Chocolate Cream Pie
Nothing beats a silky smooth slice of old-fashioned Chocolate Cream Pie with a mile-high pile of whipped cream. With a no-bake custard filling and a crispy pie crust, it’s sure to become a family favorite!
Phew, friends. It has been A WEEK. Actually, it has been A THREE WEEKS, which is why there’s been radio silence over here and I’m just now sharing November’s Pie of the Month on December 10th. We just moved into a new house, and suffice it to say: we’re struggling a little.
We also moved into a house without a working refrigerator/freezer, so that’s been fun. But someday, maybe, we’ll dig through the boxes and have a functional kitchen again. Maybe. Hopefully. We’ll see what happens.
This year, we decided to do something a little different for Thanksgiving. Given my yearlong series on pies, and the expected presence of a pie as a Thanksgiving dessert, making a pie was a no-brainer. But what kind of pie?
I already have recipes for a nutella swirled pumpkin pie and a chocolate bourbon pecan pie… and honestly, my husband’s family isn’t really into pumpkin pie or pecan pie anyway.
So instead, I let my 3 year old decide. I asked him what kind of pie he wanted, and his response was, of course, CHOCOLATE PIE! This flourless chocolate brownie pie is already a holiday favorite for my family, but I wanted to veer off our typical path, so I went with the other obvious choice: chocolate cream pie.
And let me tell you: this did not disappoint. Between the rich, chocolatey custard and the pile of fluffy whipped cream, no one minded in the least that it wasn’t a “traditional” Thanksgiving pie. It’s truly a delicious-every-day-every-which-way kind of pie. And I can’t wait to make it again!
Custardy Cream Pies
Just like your favorite childhood diner, this chocolate cream pie is full of rich, custardy stovetop-cooked chocolate and topped with a pile of homemade whipped cream. It’s almost no-bake, minus that crust (but you know, you could always buy a pre-baked one if you really don’t want to turn on the oven!).
(But please, make the homemade whipped cream. Cool Whip has its place in the world, but the real deal is just so good on top of a homemade chocolate cream pie.)
The star of a chocolate cream pie is the custard filling, obviously. But how does a custard work? What makes it so smooth and soft? It’s time for my favorite subject… kitchen chemistry!
Custard gets its silky-smooth texture from the egg yolks. Under gentle heat, the proteins in an egg yolk begin to unravel, a process known as denaturation. As we continue to cook the egg yolks, these denatured proteins begin to crosslink with each other, starting to form a solid structure around the milk or cream. This change in state is called coagulation — the scientific word for thickening. As we stir the cooking custard, these links are broken and reform in shorter strands, given the classic wobbly semi-solid state of custard.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Let’s run down what you’ll need to make this chocolate cream pie!
- Butter: Freeze the butter for at least 2 hours before making the crust.
- Vegetable Shortening: Using butter + vegetable shortening makes the flakiest crust! Freeze this for 2 hours as well.
- Flour: Use all-purpose flour. Either weigh the flour or fluff the flour up with a fork before spooning into the measuring cup to ensure the flour isn’t packed down.
- Ice Cold Water: And I mean ice cold, not tap cold! We want the pie crust to be as cold as possible.
- Egg Yolks: Yolks only for this custard. (Need ideas for the leftover egg whites? Try these: Berry Pavlova, Lemon Meringue Cake, S’mores Bundt Cake)
- Sugar: Sugar adds sweetness, but it is also necessary to lower the coagulation temperature of the eggs. Don’t reduce the amount of sugar or this custard may not set properly.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch is required to thicken the custard, but potato starch or rice starch can be substituted instead.
- Cocoa Powder: The chocolate cream derives its chocolate flavor from cocoa powder. This recipe uses natural unsweetened but Dutch process can be substituted instead.
- Espresso Powder: Optional, but espresso powder makes chocolate taste even more chocolatey!
- Salt: This recipe is written for table salt or Mortons kosher salt, not Diamond kosher salt.
- Heavy Cream: Cream adds additional fat, which results in an extra silky and thick texture.
- Milk: Use whole milk, not reduced fat milk.
- Confectioners’ Sugar: I always prefer to make my homemade whipped cream with confectioners’ sugar, rather than granulated sugar. You can substitute granulated sugar instead, but I find the texture is smoother with confectioners’ (powdered) sugar.
Making Chocolate Cream Pie
Just like your favorite childhood diner, this chocolate cream pie is full of rich, custardy chocolate and topped with a pile of homemade whipped cream. We’ll accomplish this in three separate steps.
- Blind Bake the Crust. A custard pie isn’t baked, so we need the crust to be cooked and crunchy before pouring in the custard. Of course, you’ll find a link to my very favorite No Fail Pie Crust, but you can use store-bought crust if you prefer.
- Make the Chocolate Custard. While the crust bakes, make the custard. Custard is an easy combination of egg yolks, cream, and sugar — but for this, we’ll add some cocoa powder for a rich chocolate flavor, a little espresso powder, and a pinch of salt. We’ll also add a little cornstarch for extra thickening; there’s nothing sadder than a cream pie that doesn’t truly set!
- Piles of Homemade Whipped Cream: Let the custard cool a little and pour it into the pie crust. Refrigerate the pie (which allows the butter fats in the custard to firm, creating a custard that holds its shape instead of spilling everywhere), then pile on a thick and fluffy layer of homemade whipped cream. Chill again to really set that custard (preferably overnight!) before slicing and serving.
