Four Layer Chocolate Cream Pie

My inspiration for this recipe comes from the good old Four Layer Dessert. (Something deep down inside me was conjuring up my Mormon heritage.) Only I made my own pudding. And I did not (REPEAT: DID NOT) use any Cool Whip. And neither should you. If you do, I will spank you with my giant wooden spoon.

Four Layer Chocolate Cream Pie
recipes from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:
For Crust:

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (pecans are my fave.)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into small pieces
2 tsp. sugar
1 egg, divided
For Cream Layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
For Pudding Layer:
1 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp. corn starch
2 1/2 cups milk (use whole or 2%)
5 egg yolks
3 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. vanilla
For stabilized whipped cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, very cold
2-4 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
2 Tbsp. water
Instructions:
For crust:
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, nuts, and sugar. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender, two knives, or with your hands (my preferred method), until crumbly. Add the egg yolk. Mix together until it starts to come together a little bit. It will still be fairly crumbly. Spray a 9″ deep-dish pie plate with non-stick cooking spray. Press the crust mixture evenly up the sides and on the bottom of the plate. Prick with a fork and bake for around 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Remove from oven and brush the inside of the crust with a slightly beaten egg white. This will seal the crust and keep it from getting soggy. Put the crust back into the oven for 3 more minutes, or until the crust is golden, but not burned. Set aside until ready to fill. **To make this gluten-free, use this recipe. For cream layer:
Beat the cream cheese with the confectioner’s sugar. Add the cream and continue beating until it become lighter and fluffier. (Note: It will not be the same consistency of whipped cream. It will be a little runnier.) Pour into the crust. Refrigerate until ready to fill with the chocolate pudding. For chocolate pudding layer:
Use a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the sugar and corn starch. Gradually whisk in the milk. Add the egg yolks and whisk very well–until there are no yellow streaks remaining. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer while constantly stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula. Take pan off the heat. Scrape the corners of the pan. Place back on heat and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute while whisking vigorously. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter and chocolate. Add vanilla. If desired, pour the pudding through a mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Let the pudding cool slightly and pour over the cream layer. Chill pie for about 3 hours. Prepare stabilized whipped cream about an hour before serving. For stabilized whipped cream:
Place water in a small, heat-proof cup/mug. Sprinkle gelatin over the water. Place in the microwave for 10 seconds. Stir and check to see if gelatin is dissolved. If not, microwave for another 10 seconds. Let the mixture cool slightly. Beat the heavy cream and sugar to soft peaks. (Make sure the bowl and beater are chilled, too.) With the mixer running on low, slowly add the melted gelatin to the cream. Turn mixer up to medium and continue beating cream until stiffer peaks form. Don’t over beat. Either pipe or spread the cream on top of the pie and garnish with chocolate shavings and finely chopped nuts, if desired. Chill for another hour and serve cold. Makes about 10 to 12 good sized slices.

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