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#15 : Chocolate Cream Pie

("I'll make the cream topping...sometime.")

I decided something simple was called for this time around, as Jeff is busy practicing for his upcoming piano recital and can't play when I'm banging around in the kitchen. In addition, we're working together on a choral concert, 100 Years of Broadway, set for the end of the month, and I'm juggling preliminary work on the musical Paint Your Wagon (which - early shameless plug here - I'll be directing, and starring in, this fall) with garden work as spring weather seems to have arrived. (I also decided to experiment with making rough puff pastry, which I used to make jalapeño poppers. That was what we call "an interesting failure," as the pastry was crispy rather than properly flaky, so I'll be working on that again soon.) I've been in the mood for chocolate and thought this simple chocolate cream pie would hit the spot. You'll notice there's no cream on it in the above photo; I'd planned on making some stabilized (non-weeping) whipped cream (see a recipe here). I haven't done it yet and may not bother - the pie tastes just as delicious without the cream!

The recipe, above, from The Perfect Pie, calls for a crust made with Oreo cookies with the artificial "cream filling" removed. I'm not a fan of Oreos (I agree with the Boston cook Helen Rennie, who said, "You couldn't pay me to eat an Oreo.") The idea of standing there scraping out all the fake "cream" from Oreos and tossing it in the trash just to use the cookies seemed kind of silly, so I thought I'd resort to the usual Nabisco Chocolate Wafers, which, when ground up in the food processor, make a decent chocolate crust. Trouble was, I couldn't find any.

Since I'd just bought some of these chocolate cookies a few months back, I was surprised to look online and discover that the wafers have been discontinued by Nabisco, with no plans to bring them back, despite outrage from many chocaholics. The photo here is pretty hilarious - I wouldn't say my reaction was quite that extreme, though I was unhappy. I ended up buying a bag of chocolate animal crackers and using those, which were fine, but I do like the idea of making your own chocolate wafers as shown here. I'll be making these soon and popping them in the freezer to use later. Much better than commercial chocolate cookies with who knows what scary ingredients like palm oil and high fructose corn syrup have been added. (These animal crackers did have corn syrup but happily no palm oil.)

The recipe was pretty simple. The crust is just the cookies ground up with some melted butter and baked for 20-25 minutes.

For the filling, gently heat some half-and-half with sugar and a little corn starch in a saucepan, and pour it slowly into egg yolks (over low heat to avoid scrambling the eggs.) Add butter and finely chopped chocolate. The filling becomes like a chocolate pudding pretty quickly, so watch it carefully to be sure you don't overcook it and cause it to scorch. Pour into the pie crust and refrigerate for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

The Verdict: Worth making your own chocolate wafers?

This was very good. Maybe not the prettiest pie I've ever made, but a lovely thing to have tucked away in the refrigerator. I'll definitely be making my own wafer cookies to use in a chocolate crust in the future.

(I decided to eat half and leave this artfully created piece on the plate "just for artistic effect." How I suffer for this blog!)

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