I have a confession to make — I love to bake (rhyme unintentional). I started baking pies a few years ago and I love it, despite all the work that goes into baking a pie.
First things first — If I’m going to make a homemade pie filler, than the crust is going to be homemade. If I’m going to use canned pie filling (like with a cherry pie), I still make a homemade crust because it will make it a million times better.
When I was little, my Granny and my aunt always made chocolate pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas. There was no questioning whether or not there would be chocolate pie at the two most important meals of the year. My Granny has been gone for several years, but my aunt still makes the excellent chocolate pie. For years I’ve tried making chocolate pie and getting it to the right consistency takes practice.
A few days ago I FINALLY made my pie at just the right consistency it is the most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted. The right consistency is when eating the pie is more successful with a spoon. It’s not completely runny, but when sliced it’s not going to stay the picture-perfect pie slice shape.
The recipe I use for crust and most of my pies, including the chocolate pie, comes from the Better Homes and Garden Cook Book. I’m pretty sure the version I’m using is from the 1970’s, so you know it’s gotta be good.
Yes, normally the recipes I post on here are more on the healthy side and they’re primarily from scratch. Well, this recipe is from scratch, but it is NOT a healthy food, but then again if pie was healthy, what fun would that be?
So, for the crust:
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
4 to 5 tablespoons of water
The flour, salt, and shortening go into a bowl and you cut the shortening until it is mixed like cornmeal. Shortening is the BEST thing to use for the crust because it will give you that fluffy and flaky texture. Real butter works well too, but if you have to use margarine it’s not the end of the world. The crust will still taste good. I’ve done it many times. Then you spoon in one tablespoon of water at a time and mix it until all the flour is moist and you have dough. Form the dough into a ball and then roll it out to make your crust. Poke holes with a for into the crust and then bake on 450 for about 10-12 minutes. Then set aside.
On to the more complicated and important stuff — the chocolate pie.
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour OR 3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 1-ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate ( can use cocoa powder, but this works better for me)
Here’s where it gets tricky. Put the sugar, flour or cornstarch, salt, milk, and chocolate into a a double boiler. If you do not have a double boiler, put the ingredients in a small sauce pan. Take a bigger sauce pan and put water in it. Put the small sauce pan in the bigger sauce pan. This will act as a double boiler. If you just heat the pan by itself, you risk burning the chocolate and not only creating a yucky pie, but a smelly mess.
Cook and stir (CONSTANTLY) over medium high heat until bubbly. In my experience if you wait until the chocolate is bubbling, you’ve cooked it too long. When the water starts boiling, I move on to the next step. Once the water starts boiling stir CONSTANTLY for TWO minutes. Don’t pay attention to how soupy the mix looks. ONLY two minutes. Remove from heat. Separate the egg yolks from the whites, but save the whites because you’ll need those later.
Pour some of the chocolate mixture into the yolks and stir. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan and cook TWO more minutes CONSTANTLY stirring. After the two minutes are up, remove from heat. Add butter (margarine works OK too) and vanilla. Pour into cooled pie shell.
At this point you can do one of two things: let the pie cool, consider it done and top with whip cream before eating (MUST be 100% cooled off or the cool whip will melt and be gross) or you can put meringue on top. I do not like to eat meringue, but the purpose of the meringue is so the chocolate on top doesn’t dry out and crack.
If you want to do meringue:
3 egg whites (that’s why you saved them)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
Beat egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar (I use my whisk insert for my blender) until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until STIFF and glossy peaks form and all sugar is dissolved. When you think it’s done, stir more. You want this really thick, I’d say thicker than cool whip.
Pour and spread on top of a HOT chocolate pie (ideally the meringue is made before the pie filling). Spreading on the hot pie will seal the meringue to the crust and save the chocolate pie from drying out. Dab the top of the meringue to make the little mountain peaks and then put in the oven at 350 for about 12-15 minutes or until the top of the meringue starts to brown.
Do not wait to make the pie for the first time on Thanksgiving morning because you’re bound to be disappointed if it doesn’t turn out. Make it a few days before, enjoy the delicious pie and then bake it again and impress your family on Thanksgiving.