Recommended Tools to Make Chocolate Cream Pie
- Food Processor: A food processor makes pie dough a snap – much faster than cutting in butter by hand.
- Rolling Pin: My favorite rolling pin – the guides on the side mean your dough will always be an even thickness.
- Pie Plate: Use a 9 or 10-inch ceramic pie plate for this recipe.
- Pie Weights: Pie weights are necessary to weight down the pie crust while it blind bakes. You’ll need to really fill the pie plate, so you’ll need 2 or 3 sets of pie weights. Dried beans can also be used as an alternative, but remember: fill the plate!
- 3 Quart Saucepan: A large heavy-bottom saucepan is perfect for making the custard.
- Mesh Sieve: A mesh strainer or sieve helps ensure the custard is silky smooth by straining out any lumps of cooked eggs or cornstarch.
- Immersion Blender: While you can use a mixer to whip cream, I find an immersion blender with the whisk attachment is the best and fastest way to make homemade whipped cream!
Tips & Tricks for the Best Chocolate Cream Pie
- Fully blind bake the crust before adding the custard – it needs to be fully cooked and crispy. Add pie weights all the way to the top of the pie to prevent the crust from shrinking while it bakes!
- Bring the custard up to boiling to activate the cornstarch, but turn down the heat as soon as it boils. Over-cooking cornstarch breaks down the thickening properties and will prevent the custard from setting.
- Let the chocolate cream pie set in the refrigerator for at least two hours, but overnight is even better!
- Homemade whipped cream can be made with a mixer, but the quickest and easiest way to do it is with the whisk attachment for an immersion blender!
- Store any leftover chocolate cream pie in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
More Recipes for Chocolate Lovers:
- S’mores Pie
- Flourless Chocolate Tahini Cake
- No Bake Nutella Pie
- Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake
- Chocolate Buttermilk Quick Bread
- All Chocolate Dessert Recipes »
Chocolate Cream Pie
Nothing beats a silky smooth slice of old fashioned chocolate cream pie with a mile-high pile of whipped cream.
For the crust:
- 12 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, frozen for at least 2 hours
- 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (61 grams) vegetable shortening, frozen for at least 2 hours
- 6 tablespoons very cold water
For the chocolate custard:
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups (297 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons (28 grams) cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (42 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (227 grams) heavy cream
- 2 cups (454 grams( whole milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
For the whipped cream:
- 1 1/2 cups (340 grams) heavy cream
- 1/3 cup (38 grams) confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Prepare pie crust according to the No Fail Pie Crust recipe. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Poke the bottom of the crust with a fork, then line it with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes, remove weights and foil, and bake an additional 10 minutes until golden and fully set. Cool completely before filling.
- In a large saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, espresso powder, salt, heavy cream, and milk until well combined and no lumps remain. Cook the custard over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. Once the mixture starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook an additional 5 minutes more, continuing to whisk.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the butter until fully melted and well combined. Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl to remove any lumps. Use a spoon to stir the mixture through the strainer. Cool for 10 minutes.
- Pour the chocolate custard into the baked pie crust. Refrigerate until custard is chilled, at least 2 hours.
- To make the whipped cream, beat the cream using the whisk option for an electric mixer or hand mixer. Once soft peaks have formed, add in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Continue to whip until the cream holds medium to firm peaks.
- Spread the whipped cream across the top of the pie and garnish with sprinkles or chocolate shavings, if desired. Refrigerate the entire pie until set, preferably overnight.
- Make sure the crust is fully baked and cooled before adding in the custard.
- Bring the custard to boiling, but turn down the heat once it starts to boil. Boiling for too long will break down the cornstarch and prevent the custard from thickening properly.
- Let the pie set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours after topping with whipped cream, but preferably overnight.
- Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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OMG this chocolate cream pie looks so fluffy, creamy, and amazing! I am saving this recipe because I need a good chocolate cream pie recipe in my life. Save me a piece!
Oh this gave me all sorts of cravings! The filling of this pie looks so creamy and silky smooth! Wish I could just take the slice off my screen!
I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who still loves chocolate pudding pie. Talk about nostalgia!
I love the addition of espresso powder! I need a big slice of this immediately!
This pie looks and sounds delicious! This is one of my husband’s favourite desserts so I’m going to have to try this recipe for him.
Mmmmm…I love chocolate cream pie, not something you see to often these days though! Thanks for sharing the recipe!
This pie is a heaven for chocolate lovers, so creamy, silky and smooth! Just want to have a piece now.
this looks amazing Julie! I love chocolate cream pie but I’ve never made one, that chocolate custard looks silky smooth!
Gorgeous pie!! It’s been forever since I’ve had chocolate custard and this pie is a great way to add it to my seasonal celebrations!
I love that you give the scientific explanation of how egg yolks turn into custard! Very informative. For me, just give me the pie 🙂 It looks awesome, and wouldn’t last long in my house
I was asked to bring a pie to a Christmas party mid-week and I’ve been trying to find something that everyone will enjoy. I wanted to skip the basic apple pie, pecan pies because no one really eats them. However, this pie, everyone will eat!
What a delicious dessert! You can never go wrong with chocolate! The chocolate pudding really looks so rich and creamy, and the topping is so fluffy and light – mmm,mmm!