Coffee-shop cream pies cause visions of sugarplums to dance in our heads. Billowy piles of whipped cream hide intensely flavored cream supported in flaky pastry. And it not only can, but must, be completed ahead of time making it a great choice for stress-free (or stress-reduced) entertaining. Adapted from the SFBI.
Makes one 9-inch pie; serves about 8
- One 9-inch prebaked pie shell, cooled
For chocolate pastry cream
- 100g (1/2 cup) sugar
- 6g (1 tablespoon) cornstarch
- 28g (1/3 cup) cocoa
- 160g (2/3 cup) whole milk
- 40g (2) large egg yolks
- 80g (1/3 cup) heavy cream
- 2g (1/2 teaspoon) salt
- 1g (1/2 teaspoon) vanilla extract
- 30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 15g (2 tablespoons or 1/2 ounce) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
For cream topping
- 300g (1 1/4 cups) heavy cream
- 30g (3 tablespoons) powdered sugar
- .25g (1/8 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
- 15g (2 tablespoons) bourbon (optional)
- 1 block semisweet chocolate
- Ground cinnamon
- To make the pastry cream: In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and cocoa. Whisk in half the milk to form a smooth paste. Whisk in the egg yolks.
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm the remaining milk, cream, and salt just until it begins to steam and small bubbles appear about the edges of the pan. Whisk half the hot milk into the cocoa mixture and mix well. Place a strainer over the saucepan and strain the cocoa mixture back into the saucepan.
- Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula to prevent scorching. Make sure to cover the entire bottom of the pan and its sides. Maintain the boil for 1 full minute. The pastry cream will be quite thick.
- Remove the pan from the heat, add the vanilla, butter, and unsweetened chocolate, and stir until the chocolate and butter have fully melted and the pastry cream is smooth and glossy.
- Pour the hot custard into the pie shell and immediately press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight before add the whipped cream.
- To make the cream topping: In a large bowl, whip the cream with the sugar and cinnamon until the cream stands up in peaks. You want it firmer than soft peaks but not so firm that the cream turns grainy. Fold in the bourbon, if using.
- Peel the plastic wrap off the chocolate filling and pile the whipped cream on top. Shape it into a mound and create some swirls with a spatula.
- To garnish the pie: Make chocolate curls with a knife or vegetable peeler. (Curls cut with a knife will be thinner and have a redder look.) Transfer a generous pile of shavings to the center of the cream. Dust very lightly with cinnamon and refrigerate the pie until serving time, up to several hours.
The chocolate filling is a rich, thick pastry cream. Cut back on the sugar and omit the cocoa and you have vanilla pastry cream.
Flavor the cream topping nearly anyway you like: with rum or orange liqueur, for instance, or leave it out entirely and substitute a teaspoon of vanilla.
Mocha pastry cream: Add some espresso powder to the cocoa (about 1 tablespoon) for a mocha flavored cream.
For a lighter, slightly tangy and delicious whipped cream, use equal amounts of heavy cream and nonfat Greek-style yogurt. Only the thick Greek-style will work. Whip 200g cream until very stiff with the flavorings. Fold in 200g yogurt until evenly blended. Taste for sweetness. Proceed with assembly and garnishing as above.