Espresso Black Bottom Pie in a Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

Sometimes you want comfort food for dessert…something familiar and soothing, simple and satisfying. This dessert is in that category; consider it a stepped-up version of a classic custard pie; it cuts beautifully with very clearly delineated layers. The dark chocolate custard filling is enhanced with the flavor of espresso, as is the generous topping of café au lait colored whipped cream. The crust is a modified chocolate chip cookie dough – the elimination of any egg or leavener allows the crust to keep its shape in the pie plate. I like the walnuts in the crust, but I have made them optional so that you can make this dish for those who cannot have nuts.

Serves 8

Crust:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¼ cup miniature semisweet chocolate morsels

½ cup toasted walnut halves, finely chopped (optional)

Filling:

2/3 cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa

Pinch of salt

6 large egg yolks

1 ¾ cup whole milk

¾ cup heavy cream

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, such as Valrhona Caraibe (66%)

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Topping:

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 teaspoon vanilla 1 1/3 cups heavy cream, chilled

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, grated, such as Valrhona Caraibe (66%) (optional)

 

For the Crust: Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 1/2-inch b 1 ½-inch tempered glass pie plate with nonstick spray. Beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed with flat paddle until sandy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add flour, salt and vanilla, and beat on medium-speed until mixture begins to come together; it might look crumbly, but if you squeeze it between your fingers, it will come together. Beat in morsels, and nuts, if using, until combined. Gather dough together into a ball with your hands while it is still in the bowl. Press into prepared pie plate in an even layer along bottom and up sides, creating an even, high rim.

Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes. The crust should be tinged with light brown along the edges, but the bottom will still be a little soft. Do not bake any further; it firms up tremendously upon cooling. Cool completely on rack. Crust may be used immediately or stored at room temperature overnight, wrapped in plastic wrap.

For the Filling: Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt in a medium-sized heavy bottom saucepan. Whisk in yolks until smooth, then whisk in milk and cream until combined. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until it comes to a boil. At that point, whisk constantly and boil for 1 to 2 minutes, until the custard thickens. Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes, whisking occasionally to release heat. Scrape into prepared crust and refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.

For the Topping: Dissolve espresso powder in vanilla in chilled mixer bowl. Add cream and sugar and beat on medium-high speed with wire whip until firm peaks form. Spread over top of custard, mounding gently in the middle. Sprinkle with grated chocolate, if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to overnight.

PS: The pic below was taken on a paper plate on the hood of a car. I had made the pie for a potluck in a casual, public venue and my friends know that they cannot start eating before I get my shot. I was worried about the paper plate, but the bright sun took care of that. As a novice photographer, all I can say is I Thank the FoodGods for natural light.