Valentine's Day Dessert

I spent almost as much time looking for dessert recipes as I did dinner recipes. I knew I didn't want to make molten chocolate cakes or red velvet cupcakes, but I still wanted something that went with the Valentine's Day theme. Once I saw these heart-shaped pie dishes at Crate & Barrel, I narrowed my recipe search.

I'm not very big on traditional fruit pies with lots of crust, and my boyfriend really likes chocolate pudding pie, so when I came across a chocolate pudding pie recipe with a cinnamon crust and cinnamon whipped cream, I was sold. Cinnamon definitely fits the V-Day theme in my opinion.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cream Pie (Gourmet, November 2008)

For crust
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (from about twelve 5- by 2 1/2-inch crackers)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

For filling
6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar, divided
2 whole large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For whipped cream
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
5 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Stir together all crust ingredients. I added 1/4 tsp cinnamon after reading a review on Gourmet's site that this pie did not have enough cinnamon. I can see that, considering cinnamon graham crackers have more cinnamon-sugar flavor than pure cinnamon flavor. Press over bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate. I used four small heart-shaped dishes instead. I probably could have gone with just 10 graham crackers to make enough crust for these. Bake until set, 12 to 15 minutes, then cool.

Make filling:
Melt chocolate in a large bowl.
Stir together cornstarch and 2 Tbsp brown sugar in a small bowl.
Whisk together whole eggs and yolks in another bowl, then whisk in cornstarch mixture.
Stir together milk, cream, salt, and remaining brown sugar in a heavy medium saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Pour half of milk mixture into egg mixture in a slow stream, whisking, then pour egg mixture into remaining milk mixture. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into melted chocolate and whisk to combine.
Transfer hot filling to crust and chill, its surface covered with parchment, until filling is cold, about 3 hours.

Make whipped cream:
Beat cream with confectioners sugar and cinnamon using an electric mixer until it holds stiff peaks. Spoon over chilled filling.

The original recipe calls for decorating with chocolate curls, but I substituted heart decorations instead (also from Crate & Barrel). Once we were ready to eat the pies, I sprinkled the hearts on top.

Note: Gourmet says these pies keep up to 1 day chilled. We ate some the day I made them and the next day for breakfast and dessert, and I still had some left for breakfast the next morning. They were delicious every time.