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
  • Method

    • 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.

    Chocolate Cream Pie: A Rich History of an American Classic

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

    Granny’s Chocolate Cream Pie is more than just a dessert; it's a testament to the rich tapestry of American culinary history. This smooth, creamy delight, loved by people of all ages, carries with it the spirit of old-fashioned family traditions and the pioneering spirit of the earliest settlers who ventured west into the American heartland.

    Like many American classics, the Chocolate Cream Pie is an immigrant dish, brought to the new nation by settlers and gradually adapted to local tastes. Its roots can be traced back to the French dessert tarte au chocolat, which uses whole milk or heavy cream to create a decadently rich filling. This basic formula, with its creamy base, provided the foundation for a wide variety of cream pies.

    As dairy farmers settled in the American Midwest, they applied their expertise to the production of these pies, creating an array of flavors that catered to the diverse palates of the growing nation. However, chocolate was a luxury item in the early days, limiting the appeal of the Chocolate Cream Pie. It was only in the 20th century, with the advent of affordable cocoa, that the pie's popularity truly skyrocketed.

    The rise of the Chocolate Cream Pie mirrors the growth of the American middle class. As cocoa became more accessible, so too did the pie, transforming from a luxury item into a beloved staple in American households. Today, Granny's Chocolate Cream Pie is not just a dessert, but a symbol of American resilience and innovation, a dish that has evolved with the nation and continues to be a favorite at family gatherings and holidays.

    So, the next time you enjoy a slice of Granny's Chocolate Cream Pie, remember that you're not just savoring a delicious dessert, but also a piece of American history.