Thanksgiving is probably one of my most favorite holidays--I love the traditions, the family time and of course the food. And while I'm excited for the stuffing, the brussels sprouts and all things made with sweet potatoes, pumpkin and pecans, the holiday wouldn't really be the holiday without at least one rich chocolate-y experience. By popular demand I usually make this chocolate pudding pie--it's a biggie with the kids, young and old, but last week for one of my sisters' birthday, I took a leap and introduced this milk chocolate/salted peanut take, and by the rate at which it disappeared, I felt confident that no one would mind a repeat of it this week! So Milk Chocolate Pudding Pie with Salted Peanutty Crust it is for Thanksgiving and thankfully it goes down a whole lot easier than it is to say the name of this delightful and easy-to-make-ahead pie!
Chocolate is a really big deal in my family and there are certain members of my extended clan that couldn't imagine a family get-together without it. In fact, one of my nieces, when I asked her before her 3rd birthday, what kind of dessert she wanted to celebrate the day, looked up at me without batting an eye and said, "Dark chocolate souffles". Ah, a girl after my own heart! Now usually, I do prefer dark chocolate over milk, but in this pie the creaminess of the milk chocolate, paired with the saltiness of the roasted peanuts in the graham cracker crust, and the layer of hardened milk chocolate that coats the crust and is like a little mini-candy bar amidst all the creaminess, completely won me over. It's swoon-worthy!
You start by making a simple graham cracker crust to which salted roasted peanuts are added.
Once the crust is baked, you toss in some chopped milk chocolate and spread it around. Later when the pie is chilled, the chocolate hardens and is reminiscent of the inside of a Good Humor Candy Crunch bar with a little surprise chocolate bar in the center!
After that, you make a simple milk chocolate pudding, sans-eggs, and pour it into the cooled baked crust.
Now there's nothing really left to do except wait while the pie chills, which is tough I know, but does help out in the advance Thanksgiving prep work. Right before you're ready to serve, you make some whipped cream, place a generous dollop right in the center of the pie and sprinkle with a few more chopped roasted peanuts.
I can't wait for Thursday!!
Milk Chocolate Pudding Pie with Salted Peanutty Crust
Prep Tme: 30 minutes (plus 30 minutes of chilling time for crust and several hours of chilling time or preferably overnight for entire pie to set)
For the Crust
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) salted roasted peanuts, finely ground in a food processor
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (you can either buy them ready made or pulverize graham crackers very finely in a food processor)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 ounces good quality milk chocolate, well chopped (I used Lindt)
For the Filling
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups whole milk (don't use a lower percentage here, it won't set up well)
- 7 ounces good quality milk chocolate, very finely chopped
Whipped cream for topping
Extra salted, roasted peanuts, chopped for decoration
1. To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Into a medium bowl, place the ground peanuts, sugar, graham cracker crumbs and melted butter and stir together well, until thoroughly blended. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate and spread evenly over the bottom and sides, using the bottom of a glass to press the crumbs down evenly. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the crust is set and begins to get light brown.
2. Remove the crust from the oven and scatter the chopped chocolate all over the bottom. Let sit for a minute or two so that the chocolate can melt. Then use a pastry brush or the back of a spoon to spread the chocolate out over the bottom of the crust--if a few of the crumbs stick to the chocolate, don't worry. Let the crust cool for about 10 minutes and then place it into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.
3. While the crust is chilling, you can make the filling. Into a large, heavy saucepan, place the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt and whisk together well. Add about 3 tablespoons of the milk and whisk together to make a smooth paste. Then, whisk in the rest of the milk. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and using a silicone spoon or a wooden spoon, constantly stir the mixture, scraping down the bottom, sides and corner of the pan for about 5-7 minutes, until the pudding begins to thicken and bubble at the edges. Once this happens, cook for 1 more minute, stirring constantly. Then add the chopped chocolate and stir well until the chocolate is completely melted and the pudding is entirely smooth, maybe about 30 seconds longer.
4. Once the crust is chilled pour the pudding into it and smooth the top. Let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour and then place the pie, uncovered into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Once the filling is cool, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it down onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming and chill the pie for several hours until really cold, or better yet, overnight.
5. Right before you're ready to serve, top the pie with a large dollop of whipped cream and a scattering of chopped peanuts. Cut into wedges and serve.
Note: Recipe adapted from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich.