The last time I had chocolate cream pie, I was in high school at Waffle House. I’m always stuffed up with waffles, cheesesteaks sandwiches, and hash browns there so I rarely tried something new or even looked at the menu. One night, my friend ordered something I’ve never heard of before – chocolate pie. Up until that point, I only had the pie basics – pecan, apple, berries, pumpkin. So when a plate plopped and slid down in front us with a piece of shaky pie topped with what looked like chocolate pudding and whipped cream, I was skeptical. The presentation wasn’t selling the pie either.
Then I stole a bite. The pie was smooth and cool, and the crunch of the crust complemented the creaminess well. I loved the whipped cream and the crust, but there was something missing from the chocolate cream filling. I’ve never been a huge fan of chocolate pudding, and the layer of chocolate gave me that same sweet un-satisfaction. It was too fluffy with not enough substance. Since that fateful day, I never tried chocolate cream pie again. In fact, I almost completely forgot about it until I came across this recipe online, and the memories flooded back.
Sure I didn’t have a completely positive experience back in high school, but when I spotted it again, I remembered the three simple, classic layers that blended into one creamy, sweet bite. I remembered the booth where I was sitting and my best friend who sat across from me. I remembered how cool it felt going down my throat on that late summer day. This pie reminds me of simpler times when I thought a late-night run to Waffle House was the definition of a great night out (ok – I haven’t changed that much). A little bit of tweaking with the chocolate layer, and this pie is perfection.
Classic Chocolate Cream Pie
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
For the Crust:
30 Oreo Cookies*, crushed into crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
For the Chocolate Filling:
2½ cups half-and-half
1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 egg yolks, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Whipped Cream Topping:
3 cups whipping cream
4½ teaspoons granulated sugar
1. For the crust: Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius. Combine the Oreo crumbs and melted butter in a 9-inch pie dish. Press it evenly and compactly into the bottom and onto the sides of the dish. Refrigerate the dish for 15 minutes. Pop it in the oven for 10 minutes or until the smell of toasted Oreos starts to fill the room. Place it on a cooling rack.
2. For the chocolate filling: In a small bowl, mix the remaining sugar and cornstarch. In another bowl, whisk the 6 yolks until slightly thickened. Add the cornstarch mixture to the yolks until the sugar is almost dissolved. In a medium saucepan, simmer the half-and-half, salt, and 3 tablespoons of sugar over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Temper the yolks by slowly pouring 1/2 a cup of the half-and-half mixture over the yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan, whisking constantly until it’s just starting to boil and the mixture is thickened and glossy.
3. Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter. Add chocolate and vanilla to the mixture and mix together until incorporated, making sure to scrape the bottom. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl. Pour this strained filling into the crust and shake gently to even out. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
4. For the whipped topping: Right before you’re ready to serve, beat the cream and sugar with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Spread or pipe the whipped cream onto the chocolate filling. Top with chocolate shavings, and serve!
*Japanese Oreos are a little bit smaller and less sweet than their US counterparts, which is why I upped the quantity. If you’re using US Oreos, use 24 cookies.