Saturday, July 21, 2012

Chocolate Cream Pie

So David has this thing for McCain Chocolate Cream Pie. He was craving it last weekend but it was nowhere to be found in our local grocer's freezer section. Which I was actually okay with, because while I like Chocolate Cream Pie, the McCain version leaves a lot to be desired. Chocolate Cream Pie is never going to be health food but if you're going to spend those calories they had better be worth it. This pie? Totally worth it.

I have actually made this Chocolate Cream Pie recipe once before. It's from Cooking Light and it's one of the first recipes I remember making after discovering CL magazine about ten years ago. The last/first time I made the pie I loved the filling but was annoyed with the crust. In my experience making graham cracker crust, while easy, is rarely satisfying. I think it has something to do with the fact that I attempted to use my itty-bitty Black and Decker mini-chopper to mix up the crust ingredients. This time out I had my nifty new KitchenAid Food Processor that I bought myself for Christmas on hand. I haven't called this particular kitchen gadget into service all that much since I unwrapped it in December. To be honest, it's big. Really big. I almost have to ask David to lift it out of the cupboard for me if I want to use it. It's a monster. But I can now say with great confidence that it's worth its weight in gold(en graham cracker crust). For once my graham cracker crust turned out perfectly. As evidenced by the fact that when I cut out my first slice of pie my graham cracker crust didn't crumble, break, crack or disintegrate. It held firm! And it tasted great! Lesson learned. Using the right tools for the job can make a big difference. Score one for my KitchenAid Food Processor. It made quick work of the graham crackers, sugar, butter and egg that made up my pie crust.

The filling of this pie comes together with ingredients I always have on hand: milk, sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, salt, an egg, semisweet chocolate and vanilla. (For the semisweet chocolate I grab a handful of chocolate chips out of the econo-size bag in my pantry.) The topping is Cool Whip. If I was feeling ambitious I would have made my own whipped topping, i.e. real whipped cream (adding more calories to the pie but see above - it's PIE. Not salad.). Even though this pie uses pretty common ingredients you do need to be thinking ahead to make it. It takes 3 hours to chill. A great dessert for hot Summer nights.

Now that I know I can do an acceptable graham cracker crust I'm dreaming of other cream pies. Coconut. Banana. Sigh. So much pie, so little Summer....

Chocolate Cream Pie from Cooking Light

40 graham crackers
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
1 large egg white
Cooking Spray

2 cups milk, divided (I used 1%)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups frozen Cool Whip, thawed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare crust, place crackers in a food processor; process until crumbly. Add 2 tbsp sugar, butter and egg white. Pulse 6 times or just until moist. Press crumb mixture into a 9 inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 agrees for 8 minutes; cool on wire rack 15 minutes.

To prepare filling, combine 1/2 cup milk, 2/3 cup sugar and next 4 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Heat 1 1/2 cups milk in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat to 180 degrees or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat. Gradually add hot milk to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan. Add chopped chocolate; cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared crust; cover surface of filling with pastil wrap. Chill 3 hours or until cold. Remove plastic wrap; spread whipped topping evenly over filling.

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