MAY 1999

Chocolate-Rum Chiffon Cake

Rocky Road Fudge

Laura's Bittersweet Chocolate Cream Pie

Espresso-Chip Meringues

Sweet Spot


Laura's Bittersweet Chocolate Cream Pie

Tips: Named for my younger sister, this pie is on the less-sweet side of dessertdom, and would probably be most appreciated by adults. You must use a chocolate of excellent quality in order to get a superior pie, though there's no reason you couldn't substitute semisweet chocolate for the bittersweet. This pie should be eaten within about 24 hours after it is made, and the topping should be put on just before serving. Great for company!


  • 1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted


  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 egg yolks, from eggs graded "large"
  • 3 cups whole milk, divided
  • 6 ozs. Best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pats
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • Topping:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar


Shaved or grated bittersweet chocolate

For Crust: Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 400 degrees F (375 degrees F if using a dark-finish or ovenproof glass pie plate). In medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter, stirring thoroughly to blend well. Turn into 9" pie plate. Form a high rim, using your fingers or the back of a spoon and about 2/3 of the crumb mixture. Compact remaining crumb mixture on bottom of pie plate to form an even layer (make sure crumb mixture isn't too thick where bottom and sides meet). Bake in preheated oven about 7 minutes, or just until top edges of crust are a slightly darker gold color. Remove to cooling rack; cool while preparing Filling.

For Filling: Have ready a fine strainer set over a pitcher or heatproof liquid measuring cup of about 4 cup capacity. In 2 quart, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive pot, combine sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. With large slotted spoon, stir well to combine, pressing out as many lumps as possible. In small bowl, combine egg yolks and about 1/4 cup milk (reserve remainder); with fork, beat well to combine. Add to cornstarch mixture and stir in gently (you'll see some lumps--OK. After liquid has been added to a cornstarch mixture, and while it is being heated, you must stir it--do not beat!). Add finely chopped chocolate. In small saucepan over low heat, heat remaining milk until very hot, stirring occasionally. Gradually add hot milk to cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly.

Place pot over medium heat. Keep stirring slowly but constantly. There will probably be a layer of foam on top of the Filling at this point--OK. As Filling nears the boiling point, lumps will form and float to the surface. Suddenly, Filling will thicken and foam will start to incorporate into it. Stop stirring momentarily to see if Filling is boiling (if it isn't, keep stirring and check again in a few seconds). When Filling boils, cook and stir for one minute, reducing heat slightly if boiling is vigorous or mixture splashes. Remove from heat. Add butter pats and vanilla. Let stand about one minute, then gently stir just until well-mixed. Turn Filling into strainer over pitcher and force it through.

When Filling has been strained, pour into cooled crust. Cool briefly at room temperature, then chill at least 3 hours. If you want to prevent a "skin" from forming on top of the Filling, place a piece of plastic wrap, pierced in several places, directly on the top surface.

For Topping: Chill a medium bowl and beaters for at least 20 minutes. Beat cream at high speed until traces of beater marks show in it. Add confectioners' sugar and beat at low speed to incorporate, then beat at high speed until very stiff peaks form. Turn whipped cream onto pie (remove plastic wrap first!) and spread evenly to edge of Filling. Top with shaved or grated chocolate. Serve immediately.

8 to 10 servings

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