Chocolate Cream Pie

A slice of chocolate cream pie with whipped cream

Considered by chocoholics to be the crowning achievement of the cream pie, Granny’s Chocolate Cream Pie recipe is a work of art. The filling is a soft silky custard that wonderfully captures the deep chocolate flavors. The recipe calls for semisweet but a nice dark chocolate or even white chocolate will add a new twist on this old favorite.

It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate and this pie is a consistent crowd-pleaser. A combination of a rich chocolaty pudding filling adorned with a homemade whipped cream topping makes this the pinnacle of cream pies.


For the Filling
12 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
34 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups (720 milliliters) whole milk
6 large egg yolks
8 ounces (225 grams) semisweet bar chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping
1 cup (240 milliliters) heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar


  • 1. Make one of Granny's all-purpose pie crusts.

  • 2. Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, whisk together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt. Pouring just a little at first, whisk the milk into the sugar mixture until you have a smooth paste. Gradually add remaining milk, whisking constantly. Whisk in egg yolks. Cook mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it has thickened and just come up to a low boil, about 8 to 9 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

  • 3. Pour custard through sieve, pushing it through with a rubber spatula. Discard any solids. Stir in chocolate, butter and vanilla, and let it stand for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Let cool slightly, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 6 hours.

  • 4. To serve, whip cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Top with whipped cream.

A decorated chocolate cream pie from 1944.
Nickolas Muray, 1944

Granny’s Chocolate Cream Pie is a smooth and creamy delight for people of all ages. It’s an old-fashioned family tradition that’s been passed down since the earliest pioneers pushed their way west into the American heartland. Like almost all other varieties of pie, this all-American classic is an immigrant, brought by settlers to the new nation and gradually adapted to local tastes.

Based on the French dessert tarte au chocola, chocolate cream pie uses whole milk or heavy cream to create a decadently rich filling. And the same formula can be applied to create other flavors. Indeed, dairy farmers settling in the American Midwest applied their milky expertise to the production of a wide variety of cream pies. Chocolate was a luxury item in the early days so the flavor had a limited appeal. But it’s popularity skyrocketed in the 20th century as affordable cocoa became more available to a growing middle class.

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