Since today is “Pi Day” (3.14 — get it?), you can bet there will be a lot of pies flying around the internet. Maybe you’ll even want to make a pie. Especially if it gets you extra credit in math class. For midweek pies, however, I recommend the easy route. Chocolate pudding pie in a store-bought shortbread crust is about as easy as it gets, while still tasting like (and totally qualifying as) homemade. With a couple decorating hacks (piped chocolate and stabilized whipped cream!) the pie will look good all the way through second period.
Start with a ready-made crust, available in the baking aisle. For chocolate fillings I like the shortbread shells. If you can’t find those, the graham cracker or Nilla wafer shells would work too. Of course you could make your own pâte brisée pie crust, which would be delicious and less processed — but that would kind of negate the “quick and easy” point of this recipe.
So if we’re going for easy, why stabilize the whipped cream? It’s not necessary if you’re going to use the whipped cream/eat the pie right away. But– if you want to make the pie a day ahead and don’t want to risk having your beautifully whipped peaks deflate and weep, you should stabilize the cream with gelatin. (Learn more about stabilizing cream from Cook’s Illustrated here.)
Chocolate Pudding Pie
- 1 prepared pie crust (preferably shortbread)
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet chocolate)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Stabilized Whipped Cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Piped chocolate decorations
- 1 cup dark chocolate melting wafers
- 1 large ziplock bag
DirectionsIn a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, add sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk. Whisk to combine. Whisk gently until mixture comes to a boil. Pudding will start to thicken just before boiling. (It will look like Elmer’s glue.)Remove from heat. Add vanilla and chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. Pour into pie shell. Chill in refrigerator while preparing whipped cream.
Place 1 1/2 tablespoons water in a small microwaveable bowl. Sprinkle powdered gelatin over water and let stand for a couple minutes to “bloom”. Microwave mixture 15 seconds at a time, until gelatin is liquified.
Whip the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, staying on low speed for two minutes and then increasing speed to medium-high. Pour in the liquid gelatin and continue beating until soft peaks form.
Spread whipped cream over pudding pie and chill.
Place 1 cup melting wafers in a large ziplock bag. Microwave in 30-second increments until chocolate is melted. (Squeeze bag to mix.) Cut the tip off one of the corners and pipe desired letters onto parchment or waxed paper. Let cool before peeling off and placing on pie.
To make the stabilized whipped cream, you need to “bloom” the gelatin over a little water (it will turn to a gel) and then heat it to liquify.
Pour liquid gelatin into the partially-whipped cream, then keep beating until soft peaks form.
Spread the whipped cream over the pudding pie.
These Ghirardelli melting wafers melt easily in the microwave. Be sure to seal the bag!
Cut a teeny tiny corner off the bottom of the bag. Then practice piping. Eat whatever doesn’t turn out.
Or skip the piped decorations altogether and just top with chopped/shaved chocolate.