Dark Chocolate Cream Pie

This dark chocolate cream pie made with bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate was carefully concocted to rely on less sugar than the typical chocolate cream pie of our childhood. A more adult-friendly and spectacularly satisfying rendition of a classic. 

A dark chocolate cream pie partially covered with whipped cream and a knife and a bowl of whipped cream on the side.

Dark chocolate cream pie. It’s an adult riff on the classic milk chocolate cream pie of our childhoods. It still boasts a silken filling but with a more intense and complex chocolate presence. It still contains a buttery crumb crust although in place of the cloyingly sweet Oreo crust there’s one made from crumbled chocolate graham crackers. And it still contains an intensely chocolate presence, although in place of milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate there’s bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate for particularly grown-up goodness.–Renee Schettler

Dark Chocolate Cream Pie

A dark chocolate cream pie partially covered with whipped cream and a knife and a bowl of whipped cream on the side.
This dark chocolate cream pie made with bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate was carefully concocted to rely on less sugar than the typical chocolate cream pie of our childhood. A more adult-friendly and spectacularly satisfying rendition of a classic.
America's Test Kitchen

Prep 30 mins
Chill 2 hrs
Total 2 hrs 30 mins
Dessert
American
8 servings
673 kcal
4.34 / 3 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Naturally Sweet cookbook

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Ingredients 

For the graham cracker crust

  • 9 whole graham crackers, preferably chocolate broken into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces and softened

For the dark chocolate cream pie filling

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar or 3 tablespoons (37 grams) coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (12 mm) pieces and chilled
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 60%), chopped fine, plus more for garnish if desired
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the whipped cream topping

  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
 

Make the graham cracker crust

  • Adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325°F (163°C).
  • Process the graham crackers in a food processor to fine, even crumbs, 30 to 60 seconds. Scatter butter over top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand, 15 to 20 pulses.
  • Sprinkle the mixture into a 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press the crumbs firmly into an even layer on the bottom and sides of a pie plate. Bake until the crust is fragrant and set, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pie plate once halfway through baking. Let the crust cool to room temperature, which should take about 30 minutes.

Make the dark chocolate cream pie filling

  • Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium bowl until well combined. Bring the half-and-half and salt to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Slowly whisk the warm 1/2 cup half-and-half mixture into the yolk mixture to temper it (this simply means you're gradually adding the warm liquid to the eggs rather than dumping it in all at once, which ensures the eggs don't curdle from the heat), and then slowly whisk the tempered yolk mixture into half-and-half mixture remaining in the pan. Return the pot to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick and glossy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • Whisk in the chilled butter, several pieces at a time, until completely incorporated. Then whisk in the bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and vanilla and keep whisking until the chocolate is melted, making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan with a rubber spatula.
  • Strain the pudding through a fine-mesh strainer into cooled pie crust. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Make the whipped topping

  • If using coconut sugar, grind it in a spice grinder until fine and powdery, about 1 minute. If using granulated sugar, do not grind it.  Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes.  

Assemble the pie

  • Spread whipped cream over the pie. If desired, sprinkle with some bittersweet chocolate shavings made by pulling a vegetable peeler along a bar of chocolate you've stashed in the fridge. Slice and serve.
Print RecipeBuy the Naturally Sweet cookbook

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Notes

*What kind of chocolate should I use in a dark chocolate pie?

This recipe was brought to us by the knowledgeable folks at America's Test Kitchen. And we're not going to doubt their commitment to good food. They were kind enough to divulge their favorite chocolate to use in this particular recipe. Because dark chocolate is the star of the show here, you're going to want to take their recommendations seriously, folks. The best bittersweet chocolate, they say, is Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar. Be aware that if you use a different brand, it may contain different amounts of sugar and then affect the overall taste of this gorgeous pie. Their preferred brand of unsweetened chocolate is Hershey’s Unsweetened Baking Bar.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 673kcal (34%)Carbohydrates: 36g (12%)Protein: 8g (16%)Fat: 57g (88%)Saturated Fat: 33g (206%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 272mg (91%)Sodium: 236mg (10%)Potassium: 329mg (9%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 16g (18%)Vitamin A: 1626IU (33%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 159mg (16%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Just like the Olympics, Leite's Culinaria produces nothing but gold! I'm always skeptical of recipes that are not similar to anything I've ever done before, and this dark chocolate cream pie was the same story. From the beginning, this recipe shattered all my expectations. The crust came together quicker than I expected and must be the easiest crust I've ever made.

