You might be looking at this pie thinking, “Eh, just looks like your average, everyday pudding pie to me.” Let me assure you that it is anything but that.
What is absolutely magical about this pie is how the layers start decadent and rich and gradually build in lightness to end in an ethereal topping of rum and vanilla flavored whipped cream.
The first layer is a classic, sweet chocolate crumb crust. Delicious.
While the crust is baking and chilling, a vanilla custard is whipped up and divided. A portion of the warm custard gets a rich addition of dark chocolate and this concoction forms a fudgey, dense layer of chocolate custard over the crumb crust.
The lighter, creamy vanilla custard tops the chocolate layer and is dolloped with an airy whipped cream layer that ends the pie in utter angelic lightness.
So, uh, no, this isn’t your average, everyday pudding pie. It’s glorious and everything but average. It makes the perfect dessert for those that can’t tolerate through-and-through rich desserts (like this bittersweet chocolate pudding pie) but still enjoy a healthy amount of sweetness and decadence. That would be my husband.
I wasn’t born or blessed with a “rich factor” meaning I don’t think the words “this is too rich for me” have ever come out of my mouth. But Brian…well, he gets burned out of (and will actually stop eating…the horror!) really rich desserts, which is why he absolutely adored this tasty pudding pie.
Sweet and indulgent without being complete over-the-top.
5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
For the topping:
1 cup chilled heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon rum extract, optional
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Natural unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350° F. Pulse cookies in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Drizzle in butter and cream; pulse until well blended. Pour into prepared dish. Use the bottom and sides of a measuring cup to pack crumbs onto bottom and up sides of dish. Bake until crust is set, 12–15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack; set aside.
For the custard, in a small bowl, pour 2 tablespoons water and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let the mixture stand until the gelatin softens, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the milk and cream in a large saucepan over medium heat until mixture just comes to a simmer.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, rum extract (if using), cornstarch, vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Whisking vigorously, pour 1/2 cup or so of the hot milk into the egg mixture and rapidly combine. Pour the tempered egg mixture into the pot of hot milk, whisking quickly the entire time. Whisk in the softened gelatin. Place the pan over medium-low heat and whisk the mixture constantly until thick, about 5 minutes.
Remove the vanilla custard from the heat and stir in the mascarpone (if desired, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps or cooked bits of egg). Measure out 1 cup of the custard and place it in a medium bowl. Add the chopped chocolate and lightly stir. Let the mixture sit for 2-3 minutes then stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour the chocolate custard into the cooled crust; smooth the top. Chill the pie until set, about 30 minutes, while letting the vanilla custard stand at room temperature. If the vanilla custard starts to form a skin, lightly press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface.
Gently pour the remaining vanilla custard over the chilled chocolate layer. Pour slowly so the chocolate layer doesn't get messed up. Smooth the top; chill until set, about 1 hour, or keep covered up to 1 day.
When ready to serve, use an electric mixer at medium speed and beat the cream and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until the cream begins to thicken. Add the rum extract and vanilla; increase the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread whipped cream over custard. Dust with cocoa powder. Cut into slices and serve (the topped pie can be made 4 hours ahead - chill uncovered).
Rum Flavor: the rum extract is optional but adds a delicious depth of flavor to the pie. If you aren't sure about using it or don't want a strong rum flavor, start with just a few drops of the extract and go up from there if you want a more pronounced flavor.
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