I started making this marshmallow topping to pair with sweet potato pie - a nod to my family members who still loved to melt marshmallows on top of their sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving. But paired with a bittersweet chocolate pastry cream, this topping has truly found it's match. —Erin McDowell
To make the pie crust, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the pie dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle at least 1/2 inch larger than the pie plate on all sides. Gently transfer to the pie plate and chill for 10 minutes. Remove the pie crust from the fridge and use a paring knife to trim it neatly around the edge of the pie plate. Crimp the edges with a fork.
Line the pie crust with parchment and fill with pie weights. Bake the pie crust in the preheated oven until just beginning to brown, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and continue baking until the crust is golden and completely set, 20-25 minutes more. Cool completely.
To make the pastry cream, whisk the yolks, half the sugar, and the cornstarch together in a medium bowl until smooth. Combine the milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Gradually pour the hot milk over the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to combine. Pour the mixture back into the pot and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon.
When the pastry cream is thoroughly chilled, whip the cream to medium peaks. Mix 1/3 of the whipped cream into the pastry cream, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream, mixing just until the mixture is combined. Pour the finished cream into the prepared crust and chill.
To make the marshmallow topping, combine the gelatin and first amount of water in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a medium pot, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cook until it reads 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Pour the hot syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the bloomed gelatin
Whip the sugar until very well aerated (it should resemble medium peak meringue), 8-10 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
Use a rubber spatula lightly sprayed with nonstick spray to scoop the marshmallow onto the top of the pie. Spread it gently around the pie, leaving swirly markings and leaving some peaks. If desired, use a torch to evenly toast the surface of the marshmallow.
I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.