I figured I should post the results of the competition first, as I have been going on and on about this competition with no end in sight.  AND SO.  THE END!  THE RESULTS!  Here we go!

And what does it all mean?  Here were the pies made:

Two Apple pies, one baked in a tart pan and removed for competition (hence, pan-less).
Three cream pies:  chocolate, coconut and banana.
One “I’m not sure what category” pie:  Grasshopper


I caught all the important things in this pic:  pie, piles of Bojangles and Rachel’s beautiful holiday scene!

So, after all, that, which one did I make?

CHOCOLATE CREAM!!

Yes, that’s right, somehow, my pie won!

I was thrilled that my pie won, but still felt a bit like I had cheated, because I didn’t make an actual pie crust, I made an Oreo Crumb crust.  Either way, I owe all I know about pie to Brian, so it only seems fair we share the victory. Gooooo team!

Here are the super skilled makers of the other pies:

John – Panless Apple Pie and Banana Chocolate Cream
Brian – Panful Apple Pie and Coconut Cream
Penney – Grasshopper Pie

For those wondering what a grasshopper pie is, it is based off of the delicious delicious beverage.  A grasshopper is a drink comprised of equal parts creme de cacao, creme de menthe and milk / half-and-half / ice cream (pick the delicious fat of your choice!).  I can still remember the best one I had, made by Penney’s father-in-law from vanilla ice cream.  ::rolls eyes::  HEAVEN.

It was interesting to taste the two different takes on the apple pies.  John’s was more focused on the apple, with minimal amounts of spice and seasoning.  Brian’s was apple pie like you imagine it:  gooey, cinnamony, sweet and still-warm.  As my friend Tommy put it, everyone’s favorite apple pie was the one that tasted more like their grandmother’s.

The recipe I used for my pie was the Cooks Illustrated Chocolate Cream Pie, recommended to me by Brian.  Even though I tried to ruin my pie several times, it still came out pretty decent!  This includes adding too much sugar (I misread the directions and didn’t notice that the 1/3 cup of sugar should be separated) and also not having the proper proportions of milk fat (I mixed equal parts 1% milk and whipping cream instead of using half-and-half).  I would definitely recommend having all the chocolate cream ingredients ready and close at hand, as that part will move fast.

So I will never have to dig for it again, here it is:

Chocolate Cream Pie
by Cooks Illustrated

Chocolate Pie Crust
16 – 18 Oreo cookies
2 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled

Chocolate Cream Filling
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 pinch table salt
1/3 cup sugar, separated into 3 tbsp. and 2 1/3 tbsp. measures
2 tbsp. cornstarch
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 tbsp. butter, cold, cut into 6 pieces
6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Topping
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, optional

Directions

For the crust:
Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350-degrees F.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process cookies with 15 one-second pulses, then let machine run until crumbs are uniformly fine, about 15 seconds.  Alternatively, place cookies in a large Ziploc bag and crush with rolling pin.

Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl, drizzle with butter and use fingers or a wooden spoon to combine until butter is evenly distributed.

Pour crumbs into a 9″ pie plate and press crumbs evenly onto bottom and up the sides.

Refrigerate pie plate for 20 minutes or more to firm crumbs, then bake until crumbs are fragrant and set, approx. 10 minutes.

Cool on wire rack while preparing filling.

For the cream filling:
Bring half-and-half, salt and 3 tbsp. sugar to simmer in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon to dissolve sugar.

Stir together remaining 2 1/3 tbsp. sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl, the sprinkle over egg yolks and whisk together, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is glossy and the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 1 minute.  Keep whisking until slightly thickened.

When half-and-half reaches a full simmer, drizzle about 1/2 cup hot half-and-half over the yolks, whisking constantly to temper the eggs.  Add hot egg yolk mixture into simmering half-and-half and whisk until mixture thickens.

Return to simmer, whisking the whole time, until 3 – 4 bubbles burst on to the surface and mixture is thick and glossy, about 15 seconds.

Remove to a cool burner.

Whisk in butter until incorporated.

Add chocolate and whisk until melted, scraping bottom of pan to fully incorporate.

Stir in vanilla, then immediately pour filling into baked and cooled crust.

Press plastic wrap directly on surface of filling and refrigerate pie until filling is cold and firm, about 3 hours.  When the filling is solid, the plastic wrap will easily release.

For the whipped cream topping:
Just before serving, beat cream, sugar and vanilla in bowl until soft peaks form.  Spread over chilled pie filling and serve.

Servings:  12
Yield: one 9″ pie

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