Baking whiz and amateur sleuth Hannah Swensen’s love life has been totally upended, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be able to solve the latest murder in Lake Eden. In anticipation of Joanne Fluke’s 24th Hannah Swensen mystery, Chocolate Cream Pie Murder, we’re sharing the titular recipe as it appears in the novel.
Chocolate Cream Pie
This pie is a pudding pie with whipped cream and does not bake in the oven.
8-inch or 9-inch prepared crushed chocolate wafer or crushed Oreo pie crust.
Hannah’s First Note: You can also use a prepared crushed cookie pie crust, a graham cracker pie crust or a shortbread pie crust. You can even use a regular pie crust as long as you bake and cool it first.
The Chocolate Filling:
6 large egg yolks (save the whites to make your favorite meringue cookies)
¾ cup white (granulated) sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups light cream (half-and-half)
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, finely chopped (measure AFTER chopping)
½ stick (4 Tablespoons, ¼ cup, 1⁄8 pound) salted butter
The Whipped Cream Topping:
1 and ½ cups heavy cream
¼ cup powdered (powdered) sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
shaved chocolate curls
maraschino cherry halves
butterscotch or caramel ice cream topping to drizzle on top
Place the egg yolks in a medium-size saucepan off the heat.
Whisk the egg yolks until they are well combined.
Add the white, granulated sugar and the cornstarch.
Whisk everything together, off the heat, until the ingredients are well incorporated.
Turn the stovetop burner on MEDIUM-HIGH heat and add the 3 cups of light cream (half-and-half) SLOWLY, whisking continuously while the mixture is heating.
Whisk and cook until the mixture is slightly thickened. (This will take from 3 to 4 minutes.)
Stirring constantly, boil mixture for 3 minutes.
Hannah’s Second Note: This is much easier to do if you have a hand mixer turned to LOW speed, but you’ll have to make sure that all areas of the saucepan are being mixed. If you miss an area, your chocolate filling may scorch and you’ll have to start over!
Whisk in the finely chopped mini chocolate chips and the half-stick of salted butter. Keep your whisk moving the entire time!
Lower the temperature of the burner to LOW and continue to whisk until the mixture is as thick as pudding. This should take about 5 to 6 minutes.
When the chocolate mixture has thickened, remove the saucepan to a cold stovetop burner and let it sit for five minutes.
Use a heat-resistant rubber spatula to transfer the contents of your saucepan to the pie crust of your choice and smooth the top with the heat-resistant spatula.
Cover the surface of the chocolate layer with plastic wrap and place your partially completed Chocolate Cream Pie in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. (Overnight is even better, too.)
To Make the Whipped Cream Topping:
Hannah’s Third Note: If you’re tired or in a hurry and want a shortcut, simply thaw a small tub of Original Cool Whip and stir in butterscotch ice cream topping or caramel ice cream topping. It will hold its shape better than homemade whipped cream and you can put it on your chilled filling an hour or so before your guests arrive, rather than whipping the cream at the last minute!
Using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
Turn the mixer off and sprinkle the powdered sugar on top of the whipped cream.
Mix on HIGH until the powdered sugar is mixed in.
With the mixer running on HIGH, sprinkle in the half-teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix it in.
When everything has been thoroughly incorporated, shut off the mixer and take out the bowl with the whipped cream topping. Give it a final stir with a rubber spatula and set it on the kitchen counter.
Get the pie crust with its chocolate filling out of the refrigerator and set it next to the mixer bowl with the whipped cream topping.
Peel the plastic wrap off the chocolate filling and use the rubber spatula to transfer mounds of whipped cream to the surface of the chocolate filling.
Work quickly to dot the entire surface of the chocolate filling with whipped cream. Continue transferring the whipped cream until the mixer bowl has been emptied.
Using the rubber spatula, spread the mounds of whipped cream together to cover the entire surface of your Chocolate Cream Pie. Make sure the whipped cream topping goes all the way out to the edge of the pie crust.
Using the flat edge of the rubber spatula, press it against the surface of the whipped cream topping and pull it up quickly. This should cause the whipped cream to form a point on top. Make “points” over the entire surface of your Chocolate Cream Pie.
Choose the decorating topping you wish to use on top of the whipped cream. You can use more than one topping to really make it look fancy.
If you choose shaved chocolate, use a sharp knife to “shave” the edge of a bar of sweet chocolate. Place the shaved pieces in a bowl and, using your impeccably clean fingers, sprinkle the shaved chocolate over the surface of your pie.
If you choose chocolate curls to decorate the top of your pie, simply run a sharp knife down the long edge of a bar of sweet chocolate. If you don’t lift the knife blade, it will form a curl of chocolate. Use these chocolate curls to decorate the top of your Chocolate Cream Pie.
Maraschino cherries are always colorful on top of a pie. Cut the Maraschino cherries in half vertically and transfer the halves to the surface of the whipped cream topping, rounded side up. Make a large circle of cherry halves around the edge or a design of your own making using the cherry halves.
If you choose butterscotch or caramel ice cream topping, simply drizzle it all over the surface of your pie in a pretty design.
Refrigerate your Chocolate Cream Pie for at least 2 hours before serving.
To serve, cut your Chocolate Cream Pie into 8 pieces and remove the pieces with a triangle-shaped spatula. Place each piece on a dessert plate and serve with a carafe of strong, hot coffee or tall glasses of milk.
Yield: This pie will serve 8 people . . . or 7 if you invite Mother. She’ll tell you she couldn’t possible eat more of something so rich, but you won’t have to twist her arm to get her to agree to a second helping.
Recipe from Chocolate Cream Pie Murder by Joanna Fluke, copyright 2019; used with permission of Kensington. All rights reserved.