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 completely 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 that results in a first-class flavorful dessert.
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.
So, let's get to making it, shall we? The text below offers tons of tips and helpful notes, or you can scroll to the bottom to grab the recipe and get started!
More of a visual person? Check out the video of me making it below, located right above the recipe!
Coffee Custard Ingredients
Here is an overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. The full recipe is listed below in greater detail.
- heavy cream
- espresso powder
- granulated sugar
- brown sugar
- vanilla extract
Useful Tools to Make This Recipe
Here is a list of some of the primary tools I use in this recipe. You won't necessarily choose to use them all, but they are exactly what I used. Any links may contain affiliate links.
- food processor (to make the pie dough)
- pie plate
- dried rice and beans/pie weights (for blind baking)
- rolling pin
- fine-mesh strainer
- kitchen essentials: baking scale, bowls, measuring cups, and measuring spoons
Making the Chocolate Pie Crust
This coffee custard pairs so well with a crumbly sweet chocolate pie crust. This chocolate pastry is basically a chocolate cookie baked in a pie tin. It's more stable and soft than a chocolate crumb crust.
It also comes together quickly in a food processor following the usual way to make a crumbly pie crust:
- Add the dry ingredients
- Pulse in the butter
- Add the wet (in this case an egg) and pulse until it just comes together around the blade, and then stop!
The consistency will be that of play dough when it's done. It needs to chill for a bit before rolling it out. It's best to leave it chilling for about 2 hours, but if you are good at rolling out pie dough, as little as 30 minutes would probably suffice. It's also perfectly fine to make it ahead of time by a few days.
Like all custard pie crusts, it does need to be blind-baked. This recipe calls for the custard to bake at 325ºF. There is no way for the crust to bake at that temperature, so you absolutely need to fully blind-bake your pastry beforehand. New to blind baking? Check out this Blind Baking tutorial, though the recipe below gives you all the details you need to know.
Please note, the recipe does not call for you to dock the pie crust. This custard pie filling is too liquidy, and if the crust has holes in it, it surely runs the risk of the filling leaking through. Similarly, make sure your pie crust is rolled out to an even thickness with no cracks in it.
How to Make a Coffee Custard Pie
At first glance, it may feel like making a custard pie is very easy. You mix the ingredients and then bake, 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.
Once you've baked your crust (see the section above for more info), you can start on the filling. The instructions call for first making the custard on the stove. This helps stabilize the mixture. Some custards can avoid this (like I do with my Classic Custard Pie recipe) but for this pie, I recommend taking the extra step which results in a better final product.
Making the custard on the stove involves tempering the eggs and then cooking the entire mixture until it slightly thickens and can coat the back of the spoon, or reaches a temperature around 170ºF.
Because it's easy to scramble a bit of the egg, it's important to strain your filling. I strain my filling twice actually, for two reasons. The first strain will remove any cooked bits of eggs or the little bit of egg white "rope" (the chalaza). 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.
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 of 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 this coffee custard pie 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. In some cases, this can lead to a taste of overcooked eggs. It can also make the pie feel tough, or spongy and more commonly, lead 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 way to 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.
Troubleshooting Coffee Custard
Read below for some troubleshooting tips!
The unbaked pie filling has bits of yellow in it: It is likely 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 around 2" but the center still has a 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
Admittedly, the brown coffee custard isn't the prettiest all by itself. I prefer to add a thin layer of whipped cream on the top, with a dusting of cocoa powder. Alternatively, you could use a stencil to dust cocoa powder over the top (see this lemon pie for an example). The pie itself should be served cold. It can be made up to 1 day ahead of time. Store the pie in the refrigerator.
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