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Healthy-ish Chocolate Pudding Pie

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Let’s not be shy about this fact: delicious dessert is often delicious because of unhealthy ingredients. I feel a bit conflicted even mentioning healthfulness; we’re not exactly here to discuss salads. But I suppose if it is possible to create a dessert that tastes really great without a dozen eggs and a pound of butter I feel obligated to point that out. So here goes: a pudding that uses no eggs, no butter, non-fat milk, and not a lot of sugar. The crust is a different story, but puhlease this is still pudding not your pre-marathon snack.

The crust I used was leftover from making the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Salted Caramel Apple Pie (again… it’s so good). I’ve listed a single-crust recipe below but you may still have scraps. Extra flakey and a bit tangy from the vinegar, this is definitely my new go-to pie shell. The filling is a riff on a Smitten Kitchen pudding I’ve made many times but this version uses more chocolate and skim instead of whole milk. I also cut back the sugar. Creating this pie was truly unstructured madness, and it’s a seriously happy accident that the pudding came out as delicious as it did.

Crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water mixed with 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Pudding filling
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
3 rounded tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups skim milk
7 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make crust:

In a Cuisinart, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse to blend. Add the pieces of cold butter. Pulse until you see pea-sized chunks of butter. Don’t over mix! You want to keep chunks of butter because those little guys will melt and become the crusty flakes. Adding 1 tablespoon at a time, pulse in 4 to 5 tablespoons of the ice water/vinegar mixture. Dough should just come together.* Remove from the Cuisinart and flatten with the heel of your hand on a cutting board (you should have a fat disk). Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

*You can do all of this by hand or with a pastry cutter

Bake crust:

Once the crust has chilled, roll out the dough until it’s very thin. Place in a pie dish with dough hanging over the edges. (Crust will shrink and recede into the plate and look normal.) Poke holes with a fork in the bottom and sides of the crust to allow air to escape. Weigh down the pie using tin foil and pie weights (aka black beans if you’re me). Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil/weights and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Crust should be golden. Cool on a rack while you make the pudding.

Make pudding:

In a medium saucepan , whisk together cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Add milk one cup at a time and whisk over medium heat. Whisk constantly until mixture starts to boil (about 10 minutes). Once it starts to boil, whisk for 2 more minutes. Pudding will be thick. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and chocolate chips until combined.

Pour pudding into pie shell. Place a piece of parchment paper on top to keep from getting a pudding skin (I hate those). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream if you’re feeling like this recipe was too healthy.