Sky-Is-The-Limit Pudding Pie

from melskitchencafe.com

*Note: Let's talk about the adaptability of this pie, since that's what makes it so great. First, choose a crust. Plain everyday pie crust (already baked), graham cracker crust, Oreo crust, the options are endless. Second, choose a pudding flavor. I opted for the easy route and used a box of cook-and-serve pudding but you could absolutely use a homemade pudding recipe. Vanilla, Chocolate, Banana, Butterscotch. Again, the pudding options are astounding. Third, choose add-ins of your choice. My rule of thumb is about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of "something" to add to the pudding. 1/3 cup of peanut butter in a chocolate or vanilla pie, 1/3 cup of raspberry jam in a chocolate pie, 1/3 cup of marshmallow creme in a butterscotch pie....got it? Finally, top the pie with whipped cream and finely chopped chocolate, berries or crushed candy and you've got yourself an amazing pudding pie.

Just to give you a starting point, I've included a recipe below for a delicious peanut butter pudding pie with a graham cracker crust.

Graham Cracker Crust:

*Sub out the graham crackers with Oreos, omit the sugar and voila! Oreo crust.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 11 long rectangle crackers crushed)

1 tablespoon sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted

Pudding Layer:

1 (4.6 ounce) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding or about 3 cups homemade vanilla pudding

1/3 to 1/2 cup creamy or crunch peanut butter

Topping:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 cup crushed butterfinger bars

In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar and mix. Stir in the butter until well combined. Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate until the pudding layer is ready.

Follow the package or recipe directions for your pudding of choice. When the pudding is thickened and starting to boil (at the point that you would normally take it off the stove) stir in the peanut butter until it melts. Pour the pudding into the pie crust. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap pressed directly to the surface and refrigerate until the pie is well-chilled, 2 hours or up to 12 hours.

In a small bowl, whip the cream and powdered sugar to soft peaks. Spread the whipped cream over the pie and top with the crushed candy bars. Chill until ready to serve.

Homemade Vanilla Pudding

*Makes about 3 cups

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk (the higher the percentage of fat in the milk, the creamier the pudding)

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla

In a medium bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks to combine. Set aside.

Mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in milk gradually, whisking to combine fully. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring/whisking constantly until mixture thickens and comes to a full boil with large popping bubbles. Boil and stir for one minute.

Remove the pan from the heat and while whisking the egg yolks vigorously, whisk in all of the hot mixture gradually into egg yolks. This will temper the egg yolks so they don't scramble in the pudding. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the pot, whisking quickly and constantly. Return the pot to the stove and bring the mixture to a boil again, stirring all the while. Boil for one more minute. Remove from the heat; stir in the butter and vanilla. The pudding will thicken as it chills. (If you think your pudding may have become a bit lumpy in the cooking process, after you remove it from the heat the last time, you can strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.)

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

*Makes about 4 cups

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk (the higher the percentage of fat in the milk, the creamier the pudding)

2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly and set aside.

In a 2-quart saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, and boil, whisking, until the pudding is thick, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisking the egg yolks quickly and constantly, gradually add the hot chocolate mixture to the bowl with the egg yolks. Whisk in the chopped chocolate until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and velvety. (If you think your pudding may have become a bit lumpy in the cooking process, after you remove it from the heat the last time, you can strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.)