When I started on the filling, for some reason I thought it would be more complicated than I made it out to be. Don't walk away from the stove or stop stirring the egg and milk mixture once it's on the heat, because it comes together quite quickly. The finished pie tastes like a paradox—sumptuous and light. Although my crust crumbled when cut, it doesn't take away from the taste one bit. This was easily one of the most delicious recipes I've made all year, and I can't wait to make it again for either a holiday or office event. I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate and Dagoba unsweetened chocolate (100% cacao).

This is a lovely, decadent dessert. It has a rich chocolate flavor, is deliciously silky, and not overly sweet. I usually top cream pies with meringue, but the whipped cream topping is perfect here. I did whip it to stiffer peaks so that it was a little more “stable” for serving.

I used honey graham crackers for the crust because that's what I had on hand. The crust held together nicely and easily came out of the pan. This would make a lovely dessert for guests. You do have to allow time for cooling, but the hands-on time is fairly minimal. The return for the time and effort is outstanding.


Originally published August 20, 2016

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Comments

  1. 4 stars
    It was delicious but the butter separated from the “pudding” and floated to the top of the pie. Any suggestions?

    1. Thanks, Kenzie. We’re so glad you enjoyed it. You may have overheated your half and half mixture when preparing the filling. You only ever want to have it at a simmer, not a boil. That is often the culprit behind separation.

  2. 5 stars
    I grew up in Hawaii eating a chocolate/coffee cream pie on a toll house cookie crust. at a little restaurant in a shopping center near my home. I loved this dessert and could never persuade those guys to give me the recipe. When I saw this I thought, let’s add some brewed espresso coffee (2 T) to the chocolate cream and put it on a Toll House cookie crust and see what it tastes like. It’s the closest thing I have come yet to my childhood favorite!!!!!! I’m having a backyard thing later today and two of these pies are on the dessert table along with a little rum-flavored whipped cream. This has made my Memorial Day. Many thanks. [Diane gave the recipe as-is a rating of 4, but with her changes, which we heartily embrace, she gave it a rating of 5.–ed.]

    1. Diane, what a lovely memory!!!!!! You made our day, our week, our month! This is exactly why we do what we do. Food is about so much more than just…food. We so appreciate you taking the time to share this memory. Thank you.

    1. Yes, Mary, that should work fine. After you chill the pie (that is, the pudding in the crust) in the fridge as directed wrap it well and transfer it to the freezer. You’ll want to wait to whip the cream until you get to your vacation location for best results. Safe and spectacular travels!

  3. Hmmm … looks a whole like another America’s Test Kitchen recipe, just less sugar. Yes? Still, since we have more of a “cream” tooth than “sweet” tooth here and I know from experience how less sugar unleashes the flavor of the main ingredient (here, chocolate), this is my next pie for #PieDayFriday as soon as the stone fruits are gone. As always, love your work.

    1. Yes, Alanna! As you’ll see above, this recipe, too, is from America’s Test Kitchen but is found in their recent cookbook that’s dedicated to home cooks seeking to reduce their sugar intake without sacrificing their sweet tooth. It stands to reason they would base it on a previous recipe (that, incidentally, many folks have told us is the best chocolate cream pie they’ve ever experienced). Given what you said, I think you’ll really like this pie, which has a quite complex chocolate flavor from the reduced sugar, yes, but also the use of bittersweet and unsweetened chocolates in tandem. Love to hear what you think! And many thanks for your kind words.

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