This pie is made with ingredients my mother and grandmother always kept in their kitchens. The quantities are judicious, the way they were in the days before recipes were overrun with the “more is better” craze that upsets the palate as well as the gut. Every flavor element shines here, and the filling is so good that you can use any pie crust you like the best. A store-bought or cookie crust made with graham crackers, Famous wafers or Oreos would be great too.
Note: You can slightly increase the quantity of chocolate or substitute your favorite premium brand if you like; more than six ounces of total chocolate will upset the balance of the flavors and make the pie overly rich. —TRISH MURPHY
CHOCOLATE PIE FILLING
canned Carnation or Pet brand evaporated milk
Baker's semisweet chocolate or 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Heat the canned milk in a non-stick pot over medium heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges; don’t let the milk boil. While the milk heats, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a mixing bowl. Crack in the eggs and whisk just until well-combined.
Slowly whisk the heated milk into the beaten-egg mixture. Pour this mixture back into the pot, and return it to medium heat. Whisk constantly for about 5 minutes, and it will suddenly thicken into a nice pudding. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect; keep cooking and stirring for about a minute, then remove it from the heat. Strain it through a wire colander or strainer into a mixing bowl. Stir in the butter, chocolate, and vanilla and keep stirring until everything is completely melted. Let the mixture cool completely on its own, or you can float the bowl inside a larger bowl of ice water and stir for 3-5 minutes to chill it very quickly. Pour the filling into the pie crust and refrigerate for 2 hours, or longer if it's been cooled at room temperature.
To whip the cream, use a hand-held mixer or wire whisk. Beat the cream and sugar together until the cream thickens. Beat in vanilla and chill until ready to serve.