Chocolate Cream Pie

4.85 from 33 votes
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Homemade chocolate cream pie recipe with a buttery crust and decadent custard topped with generous amounts of whipped cream. It stores well, so you can make this dessert ahead of time and serve it the next day.

Chocolate cream pie with a slice taken out.

Calling all chocolate lovers, this pie is for you! Each slice of this decadent dessert delivers creamy chocolate filling in a flaky crust. It’s straightforward to make from scratch when you break the process down into components; buttery shell, custard center, and whipped topping.

I’ll show you the simple steps for how to make chocolate cream pie. Learning how to properly blind-bake the crust ensures the shell holds its shape. And instead of using bland, boxed chocolate pudding mix, I’ll teach you how to make the most luscious custard bursting with intense cocoa flavor. This sweet treat is always on the request list, especially for special occasions like Thanksgiving.

Person rolling out dough to make a pie crust.
Step 5. Roll out the dough

Making the pie crust

The pie crust recipe is a simple combination of flour, butter, salt, and water, known as Pâte Brisée pie dough. I use it for many of my fully baked crusts, like banana cream pie. I use my stand mixer to blend the butter into the flour and create pea-sized pieces of fat. This process gives a sturdy crust to support the heavy custard.

I recommend making the pie dough the day before you bake. The extra hours give the gluten plenty of time to rest, so it’s not tough when baked. Plus, it makes prep a lot easier. Roll it out, then make a fluted design on the edges.

If you’re a fan of a graham cracker crust or oreo crust made in a food processor, those would be excellent pairings with the filling to switch things up!

Thoroughly bake the pie crust

The crust first par-bakes with pie weights, called blind-baking. This technique helps the dough set without too much shrinking and prevents the bottom from puffing up. You eventually remove the weights, and the pie crust continues to bake until flaky, golden brown, and no longer raw.

Allow the crust time to cool completely, so it doesn’t get soggy when you add the wet filling.

Chocolate selection

For this easy chocolate cream pie recipe, I use two types of chocolate products for the filling; semi-sweet chocolate bars and cocoa powder. The bars add an intense chocolate liquor flavor with about 35% cacao, richness, and a sweet taste. The powder adds a concentrated chocolate flavor and more solids to thicken the filling. 

If you like dark chocolate with a more bitter taste, use 60% cacao. Alternatively, you can use chocolate chips, but they contain emulsifiers and stabilizers to help keep their shape, so they may make the filling texture slightly thicker.

Tempering the custard

The chocolate pie filling consists of pastry cream, a type of cooked custard. When working with egg-based fillings, it is essential to temper them properly into the hot milk. The key is gradually adding some liquid to the egg, cornstarch, and sugar mixture. That way, when it’s eventually incorporated with the rest of the milk, it won’t curdle.

Eggs curdle at 144ºF (62.2ºC). Therefore, when mixing with hot milk at 185ºF (88ºC), gradually combine the milk in multiple additions, and whisk constantly until the cornstarch thickens. This process only takes a few minutes and allows the eggs to gently rise in temperature without shocking the eggs’ albumin proteins.

Adding in the chocolate

After the custard finishes cooking, stir in the cocoa powder, chopped chocolate, and vanilla. These are aromatic and delicate ingredients, so I don’t heat them directly on the stovetop to preserve their flavors. Just stir them in until melted and combined. Make sure to strain the custard over a large bowl to remove any lumps, creating a super smooth consistency. 

Fill and chill the pie

The filling will cool down slightly after straining, but it should be spread into the shell when still warm. The starches in the cornstarch are still pliable. However, they align together once cooled to about room temperature and become rigid. This allows them to become beautiful sliceable pieces.

Refrigerate for about 3 hours before adding the whipped cream topping. You can also speed up the process by placing it in the freezer, but don’t leave it for longer than 2 hours. If the filling freezes, any ice formed will melt and cause the filling to release the liquid.

Pipping whipped cream out of a pastry bag onto a chocolate cream pie.
Step 12. Top with whipped cream

Making the whipped cream topping

Everyone loves a big dollop of whipped cream on the pie. The lightly sweetened heavy cream gives a delicate balance to the rich custard and crisp crust. I use a stand mixer to make it quick, but I have other whipping techniques you can use based on your equipment. 

I add the cream into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and make cloud shapes. Feel free to experiment with different designs. I also recommend shaving dark chocolate onto the cream for garnish; it adds the perfect finishing touch!

What to serve this with

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between chocolate cream pie and Boston cream pie?

The recipe for chocolate cream pie is a chocolate custard filled inside of a flaky pie crust, graham cracker, oreo crust, then topped with whipped cream. A Boston cream pie is actually a type of American cake. It’s made with a vanilla cake, filled with vanilla custard, and topped with chocolate ganache.

Why is my chocolate cream pie runny?

It’s likely that the filling wasn’t cooked hot enough for the cornstarch to swell and thicken. The mixture should come almost to a boil, whisking constantly. Don’t stop cooking until you see the custard thicken.

Can you freeze chocolate cream pie?

The whole pie or slices can be frozen and defrosted before serving. Let the pie filling and topping firm up in the freezer, then cover in plastic wrap, in and airtight container, or large resealable plastic bag for up to 3 months.

Chocolate cream pie with chocolate shavings on top.

Recipe Science

The difference between pudding and custard

A chocolate cream pie consists of either store-bought instant pudding or homemade custard. Instant pudding uses modified cornstarch and phosphates for thickening in cold temperatures, so heating is not needed. A stovetop custard requires cooking to thicken the cornstarch and eggs to just over 170 degrees to ensure that the eggs are no longer raw. Custard takes more time since involves tempering, but it creates a better-tasting filling.

Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate cream pie recipe with a buttery crust and luscious custard filling, topped with generous amounts of whipped cream.
4.85 from 33 votes
Prep Time9 hours 10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time10 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Pie Crust

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼" cubes, chilled
  • ½ ice-cold water, chilled

Custard Filling

  • ½ cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 ½ ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Crust Ingredients – Add ice cubes and water to a measuring cup. Cut the butter into 1/4" cubes. Place both items in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Break Down the Butter – In a stand mixer bowl, add the flour and salt. Mix using the paddle attachment on the lowest speed (stir) for about 10-seconds. Add chilled diced butter to the bowl. On the lowest speed, turn the mixer on and off quickly for a few seconds to coat and prevent the flour from spilling over.
    Continue to mix on low speed until the flour and butter resemble wet sand with pea-sized butter pieces remaining, about 60 to 70-seconds. Do not over-mix. The dough should not bind together before the water is added.
  • Hydrate the Dough – Gradually add 1 tablespoon of ice-cold water to the bowl. After each addition, turn the mixer on for 2 to 3-seconds. Add enough water until the dough looks lumpy and hydrated but not wet or sticky. It should begin to clump together with small crumbles on the bottom of the bowl.
    All of the water may not be needed, about 5 to 7 tablespoons is typical. When the dough is pinched together, it should compress and hold, not be dry or crumbly. Do not over-mix. The dough will be pressed together before resting.
  • Rest the Dough – Press the dough into a 1” thick round disc and wrap it in plastic, then place it in a resealable bag. Store in the refrigerator to rest for at least 4 hours, overnight, or up to 2 days.
  • Roll the Dough – Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes to make it easier to roll. If it’s still too hard, let it sit longer until more pliable.
    Dust the counter and dough with flour. Rotate and dust with flour underneath and on the top to prevent sticking and make it easier to transfer. Roll into a 14-inch circle, slightly less than 1/4" thick.
  • Form the Crust – Place the rolled-out dough into a 9-inch pie dish and gently press against the sides and bottom. With a paring knife, trim the excess leaving a 1/2" overhang. Tuck the excess underneath the bottom crust edges. Crimp by pinching the pointer and thumb fingers. Place the crust in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • Preheat the Oven – Place the oven rack in the center position. Preheat to 375°F (190°C). Place the pie dish on a sheet pan.
  • Bake the Crust – Place a piece of parchment paper inside the pie dish and add the pie weights to cover just the bottom and sides, do not overfill. Bake for 20 minutes.
    Remove from the oven, and allow the weights to sit in the crust for a few minutes to press down any puffed areas. Carefully remove the parchment paper with weights from the pie dish and set it aside. It will not be used again.
    Continue to bake again for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Use a spoon to gently press the base down and sides up, don’t force it too much. Finish baking until golden brown and dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled, 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Custard Filling – In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt, and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs and egg yolk. Add the cornstarch mixture to the eggs, and whisk until combined.
    In a medium pot, add the milk. Heat over medium-low heat until it reaches 180 to 185ºF (82 to 88ºC). It should not be bubbling, about 7 to 8 minutes. Do not boil the milk, or it will curdle or scorch. Turn off the heat.
  • Temper the Eggs – Place the bowl with the egg mixture in between a kitchen towel. Place the pot of hot milk on a towel beside the bowl with the egg mixture. Temper the eggs by slowly whisking in ¾ cup of the hot milk mixture, ¼ cup at a time, into the egg mixture. Whisk vigorously after each addition.
    Whisk the tempered egg mixture into the remaining milk mixture in the pot. Turn the heat to medium, and continuously whisk until the consistency thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes. There may be small lumps. Turn off the heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate, softened butter, and vanilla extract.
  • Add the Filling to the Crust – Immediately strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve placed into a clean bowl using a spatula to press. Add strained custard to the prepared pie shell. Use a spatula to smooth it out.
    Cover the surface with plastic wrap, directly touching the filling to prevent a film from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight to firm up the filling. It can also be chilled in the freezer for 1 ½ to 2 hours before adding the whipped cream.
  • Make Whipped Cream – Right before serving, make the whipped cream topping. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to the bowl. Alternatively, if using a hand mixer, use the whisk or beaters attachment and a large bowl or whip by hand. Processing times may vary.
    Whip on medium-low speed (setting 4), until the cream is frothy with bubbles on the surface, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high (setting 8), and whip until a fluffy and smooth consistency is reached, about 75 seconds for soft peaks. Continue to beat in 5-second intervals until stiff peaks form. Be careful as the texture will change quickly.
    Use a spatula to spread the whipped cream over the entire pie. Be careful not to overspread, as more agitation can cause the consistency to change. Alternatively, transfer whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a tip and make a design.
  • To Serve – Garnish with chocolate shavings if desired. Refrigerate the pie until ready to serve.

Notes

  • Chocolate Garnish: Use a peeler to create chocolate shavings with a chocolate bar. I like to use semi-sweet or 60% dark chocolate.
  • Storing: Loosely cover the pie with foil or transfer leftover slices to an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 12 servings
Calories 402kcal (20%)Carbohydrates 33g (11%)Protein 5g (10%)Fat 28g (43%)Saturated Fat 17g (85%)Cholesterol 111mg (37%)Sodium 90mg (4%)Potassium 185mg (5%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 19g (21%)Vitamin A 810IU (16%)Vitamin C 1mg (1%)Calcium 80mg (8%)Iron 2mg (11%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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