This chocolate cream pie is a classic American dessert with an Oreo cookie crust filled with chocolate pudding that’s buried beneath swoops of vanilla-infused whipped cream. An easy, quick dessert.
We found that the secret to perfect chocolate cream pie was to combine two different types of chocolate for a deeper, more complex flavor. Bittersweet or semisweet chocolate provides the main thrust of flavor and intensely flavored unsweetened chocolate lends depth. One ounce unsweetened chocolate may not seem like much, but it gives this pie great flavor. For the best chocolate flavor and texture, we recommend using either Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate or Ghirardelli semisweet or bittersweet chocolate.
Other types of chocolate sandwich cookies than Oreo may be substituted, but avoid any “double-filled” cookies because the proportion of cookie to filling will be off. An equal number of Nutter Butter cookies may also be substituted for a peanut-flavored crust.–The Editors at America’s Test Kitchen
IS THIS A TRADITIONAL CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE?
Some of us (and by that we really mean one of us—our editor, Renee) grew up coveting her mom’s chocolate cream pie morning, noon, and night. You know the feeling. It’s a cruel mistress, this insatiable want. Nay, need. The intense OREO crust that crumbles just so. The just-chocolatey-enough custard that’s so silken it’s obscene. The fluffy whipped cloud-like cream with the faintest wisp of vanilla. Ah, chocolate cream pie. Sigh. So when, decades later, she was introduced to this recipe, she was a little shy, seeing as sometimes when you make a recipe that you cherished as a child when you’re an adult, you risk being disappointed. She needn’t have worried.
Chocolate Cream Pie
For the crust
- 16 Oreo cookies broken into rough pieces
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter melted
For the filling
- 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter cut into 1/4-inch (6 mm) pieces
- 6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chopped fine
- 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate chopped fine
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the crust
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Pulse the cookies in a food processor until coarsely ground, about 15 short pulses. Then let the machine run until the crumbs are uniformly fine, about 15 seconds. With the machine running, pour the butter through the feed tube and process until the mixture resembles wet sand. Empty the crumbs onto the pie plate. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake until the crust is fragrant and looks set, about 15 minutes.
Make the filling
- Bring the half-and-half, half the sugar, and the salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
- As the half-and-half mixture begins to simmer, in a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, the remaining sugar, and cornstarch until smooth.
- Slowly whisk about 1 cup simmering half-and-half mixture into the yolks to temper them. (This means to slowly change the temperature so the eggs don’t curdle.) Then slowly whisk the tempered yolks into the remaining simmering half-and-half mixture and reduce the heat to medium. Whisking constantly, return the mixture to a simmer and cook until thickened and a few bubbles burst on the surface, anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the butter, then the chocolates, and finally the vanilla, whisking until completely smooth.
- Pour the warm filling into the baked, cooled pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it flush against the surface of the filling to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until the filling is cold and firm, at least 3 hours. (The pie, without the topping, can be wrapped tightly and refrigerated for up to 1 day.)
Make the topping
- Just before serving, beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a chilled bowl with a stand or handheld mixer until soft peaks form. (The cream can be whipped and refrigerated separately from the pie, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 2 hours.)
- Gently mound the whipped cream attractively over the top of the filling. Top with chocolate curls, if using. Slice the pie and have at it.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This chocolate cream pie was everything I needed this week. It was a recipe that was a total pleasure to put together, that tasted delightful, totally satisfied a chocolate craving, and may have even brightened a lousy day. Within minutes of having our first bites, my husband declared that I must make this again. And I happily agreed.
The pie is super chocolatey without feeling heavy or fussy. This is the perfect dessert for a summer dinner party. Or a Wednesday night after a loooong work day.
I was drawn to this recipe because my family and friends love chocolate cream pie. I made this recipe for a birthday dessert and it was loved by all. My family said that I definitely need to make this pie again and soon!
The pie filling was perfectly creamy with a dark chocolate flavor that had the perfect amount of sweetness. The crust was easy to make, delicious, and added just the right amount of chocolate crunchy goodness.
Preparing the pie filling wasn't difficult and I really liked that I didn't have to constantly stir the half-and-half mixture as you often do when making a cream pie filling. I'm always cautious when tempering eggs as I don't want to end up with scrambled egg bits. I followed the directions as written and it worked perfectly. Once you add the tempered egg mixture back to the half-and-half mixture, it will thicken very quickly. It will only take a minute or less. Stir in the rest of your ingredients and pour it into your cookie crumb crust.
The total time to prepare this pie is 4 hours. Most of that time is waiting for the pie to set.
Originally published July 30, 2005