Silky smooth chocolate custard filling, inside a buttery homemade crust makes this chocolate cream pie the perfect, indulgent dessert. Pies are delicious any time of the year but this death-by-chocolate version is just the dessert to serve for Thanksgiving.
Table of Contents
- Milk. Whole milk/full cream milk.
- Cream. Heavy cream/whipping cream.
- Instant coffee. The coffee is optional but it intensifies the flavor of the chocolate and adds richness.
- Cocoa powder. Use good quality cocoa powder (like Dutch Processed cocoa powder) for the best chocolate flavor.
- Egg yolks.
- Butter. I used salted butter but unsalted butter can be substituted.
- Chocolate shavings (for serving).
- Pie crust.
How to make chocolate cream pie
- Make and bake the pie crust: I used this recipe from Inspired by taste. Make the dough according to instructions (or use your favorite pie dough recipe) and line a pie plate or pan. Blind bake the pie crust until golden and crisp. You can use any pie crust including a Graham cracker crust for this pie.
- Make the filling: Make the chocolate pie filling according to recipe instructions (below). Pour the chocolate pudding / custard mixture through a sieve to make sure there are no lumps. The filling should be a thick and smooth pudding-like texture before going into the pie crust to set.
- Assemble the pie and chill: Pour the filling into the prepared pie case. Spray a piece of parchment paper with cooking spray then press onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. You can use plastic wrap too. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours but ideally overnight.
- Serve: When you are ready to serve, make the whipped cream topping. Whip the cold cream with the icing sugar until soft peaks form. Dollop and swirl onto the pie. Top with chocolate shavings or chocolate chips and serve.
Tips for making the perfect chocolate cream pie
- A filling that is intensely chocolatey and creamy yet set is the goal. To achieve that I like using good quality cocoa powder for flavor and egg yolks, cornstarch (cornflour) and regular flour to give the custard some stability.
- Make sure to temper the egg yolks whisked with the flours by pouring a little bit of the hot milk mixture over while whisking. This will prevent the egg yolks from scrambling in the custard.
- Cook the custard over medium heat, whisking continuously, until it is thick and glossy. Immediately pass through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl.
- Pour the custard into the blind baked pie crust. Because the pie doesn’t get baked after the custard is added, it’s important to make sure the crust is completely dry and crisp before pouring the custard in. Spray a piece of parchment paper with cooking spray then press onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.
- Allow the pie to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours but ideally overnight.
- Top with softly whipped cream and chocolate shavings just before serving.
Freezing and making ahead
- Freezing: The pastry can be made up to 3 months in advance and kept in the freezer. I wouldn’t recommend freezing the custard pies as the custard’s texture will change once thawed.
- Making ahead: Make the pastry 2-3 days in advance and keep it in the fridge. The blind baked crust can also be kept covered at room temperature for a day before filling. The filled pie can be kept covered in the fridge for up to 2 days before serving.
The filling is thickened by using egg yolks, cornstarch and flour.
If the filling is watery or not thick and creamy, you might have measured the thickening agents incorrectly. The best way to ensure your pie filling is thick and creamy is to make sure it’s the texture of pudding before pouring into the pie crust to set.
Chocolate cream pie can be made 2-4 days before serving. Top with whipped cream right before serving.
This often happens when the chocolate in the custard is overcooked. My recipe doesn’t contain any chocolate in the custard so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Chocolate Cream Pie
for the crust
for the filling
- 2½ cups milk
- ½ cup whipping/heavy cream whipped
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon good quality instant coffee
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp corn starch (corn flour)
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp flour
- 5 extra-large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cups cream
- ½ cup icing/powdered sugar
- chocolate shavings
- Make the pastry according to instructions. Blind bake until golden and crisp in a 180°C/350°F oven then remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- To make the filling, combine the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and coffee in a saucepan and bring to boiling point.
- In a separate bowl, combine the corn starch flour, cocoa powder, egg yolks and salt and mix well to form a smooth paste. If the mixture is very thick, simply whisk in a few tablespoons of the milk mixture until it smooths out.
- When the milk has reached boiling point, remove from the heat.
- Whisk a ladle full of the hot milk into the corn starch mixture to temper the eggs.
- Pour the liquid back into the saucepan and over low-medium heat, whisk continuously until the filling is thick and glossy.
- Pour the mixture through a sieve to make sure there is no lumps. Whisk in the butter and pour the smooth filling into the prepared pie case.
- Spray a piece of parchment paper with cooking spray then press onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.
- Allow to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours but ideally overnight.
- When you are ready to serve, whip the cream with the icing sugar and swirl onto the pie. Top with chocolate shavings and serve.