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Home Cooking 18

Three chocolate pies and their crust: a cooking experiment

gfr1111 | Jun 16, 2015 10:12 AM

Chow's Amy Wisniewski (A.W. hereafter) supplied a recipe called "Chocolate Pudding Pie Crust" in a Chow article from a month or two ago. It is recipe No. 28650. I had a yen for chocolate pie, so I decided to make to make the chocolate pie shell and then make three filling chocolate pies of different types to put in the pie shell. The following is a commentary on my results. Please comment on what I did or please supply your own experiences and, hopefully, recipes or links. (I haven't linked because I am computer incompetent and don't know how.)

The chocolate crust pie recipe suggested using Nabisco chocolate wafers, putting them in a food processor, adding melted butter, and then pressing the resulting mixture into a pie pan--essentially a variation on a graham cracker crust. Then I was supposed to bake the crust to harden it and then cool the crust. My Publix did not carry Nabisco chocolate wafers or any other brand. There seemed to have been an inexplicable run on chocolate wafers in Tampa. The alternative given in the recipe was to remove the filling from Oreos and do the same procedure with them. I did.

The crust was not an unqualified success. The crust, even after baking, remained sandy in texture. It was not hard enough. If I had to do it over again, I would double or triple the amount of melted butter called for and bake the pie shell longer. (When you are doing it, it is hard to judge how hard the pie shell will become because, naturally, it feels soft immediately after you bake it. I expected that it would become harder after cooling. It did, but not enough.)

Next, I chose three chocolate pie recipes from the internet: Chocolate-Ricotta Pie by Giada De Laurentiis (Food Network), Chocolate Pudding Pie by Melissa Roberts (Epicurious), and French Silk Pie by Ree Drummond (Food Network).

The chocolate-ricotta pie was decent, contained a large amount of cream cheese and ricotta cheese, and was more cheesecake-like than chocolate pie-like. I would recommend it as a cheesecake (I'd give it a "B"), but not as a chocolate pie. This called for a nut crust which I did not use because I had A.W.'s Oreo crust available. Giada calls for adding simple sugar syrup to the cheesecake-like filling. It was bit sweet for my taste and if I made it again, I would cut back on the syrup or eliminate it altogether. (The basis for the pie is semi-sweet chocolate, probably sweet enough as it is.)

Next, I tried the chocolate pudding pie from Melissa Roberts at Epicurious. It was good, better than the chocolate-ricotta pie. (I would give it a B+.) This was what I remembered from my childhood as a standard chocolate pie. It is basically homemade chocolate pudding in a pie shell.

The chocolate in the pie comes from cocoa and four ounces of bittersweet chocolate. The recipe warned me not to select a bittersweet chocolate with more than 60% cacao, so I followed instructions, using Ghirardelli 60% cacao. This gave it a bit of extra zing and it turned out somewhat better than the Jello chocolate pudding pie I had as a child. There was more intensity to the chocolate.

The real winner of the three pies was the French Silk Pie by Ree Drummond. (I would give this an A+.) I was surprised that this pie came out so differently than the chocolate pudding pie by Melissa Roberts at Epicurious. The ingredients are similar. The French Silk Pie substitutes four whole eggs for the corn starch in the chocolate pudding pie. But the big difference is in the technique. The French Silk Pie requires twenty (!) minutes of beating on medium speed, adding another egg to the bowl every five minutes. This pie is unbaked and uses raw eggs. (Horrors! I made it as directed, ate it, and suffered no ill effects.)

This recipe calls for four ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. This results in a less sweet pie, though people with a sweet tooth will certainly be satisfied.

The French Silk Pie pie is a dead-bang winner: airy, chocolatey, and incredibly smooth. I put it in my overly sandy chocolate pie shell and even that worked: the pie shell added some crunch.

Have you made chocolate pies? What do you recommend? Can you recommend a better crust? Feel free to criticize my technique or my sources. Thanks!

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