Baking · Recipes · Treat Day!

Pie Day: Chocolate Cream Tart

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Complete accident. Quite coincidental. I just was realllly craving chocolate cream pie and I somehow had everything I needed already for it. Then my little sister said, “Aw you made a pie for pie day!” And I was like, “Huh? What day is today?” And I NEVER bake pies. I mean maybe if I have too much fruit or I am planning on shoving a baby pie into a cupcake. But in general, I am not really a pie baker. Ryan’s grandma holds down the fort on the pie end of things so I have never really needed to.

So back when I was eating carbs all willy nilly, I had this amazing chocolate cream pie from QFC and since then, I have been craving it like crazy. Since my parents were buying Korean bbq last night for the whole family and everyone was coming over to my house for dessert after, I thought it was about time to get over this craving. I had a bag of bittersweet chocolate in the pantry, heavy whipping cream in the fridge, just enough whole milk for the pudding layer, and a pint of raspberries that were on sale this week. So basically all the stars and planets aligned so I could make this killer cream pie.

chocolate cream tart

There are a lot of recipes available on Pinterest but I was a little hesitant to use any of them because I haven’t made a cream pie before. Also, I have terrible experience with making my own pie crust and I wanted to sub in a frozen one. Then I realized that the frozen pie crust I had in the freezer has been in there since Thanksgiving… I’m sort of sure it would have been okay but as it was thawing on the counter all dry and crumbly looking, I realized I should at least make the effort.

So I turned to my absolute favorite baker Dorie Greenspan. I adore every single recipe in her book, “Baking: From My Home to Yours”. She is a magician and her recipes are incredibly trustworthy. I use her Perfect Party Cake and pastry cream all the time. I just knew this woman would be smart enough to have a great recipe for chocolate cream pie. And I was sort of right. She obviously took it to a cuter level and made a chocolate cream tart. Which is so funny because I have been dying to use my tart pan from Crate and Barrel. When I bought it, I swear I thought I would use it more… Two aspects sold me on this recipe: 1. It used a shortbread chocolate crust that you could make in the food processor and didn’t use pie weights (which I don’t own) and 2. She compared the chocolate pudding to her pastry cream. Uh duh. Sold.

I believe this is now my sister and cousins’ favorite thing that I make if I heard them right last night.

In-freakin-credible. The chocolate pudding is not pudding. It is chocolate pastry cream. The texture is thick and smooth. It is not even in the same category as instant pudding mix or a snack pac. I don’t know how, but the custard is not sweet, it is rich. I love that it is in a tart pan because it is the perfect amount of chocolate cream vs crust vs whipped cream.The shortbread crust is not fussy and has great flavor. I know I overworked it a tiny bit as I compacted it into a ball before getting it into the pan, but other than that, it cut well and tasted great.

So maybe we should talk about the whole, “You ate pie?” thing hanging in the air. YES, I did. And for lunch, I ate Dick’s cheeseburgers and fries. I didn’t really mean to, but I took a treat meal and dessert yesterday. After a week of feeling hungry and exhausted, I decided to loosen the reigns a little bit this weekend. I ate breakfast with my cute husband (Taco omelets) and didn’t do my intermittent fasting. I also didn’t do Shakeology this weekend or workout on Sunday. As I approach my first goal deadline of 170 lbs by April 1st, I am feeling really good about how I am doing and although my first instinct is to push myself harder, the logical side of me takes over. Long term. That is what this is. A marathon, not a sprint.

I put my PiYo calendar and my weight loss goal sheet on the fridge 🙂 It helps. Also, after eating burgers and pie yesterday, I am right back on my healthy eating today. It gets easier every week!

