Pie Time: Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate Cream Pie 3

Nothing healthful about this little baby.

I’ve had very little cream pie in my life.

The pies of my childhood were mainly of the fruit variety – and when I say fruit I mean apples. My mother was cursed with children who were very picky eaters, and the only pie we would tolerate was the apple kind. On the whole, we are not a pie family.

But I wonder what would have happened if my mother had offered us a piece of the chocolate cream pie I made this weekend. Unlike apple pie, whose fruit filling has a veneer of healthfulness (at least, if you’re a kid), everything about this pie screams “dessert:” a chocolate crumb crust, filled with a silky chocolate pudding filling, and adorned with mounds of whipped cream and chocolate curls.

I was ambitious with this pie – I actually made my own chocolate wafer cookies from this Smitten Kitchen recipe, and then ground them into crumbs for the crumb crust. The wafers may have been more trouble than they were worth – about a third of them burnt, and, while they tasted fine, they lacked that intense, chocolatey, slightly salty flavor of Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers, which I usually use for a crumb crust. For those of you who want to try to make your own wafers, my one piece of advice is to freeze the dough log before you slice it into cookies – I chilled mine in the refrigerator for the recommended one hour, but the dough was still way too soft to slice cleanly.

I ended up making the crust slightly too thick, but it was still satisfyingly crunchy. It was the perfect foil to the creamy, chocolate pudding filling, which had a rich chocolate flavor without being too sweet. The pudding is thickened with cornstarch, giving it a silky, light texture. The whole thing is topped with a layer of whipped cream, which I spiced up with a little Grand Marnier and cinnamon.

Now, you’ll notice this pie looks a little, shall we say, un-pie like. That is because I made this pie in a tart tin, rather than a pie pan. This was not my intention, but I broke my pie pan in the process of making this pie – let’s just say that balancing a glass pan on top of my coffee maker is not the most secure situation.

So, technically, you could call this a tart. But I think you should still think of it as a pie. Its simple, unpretentious, messy soul is much more pie like.

And whatever you call it, it’s delicious. I took this to a pre-Thanksgiving party, where it was promptly devoured.

Chocolate cream pie 1

Many thanks to my taste testers!

Recipe: Chocolate Cream Pie

Ingredients for crust:
2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tbs sugar

For filling

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

For topping
1 cup chilled heavy cream
2 tbs powdered sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grand mariner

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine cookie crumbs, melted butter and sugar in a small bowl. Pat mixture into a pie or tart pan, so that they evenly cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake crust in the oven until toasted – approximately 15 minutes. Let cool.

In a medium, non-reactive saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks. Slowly add the milk, whisking until everything is combined. Heat to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly. Cook for 1 minute at a boil – the custard will thicken rapidly.

Strain custard through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Whisk in the chocolate, butter and vanilla. Cover pudding with a piece of buttered parchment or wax paper and let cool completely – about 2 hours.

Spoon filling into pie crust. Let chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until set – around six hours.

Place a mixing bowl and whisk (or the bowl of an electric mixer and the whisk attachment) in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill. Remove from freezer; place cream, cinnamon, Grand Marnier, and sugar in bowl. Whisk to combine, then whisk until the cream hold soft peaks. Just before serving, spoon cream over filling. Garnish with chocolate curls or cocoa powder, if desired.



  1. Michael said

    wow this looks great!
    check out my food blog and tell me what you think:


  2. Bonnie said

    Now there’s a pie your dad would give up his beloved apple pie for! Perhaps Christmas?

    • moderndomestic said

      Definitely. We could even change it up – put ginger in the whipped cream, or rum in the filling. There are many options.

  3. Shaw Girl said

    So sorry to hear about the pie pan! But this pie looks amazing! I can’t believe you made your own chocolate wafers…you are a pie rock star!

    • moderndomestic said

      Dessert is the one area of my life where I’m even remotely ambitious.

  4. It was even more beautiful in real life…And, of course, very yummy…

  5. Alice said

    I made this pie yesterda and it turned out pretty well, despite making a few substitutions. I couldn’t find any chocolate wafer cookies, so I used graham crackers instead. The crust was waaay too crumbly, possibly as a result of this, but possibly as a result of my lack of experience with crumb crusts. I also omitted the Grand Marnier as there wasn’t any in the kitchen. I let the pie set up in the freezer to speed that process; this did not appear to have any ill effects.

    The chocoholic bf gave it thumbs up!

    • moderndomestic said

      Yeah – I’ve had that problem with crumb crusts too. I actually try to melt a little more butter than I think I need, so I can add it if needs be. They still taste delicious, through – crumbly or not.

      Ooh, nice to know it set up quicker in the freezer. And I’m glad it turned out well! Old fashioned chocolate pudding is the bomb – lighter than mousse, it’s still very rich in flavor.

  6. […] and there are some desserts you make to impress. Lately, I’ve been wanting to make the latter kind. It’s finally the holiday season, the time for fancy desserts – in fact, given my […]

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