Smooth, luscious vanilla pudding combines delightfully with a tender-crisp chocolate crust in this Vanilla Cream Pie.
With my daughters home all the time now, we’ve had more opportunities to bake together than ever before.
I especially love it when my girls get excited to make something that I wouldn’t have come up with on my own.
When Eliza threw out the idea of Vanilla Cream Pie recently, I think I said yes before she managed to finish her sentence. As soon as I pictured rich, creamy vanilla pudding in pie form, I couldn’t wait to get started.
We decided a chocolate crust would complement the filling well, and we weren’t wrong.
This recipe’s pat-in-the-pan shortbread crust may be quick and easy to make, but it doesn’t skimp on flavor. Its deep, chocolaty richness and tender-crisp texture provide the perfect backdrop for the sweet, creamy vanilla pudding.
While the crust bakes you can prep ingredients for the filling, which cooks on the stove. After measuring ingredients and separating eggs, wait until the crust finishes baking to start heating the pudding mixture. The filling’s not hard to make, but once you turn the burner on, it requires constant attention.
The filling thickens quickly over medium heat, and, after a bit of whisking, it’s ready to pour into the freshly baked chocolate crust.
Because the pudding is quite thick, the top surface won’t look super even. Smooth it a bit if you like with an offset spatula, but I never worry about it too much since light, airy whipped cream covers most of the pie.
Every time we make Vanilla Cream Pie, I’m amazed at how quickly and easily this recipe comes together!
Here’s the bad news: the pie needs several hours to chill in the refrigerator before it’s set.
There is good news, though: the pan, whisk, and spatula retain a coating of vanilla pudding, which is usually enough to satisfy any immediate cravings. Please don’t let it go to waste. You won’t be sorry.
Since the pie looks pretty plain, we jazzed it up with Cocoa-Vanilla Swirl Whipped Cream, but straight-up whipped cream looks and tastes great, too! Eliza loves raspberries on everything, so we couldn’t have Vanilla Cream Pie without them. I love the color they add to the mix.
Smooth, cool vanilla pudding and a tender-crisp chocolate crust make a perfect combination in this pie. With whipped cream and fresh fruit, it’s truly exceptional.
Vanilla Cream Pie with Chocolate Crust
- 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter chopped in cubes
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Cocoa-Vanilla Swirl Whipped Cream
- 1 pint fresh berries
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Whisk flour, cocoa, sugar, espresso powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Add melted butter and vanilla extract and mix until the ingredients look evenly incorporated and begin clumping together.
- Gently press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Generously prick the bottom and sides of the crust with the tines of a fork.
- Bake the crust in the lower third of an oven until it feels just firm to the touch, about 15 minutes.
- Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium sauce pan. Gradually whisk in the milk. Add the egg yolks and whisk until no yellow streaks remain.
- Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, warm the mixture over medium heat until it just begins to simmer. Remove the pan from heat and scrape the sides and corners with a spatula before whisking vigorously until smooth.
- Return the pan to the burner and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, about 45 seconds to one minute.
- Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract.
- Immediately pour the warm filling into the prepared crust. Smooth the top with an offset spatula if needed and refrigerate the pie, uncovered, for at least 4 hours to let the filling set.
- Before serving, top with Cocoa-Vanilla Swirl Whipped Cream and fresh berries. The whipped cream will hold in the refrigerator for a few hours if you prefer to get the pie ready in advance (chilling the topping on the pie makes for easier slicing and serving).
- If you'd rather use traditional whipped cream, combine 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in the bowl of a standing electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until stiff peaks just form.
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