Insanely Easy No Bake, No Eggs, Chocolate Cream Pie for Anyone with Kids Who Drink Chocolate Milk

From Ganache: The Series, Part II . . . pie, or truffles.

I need chocolate, and I love pie. Problems: I’m impatient and really don’t want a mess in the kitchen caused by the traditional chocolate cream pie. You know that chocolate pie -- it's offered in every diner in North America. You've had it at holiday gatherings. It’s the beat-and-temper-those-egg-yolks-thing chocolate pie. What happens to raw egg yolks with warmed chocolate is indeed miraculous, but not today. And let’s pretend (because I live in Costa Rica) that I don’t have much in the house besides some Nestle’s Quik (which is true). So today we’re going to simplify and improve chocolate cream pie, with a twist . . . the true chocolate miracle that is ganache. Here’s what you’ll need:

½ cup heavy/whipping cream
6 ounces of chocolate (any kind) in small pieces . . . think chocolate chips.
½ stick of butter or margarine, softened (don’t obsess about how soft -- just soft)
18 double Graham crackers (you could use a similar amount of any cookie you want, even ginger snaps)
1 cup heavy/whipping cream
3/4 -1 Cup Nestle’s Quik powder (some for the filling, some for garnish)

Ganache is the easiest sweet to make in the whole wide world. You need four (4) things: chocolate (absolutely any kind . . .  bittersweet, white, dark, semi-sweet . . . so pick your favorite); heavy/whipping cream; a saucepan; and a stove. We discussed this previously, so much of this recipe is a repeat. Hang in there if your perfect ganache is already in your refrigerator.

There's a trick to the perfect (and foolproof) ganache, and I’ve sworn by it for 30 years: scald the cream, do not boil it. The difference? Well, when cream is boiling you’ll see bubbles all over the pan. That’s bad. When cream is merely scalded, you’ll only see bubbles forming around the rim of the cream – right there where your cream meets your pan. That’s good. And when that happens, you have scalded cream.

So here’s the proportion of cream to chocolate, and memorizing this ratio will change your life:
½ cup cream
1/3 pound of chocolate (remember, any kind) in small pieces. Yeah, I know . . . call it 6 ounces.

I love my kitchen scale. Sure, you can look at the weight measurement on your bag of Nestle’s chocolate chips or on your Hershey chocolate bars and determine 6 ounces, but a scale is so much easier . . . especially if you’ve been nibblin' chocolate and really don’t know how much remains. So pour those 6 ounces of chocolate into a bowl, and let’s get go scald some cream.

Turn the stove on low/medium, pour in ½ cup of cream, and get your cream hot. You can actually touch the cream with your clean finger to confirm that it’s getting hot. When it’s hot (not burn-you-hot, but hot), get ready to see the bubbles around the side of your saucepan. It happens quickly. When the bubbles form, turn off the heat and just breathe. There’s no rush here. 

Pour your scalded cream over your chocolate pieces and begin to stir. Be patient: it takes all of three minutes to melt the chocolate. How will you know when you’re done? It becomes glossy. True, white chocolate doesn’t get as glossy, but any other chocolate will get glossy. This is where you could add a teaspoon of any flavoring (Baileys, vanilla, Cointreau, almond extract – if it sounds good to you, drop in a teaspoon and stir it all around). Today we’re adding nothing. Tomorrow we'll add orange flavor and create the world's best, easiest, richest, quickest torte au chocolat.

And that, my friends, is where those super-expensive little truffles come from. Want to bail on the pie and make truffles? Well place your ganache in the fridge and when it's thick and firm, scoop it into little balls. A small ice-cream-scoop (disher) works perfectly, but a tablespoon will suffice. Roll those little scoops into something resembling a ball and then roll 'em around in cocoa powder. How easy is that?

Bam! A truffle. Traditionally, you'll roll 'em in dry cocoa powder (to have the appearance of nature’s own truffle); but you can dip 'em in melted chocolate, drizzle 'em with chocolate or caramel, roll 'em in chopped nuts, or chopped toffee bars, or coconut, or anything you can dream. I made these with my school group in West Africa -- talk about the trouble with heat and truffle-making! Still, my girls' Club de Commerce group sold dozens of these babies.

