Are you ready, my darlings, to make a pie? Not just any pie, but a jaw-dropping, no-leftovers, how-did-you-do-that kind of pie? Then gather 'round and learn the recipe I have adapted from the pages of the Hershey's Chocolate Classics cookbook. You won't find this exact recipe in those pages, but I'll give you a hint -- the plain chocolate (if there is such a thing as plain chocolate, sweethearts) filling can be used in cream puffs as well as pie.

disclaimerAlas, I am incapable of making a pie crust. If you can, do it. If not, purchase and prep a commercial crust. My pies taste best in a baked crust, but crumb crusts work just fine.

First, three eggs. I prefer pastuerized if I don't have any real eggs. Does anyone remember real egs? Brown, thick-shelled, and you could crack one into your creamy ambrosia and quaff it without fear of nasty things. In any case, all you need here are the yolks. Sunlight in liquid form. Beat them gently, and leave them to sit on the counter in this small steel bowl. Yes, that one, thank you dear.

Decant some hazelnut liquer. Boil it, also gently, until the alcohol simmers away. If you want a more intense flavor, reduce it. No more than a quarter of a cup total, though. Set it aside to cool.

In your pan, mix one cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of cocoa, 1/3 cup of cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Take out all the lumps.

Add three cups of milk. Whole milk. Homey don't use no skim. The third cup of milk should be your hazelnut essence with enough milk to bring it to full. Now, whip it. Stir it constantly, over a medium to medium high heat. Don't be afraid to keep it moving, you don't want any hot spots.

Now watch as the magic happens. The grainy crust of cocoa will subside into a thim film of froth, and as the mixture heats, the bubbles grow lighter in color, from deep mahogany through mik chocolate to dark honey. And then, in an instant too short to measure, everything changes. The liquid darkens, and suddenly, it is no longer liquid.

Ladies, Gentlemen, and Others, we have achieved pudding.

Now, keep stirring for a minute. No more than 60 seconds. Take it off the heat, and spoon some of the mixture into your egg yolks. When that hot chocolate hits those egs, you need to be beating them as hard and fast as you can, so that the chocolate mixes in, rather than cooking the yolks. No one wants scrambled eggs in their pie, unless, of course, you're making quiche. And if you're with me now, oh my dearest ones, you ain't making quiche.

Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Don't worry if you don't get it all. Speed counts, because the proteins in the yolks can still congeal. Stir, stir! Now put it back on the heat for 15-20 seconds, just long enough to have boilage. Take it off the heat, and blend in two tablespoons of butter and a dash of vanilla.

Pour into pie crust.

Now, the hardest part. You have to chill it for at least two hours. If you're like me, you reserve a litle bit of the filling and eat it warm from a Fiestaware pudding bowl.

    Here's a more conventional ingredients list:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups milk (with hazelnut flavoring)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • dash vanilla

The two most important things are, don't stop stirring, and don't let your eggs scramble. Also, if you choose not to add extra flavor to your pie, add 1/4 cup of sugar, and increase the vanilla to 1 and 1/2 tsp.

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