Happy New Year!! I’m sneaking this pie in just under the “new resolutions January deadline”. People, I am serious when I write; this pie is one of the best dessert things I’ve ever eaten. I struggle to describe how stupendous it tastes! It’s an amazing amalgam of chocolate custard meets a salty, buttery vanilla crust. As far as I’m concerned, pretzels and chocolate go together like peas and carrots, but throw in the vanilla wafer? Just. Stop. It. Beware, it truly matters what kind of chocolate you use, so choose carefully. I opt for using the Chocolove dark chocolate bars. Two bars perfectly do the trick for one pie and make way for decadent dark chocolate custard bliss.
Firstly, let’s get down to the important things; what kind of pie plate to use. Any kind will do, really. I got fancy and tried the pie in a tart pan and also a springform pan. The springform pan worked, and you definitely got a better crust-to-pie ratio with the springform (personally a plus for me) but it was more difficult to cut and serve from the springform pan and I was unable to slide it off of the bottom onto a plate (which is fine, really, but for some reason really mattered to me at the time). I prefer the tart shell, it is easy to remove and held up beautifully. I served both versions in the past month, one for Thanksgiving and one at a Christmas dinner party we attended – both to rave reviews!
Basically, you will make a chocolate pudding from scratch. Can you use boxed pudding for this pie? OF COURSE. Will it taste the same? NOPE. It’s really not that difficult to create, once your ingredients are gathered.
I’d start with making the nilla-pretzel crust, then get to work on the pudding. For the crust, pulse together about 30 Nilla wafers and 30 butter flavored pretzels (I used the square butter snaps as pictured above) in a food processor. Pour in melted butter until crust clumps together. Press pie crust into pie plate or tart shell that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, and bake crust at 350 for 15 minutes. Place in fridge to cool before filling.
The crust should be cool before the pudding is poured.
To begin on the pudding, whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a medium saucepan. Once combined, whisk in milk and egg yolks, then stir over medium heat until the mixture barely starts bubbling. Once it starts to bubble, remove it from the heat immediately. Add the chopped chocolate, vanilla extract and butter. Mix well until everything is perfectly combined and the chocolate is melted.
Pour the chocolate pudding into the cooled pie crust. If you have leftover pudding, pour it into little cups and enjoy as dessert later! Place pie uncovered in fridge to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
I like to serve my chocolate pie with meringue on top. Toasted meringue, to be precise. If you do not have a kitchen blowtorch, you can use an oven broiler, just be sure to keep an eye on your pie and turn it frequently while broiling so all of the top gets browned. Meringue sounds intimidating, but with a little practice, you can quickly become confident with it. I mean, there are only three ingredients to freak out over – how difficult can it be, right?
Add egg whites and sugar to the metal bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk at medium speed until combined. Next, make a double boiler and place the stand mixer’s metal bowl with the whites overtop of the saucepan filled with a little bit of gently boiling water. Whisk egg whites by hand until warmed through and sugar is dissolved. It will take about five minutes. Place the mixing bowl back on the stand mixer and while using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high until the bowl is cool. Add the vanilla and finish beating until stiff peaks form, this should take a total of 8-10 minutes.
If you have piping skills, this is the time to use them. As you can clearly see from the very first photo above and this one below, I need some work on my piping skills. You can start out with good piping intentions…
…then simply take a spatula, tap it to the meringue and make some peaks.
Toast the top with your new kitchen torch you bought yourself for Christmas!
Once the top is toasted, it will keep for a few hours in the fridge before serving but the best is to impress your guests and serve the pie immediately after the meringue has been torched in front of their faces!
Now the only question remains; what else can I torch???
Chocolate Pie (only slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Chill time: 4-24 hours
Serves: 8-10 people
Nilla Wafer Pretzel Crust Ingredients:
- 30 Nilla wafers
- 30 Butter snap pretzels
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- In a food processor, buzz together the wafers and pretzels until finely ground.
- Drizzle butter into crust mixture while pulsing the food processor.
- Once all butter is incorporated, crumbs should stick together when pinched with fingers. Add more butter or wafers/pretzels for adjustment.
- Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Allow to cool before filling.
Chocolate Pie Pudding Ingredients
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups whole milk
- 4 whole egg yolks
- 2 Chocolove 55% dark chocolate bars
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and egg yolks.
- Stir mixture over medium heat until barely bubbling. Once a bubble has been witnessed, remove the mixture from the heat and add the chocolate, vanilla and butter. Whisk until everything is smoothly combined.
- Pour pudding into cooled crust, saving any extra pudding into small cups.
- Allow pie to chill in fridge for 4-24 hours.
Meringue Ingredients (slightly adapted from The Kitchn)
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add egg whites and sugar to the metal bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on medium speed until combined.
- Using a double boiler, place the stand mixer’s metal bowl containing the whites overtop of the saucepan filled with a little bit of gently boiling water. Whisk egg whites until warmed through and sugar is dissolved. It will take about five minutes.
- Place the mixing bowl back on the stand mixer and while using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high until the bowl is cool.
- Add the vanilla and finish beating until stiff peaks form, this should take a total of 8-10 minutes.
- Pipe onto pie and torch with kitchen torch or oven broiler.