Step 1: Sugar Cookie Crust
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
Another 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons heavy or whipping cream
1) Cream together butter and first amount of sugar with a mixer.
2) Add egg, the other 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla. Mix well. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
3) Add flour, baking powder, and cream, and mix until the dough comes together into crumbly little bits.
4) Form the dough into a disk about 4 inches in diameter. Feel free to calculate the surface area using pi if you would like.
5) Chill in refrigerator for at least one hour. (Or 3.14159 hours.)
Step 2: Rolling Out the Crust
1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Roll dough to about 1/8 inch thickness.
3) Place in a pie plate (9 to 10 inches in diameter). Use your fingers to conform it to the plate.
4) Using a knife or scissors, trim off excess dough so that there is about 1 inch of overhang all the way around. (Use the excess dough to make irrationally good sugar cookies. Bake at 350 F for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.)
5) Use your fingers to roll the overhanging dough onto the edge of the pie plate, and then crimp, using the index finger on your left hand to form the dough against the thumb and index finger of your right hand. Continue all the way around the pie.
6) Use a fork to poke small holes all over the bottom and sides of the dough.
7) Place a sheet of parchment over the dough, and fill with pi weights or dry beans.
8) Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 F, or until the edges are golden brown and lacy.
9) Remove parchment and weights, and bake for another 5-8 minutes until the bottom is brown and delicious looking.
10) Remove from oven and cool to room temperature on a wire rack. You can turn off the oven, you won't need it again in this recipe.
Step 3: Chocolate Custard Pi Filling
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
5 egg yolks
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
1) Put chocolate chips in a large bowl with a sieve or fine strainer set over it (it's okay if the strainer is touching the chocolate).
2) Combine egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan, and whisk well.
3) Add cream and half-and-half, and, stirring often, bring to 175-180 F on an instant read or candy thermometer over medium to medium-high heat. (If you don't have a thermometer, dip a wooden spoon in the mixture and draw your finger across the back. If it leaves a clear path, it's done.)
4) Pour hot cream mixture through strainer onto chocolate. Let sit 1-2 minutes to melt.
5) Stir well to combine, let sit 5 minutes.
6) Add vanilla and coffee and mix well.
7) Pour into cooled pie shell. Tap pie plate gently against the counter to even the filling out and pop any bubbles.
8) Chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, and up to 72. Do not cover the pie, or the crust will get soggy.
I learned to make this custard from Cook's Illustrated Magazine.
Step 4: Finishing the Pie!
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1) Combine cream and and sugar in a mixer. If you don't have a mixer, just put it in a bowl and use a hand whisk.
2) Whip on medium speed until frothy, then increase to high and whip the cream to medium-stiff peaks. (That means if you lift the whisk attachment or whisk, the cream should stand up for a few seconds, and then droop. Don't worry if it doesn't quite do that. Too soft is better than too stiff.)
3) Now decorate! Since this one is for Pi Day, I put pi on mine. You can just cut the corner off a zip-top sandwich bag, fill it with whipped cream, and pipe it into any shape you want.