Happy Pi(e) Day! I think this is the first time I have actually gotten it together enough to actually post a recipe for a food-related “holiday”. And it’s really only because this decadent Smores Pie recipe has been waiting in my queue to be published for a couple of months now. Seriously, my sweets cravings have been out of control this pregnancy! I’ve made so many desserts, I’m really trying to spread them out a little bit. And I’m only blogging about a fraction of the things I’m actually making! Anyone who thinks dietitians don’t have a sweet tooth is seriously wrong (Okay, I guess not ALL dietitians have a sweet tooth, but I’m telling you, at least SOME do!)
I had been wanting to make a smores inspired pie forever, but was waiting for the right occasion. I try to save making desserts that don’t hold well for when we have guests, so they don’t go bad and get wasted (and so we don’t feel inclined to snarf them). And it turns out we just don’t get guests that often. But we did, so I made this. Though I had seen other versions of smores pies on Pinterest, I really wanted to try one that was basically a chocolate creme pie, but with meringue instead of the whipped cream, and graham crust instead of the regular pie crust. That way I figured you’d have all the components of a smore: the graham, definitely the chocolate, and the meringue tastes similar to a toasted marshmallow.
Now this is not exactly an “easy as pie” kind of pie (and really, what pie is??). Not that it’s difficult per se, but each component is be made separately, with some waiting time in between. First the crust, which is pretty easy peasy. Just your standard run of the mill graham wafer crust. It does need to be cool by the time you pour in the chocolate filling, but it can be made a couple of days in advance if needed.
Next is the chocolate filling. I suppose if you really wanted you could cheat and use the boxed chocolate pie filling (the cooked stuff, not instant), but this one is much tastier, especially for real chocolate lovers. It’s VERY chocolatey, with minimal sweetness. I used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate to make it, only because I didn’t quite have enough dark chocolate. I made mine a few hours before I made the meringue, and chilled it completely. I later realized that this is unnecessary, as it gets heated up in the oven again later. You could put the meringue straight on the slightly cooled filling if needed.
Last step is the meringue. Yum, I could eat this stuff by the spoonful! Just like any other time you whip egg whites, you must be absolutely sure there are no bits of yolk in the whites, or they won’t whip up (or they will, and then immediately fall). Dollop it all over the chocolate filling and make it look nice and pretty, then pop it in the oven for a couple of minutes to brown. There’s your toasted marshmallow effect.
The most critical thing to remember about this pie is that it absolutely MUST be completely chilled before you try to cut it. Otherwise the chocolate filling will be the consistency of runny pudding and just make a huge mess. Believe me; I made that mistake. But when it’s chilled, it firms up making it relatively easy to cut it into attractive looking slices. You’ll probably want to cut the pieces pretty small, because between the super rich chocolately filling and the sweet fluffy topping, this is one decadent pie!
- 8 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- Chocolate filling:
- 2 1/2 cups half and half
- 1/3 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 6 large egg yolks (reserve whites)
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
- 7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Meringue topping:
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- pinch salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Move oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325°F. Process graham pieces in a food processor (or crush in a zipper bag with a rolling pin) until they resemble sand. Stir in butter and sugar until mixture is uniform and resembles wet sand.
- Press graham mixture into a 9-9.5" pie plate using your hands or the bottom of a dry measure. Bake until crust is fragrant and starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Allow crust to cool completely (after cooling, crust can be covered with plastic and held at room temperature for up to 2 days).
- Chocolate Filling:
- Bring cream, 3 Tbsp of sugar and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, cornstarch and the rest of the sugar together in a medium bowl. When cream mixture begins to simmer, slowly whisk about 1 cup of it into the egg yolk mixture to temper. Slowly whisk the tempered egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining cream mixture. Reduce temperature to medium and continue whisking until mixture is thickened, about 30 seconds.
- Turn off the heat and stir in butter and chocolate until completely melted. Stir in vanilla. Pour warm filling into graham crust. Cover filling directly with plastic and refrigerate while making meringue topping.
- Meringue Topping:
- With oven rack still at middle position, heat oven to 400°F. Mix sugar and water together in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat and continue cooking until mixture reaches 235°F. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, add egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Whip on medium speed until foamy, about 2-3 minutes. Increase speed to medium high and continue whipping until soft peaks form, 1-3 minutes.
- Reduce speed to medium-low and slowly add hot syrup, being careful to avoid the whisk. Add vanilla and turn mixer to medium-high. Continue to mix until mixture is slightly cooled, thick and shiny, 3-6 minutes.
- Carefully spread meringue over chocolate filling, ensuring to spread all the way to the edges. Dollop with a spatula to form peaks. Bake until peaks are golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Chill until chocolate filling is set, at least 2 hours.
There is no way I can imply this is a healthy dessert option in any way, shape or form. However, I believe in the “everything in moderation” rule, and if you’re going to have a slice of this pie a couple of times a year, it won’t be the end of the world.
*Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book