Monday, February 18, 2013

Chocolate Cream Pie (with Pretzel Crust)

Like Carol Han of Milk & Mode, I needed to know how to recreate Rachel's Chocolate Cream Pie after sampling it at Smorgasburg last year. Lucky for me, she already beat me to it and posted the recipe on her blog. I really wanted to test the entire recipe, but played it safe with the tried and true Chocolate Cream Pie recipe from Epicurious for the filling and topping.  Below, you'll find the Epicurious recipe with Milk & Mode's pretzel crust as an option, and my modifications.

Note, the dulce de leche takes two hours, so plan ahead. I set a timer and checked on it every few minutes while I watched TV. It's best to make the crust and filling the day before and then the topping right before serving.

This pie was made happily for our friends, Aaron & Amy, who shared the inspirational slice at Smorgasburg.

Chocolate Cream Pie
Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings
Total time: ~8 hr (includes cooling and chilling)

Chocolate Crumb Crust:
1-1/3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (from about 26 cookies such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

OR . . .

Pretzel Crust:
1 can condensed sweetened milk (optional)
2 cups freshly broken pretzels
1-1/2 sticks melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

2/3 1/2 or less cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
 4 large egg yolks
 3 cups whole milk
 5 4 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted
 2 3 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
 1 teaspoon vanilla

 3/4 1 cup chilled heavy cream
 1 tablespoon sugar

Almonds, sliced or crushed (optional)

Make dulce de leche (optional, to go with pretzel crust):
1) Pour the can of condensed sweetened milk into top of a double boiler and keep the water in the bottom constantly at a low boil. Add a pinch of salt, if you like the salty sweet combo.

2) Stir every 15 minutes for 2 hours, or until sweetened condensed milk turns brown and caramel colored.

Make crust:
3) Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

4) Stir together crumbs or broken pretzels, butter, and sugar and press on bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate (1-quart capacity).

5) Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack.

6) Once your dulce de leche is ready, brush it on the pretzel pie crust. It will cool onto the crust and set.

Make filling:
7) Melt chocolate in a double boiler.

8) Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking.

9) Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute for 15-20 minutes (filling will be thick).

10) Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla.

11) Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours.

12) Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.

Make topping
13) Just before serving, beat cream with sugar in a chilled bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then spoon on top of pie.

14) Top pie with almonds.

*Cooks' note: Pie (without topping) can be chilled up to 1 day.

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