Mini chocolate pudding pie for a mini (pre) Thanksgiving

It's practically Thanksgiving!  No doubt, most of you are busy prepping for the big day (hopefully, there aren't too many last-minute errands...we're slated to get a load of snow tomorrow in NJ!). I'm once again heading out to enjoy a feast with my extended family.  This year, I managed to get out of turkey duty!  There's something about prepping that bird for a crowd that stresses me out.  Apparently, I'm not alone because no one else in my family has turkey duty this year either.  We've decided to outsource that particular task (I hope no one is horrified by this revelation).  
A 6-inch mini chocolate pudding pie for my mini early Thanksgiving for three
Since we usually head out to gather with family for Thanksgiving and since I'm taking that reprieve from turkey prepping on the big day (what will I do with all that extra time on my hands!), I decided to have a mini Thanksgiving dinner for the 3 of us at home this past Sunday.  I'm talking about a cozy, very simple, no-stress, mini Thanksgiving meal before the actual day.  I roasted a small turkey breast and made a couple of quick sides.  Sides are fun!  Everything was simple and it really didn't take much more work than an ordinary Sunday night dinner.
The mini Thanksgiving idea having surfaced, my mind went on to a quick dessert. This lighter chocolate pudding pie is one of my son's favorite things so I thought I'd whip one of those up.  I usually make the crust with graham crackers and have also had a lot of success using digestive biscuits recently.  This time, I didn't have either of those on hand but I did have Nilla wafers.  And in the spirit of keeping things simple and stress-free, I thought I'd just use what I had and give the Nilla wafers a try.
I finally got a chance to use my mini 6-inch, pie plate, which I bought months ago (since it was so cute).  I whipped up the crust, made the simple pudding, which contains no eggs or butter so it's nice and light, and we were ready for our mini Thanksgiving before Thanksgiving.
I may have possibly started a new tradition with this mini pre-Thanksgiving dinner, I don't know yet... 

For this recipe that makes a small 6-inch pie, I started with 18 Nilla wafers to make the crust.  After grinding the cookies with a little sugar and some butter, I baked the crust for about 10 minutes until golden.  This was my first time making a Nilla wafer crust.  It turned out nicely but given a choice, I'd prefer using digestive biscuits or graham crackers to pair with the chocolate.
I divided the light chocolate pudding recipe I typically use in half.  You'll end up filling the 6-inch pie and having a little extra "bonus" left over.  I plopped some whipped cream and crushed Nilla wafers on top of the extra chocolate pudding cup and the fellas enjoyed it.  

This pudding that fills the pie is nice and light, using 1% milk, no butter or eggs.  It has a nice dark chocolate flavor and is a surprisingly light dessert that you'd even appreciate after a substantial meal.  Plus, it's mini after all.
And here's a little snapshot of our mini pre-Thanksgiving dinner this past Sunday.  I slow-roasted a small turkey breast (just under 3 pounds) and we had simple sides of peas with pancetta and shallots, mashed sweet potatoes, and roasted kabocha squash wedges.  We had a lot of fun getting into the Thanksgiving spirit with this trial run!  
I hope you have a very happy and satisfying Thanksgiving!  I'm hopeful we'll be able to dig out of all the snow expected so that we can enjoy our Thanksgiving gathering!


Recipe:

Mini Chocolate Pudding Pie with Nilla Wafer Crust
Chocolate pudding recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger via the Food Network

- For one mini 6-inch pie -

For crust:
18 Nilla wafers 
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For chocolate pudding:
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons boiling water
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa-powder
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Nilla wafer crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place Nilla wafers and sugar into a food processor or mini chopper.  Process until wafers are finely ground.  Add melted butter and process until mixture comes together, resembling wet sand.  Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 6-inch pie plate.  Bake until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes, then set aside to cool completely.

For chocolate pudding:
Place gelatin into a small heatproof bowl.  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, whisking constantly to avoid lumps until thickened and pudding comes to a boil. 

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



47 comments:

  1. As far as I can tell, no one really LIKES turkey anyway...so I think you guys were smart to eliminate it! T-Day is really all about the sides and dessert. Chocolate pudding pie is traditional in my family and I love this mini version! Now i can make one for just the.boy and me.

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    1. I like to make my plate about 10% turkey and gravy and leave the rest for the good fixings! There'll still be turkey on the table on Thursday but I'm really looking forward to everything else. And maybe I'd just been on turkey duty too long but I think the sides are so much more fun and so much less stress!

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  2. Oh my! Your mini chocolate pudding pie looks so rich and delicious. I can't wait to try your recipe as it is perfect I have 2 family members that will not touch a pumpkin pie with a ten foot pole and two that love it. Chocolate always wins the hearts of many. I might have to do a little swap out for the vanilla wafers as we are here in Asia and difficult to find. Wishing you a safe and happy thanksgiving! Just pinned!

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    1. Thanks, BAM! I would recommend using digestive biscuits. You could use just 6 for a small pie like this or double it for a regular one. For a regular pie, I usually use 3 tbsp butter and a tbsp of water to make the crust. The boys love this. I have tried making pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, chocolate pie (with real pie crust) but everyone wants chocolate. I'm actually doing some brownies and ice cream for the kids for dessert on Thursday. They like simple things like that and they should have what they like, right? : )

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  3. I think the substantial snow is going to miss us here in the DC area - first rain then heavy wet snow with less than an inch accumulation. I'll be thinking about you as your get a good dose of the white stuff! Love this pie - and I'm all about the mini-desserts. I especially love the egg free recipe. The turkey looks tasty too. Blessings to you and your family!

