My mom was always baking when I was growing up. Nothing complicated, in fact, quite the opposite: leftover slices of white bread became bread pudding, banana bread was a frequent way to use up mushy bananas and we even got scratch-made chocolate chip cookies on rainy days. But perhaps the dessert I remember most fondly is my mom’s pudding pie. Also uncomplicated, she would make it from a box of pudding mix and pour it into a graham cracker crust, with several bowls filled with the leftover pudding for us to enjoy. I even loved the thick skin that would form on top.
Fast forward, and chocolate pudding pie is now my husband’s favorite dessert that I make. I don’t know quite how long ago, but probably shortly after we were married his cousin gifted me the Williams Sonoma Baking Book which has become a go-to for lots of my own rainy day baking projects. I found this chocolate pudding pie recipe and have been making a slightly altered version ever since. In fact, it’s probably the dessert I make most frequently because I know how much my husband covets the dessert.
Unlike my mom’s version, I do make the pudding from scratch using whole milk, egg yolks, corn starch and a few special spices. But true to my mom’s version, I prefer using a store-bought graham cracker, or sometimes when I am feeling like we need a little extra chocolate, a chocolate cookie crust, which makes this recipe pretty simple to whip up even at the last minute. The taste is a little more sophisticated than your average chocolate pudding, a little bit decadent and absolutely easy as pie.
One store-bought graham cracker or chocolate cookie pie crust
For the filling:
2 ½ cups milk
5 oz dark chocolate chips or block chocolate chopped into pieces
4 egg yolks
¾ cups sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
Pinch cayenne pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground clove
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
For the topping:
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ Tbsp cinnamon
½ Tbsp bourbon (optional)
Chocolate curls for garnish (optional)
In a saucepan over low heat, warm the milk and chocolate together until the chocolate is completely melted.
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until they become pale yellow. Add the cornstarch, salt, cayenne, ground clove, cinnamon and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
Slowly pour the warm chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture until combined. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens and begins to bubble slightly, around 7-8 minutes or just a touch longer. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth.
Pour into pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
To make the whipped cream, beat heavy cream on high using an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. After 1 minute, add sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and bourbon and whisk on high until stiff peaks form.
Spread whipped cream all over pie. Decorate with additional chocolate curls or a dusting of cocoa powder if desired.