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and remove foil with weights/beans. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely. In the meantime, prepare the filling. Turn the oven off.
Fill the pie:
- Place milk in a large sauce pan and heat over medium heat just before boiling. While it's heating, whisk eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together in a medium bowl until light in color, about 1 minute. Sift in cocoa powder and cornstarch. Whisk until combined.
- Once the milk has heated up, turn off heat and very slowly whisk 1/4 cup of hot milk into egg mixture. Then, slowly mix the rest of the hot milk into the mixture. Pour combined mixture back into sauce pan. Place pan on stove and heat to medium.
- Whisk mixture consistently until it begins to boil and thicken. Once you feel it start to thicken, cook and continue whisking for 3 more minutes. Then turn off heat. Let mixture cool for 5 minutes, whisking every minute to allow steam to escape.
- Whisk in vanilla extract, salt, and chopped chocolate until the chocolate has melted completely. Pour pudding into baked pie crust and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
Add the topping:
- Once the filling has set, it's time to make the topping. Add 1 tablespoon of water to 1 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin. Stir to combine. Let it sit for 5 minutes to let it firm up. Then, microwave for 5-10 seconds to melt it into a liquid. Set aside.
- Add whipping cream, vanilla, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixture and whip on medium-high until soft peaks form. With the mixture on low, drizzle in the melted gelatin. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form.
- Top set pudding with whipped cream. Dust with a little unsweetened cocoa to finish it off. Serve immediately or place in refrigerator for up to 2 days.
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