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    1. Thanks for thinking of me, Tricia. I hope the snow misses you guys. It just snuck up on us and I'm just grateful I don't plan to hit the grocery store tomorrow...I just got home with everything I should need for the rest of the week. I'll be thinking of your stellar pies on Thursday. We won't have anything nearly as beautiful or fancy as what you're likely cooking up so I need to live vicariously through you!

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  4. This pie looks delightful! I like to make a mini Thanksgiving meal a few weeks before, Mainly because we can't wait until Thanksgiving to eat stuffing! Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

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    1. Love that! There are too many great things to eat that we can't just reserve it for one day on Thanksgiving. Pre-celebrations are the way to go! ; )

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  5. I love the idea of having a simple mini-Thanksgiving for just your family. The chocolate pudding pie looks perfect - so silky and chocolatey!

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    1. It was so easy and stress-free, a really nice dinner. Thanks, Bianca! You have a great turkey day! ; )

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  6. This chocolate pie looks sensational! The crust is perfectly golden brown and crumbly.

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    1. The fellas polished it off easily, thanks Angie.

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  7. Love the way your chocolate pie looks, great idea to use the vanilla wafers! Happy Holidays to you!

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  8. I'm playing catch up big time Monica!! This mini chocolate pie looks gorgeous and good on you for using the nilla wafers. Fun to have a practise run for Thanksgiving. Best wishes for the 'real deal' this weekend!!

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    1. I used to always go out and buy the ingredient I need for a recipe even if I just need a little bit...now I try to think about substitutions and not be too rigid about things. Sometimes it works... Thank you, Jo!

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  9. Aaw, I love the idea of having a mini Thanksgiving. The sides are my favorite too :) We did the same thing for Christmas one year because nobody wanted to be in charge of the turkey either hehe. I love this chocolate pudding pie! It looks so rich and silky and the perfect sweet treat to your mini celebration :) Hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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    1. I think I did the turkey too many years...I was sick of it and having to trek the whole thing, time it, etc. A turkey breast is so much easier and it's definitely more fun with the sides. We had a nice cozy mini Thanksgiving. Now it's time for snow and the real deal at our end. : )

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  10. I can't wait to make this! It looks so delicious! We don't celebrate thanksgiving here but I think I can make this without needing a reason? I like the cute mini thanksgiving you did, I do a similar mini Christmas each year.

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    1. I make these chocolate pudding pies all the time for no reason! My little guy loves it. I love your mini Christmas! I usually have a family party and have lots of 'treat afternoons' but maybe I need to do a quiet mini Christmas feast or something! : )

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  11. This is my idea of a perfect pie!! Happy Thanksgiving!! :)

    Sues

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    1. Thank you so much...this is the kind of pie my family wants.

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  12. I absolutely love that you had a mini thanksgiving dinner! That's such a great idea! And this pie looks pretty darn delicious too!

    My sister lives in NYC and my dad is supposed to go get her for the holiday (from NJ) - I'm hoping the snow doesn't ruin all their plans! Meanwhile, down here in NC I think we're safe from the snow for now! :) Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Thank you, Ashley. The little mini dinner was really nice - so laid back, no stress/timeline. The little pie fit right in. haha

      I think we're getting 'lucky' with the weather. Rainy here but we went from up to 12 inches of snow possible to look like just a few inches. Good luck and safe travels for your family. Happy Thanksgiving!!

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  13. Chocolate PIE? Oh I am so there! This looks incredible - pass the spoon!

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    1. I think I should've just bought out spoons for the 3 of us to dig into together 'family-style'...now that's an idea! ;)

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  14. Replies
    1. Thanks for saying that. It's pretty simple but works for us. : )

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  15. This is a gorgeous pie Monica! Count me in and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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    1. Thanks; hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

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  16. This pie looks delicious, the pudding looks so smooth and creamy!!!

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    1. It's got great chocolate flavor and it's light w/o tasting off. Thanks!

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  17. Monica, this pie looks SOOOO good!!!! The filling is so silky smooth I just want to dive straight in! We don't celebrate Thanksgiving here but I'm going to make this pie anyway! ^_^

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    1. Thank you, Samina. This is the type of everyday pie anyone can make and enjoy any time. No need for an occasion.

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  18. I love the idea of baking a 6" pie. Just enough, without too many tempting leftovers.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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    1. I got to actually break in this pie plate - for that, I was thankful! : ) Thanks, Beth.

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  19. I should have celebrated American turkey day. Oh well. At least I can gawk at your pie. It looks fan-freaking-tastic!

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    1. haha - thank you, Cathleen. It is really simple and a nice little treat after dinner. : )

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  20. This looks like the most perfect little pie!! I need to try this for Christmas!

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    1. A cute little pie is always fun, any time. Glad you like it, Ashley.

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  21. Your mini Thanksgiving dinner sounds wonderful. Chocolate Pudding Pie...wow! Never had one but this is so luscious and rich...my kind of treat totally!

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    1. Thanks, Sonali. It was so laid back and relaxed and it gave a nice little 'theme' to Sunday dinner at home. You could whip up a pie like this so quickly. : )

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  22. It's so cute that you have (possibly!) started a new tradition of a mini pre-Thanksgiving dinner. The chocolate pudding pie looks soooo good; silky smooth and delicious (: Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

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    1. Thank you - and hope you had a nice Thanksgiving feast, too!

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