It was a baking kind of a weekend. First up, I made some vanilla on vanilla “Hello Kitty” cupcakes for a special birthday girl that was turning 3-years old. Happy Birthday my Nomi! Her mom had been craving a chocolate cream pie. Since I believe that us moms are also somewhat celebrating our kid’s birthdays as though it was our own, I felt like she deserved to satisfy that craving, and that I should be the one to do it for her.
A chocolate cream pie is delectable and SIMPLE. Just takes time and patience, since the components need to be done one at a time. First, a cocoa almond crust. Bake it, then cool it down.
Then, you make the filling.
It also needs to be cooled down and chilled. Preferably overnight. I made this pie over the course of 3 days. On day one I made the crust and then freezed it. Day two: I made the pudding and let it sit in the fridge over night (well... I made some chocolate hand pies using some extra filling and extra puff pastry I had in the fridge. YUM!). And, finally, on day 3 before the party started, I filled the crust with the chocolate cream and then let it wait in the fridge until I got back. I then took the pie to my friend's house, where there was somewhat of an after the birthday party going on, and whipped up the cream there and served it right after we ate some takeout for dinner.
Fortunately there were about 10 people there, so getting this pie eaten up was no problem what so ever. I love it when that happens.
Cocoa Almond Crust
Slightly adapted from Salad For Dinner
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole raw almonds, toasted and roughly chopped (or, pre-roasted almonds work great too).
6 tablespoons of cane sugar
1/4 cup of natural unsweetened cocoa powder (different than "dutch processed").
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1. Preheat the oven to 375' F. Butter a 9-inch pie plate or pan.
2. Melt the butter, and let it cool slightly. While the butter is cooling, combine the flour, almonds, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor, and press pulse about 7 to 10 times until the mixture resembles course sand. (If you don't have a food processor simply chop the almonds as finely as possible, and then whisk them in a medium sized bowl with the other dry ingredients).
3. Transfer the cocoa almond mixture to a medium sized bowl, and then pour the butter evenly over the ingredients. Them, then take a fork and stir in the butter until the mixture resembles moist sand and sticks together.
4. Pour out the cocoa almond mixture into the center of the pie plate. Using the tips of your fingers, press the mixture into the pie plate so that it covers the bottom and the sides as evenly as possible.
5. Bake the crust for about 11 minutes, then let it cool completely. Once cool freeze, or refrigerate the crust.
Chocolate Cream Pie Filling
Slightly adapted from King Aurthur Flour
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups or 8oz of chopped milk and semisweet chocolate (feel free to use just milk chocolate, or dark chocolate here. I used 4 oz each of both milk, and semisweet chocolate)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream, divided
2 cups milk (you can use whole milk, 2%, or 1% -- I used whole milk)
1. Place the chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan away from heat, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt. Whisk in 1/4 cup of cold heavy cream until the mixture is smooth, with no lumps. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of the cream. Whisk in the egg yolks.
3. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and gradually whisk in the remaining cream and milk.
4. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly as the mixture thickens. Boil mixture for 1 minute continuing to stir.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture over the reserved chocolate and butter.
6. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
7. Pass the filling through a strainer into a bowl to remove any lumps.
8. Place plastic wrap or buttered parchment paper on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and chill thoroughly for about 6 hours, up to overnight.
Whipped Cream Topping
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
3 tsp of powdered sugar
Seeds from 1/2 of vanilla bean, and a tsp of vanilla extract (or, just 1 tbsp of vanilla extract if you prefer not to use a bean).
1. Place the heavy whipping cream, 3 tsp of powdered sugar, and the vanilla into a large stainless steel or glass bowl (avoid using plastic).
2. With a hand mixer whip the ingredients until fluffy (or medium peaks form).
Chocolate Cream Pie Assembly
1. Take out your crust and fill it with the completely chilled filling. Using a spatula, knife, or off-set icing spatula, smooth out the filling so that it's spread evenly in the crust.
2. Place the whip cream on top of the filling, and spread about evenly. I used a spoon to create a bit of a concentric circle pattern. I then used a potato peeler to shave some chocolate onto the top of the whip cream. Serve immediately. Or, keep it in the refrigerator until you plan to serve it. I would recommend not whipping the cream until shortly before serving it though.