August 26, 2011

Lighter chocolate pudding pie

Today I'm serving up this nice, light, chocolate pudding pie.  I've made this simple chocolate pudding pie a handful of times and it's a hit with my son and husband and I also like it since it's not too heavy and you don't feel weighed down or guilty after eating it. 
This is a recipe from Ellie Krieger via a show that used to air on the Food Network.  Reruns of the show, Healthy Appetite, airs on the Cooking Channel now.  I really like her healthy recipes and I always thought she was the picture of health so she must know what she's talking about (being a nutritionist).  Seriously, the woman's skin just glows.  Then I read somewhere recently that she used to be a maybe it's a combination of good genes and a healthy lifestyle that's working here but I really like her recipes and tips.

This pie is made with a simple and lighter cornstarch-cocoa powder pudding (no egg yolks) using 1% milk, along with a graham cracker crust that uses a minimal amount of butter and some water.  You add a bit of plain gelatin to set the chocolate pudding and the pie comes together and slices easily and makes a nice snack that satisfies your chocolate craving.
I made this a few days ago and going forward, I might have to think of it as "earthquake pie" because I'd just finished taking a snapshot of it when my house shook.  At first, I thought I better eat something because I'm getting light-headed!  But when my little guy, who was in the kitchen having a snack, asked me why it's shaking, I knew it wasn't just me.  I asked my son to come over and we held hands but frankly, I had no idea what to do other than to stay put and wait it out.  Luckily, the shaking stopped within a minute but it was unnerving to see the little fire extinguisher we have hanging on a nearby wall waver back and forth.  We came to find out that we were feeling the effects of a 5.8 earthquake that had taken place in Virginia.  Well...suffice it to say that we live in an unpredictable world.  In fact, we're currently preparing for a hurricane on the East Coast, which is practically unheard of.  There seems to be so much going on lately, a lot of stress and distress.  I hope we can all think positive thoughts and do good deeds to bring forth more peace and calmness.

I do tweak the recipe for the graham cracker crust in this chocolate pudding pie just slightly to make a bit more.  I use a tad more graham crackers and a touch more butter and water than the recipe calls for, mainly because I have a 9.5 inch pie plate instead of a 9-inch.  Having a bit more crumbs makes it easier to manage and spread around your plate even if you are using a 9-inch pie plate.     

The graham cracker crust:

Making the crust is the first step.  I use 9 full sheets of graham crackers.  Break them into pieces and place into a food processor.  Process the crackers until they are finely ground.  Then add 2 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons of water.

Process this together until combined and the crumbs come together, looking like wet sand. 
Pour the crumbs into a 9-inch pie plate and spread around and up the sides using your hands.  (For extra insurance or if you want really neat slices, you could spray the pie plate with cooking spray before adding the crumbs but I skip this step since I always forget and I haven't had a problem with removing the slices.)  Pop the crust into a 350 degree oven to bake for 10 minutes.  Let it cool after baking and work on the filling. 

Chocolate pudding:

For this pie, I make the lighter chocolate pudding that I mentioned when I wrote the post on chocolate pudding back in May.  Unlike that richer chocolate pudding recipe, which uses egg yolks, whole milk and butter, this one is far lighter incorporating 1% milk, cornstarch and no egg yolks or butter.  This chocolate pudding pie relies on the cornstarch and cocoa powder, along with a bit (2 ounces) of bittersweet chocolate to give it a dark chocolate flavor.  I also add  a 1/2 teaspoon of espresso powder to boost that chocolate flavor.

We use unflavored gelatin in this recipe.  Take a tablespoon (a little bit more than 1 packet) of the gelatin and combine it with 1/3 cup of boiling water, stirring well until it's all melted.  Set this aside and we'll use it at the end when the pudding is cooked.
Then begin by adding 2/3 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 cup of cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon of espresso powder (optional), and a pinch of salt into a pot.  There will be lots of whisking involved so make sure it's not a non-stick pot.  Mix the ingredients together and then add 1 1/2 cups of 1% milk (this is half the milk) and whisk until smooth.  Then add the other 1 1/2 cups of milk and whisk together.  Cook this over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid lumps, until the mixture begins to boil and thickens.  This takes about 10 minutes.  Take the pot off the heat and mix in the 2 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate until melted.
Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and the gelatin mixture we made earlier, and mix well together.  
My son mentioned he wanted some chocolate pudding so before I added the gelatin, I scooped up a little bit of the pudding into a bowl to eat on its own.  We've also done this when the gelatin's been added and that is just fine - you just have a more jello-like pudding if you've added the gelatin.
Pour the pie filling with the gelatin added into the cooled pie crust.  Smooth the top a bit and place the pie in the refrigerator to set for about 3-4 hours or overnight. 
You could serve the pie with a little bit of lightly sweetened whipped cream but I don't think it's necessary.  The pie has a nice deep chocolate flavor and I think it makes a nice summertime dessert.  It's proven popular with kids that like chocolate.  I've also used this recipe and made mini chocolate pudding pies as well.  Mini or individual-serving tarts, pies, and cakes are just so cute and make nice little gifts. 


Ligher Chocolate Pudding Pie

- One 9.5-inch pie -

9 full graham cracker sheets (or 18 squares)*
2 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted*
1 1/2 tablespoons water*
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup boiling water
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa-powder
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken into small pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*The original recipe uses 7 full graham cracker sheets, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1 tablespoon of water for a 9.5-inch pie plate.  I recommend making a bit more even if you are using a 9-inch plate to have more crumbs on hand and make the job of spreading easier. 

Graham cracker crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Break the graham crackers into pieces and place into food processor.  Process until crackers are finely ground.  Add melted butter and water and process until it comes together, looking like wet sand.  Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9.5-inch pie plate.  Bake for 10 minutes and set aside to cool.

Chocolate pudding:
Place gelatin into a small bowl and add boiling water and stir until dissolved.  Set aside.

Place sugar, cocoa, espresso powder (optional), cornstarch, and salt into a saucepan.  Add half the milk and whisk until smooth and combined.  Then whisk in the remaining milk and turn the flame to medium.  Cook pudding, whisking constantly to avoid lumps, for about 10 minutes until it thickens and comes to a boil. 

Remove the pudding from the heat and add chopped chocolate, stirring until melted.  Add vanilla extract and gelatin mixture.  Combine together and pour the filling into the cooled pie crust.  Refrigerate for 3-4 hours until set. 

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