Oh man...if you love coffee, this custard is absolutely for you! This Coffee Custard pie has a creamy, smooth coffee filling, encased within a decadent chocolate pastry crust. Garnish it with whipped cream and cocoa powder; or just serve as is for a bold and delicious pie option.
Coffee Custard Pie
Generally speaking, custards are overlooked in the world of pies. It's easy to opt for a more flashy pie choice, such as Pistachio Pie or Spiced Blackberry Pie when it comes to a sweet treat after a meal. But, I'd argue that custard--in particular--this Coffee Custard Pie, is a true and simple demonstration of easy and attainable baking. A good custard pie should be creamy and smooth with a luscious flavor. There is no doubt that when you take a bite of this pie, it's all about that coffee flavor. The smooth and bold coffee custard is accented by the rich dark chocolate crust. You can eat this coffee custard as it is, or compliment it with simple whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.
Coffee Custard Ingredients
- Heavy Cream
- Instant Espresso Powder
- Granulated Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
How to Make a Custard Pie
At first glance, it may feel like making a custard pie is very simple. You mix the ingredients and then bake, right? Right? Well, if you are after a creamy and smooth filling, it's a bit more complicated than that. But, that doesn't mean it's hard; it just means you have to follow a few simple rules.
The first thing you need to know is that custards are baked at a low temperature, this recipe being 325ºF. There is no way for the crust to bake at that temperature so you absolutely need to fully blind bake your pastry before hand.
Once you've baked your crust, you can move on to the filling. The instructions call for heating up the milk, cream and half of the sugar, and then slowly whisking some of the hot milk mixture into the eggs. The reason for doing so, is that when you slowly bring all of the filling ingredients up to a warm temperature, the ingredients will not be shocked when they hit the heat of the oven. When the ingredients are slowly brought up to temperature, the result is a creamier pie.
Because it's easy to scramble a bit of the egg when you add warm milk to them, it's important to strain your filling. I strain my filling twice, for two reasons. The first strain will remove any cooked bits of eggs. The second strain will assist in ridding the filling of any air bubbles that may have built up during your original whisking phase of the recipe. This small, extra step will prove huge in the end result of achieving that perfectly creamy custard filling.
Once you've made your filling, let it sit for about 5 minutes. Though you have already strained it twice, this quick resting aspect also helps naturally release any air bubbles in the filling. Next, slowly pour your filling inside of the baked crust, and take great care placing it in the oven.
How to Not Spill Custard When Moving it Into the Oven
This may seem like a small deal, but if you've ever tried to move an unbaked pie with a very liquid filling into the oven without spilling it, you know it isn't easy! While some bakers opt to place their pastry into the oven first and then pour the filling inside, I prefer not to. I've found that with the heat of the oven, I'm more likely to spill it or burn myself when I do it that way.
Instead, I'll offer you one tip for a successful transfer of an unbaked custard pie into the oven: never take your eye off the filling. Before picking up the pie, open the oven and make sure your oven rack is in the right spot (which would be the middle). Then pick up your pie and keep your eye on the filling the entire time. It's when you take your eye off the wobbly filling that you are at risk for spilling.
How to Tell if a Custard Pie is Done
If there was only one pie secret I could share with anyone, it would be this: don't over-bake your custard pie! And by that, I am referring to not only custard pies but any pie that contains dairy and eggs together. When a custard style pie is properly baked, it should be just barely set. If you overcook it, you are essentially "boiling" the eggs. This can, in some cases, lead to a taste of overcooked eggs. It can also make the pie feel tough, or spongy and more commonly, leads to cracked or separated pies. A properly cooked custard is set (and safe to eat) between 170º - 180º. I often use a thermometer to check the temperature of the pie, to be sure.
Another know that a pie is done is by looking at the outer edges and seeing if they have begun to "soufflé", or puff up. Look for the soufflé effect to go in about 1-½ to 2" from the outer edge, and for the center of the pie to still be jiggly. At this point, you want to take your pie out of the oven, and place it at room temperature to cool.
Once it's fully cool, move it to the refrigerator to cool for at least 6 hours. During this period it will fully set.
Tips for Making Coffee Custard Pie
- Bake the pie pastry well: It's crucial to bake the pastry fully before pouring in the filling. Custards start off with a very wet filling, and if you pour them into an unbaked crust, you run the risk of breaking the dough and having it surface in the pie filling. In addition, custards are baked at a low temperature so it would be impossible for the crust to actually bake with the filling inside.
- Don't over whisk anything: During testing of the coffee custard, I found that when you whisked the eggs too much it caused a lot of aeration and air bubbles. These air bubbles then reared and burst during cooking. While this won't do anything in terms of the taste of the pie, it's rather unpleasant to look at. So, gently whisk the filling ingredients together in an effort to prevent this.
- Don't overcook it: Be sure to read the above text on using a thermometer and checking for doneness.
- Let it cool before slicing: Custard pies finish setting and firming while they cool. Go hands off and let the magic happen! If you try to cut it before it has completely chilled, you'll end up with custard soup.
Pie Pastry Options
This pie goes perfect with this Chocolate Pie Pastry. It compliments it well, and has a great texture. If you wanted to skip the chocolate, you could make this pie in a Pâte Sucrée. You cannot use a crumb crust with this pie, unfortunately, as the filling is too wet and is likely to break and float to the top.
Troubleshooting Coffee Custard
Read below for some troubleshooting tips!
The unbaked pie filling has bits of yellow in it: It's pieces of cooked egg. Make sure to strain it twice with a fine mesh strainer.
The pie filling is wobbly but the edges have puffed up: This is correct! The pie is finished cooking even when the center is still a bit jiggly. Look for the edges to be puffed up about 2" but the center to still wobble.
The pie filling cracked or bubbled: You have either overcooked the pie, or whisked the filling too much or had an issue with heat in your oven. As long as the filling isn't extremely overcooked, the pie will still taste fine. Cover the pie with whipped cream and nobody will know the difference!
The custard is still wobbly after cooling. The pie was undercooked.
How to Serve It
Serve this pie cold, with a dusting of cocoa powder or whipped cream. This pie can be made up to 1 day ahead of time. Store the pie in the refrigerator.
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