Your first bite is like a texture and flavor explosion! The crunch and sweet taste of buttery and cinnamon spiced graham crackers....then the smooth richness of a delectable chocolate cream. My, oh my. Take it a step further and top it with a cloud of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Yes, folks - we have a winner.
I made the crust with gluten-free graham cracker crumbs. There are boxed varieties that are fairly easy to find in the organic/natural food section of most grocery stores. And yes, they do taste like graham crackers and not some wonky substitute. They bake up wonderfully in pie shells like the one in this recipe and hold their crunch.
For the filling, we are talking pure, quality ingredients, people. Don't scrimp here. You want top-notch chocolate, fresh eggs, whole milk, unsalted butter (do NOT use margarine!) and vanilla bean paste. You can use pure vanilla extract if you like but I always prefer paste.
This pie takes a while to come together. First you pre-bake the crust. While it is baking, you make the chocolate cream. Both need to cool completely before the filling is spooned into the crust. Once that is done, the pie must then sit for 5-6 hours before serving.
If you and your lovely guests intend to devour the entire pie at serving time then go ahead and top the pie with whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. If you intend to keep this pie for an extra day and enjoy the sweet left-overs then I highly advise not topping the pie with the whipped cream but rather dolloping on a glorious heap of it on each slice at serving time. This pie can keep well, loosely covered with cling-wrap and refrigerated, for 1-2 days without whipped cream on top of it.
So let's get to it!
*adapted source recipe Chocolate Cream Pie, The Kitchen Sink Recipes
WHAT YOU NEED
1 1/3 cup gluten-free graham cracker crumbs ( regular graham cracker crumbs can be substituted if gluten is not an issue for you)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
7 ounces dark chocolate (opt for Callebaut or Valrhona), chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean extract
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
cocoa powder or shaved chocolate
PREHEAT oven to 350F
IN LARGE BOWL, combine all crust ingredients
PRESS crust mixture into base and up the sides of a 9" pie plate
BAKE 15 minutes
REMOVE from oven and let cool completely on cooling rack
IN MEDIUM SAUCEPAN, whisk together first 4 chocolate cream ingredients
TURN ON BURNER to MED heat
SLOWLY pour in milk, whisking at all times
CONTINUE WHISKING until mixture comes to a boil
TURN DOWN HEAT to low and whisk for another minute until mixture is thickened
STRAIN mixture through a mesh sieve into a large heat-proof bowl
STIR in chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla bean extract
CONTINUE to stir until chocolate and butter and melted and thoroughly combined
COVER surface with cling-film to prevent a skin forming
LET COOL in the refrigerator for 2 hours
SPOON cooled filling into pre-baked crust
COVER loosely with cling-film and place back in the refrigerator
LET COOL for 5-6 hours
IN BOWL OF STAND MIXER, fitted with whisk attachment, beat whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form
TOP pie with whipped cream
DUST with cocoa powder or sprinkle with chocolate shavings