It’s a little ironic that only days after mentioning how little my husband loves chocolate, I am offering yet another chocolate dessert that you just might like to make for your Valentine.
The fact is, I like chocolate – actually, I love chocolate and I know that lots of other people do too.
Maybe even you, am I right? You know it’s true.
And, when you get right down to, it even my Valentine was impressed by this particular chocolate thing. That is partly because it’s a pie and the guy loves pie. I definitely know the way to his heart by now.
I’m not going to blow sunshine up your skirt and tell you that this is a fast and easy recipe, because it definitely is not. You are making a chocolate custard filling and marshmallowy topping. The crust is super easy at least, but over all, it is going to take a couple hours – though a good part of that is chilling. Personally I get a kick out of occasionally making something that takes a little time and effort. It’s fun, and when you get all done, your effort really shows. That is this pie.
I was careful not to go too sweet with the silky filling. I used 70% cacao dark chocolate, with only a little additional sugar, so it keeps the dark rich flavor of bittersweet chocolate. The crust isn’t very sweet either and using brown sugar gives it a more caramel undertone that’s just so good.
The topping is not as sweet as you often find on these kinds of pies – closer to a meringue than marshmallow, though it tastes like marshmallow. It’s also a lot easier to make and not nearly as messy as marshmallows, which can end up all over the kitchen by the time you get done. This topping tends to behave a little better, and is definitely easier to pipe, should you decide to go that route. I thought about doing that, but in the end, opted to just swirl it around to get some nice peaks.
You can, if you like, use pre-made graham cracker crumbs, but starting with whole crackers definitely tastes better in the end. I used my food processor, but you can bash the crackers into crumbs in a ziplock bag, using a rolling pin. Either way, make sure you get them very fine.As I mentioned, I used 70% cacao chocolate to hold down the sweetness and intensify the chocolate flavor, but you can use what you like. Even bittersweet chocolate chips will work.And, here is where a major portion of you time goes – in chilling the pie, before adding the topping.
- 12 whole graham crackers, about 6½ ounces
- 3 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 ounces butter, melted
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ⅓ cup sugar, divided
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup half & half
- 5 tablespoon cold butter, cut in cubes
- 8 ounces dark chocolate, preferably 72% cacao, chopped
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoon light corn syrup
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 375º
- Place crackers, sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of the food processor and run on high speed until the crackers are chopped very fine.
- With the processor running, stream in the melted butter and continue running until it is evenly incorporated.
- Empty the crumb mixture into a 10 in pie plate, and press evenly all over the bottom and sides. A straight sided small measuring cup or ramekin is handy to get it compressed and even.
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until it is browned all over and fragrant.
- Cool for at least 30 minutes before making filling.
- Whisk the eggs yolks until they are well broken up and looking uniform.
- Whisk in 2 tablespoon of the sugar and the cornstarch and keep whisking until the mixture is lightened and very creamy - about 90 seconds or so.
- In a large saucepan, heat the milk, half & half, the remaining sugar, and the ¼ teaspoon of salt until it comes to a simmer. Take off the heat.
- Slowly whisk a bit of the hot milk into the egg mixture - I use a small ladle and just let it dribble in a couple tablespoons at a time, whisking all the while. This prevents the eggs from curdling. You want to whisk in about ½ cup or so.
- Return the now warmed egg yolk mixture to the remaining milk in the pan, and return to low heat.
- Keep whisking until it comes back up to a simmer - let it simmer for about 30 seconds, whisking all the while. It will get thick and shiny.
- Remove from the heat, and whisk in the butter, a few cubes at a time, until each addition is melted.
- Add all of the chocolate, and mix until it is completely melted and blended in.
- Mix in the vanilla.
- Immediately, spread the filling evenly in the crust, getting it all the way to the edges. Cool in the refrigerator for about an hour before making the topping.
- Use a double boiler, or a mixing bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water.
- Whisk together the eggs, corn syrup, sugar and pinch of salt.
- Continue whisking over the heat, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is warmed - if you want to check with an instant reader thermometer, it should be abut 120º. Warm to the touch, not hot. The important thing is that the sugar is completely dissolved - it takes about 4 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla.
- Empty into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment in place, and beat on high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture holds a stiff peak.
- Immediately spread or pipe evenly over the cooled filling, leaving some nice peaks, so that they get a little more caramelized in the next step.
- Chill for at least another hour, or up to a day.
- Before serving, either set the pie under the broiler to get it nicely browned [keep a very close eye on it and turn if you need to, to keep it from getting too brown in any one spot. OR Use a butane torch to brown the top, keeping it moving steadily so it gets evenly caramelized. You can do this right before serving time, or a couple hours ahead of time if you like.
- Cut into wedges to serve - it is very rich, so keep the slices on the smaller side.
- Refrigerate leftovers.
This is not something I say lightly, but I think I may have just come up with my best dessert ever.All right – I actually say that pretty often, but this time? I really mean it.
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