It’s no secret that Mr. Crumbs has a sweet tooth. It’s important that I keep a variety of sweets in the house to satisfy his cravings when they randomly appear, otherwise my budget will be blown to smithereens. At least he leans towards chocolate baked goods and ice cream, and it’s fairly easy to keep ingredients on hand for whatever baking request he comes up with.
Last week – out of the blue – he asked if we had chocolate pudding and cool whip. With a partial smirk (because I had no plans to buy either) and a partial smile (because I knew what was coming), I asked him why. He was in the mood for a chocolate pie, or something similar.
Say it isn’t so.
We opened our worn and food-spotted Joy of Cooking and found two recipes that did the trick – homemade pie crust and chocolate pudding. Checking the pantry, we had everything needed for both.
The next time someone is craving or requesting a chocolate pie, try these recipes out for size. Quoting the cookbook,
Once you taste this rich, smooth, deeply chocolate pudding, you will never go back to a mix.
Nor should you, by the way, go back to a mix. There are a few ingredients listed as thickeners, sweeteners and stabilizers that have been linked to cancer (aspartame and carrageenan namely). I’m not a medical professional and I don’t know for sure whether or not eating a serving of instant Jell-o pudding will directly give you cancer, but if there’s even a slight chance that it could, why put ourselves and our families at risk?
Especially when we have a homemade recipe that tastes so, so much better.
This pie crust is also our go-to crust when we’re making any sort of pie. It’s a cross between pastry and shortbread, and absolutely delicious. The cheapest shelf price I’ve seen for pie crusts (including sales) is $2.50 a piece. Butter will be the most expensive ingredient in the crust, but even using organic butter puts the crust at $1.50.
Feel free to spread the word to all our non-believing friends – real (and high quality) food DOESN’T always cost more than store-bought. ;)
Homemade Pie Crust
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
8 T unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
2-3 T heavy cream or half & half
1 large egg yolk
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt well. Add the pieces of butter and working quickly, use your fingers to mash the butter with the flour so that the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Take care not to make a paste with the butter, nor allow the butter to melt.
Drizzle 2 T of the cream over the breadcrumbs and again use your fingers to mash together. Your crumbs should look damp and should hold together when pinched. Use the remaining 1 T of cream as necessary.
Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch pie pan and starting from the center and working outwards, pat the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan using your fingertips. Try to make the crust as even as possible throughout. Continue to pat the crust up the sides of the pie pan. If your crust is thin in some parts, check the corner of the pan (the crust tends to be thicker there). You can also remove overhang from one side and pat onto another area if necessary.
Prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork and bake for 18-22 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. When the crust is done, it can be filled with any filling that does not require additional baking.
Optional: If your pie filling does require additional baking, whisk together the egg yolk and pinch of salt and brush the inside of the crust. Bake for an additional 1-2 minutes until the egg glaze sets. The crust is then ready to be filled.
I did not do a cost comparison on the chocolate pie filling, but don’t pass this up if you have 30 minutes – that’s how long it took to do the ENTIRE pie, start to finish, crust and all. (But not including chilling time, of course).
Homemade Chocolate Pudding and Pie Filling
3 T cornstarch
¼ cup half & half
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 T unsweetened cocoa
scant 1/8 tsp salt
1/3 warm water
1 ounce (1 T) semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped bar)
1 ¾ cup half & half
1 ½ tsp vanilla
Combine cornstarch with ¼ cup half & half. Set aside.
Combine sugar, cocoa and salt in a heavy saucepan. Gradually add water, stirring to make a smooth, runny paste.
Stirring constantly, bring paste to a boil over medium heat and then remove from heat. Add semisweet chocolate and stir quickly until melted.
Thoroughly stir in 1 ¾ half & half. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. Bring this mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. When the mixture is thick, cook for one minute while stirring and then remove from heat. Add vanilla and stir well.
Pour pudding over pie crust and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream.