This recipe has a few components but it’s really simple. There’s something really satisfying about making something yourself, especially with American classics that normally come out of a jars and packages. This recipe is a great way to impress friends or guests. And since you can make these ahead, you won’t have to stress out about plating your dessert at the end of a meal.
To see how everything is made, check out my step-by-step video guide right here.
This recipe has 4 parts to it, ALL of which can be made ahead. Or, if you’d like to make everything the same day like I did, it will only take a few hours.
If you really don’t have the time to make all of these, most of the components can be store bought (the graham cracker pie crust, chocolate pudding or chocolate pudding mix, and the marshmallow). But I promise oyu, it own’t be nearly as good.
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 packets (9.6 oz) graham crackers, finely ground in food processor
2 tsp cinnamon, ground
3/4 c unsalted butter, melted
1 c Homemade instant chocolate pudding mix which can be made up to 3 months in advance (this is not a typo)
2 c half and half
1 recipe marshmallow fluff which can be made up to 3 days in advance (also not a typo, but not nearly as impressive)
Step 1: Make the graham cracker crust (up to 2 days in advance)
In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the cinnamon and butter. Combine very thoroughly with a rubber spatula. Then, will either 2 sharing-sized pie pans or one large (9-inch) pie pan with the crumbs. With a flat-bottomed vessel (I used a water glass), firmly press the crumbs onto the rim of the dish.
Continue pressing until the edges are about 1/4″ thick and the bottom is firmly packed. If should look something like this:
Transfer to the refrigerator to cool. If you are making this a few days in advance, cover it loosely in plastic wrap. Remove the plastic wrap before step 2.
Step 2: Make the pudding (up to 2 days in advance)
In a medium pot, whisk the cold half and half with the homemade “instant” pudding mix. The cocoa will not whisk easily into the dairy but the cornstarch will*. This step is very important! Make sure you give it a good whisk.
Place the mixture over medium-high heat. Whisk at a slow, steady pace until the mixture begins to thicken. It should take 3-5 minutes.
As soon as the mixture thickens, whisk rapidly. Once you see bubble around the edges of the mixture, cook for another 60 seconds, then remove from the heat.
Let the mixture to cool for about 20 minutes, then pour into the chilled graham cracker crusts.
Place plastic wrap directly onto the pudding to prevent a skin from forming, then chill for at least 4 hours. Remove the plastic wrap before step 3.
Take the marshmallow fluff and place it in a ziploc bag. Seal the bag, then cut off about a 1-inch tip on one of the corners of the bag. You’ve just made a makeshift piping bag. Pipe it in a swirling motion onto the chilled pies.
You’re going to want to end up with something like this:
I prefer if it doesn’t look perfect so everyone knows how much effort you put into it.
**WARNNING** Do not spoon-feed yourself the marshmallow fludd. You will run out of it before you can pipe enough onto the pies to make them look pretty, and your friends will totally judge you when they walk in and see a fistful of fluff on your hands.
Toast your marshmallow! This is the only step that needs to be done before serving! If you have a blowtorch, this step takes about 10-15 seconds. I know most people don’t, so here’s an alternative method:
Preheat your broiler to the highest possible setting. Make sure the marshmallow is close to the heating element, but not touching it. Toast it for about 1-2 minutes, rotating the pies or the pan to make sure they get evenly toasted. Put it on a plate and enjoy. This one is best served family style if it makes it to the table.
* #nerdalert: Cornstarch is classified, among other things, as a hydrocolloid. The term has been thrown around quite a bit lately, since the rise in popularity in modernist cooking (aka “molecular gastronomy”) . Hydrocolloids are nothing more than substances that gel in the presence of water, and they all have different properties.
Some common hydrocolloids, like flour and cornstarch, have been a common staple in kitchens for decades. Flour, for example, can be cooked with fat, then whisked into a hot liquid to thicken it. Cornstarch, on the other hand, must first be dissolved into a cold liquid, then brought up to a simmer for a few minutes. New-wave hydrocolloids have also been quite common in kitchens, although unbeknownst to many people. There are tons of weird-sounding ingredients in prepared/packaged foods that food scientists have been using in one way or another in your packaged products. Ferran Adria, a visionary chef from Spain, turned ultra-fine dining on its head when he decided to experiment with those same ingredients and techniques in high-class restaurants. Ingredients such as xanthan gum, methocel f-50, and kelcogel ft100 started popping up in expensive restaurants all over the country. These ingredients are derived from natural plant substances the same way that fine, white, powdery cornstarch is derived from tall, green, fibrous corn stalks. They just had proprietary “science-ey” sounding names because they weren’t previously used in households.
This modernist movement led to a lot of trends backed by terrible chefs, but also some really incredible new techniques from really excellent chefs, especially in the fine dining sector of the restaurant industry.
So, the point of this whole digression is, hydrocolloids all have different properties and its important to understand them so you can utilize the ingredient to its full potential.