I’m guessing if you’ve read Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, (or, I guess, seen the movie) there’s one scene in particular you’ll never forget: The Pie. THE pie. Ugh. I’m not gonna lie, our book club spent more time than any so-called sophisticated women would like to admit dissecting the intricacies of Minny’s infamous Chocolate Cream Pie. The taste. The texture. The aroma. We debated the…*ahem* techniques that rendered such a pie possible. (Wait…who am I kidding…obviously all sophistication went right out the window with this conversation.) If you’ve read the book, chances are, you’ve at least thought about this stuff too. In all seriousness, I’ll never look at a Chocolate Cream Pie quite the same way again.
Unfortunately for me, chocolate cream pie just happens to be my husband’s favorite. And, confession time: despite many rather sloppy attempts, it’s also the one pie that has always eluded me. No matter what I do, it never turns out right. This would probably bother me less if not for the fact that my non-cooking husband randomly whipped one up several years ago. The result: perfection. And yes, he loves to taunt me with this. “What’s the problem? I made one just fine,” he’ll remark smugly every time I’m scraping another failed attempted into the trash. “It’s not that hard. Just follow the recipe. Do you need me to help you?”
Help? Help?! I’m beyond Help. Allow me to explain:
I follow the family recipe to the letter. The same my husband had used. My crust is always buttery and flaky. My sugar and melted chocolate is always creamy and smooth.
Then the crap hits the fan. I pour the boiling chocolate slowly into a bowl of egg yolks while stirring rapidly. My result? Scrambled eggs. Every. Single. Time. Without fail.
The first time this happened about seven years ago—my first attempt to tackle this beast—I thought it was normal. (Sophisticated, right?) So I poured the chunky chocolate slop into the pie shell, refrigerated and served. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten what can only be described as chocolate pudding fried rice quiche…but it’s not such a tasty combo.
Then, a couple years ago on Christmas, another attempt, and again scrambled eggs. I thought I could salvage it by sifting the chocolate mixture through a colander, filtering out the egg chunks. In a desperate attempt to save this pie at all costs, most of the egg-free filling I shoveled into the pie-shell had actually been retrieved from the bottom of the sink where it had fallen during this messy process. (Yep…sophisticated and sanitary!) As it turns out though, the egg yolks actually do serve a purpose. This chocolate cream pie was more like chocolate soup pie. Another disgusting attempt.
I’d like to ignore the fact that my husband has used this same family recipe successfully. I’d like to declare the chocolate cream pie a pie cursed. But unfortunately, I’m a realist: I’m defective.
So, here’s the recipe. May it bring you more than it’s brought me: a wealth of bitterness and self-doubt.
4 egg yolks
1 ½ cups sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
½ tsp salt
3 cups milk
2 Tbsp butter softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, cut up.
Bake (or procure) one pie crust
Separate egg yolks and beat slightly. Set aside.
Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a sauce pan. Slowly stir in milk, then add cut up baking chocolate.
Cook over medium heat, and stir constantly, until chocolate melts and milk thickens. Allow the mixture to boil, be sure to stir the entire time so milk does not burn. Boil and stir one minute.
Pour a little of the hot mixture into the egg yolks. Beat rapidly to avoid scrambling the eggs (good luck!)
Stir the warm (hopefully not scrambled) yolk mixture back into the pan. Boil and stir for one minute.
Remove from heat and stir in softened butter and vanilla.
Pour into pie crust, and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Top with whipped cream when ready to serve.