This pie requires a small (6-inch) pie or cake pan. You can also make it in two standard size ramekins, or any other small, oven-safe baking dish. The crust is no-fuss, a chocolate cookie crust that you press into an even layer into the base and sides of the pan. The pudding is flavored with strawberry, and is a bit looser than a standard cream pie filling. This is a pie made for sharing right out of the pan with two spoons (awwwwww).
Make the crust: In a medium bowl, mix the butter and sugar with a silicone spatula or medium spoon until well combined. Add the egg yolk and mix well.
Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix well to combine. Press the mixture into an even layer in a 6-inch pie plate (see headnote for other pan options). Chill well.
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Poke the chilled crust all over with a fork, and transfer to the oven to bake (you can use pie weights if you like, but they aren’t required here). Bake until fully set, 12-15 minutes. Cool completely.
Make the filling: In a small pot, toss the strawberries and 2 tablespoons of the sugar to combine. Heat over medium heat. Continue to cook until the fruit breaks down completely, 10-15 minutes. Puree until smooth in a food processor or blender. Strain the juice, and cool completely.
In a small bowl, whisk the remaining sugar with the cornstarch to combine. In a medium pot, heat the milk, cream, vanilla bean, and salt over medium heat.
When the milk comes to a simmer, remove from the heat. Stir the egg yolks into the sugar/cornstarch mixture, then pour about 1/3 of the milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to combine.
Gradually pour the mixture back into the pot, whisking constantly. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the pudding comes to first boil – large bubbles appearing in the center of the pot. It should be thick and glossy.
Pour the pudding into a bowl and cover directly with plastic wrap. Chill well, at least 45 minutes.
Stir the strawberry mixture into the pudding, then pour into the baked crust.
In a medium bowl, whisk the cream and powdered sugar to medium peaks. Transfer to a pastry bag with a star tip (or you can just spread it on the surface in an even layer). Pipe the cream over the pie, and garnish with cocoa nibs, if using.
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.