Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Cream Pie
So I have been entertaining like a madwoman lately. It seems that once spring hits, the pace of life quickens even beyond its normal speed. Family comes back north, end of the year activities are rolling, and we all climb out of winter’s woodwork and feel more free to invite friends over on a whim. It makes for a lot of fun nights (and some not so fun mornings), but I will say that my brain starts to lose a bit of focus when I am planning so much stuff (actually, that might also have to do with those not so fun mornings).
Case in point: I had planned to make a chocolate cream pie for dessert the other night and forgot to buy chocolate wafers for the crust. I am not sure how I missed it, but I am thinking it occurred between the time my two year old dropped his bagel and I realized I had forgotten to buy lemons and limes. (Note to self: when you realize you have forgotten one thing on your list, that might be a good time to actually check for other things you have forgotten, rather than just staring at the words brainlessly.)
So, I get home and realize I have no chocolate wafers. Oh well. Not that big of a deal, I’ll just make a graham cracker crust. I reach for the box of graham crackers and instantly knew that there was not one graham cracker in that box. Yep, just a shell and an empty wrapper. (Thanks kids.) So, on to Plan C — which I was coming to realize would have to involve something a little wacky. After passing over the stale Wheat Chex leftover from making party mix, I settled on Brown Rice Krispies. I did a little searching and realized that rice krispie crusts have been done before, so I figured it was worth a shot.
I made a wonderful chocolate filling sweetened with agave nectar and flavored at the end with a bit of brandy. And I crunched up some of that brown rice cereal, made a pretty standard crust, and then sealed it with some melted chocolate because I wasn’t sure if it would get soggy under the chocolate filling. All in all, I would say it was a successful experiment. We had eight people at the dinner table and there was only one tiny piece left over. Actually, there were two pieces, but I ate one piece for lunch the next day. Don’t tell anyone.
So, here you go. A somewhat healthier version of chocolate cream pie — mostly agave sweetened, 2% milk (which made me feel better when I topped it with whipped cream), and a brown rice crust. Seriously, I meant to do it this way.
(I should add that if you wanted to make a version with no sugar at all, you could use unsweetened chocolate and just up the agave a bit.)
Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Cream Pie
4 cups of Crispy Brown Rice Cereal (available in our natural foods section)
1/2 cup of butter (one stick), melted
1/3 cup of sugar (could also use agave or honey if you like)
3 oz. of bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted
1/2 cup of agave nectar
1/4 cup of cornstarch
1/2 t salt
4 egg yolks
3 cups of milk (I used 2% and it was great)
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 T butter
1-2 T brandy (could skip it and just use some vanilla extract if you like)
1 cup of heavy whipping cream (and sugar/sweetener to taste)
Extra chocolate for chocolate shavings (if you like)
1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the agave nectar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks until there are no little lumps remaining. Add in the 3 cups of milk and whisk well to combine. Turn on heat to medium low and bring to boil, whisking very frequently. When it comes to the boil, let it simmer for about one minute as it gets very thick. Whisk constantly at this point so it doesn’t curdle. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in 6 oz. of chopped chocolate, 2 T butter, and 1-2 T brandy. Whisk every few minutes until chocolate and butter are completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Strain the filling into a bowl through a fine sieve to remove any lumps. (If yours is perfectly lump-free, or if you enjoy lumps, skip this step.) Place a sheet of parchment or plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling so a skin doesn’t form. Chill for about an hour.
3. Make crust by first crushing or processing the rice cereal into crumbs. I thought it would be good to leave them more whole for the crunch, so I only smashed them up a bit. Mix rice crumbs with melted butter and sugar and press into a deep dish pie pan or springform pan. Freeze for 15 minutes.
4. Drizzle melted chocolate (3 oz.) over the chilled crust and spread it around the best you can using a pastry brush. If the crust is not cold enough, the crumbs will mix with the chocolate. But you should be able to spread it pretty evenly and up the sides of the crust. Place back in freezer for another 10-15 minutes (or even until filling is cool.)
5. Whip one cup of cream until stiff peaks form.
6. When filling is cooled, pour into crust and spread evenly. Top with dollops of whipped cream (or pipe using a pastry bag and decorating tips) and sprinkle chocolate shavings all over the top.
7. Refrigerate the pie for at least four hours before serving. (Not sure if I would do it a full day ahead, though, because the crust might get soggy. Try it out and let me know.)