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~ In a Pie Shell: A Pie Filling is Thicker than Pudding ~

IMG_0286What's the difference between pie filling and pudding?  That was the first question I should have wanted to find an answer to when I wanted to make my first chocolate pie.  Why?  Because it wasn't exactly a success.  I was about sixteen and wanted to surprise my mom with a chocolate pie for her birthday.  I filled a store-bought pie shell with mom's recipe for chocolate pudding and put it in the refrigerator.  Topped with whipped cream, it looked lovely, and it was indeed edible enough (very tasty actually), but, it was, as you'd imagine, a mess to serve.  

What is the difference between a pudding & a pie filling?

There are exceptions to every rule and a lot of overlaps, but, here in the United States, "pudding" is the word used to describe a creamy, smooth milk-based dessert that is thickened by a starch, usually cornstarch.  On the other hand, "custard" is a milk- or cream-based dessert thickened by eggs and/or egg yolks.  "Cream puddings" use a custard base and are thickened by cornstarch.

My grandmother made fantastic pudding.  Technically speaking, her pudding recipes are based on the French method for making egg custard.  That means they contain egg yolks, which result in a deeper shade of yellow and a creamier texture.  For added richness, she also used a mixture of milk and cream (half and half), instead of milk.  All good news for a pudding lover like me.

Her recipes for pudding are very similar to each other (except for the flavoring), which, makes them remarkably easy to commit to memory.  The only time she changed one was when she wanted to make pie filling instead of pudding.  For a pie, she added an extra egg yolk and an extra tablespoon of cornstarch.  Why?  In order to achieve that pretty-to-look-at cleanly-cut slice of pie, pie filling needs extra thickener. This, in a pie shell, is the easiest way to define the difference between a pudding and a pudding- or custard-based pie filling.

To turn any of my pudding recipes into pie filling:

IMG_0056Add one extra egg yolk & one extra tablespoon cornstarch:


"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2023)


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