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~How to: Make a Better Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pie~

IMG_0283Chocolate pie.  The kind our grandmothers made before they had too-many-to-mention options for high-quality, super-expensive brands of chocolate, cocoa powder and extracts imported from all over the world.  Two generations ago, when a mom wanted to surprise her family with a chocolate pie for dessert, she simply opened her pantry door, and, without hesitation, reached for a can of Hershey's cocoa powder and/or a few squares of Baker's unsweetened chocolate.  She cooked the pie filling on the stovetop, poured it into a baked pie shell, chilled the pie in the "icebox" and served it with freshly-whipped cream on top.  Those were kinder, gentler times.

IMG_0309We've come a long way baby.  There are so many chocolates, chocolate products and products that pair perfectly with chocolate, it's impossible not to make a better chocolate pie -- and I'm not suggesting my grandmother's chocolate pie recipe take a back seat to any one.  Her pie was fantastic.  In the 1940"s, she simply didn't have all the options that I have available to me.

IMG_0317What's the difference between pudding & pie filling?

IMG_0286In a pie shell:  Pie filling needs to be thicker than pudding.

My grandmother made fantastic pudding.  Her recipes for ~ Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding ~, ~ Old-Fashioned Very Vanilla Pudding ~ and ~ Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding ~ were very similar to each other (except for the flavoring), which, made them remarkably easy to commit to memory.  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).  

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, is the easiest way to define the difference between a pudding and a pudding-based pie filling.

IMG_02241  cup heavy cream + 1 cup whole milk, or, 2 cups half and half

1  tablespoon each:  pure chocolate and pure vanilla extract

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

3  tablespoons salted butter

3 large egg yolks

1  large egg

3/4  cup sugar

4  tablespoons cocoa powder, your favorite brand (Note:  I'm using Droste, Dutch processed today.)

1  teaspoon espresso powder

4  tablespoons cornstarch (1/4 cup)

3 1/2-4  ounces 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate, your favorite brand, chopped or broken into bits and pieces (Note:  I'm using a 4-ounce bar of Ghirardelli today.)

IMG_9769IMG_9772IMG_9774IMG_9776~Step 1.  In a 2-cup measuring container, measure and stir together the cream and milk or half and half, both extracts and the salt.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, using a fork, vigorously whisk together the egg yolks and whole egg.  Set aside.  Cut the butter into small cubes and set aside.

IMG_0227IMG_0230IMG_0232IMG_0238~Step 2.  Place the sugar, cocoa powder, expresso powder and cornstarch in a 3-quart saucier or saucepan. Using a wire whisk, thoroughly combine the three.  Whisk in all of the flavored milk mixture, whisking constantly until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute.  Turn heat on to medium. Whisking constantly, heat until steaming, 2-3 minutes.  Do not simmer or boil.  Turn the heat off, add the butter and whisk until butter is melted and thoroughly incorporated.  Remove from heat.

IMG_0240 IMG_0246 IMG_0249 IMG_0254~Step 3.  Slowly and in a thin stream, while whisking the eggs constantly with a fork, add 3-4 tablespoons of the steaming liquid to the eggs.  (Note:  This is called "tempering" and it will raise their temperature slowly and just enough to keep them from scrambling upon contact with the steaming liquid.)  In a slow, steady stream, whisk the tempered eggs into the milk mixture.

IMG_0254IMG_0261IMG_0267IMG_0269~Step 4.  Return saucier to stovetop.  Over medium heat, whisking constantly, bring mixture slowly to a simmer, 4-5 minutes. Simmer gently, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute.  Turn the heat off, add the chocolate pieces and continue to stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is thoroughly combined.  Transfer pie filling to a 1-quart measuring container, place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the pie filling, and allow to cool and settle a bit, 30-45 minutes.  You will have 3 total cups of dense, rich and decadent chocolate pie filling.  

Spoon filling into a baked 9" pie shell or 4, 4 1/2"-5" pie shells.   IMG_0197Refrigerate pie(s), uncovered, 4-6 hours or overnight. 

IMG_0274How to:  Make a Better Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pie:  Recipe yields 3 cups chocolate pie filling/1, 9" pie = 8-10 servings/ 4, 4 1/2"-5" pies = 4 (one pie per person)-8 (two servings per pie) two)-12 servings (four mini-slices per pie -- which are quite pretty on a dessert tray), 

Special Equipment List:  2-cup measuring container; fork; paring knife; cutting board; chef's knife; 3-quart saucier or saucepan; wire whisk; 1-quart measuring container; plastic wrap

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d28c2e10970c 6a0120a8551282970b01b8d28c2e4b970cCook's Note: ~ Let's Talk Chocolate: All about Baker's Chocolate ~. Baker's chocolate is an All-American product with a fascinating history. There's more.  ~ The Baker's German's ('German') Chocolate Pie ~ isn't German either.  It's a spinoff of the famous German Chocolate Cake recipe, which was the invention of a Dallas, Texas homemaker, Mrs. George Clay, back in 1957.  Fun foodie facts!  

"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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