No Bake Chocolate Cream Pie
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It’s All About Butter

I think comprehending the mysteries of butter could be the key to successful baking.

My first exposure to the issue of butter came as a child baking chocolate chip cookies with my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother always insisted that we put the butter out and wait for it to reach room temperature before we start the cookies. But I distinctly remember one time when my paternal grandmother offered to make cookies with me, and when I complained that I didn’t want to wait on the butter to warm up, she said we could just make the cookies with cold butter!!

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Of course, this was the 70s, so we were all still using margarine, which is much softer than butter. So I suspect my paternal grandmother was correct – we could bake cookies with margarine straight from the refrigerator. But I also think my maternal grandmother was correct, at least if she had been using butter.

When it comes to real butter, temperature matters a lot.

When you bake any kind of pastry, you need cold butter. Icy cold butter. In fact, if you bake pastry you probably ought to just install a walk in fridge for pastry making.

But when you bake cookies, you want soft butter. It blends with the ingredients better, sure, but there’s more to it than that. In a Cook’s Country magazine, they had a recipe for perfectly chewy sugar cookies, and they specify the exact temperature of the butter. I would look it up, but that involves getting out of my writing chair, and quarantine has made me lazy.

There’s also the issue of salted and unsalted butter. Recipes typically call for unsalted butter, although as I discovered, British recipes don’t usually specify whether the butter should be unsalted or not. The main reason recipes specify unsalted butter is so they can control the amount of salt going into the product. Apparently the Brits just don’t care, which is probably why British cuisine isn’t a thing…

I don’t think salted or unsalted butter really makes a big difference for baking sweet things.

If I don’t have unsalted butter, I’ll just use the salted butter and taste the batter to see if it needs more salt. In fact, I also use margarine for baking on occasion, but that’s a different blog post.

So this weekend, I crafted a chocolate cream pie. I had made a double chocolate cream pie which was good, but not perfect. Here’s my altered recipe. And because it’s my own combination, I’ll share the actual recipe!

PS This recipe really has nothing to do with butter.

No Bake Chocolate Cream Pie

Pie Crust

  • 5 oz of graham crackers (basically an entire sleeve from the Honey Maid box)
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1/4 cup of sugar

Grind the graham crackers in your Cuisinart. Sure, you can pound them in the sleeve, but you won’t get evenly sized crumbs.

graham cracker crust

Mix the graham crumbs with the sugar.

Melt the butter in your microwave. I recommend doing 30 second intervals and stirring in between to avoid a Butter Explosion. You aren’t filming Mythbusters here. Although if you’re auditioning for Nailed It, go ahead and pop that butter.

Stir the butter into the graham and sugar mixture.

Put the mixture into a clean pie plate, about 9″ round. Use a measuring cup to press it down and press it against the sides.

NOTE: Apparently, you should grease the pie pan before putting the crust in. I didn’t do this, and now my crust sticks to the pan like glue.

graham cracker crust

Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Chocolate Mousse

  • 1.5 cups heavy cream (whipping cream or heavy whipping cream)
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (regular salt is fine)
  • Cool whip (for final topping)

Mix the chocolate chips and salt in a heat proof bowl and put next to the stove top.

Put the cream in a pot. Make sure it’s a VERY deep pot, because when cream boils, it gets REALLY BIG. Heat the cream to boiling, stirring consistently.

NOTE: Do not walk away from the cream. It will lull you to boredom, and when you blink, it will puff up and overflow like a volcano.

Image from my kitchen

When the cream begins to expand like a bizarre science experiment, add it to the chocolate chips & salt. Whisk. Whisk until all the chocolate has melted.

Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Whisk it every 30 minutes or so. Or don’t. We aren’t professionals here.

Cool the mixture in the fridge for 8 hours.

chocolate mousse

After 8 hours, use a hand mixer or your stand mixer to beat until you get stiff peaks.

Assemble the Pie

  • Place the chocolate mousse into the graham cracker crust. Use a spatula to even it out.
  • Use a spatula to add a thick layer of Cool Whip. If you want to get fancy, bounce the spatula off the cool whip to create a texture.
  • If you want to get REALLY fancy, get a chocolate bar and use a vegetable peeler to peel chocolate flakes all over the top.
  • Cool the pie for a few hours and then devour.
chocolate mousse layer
No Bake Chocolate Cream Pie

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