But we digress. On with our new and improved chocolate pie.

Get ready for your pie filling by placing one cup of cream (still in its half-pint carton) in the coldest part of your refrigerator or even your freezer. While you’re at it put in your mixer’s beater(s) and your mixing bowl. When it comes to whipping cream, colder is better. Go ahead and get out your Nestle’s Quik (at least 3/4 cup).

So let’s make the easiest crust in the world. You’ll need:

½ stick of butter or margarine, softened (don’t obsess about how soft)
18 double Graham crackers (or the wafer cookies of your choice -- ginger snaps work well). What's a double Graham? See 'em in the photo below.

Now before you mix the butter and Grahams, let’s prepare our pan. I use a cheesecake or tart/torte pan merely because this pie is so pretty; and I want everyone to see its layer of ganache. Any pie plate or cake pan will work. You’re not trying to create a climb-up-the-rim crust. You’re merely pressing those crumbs into the bottom of the pan. I line the pan with parchment paper. Wax paper would work, so would foil . . . or you could skip the liner completely without changing the rich, chocolate taste. But having that paper certainly makes slicing/scooping/serving easier.

Break up those Grahams (or cookies) just a bit, toss ‘em in a food processor with a half-stick of softened butter. Turn on the food processor and let it go. You want crumbs. This isn't the pea-size morsel that one seeks when making pie crust. You can't go too long in making your cookies/Grahams into crumbs, so worry not. Heck, go make a cocktail while your cookies are crumbling.

Think you’ve got crumbs? Grab a handful. If they’ll form a ball, you’re done. No ball? Your butter may not be soft enough so just let the food processor run a bit longer . . . or add another pat of butter.

Pour your crumbs into your pan and press ‘em firmly into the bottom. No, you’re not going to bake this. Not even for 15 minutes. I promise . . . forget those recipes that say you need to cook your Graham cracker crust. Not today.

Now pour your it’s-really-working-it’s-getting-firm ganache over your crumbs, spread it toward the edges, and pop that pan back into the fridge. Next and final step – the cream filling. God, this is easy.

Remove your cream, bowl, and beater(s) from your refrigerator or freezer. Pour your cream into the bowl and start up the mixer. Begin on low – unless you want to clean spots of cream off your ceiling. As the cream begins to thicken, turn the mixer to medium. Do not walk away! I made this mistake last week and made butter. It was the best sweet-butter-topped lime pie in the world, but we’re not aiming for butter. 

When your cream begins to look like every whipped cream you've ever seen, add about half of your Nestle’s Quik powder, whip it in, and taste it. Want more sweetness or chocolate goodness? Add more Nestsle’s Quik.

Pimp My Pie! When your chocolate whipped cream is clearly whipped cream, you could fold in chopped nuts (almonds, pecans . . . any nut you like), or even some finely chopped-up candy (toffee, more chocolate shavings, peanut butter chips) . . . finely chopped being the key words here. Otherwise, those pieces won't stay afloat in your chocolate whipped cream.

When it’s fluffy whipped cream (with or without crushed candy or nuts), spread it on your pie and refrigerate for at least an hour. Living in hot, humid Costa Rica, I've placed my pie in the freezer. Wow, what a fabulous, ice-cream-like pie.

So you're thinking that this pie looks rather dull with merely some chocolate-milk powder to flavor its whipped cream. Think again. That made-to-make-truffles ganache is sinfully rich.

Want a pie that’s yet a little more tricked-out? Sift some Nestle’s Quik on top of the chocolate whipped cream. More tricked out still? Add some chopped nuts . . . or coconut . . . or a crushed Heath toffee bar . . . or crushed M&Ms . . . either on top of your pie.

Now could I have added another half-cup of cream to be whipped with some additional Nestle's Quik for a taller pie?  Oh, absolutely. But those shorts of mine just keep shrinking and shrinking.

Are you getting the picture of this pie’s versatility? No bake, little mess, no scrambled egg yolks to worry about as with your traditional chocolate cream pie . . . and now you know how to make hand-made chocolate truffles, too.

You're welcome!

October 2015