Monday, July 25, 2016

DEVIL'S CREAM PIE with a twist

Devil's Cream with an added layer of strawberry mousse.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Oreos. Who am I kidding? I'm still obsessed with Oreos. I went so far as to steal an entire package from my neighbors house and I've not matured enough to say I'd not steal again. I wrote a chapter in my baking memoir, My Life from Scratch, all about my Oreo capers and I finished it with the recipe for Devil's Cream Pie, a favorite in my Montpelier pastry shop.

From "My Life from Scratch". Illustration by Raymond Prado

I've updated the recipe a bit, adding alternatives so you can jazz up the intensely chocolate pie with strawberry or peanut butter mousse. But I've gotta say, it's plenty special in it's original state: Oreos, deep dark chocolate, and luscious Swiss meringue.

If you missed me making the Devil's Cream Pie on the Today Show, here's the video.


For the Crust

36 Oreos (which is exactly 1 regular sized bag's worth of cookies)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Line the bottom of an 8" springform pan with parchment and spray with non-stick baker's spray. Set aside.

Break up the cookies (the cookie and innards, we're using the filling too) and place in a food processor. Pulse until they are almost a sand consistency and then break up any large pieces with your fingers. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the cookie crumbs into a small bowl. Set aside. 

Transfer the ground cookies to a large bowl. Pour the butter onto the cookies and immediate stir the mixture until the butter evenly saturates the cookie dust, making sure there are no pockets of butter or dry cookies left. Squeeze a small amount of the crust between your fingers to make sure it holds it shape.

Press the cookie mixture onto the the bottom and along the sides of the springform pan.  Don't worry about the sides of the pie looking perfect and even along the edge. It looks great with a little jagged on top. Make sure that there are no gaps!  

Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Once out of the oven, check to make sure there are no cracks that have formed in the crust. If so, while the crust is still warm and malleable, gently work the crust to fill the gaps.  

Alternatively, gently line the cookie filled pan with parchment and fill with pie weights (for this, sometimes beans or rice are better since you need quite a bit of pie weights to fill up the cavity) up to the top. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights and bake for 5 minutes more.  

Set aside to cool completely.

For the Filling

2 cups heavy (or whipping) cream
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons granulated unflavored gelatin
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon espresso powder (optional)
1 pound bittersweet chocolate (at least 60%), finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream, sugar and salt. Stir over low heat until the sugar has melted. Increase the heat to medium high and allow the mixture to just come to a boil.

In the meanwhile, in a wide shallow bowl, add the milk and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the milk and let it sit until it blooms (the gelatin will look like wet sand and be saturated with moisture. Make sure there are no dry patches of gelatin).

Take the cream off the heat once it reaches a boil and immediately add the gelatin/milk mixture and then the vanilla. Stir with a whisk to incorporate the gelatin and then immediately add the chocolate. Tip the pan back and forth to make sure the chocolate is is completely covered with the hot liquid. Let this sit for a few minutes then whisk the chocolate, making sure that it is completely melted and combined with the liquid (this is when you'd add any extra extracts).

Holding a sieve over the crust, pour the chocolate mixture through the sieve and into the crust to keep any lumps of unmelted gelatin from joining the chocolate pie party. Carefully transfer the pie to the refrigerator and cool until completely set, about 3 hours but preferably overnight.

Alternative: The pie sets up very firmly and it's silky and lovely. To soften it up, you can pour the chocolate mixture into a bowl and refrigerate until it's cooled and firmed just a litte, to the consistency of pudding. If you allow the filling to set too long, it will be impossible to loosen. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream/whipping cream and fold it into the chocolate mixture and then add to the cooled crust.

For the Swiss Meringue Topping

10 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar has completely melted, the mixture feels as if it has thinned a bit and the temperature of the egg whites reaches 160ºF (this is the temperature at which any harmful bacteria are killed).

Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high until the meringue has very stiff, shiny peaks.

Prior to adding the meringue, sprinkle the reserved 2 tablespoons of cookie dust over the top of the filling. This creates something of a barrier between the filling and the meringue, helping the meringue to keep from weeping (sugar is hygroscopic, which means it draws in moisture and that's why meringue beads when it sits on top of a filling for a while).

You can dump all the meringue straight on top and use a spoon or offset spatula to spread it in a jaunty fashion or you can pipe lovely peaks all along the top. You can also quickly torch the meringue to make it marshmallow toasty or serve glistening and white.


You can stir in extracts to the chocolate mixture just before pouring into the crust. Almond, mint, orange and raspberry extracts go beautifully with chocolate.

Or, you can add a layer of strawberry or peanut butter mousse to the set chocolate filling before adding the topping! This not only looks great when you cut into the pie, it's also insanely delicious. On top of all that, they are super fast. One thing that's important: HALVE the meringue recipe if you're going to add the mousse.

Easy Strawberry Mousse

1/2 (4 ounce) package Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature (very soft)
1 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups hulled and diced strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 packet gelatin
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon
1/4 cup water

In a bowl, combine the diced strawberries and the sugar.  Stir to combine.  Allow to sit about 20 minutes for the juices to start running. Transfer to a saucepan and stir over low heat until the strawberries are soft and the juices start to thicken to the point they coat the back of a spoon.  Transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.  Run the puree through a fine sieve.  

Combine the lemon juice and water in a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin in an even layer over the top.  Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes to bloom (the gelatin should look like wet sand).  Once bloomed, melt the gelatin in the microwave in 30 second bursts at 30-40%.  Swirl the bowl in between blasts and continue until the gelatin is completely melted.  Combine the strawberry puree and the gelatin mixture and stir to combine.  Allow to cool to room temperature but make sure it doesn't set.

In a food processor combine the cream cheese, confectioner's sugar and cooled puree and mix until smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold into the cream cheese/puree mixture.  Alternatively, use a stand mixer:   in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and the confectioner's sugar.  Mix until smooth.  Swap out the paddle attachment for the whisk attachment.  Add the heavy cream and whisk on high until the mixture is thick and almost has stiff peaks.  With the mixer running on low, slowly add the strawberry mixture.  Once added, mix on high until combined.

Easy Peanut Butter Mousse

One 8 ounce package of Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk on low until the confectioner's sugar is somewhat distributed and then mix on high until the mousse is smooth and fluffy.


For both mousses, the procedure is the same. Allow the chocolate filling to set and then spoon or pipe the mousse filling gently on top. You can refrigerate an hour to set more firmly or you can immediately add the Swiss meringue topping.  Serve immediately!