Chocolate Cream Tart

(A Dorie Greenspan recipe, very very slightly adapted for clarity)

Chocolate Shortbread Crust:

Takes about 15 minutes to prep, 30 minutes to freeze, and 30 minutes to bake
  • 1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) of very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk 
  1. Sift the flour, cocoa, powdered sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple times to combine.
  2. Scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. The pieces should be like oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.
  3. Break up the egg yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition (I did about 3 times). When the egg is all in, process in long pulses-about 10 seconds at a time- until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this step, the sound of the machine working the dough will change which acts as a heads up.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and VERY SPARINGLY knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients.
  5. Press the dough into a pan. Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes. While in the freezer, butter the shiny side of a large piece of aluminum foil.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375. Fit the buttered foil tightly down against the pie crust. Since the pastry crust is frozen, you can bake it without pie weights. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and put it in the center rack of the oven. Bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Take the tart out, reserving the foil, and if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Put the foil back on and bake for another 8 minutes or so to. It will be hard to tell because they are chocolate, but they should be done baking.
  8. Cool the tart well!

Chocolate Pie Filling:

(Takes about 15 minutes to cook and a few hours to chill properly) 
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, sifted
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temp
  1. Bring the milk to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, (not on heat!) whisk the yolks together with the sugar, cornstarch, and salt until blended and thick.
  3. Whisking without stopping, add 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture. This will temper the yolks so they don’t curdle. Then, still whisking the whole time, add the rest of the hot milk in a steady stream.
  4. Once all the milk has been added, put the egg/milk mixture on medium high heat and whisk constantly, making sure to get the edges of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, this will happen quickly. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. The mixture will be thick.
  5. Whisk in the melted chocolate well. Let it sit for 5 minutes before adding the pieces of butter. Whisk the butter in very well until fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky.
  6. Transfer the custard into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap flush to the surface of the custard so a skin doesn’t form. Refrigerate the custard until it is chilled or use an ice bath to get the custard to chill faster if you need it to. The custard will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  7. Once the custard and tart shell is cooled, spread the custard in the crust.

Whipped Cream:

  1. Chill a metal mixing bowl for about five minutes in the freezer. Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, whip up 1 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream until it starts to thicken. 
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract. 
  3. Whip until stiff peaks form. Pipe or spread the whipped cream over the chocolate custard. I used a large star tip to pipe roses. Decorate the tart with raspberries, shaved chocolate, or cocoa powder. I never have problems getting whipped cream to stay whipped, but Dorie recommends making and adding the whipped cream two hours before serving. 

Photo instructions:

SHORTBREAD CRUST: Sift the flour, cocoa, powdered sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple times to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. The pieces should be like oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.

Break up the egg yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition (I did about 3 times). When the egg is all in, process in long pulses-about 10 seconds at a time- until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this step, the sound of the machine working the dough will change which acts as a heads up.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and VERY SPARINGLY knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients.

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Press the dough into a pan. Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes. While in the freezer, butter the shiny side of a large piece of aluminum foil.

Preheat the oven to 375. Fit the buttered foil tightly down against the pie crust. Since the pastry crust is frozen, you can bake it without pie weights. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and put it in the center rack of the oven. Bake for 25 minutes.

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Take the tart out, reserving the foil, and if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Put the foil back on and bake for another 8 minutes or so to. It will be hard to tell because they are chocolate, but they should be done baking.

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Cool the tart well!

CHOCOLATE CUSTARD: Bring the milk to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, (not on heat!) whisk the yolks together with the sugar, cornstarch, and salt until blended and thick.

Whisking without stopping, add 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture. This will temper the yolks so they don’t curdle. Then, still whisking the whole time, add the rest of the hot milk in a steady stream.

Once all the milk has been added, put the egg/milk mixture on medium high heat and whisk constantly, making sure to get the edges of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, this will happen quickly. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. The mixture will be thick.

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Whisk in the melted chocolate well. Let it sit for 5 minutes before adding the pieces of butter. Whisk the butter in very well until fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky.

Transfer the custard into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap flush to the surface of the custard so a skin doesn’t form. Refrigerate the custard until it is chilled or use an ice bath to get the custard to chill faster if you need it to. The custard will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Once the custard and tart shell is cooled, spread the custard in the crust.

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Add the whipped cream and tasty decor. Chocolate and whipped cream taste good with EVERYTHING… especially red wine…

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