Today is Pi Day! What a happy day to celebrate! When thinking about what kind of pie I was going to make for Pi day, I thought I would make a creamy lemon meringue. I asked Alex what kind of pie he wanted and he said anything but lemon. Darn. So, enter my Grammy's Chocolate Delight.
My grandmother is a creature of habit. She ate only vanilla ice cream her entire life until my parents one day had Jamoca Almond Fudge and she tried it and liked it. Now she only has vanilla and Jamoca Almond Fudge. When I was away in college, she asked me what I wanted in a care package and I asked for Oreos. She thought they looked good so she bought some for herself. Now she always has Oreos in her cabinet. It is so nice to go to Grammy's house in Palm Springs because I always know what I can expect in her cupboards. It is comforting and exactly why I like going to visit.
Yesterday morning, I called her from the grocery store to ask her what the ingredients were for her famous Chocolate Delight. She read them off to me and then asked if I was going to make an 8 x 8 or 9 x 13. I told her I was going to make it in a tart pan. Silence.
"You can't do that!"
"Well, because it isn't square!!!"
I didn't dare tell her I was going to make pudding from scratch and substitute real whipped cream for Cool Whip. She probably would have passed out. Here is my version.... but don't tell Grammy!
For the crust 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup chopped nuts (Grammy and I use pecans), plus more for garnish
For the cream cheese layer
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (Grammy says Philadelphia brand!)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
For the chocolate pudding layer
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups half and half
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the crust: Preheat your oven to 325°F. In your standup mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add the flour and 2/3 cup of chopped nuts. Mix until just combined. Pat mixture down tightly in your tart pan using the palms of your hands. Bake for about 30 minutes or until crust is slightly brown. Let cool completely.
Make the cream cheese layer: With your whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar until peaks form. Remove from mixer bowl and set aside. Blend the cream cheese, 1 cup of powdered sugar, and 1 cup of the sweetend whipped cream with the whisk attachment until combined, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
Make the pudding: Set aside a fine-mesh sieve over a medium heatproof bowl. In a medium pot, whisk together half and half and eggs. Add sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt. Cook over medium heat while whisking constantly for about 6 minutes or until mixture is thick and bubbly. Reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and pour mixture through sieve. (This will ensure smooth texture and remove any bits of unmixed cornstarch). Stir in butter and vanilla extract until combined. Set aside.
Put it all together: Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the cooled crust. Spoon on chocolate pudding and spread over cream cheese using an offset spatula. Add the remaining whipped cream on top and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped nuts. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.