This three-word fantasy has been sitting patiently in my digital notebook for some time now.
I hurriedly typed it into my phone one wintry afternoon and left it for another day. The concept came to me as I was in-pursuit of a flight which I was running a bit late for because I had taken too long to say goodbye to my dog. All very normal.
Since then, I have scanned over it every week, wondering how exactly this genius concept was to take form.
I knew I wanted this pie to perfectly encapsulate the creamiest cup of coffee, with all the charm and sweetness of one of my favorite late-night indulgences - coffee ice cream.
The greatest difficulty came in deciding upon a compatible crust. In the end, I turned to my favorite pie authorities - Emily and Melissa Elsen, the authors of this fantastic book which you really should have on your shelf if you do not already.
This chocolatey version of my very favorite buttery pie crust is basically a thin, crispy, chocolate shortbread and it is so, so good.
For this pie, we are definitely going to pre-bake the crust, and really, that is the most difficult part of this recipe. It takes some patience, but is far from hard, so long as you arm yourself with a food processor and a set of pie weights.
Confession: Pie weights are the only weights I lift.
After the crust has baked, we prepare the richest and most luscious coffee custard. Now this custard is not the most enticing color when it is all said and done. In fact, it is downright ugly, but it tastes out-of-this-world amazing and whipped cream can fix anything, so we’re all good here.
A cup of super strong coffee meets milk and sugar. After the sugar has dissolved, the steaming mixture will be used to temper egg yolks, which will both thicken and richen our custard. Eggs are amazing. I need that on a t-shirt.
After the custard has been strained into the crust, your work is done.
Cook’s Note: Always strain your custards. I did not always do this because I was young, lazy, and foolish. Heck, I still am, but now I do strain my custards and life is lump-free. Moral of the story? Pull out the darn strainer and do not ever use the word “lump” because it’s gross, okay?
The pie will need some quality time in the refrigerator to set up, so this is a great dessert to make the day before!
For those of you who have waited all your life for a pie that tastes like your favorite morning brew, or for those who began dreaming of that only two minutes ago when you read the title of this post, life starts now, and it is delicious.
COFFEE CREAM PIE
FOR THE CRUST
Recipe adapted from the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed into 1/2-inch pieces, chilled
1/2 cup filtered water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ice
Place flour, cocoa powder, salt, and sugar in the work bowl of your food processor and pulse several times to combine.
Drop the butter into the mixture and pulse 4-5 times; until the butter is in small, pea-sized pieces.
Combine water, vinegar, and ice in a small measuring cup and stir to combine.
Drizzle a small amount of the vinegar mixture into the food processor and pulse 1-2 times. Repeat, adding the vinegar in small additions, until the dough roughly comes together, but is still quite crumbly.
Turn the dough out onto a clean countertop and press together to form a small disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Dust a dry, flat surface with flour and turn the chilled dough out, dusting the top with another layer of flour. Roll out to form a large circle 1/8-inch in thickness. Lay the dough over a pie pan and press into the pan, trimming and crimping the edges to form a scalloped ridge.
Place the pie plate into the freezer and chill for ten minutes. Then, lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the crust, tucking it tightly around the edges to maintain the shape. Pour in your pie weights and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the baked crust from the oven and carefully lift away the weights and foil. Bake for an additional 5 minutes to brown the crust and then allow to cool while you prepare the filling.
FOR THE CUSTARD
6 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup freshly ground coffee (this is my favorite blend)
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Madagascar vanilla bean, split and scraped
Place egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk until slightly thickened and pale yellow in color. Whisk in heavy cream and cornstarch; set aside.
Place coffee grounds in a french press and cover with boiling water. Steep for five minutes, then press. Pour the hot coffee, whole milk, and sugar into a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan. Place over medium high heat and stir often, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is steaming; but not boiling.
Remove the pan from the heat and ladle 1/3 of the steaming milk into the egg yolk mixture while whisking vigorously. Pour the tempered egg yolks into the pan with the remaining milk mixture and return to medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the custard is thick and smooth. Do not allow the custard to boil at any point.
Once the custard has thickened to the consistency of pudding, remove from heat and whisk in vanilla bean. Pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer and into the prepared pie crust.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly over the custard to prevent a film from forming, and refrigerate for 4-6 hours, or overnight; until the custard has set.
Just before serving, prepare the whipped cream.
FOR THE TOPPINGS
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup dark chocolate shavings
Combine heavy whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and beat on high speed until fluffy and stiff. Fold the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe unto the top of the pie.
Sprinkle with chocolate shavings and cut into slices. Enjoy!