A few days ago, we had some friends over for dinner. One of them can’t eat any dairy, but, for some odd reason, I was set on serving a chocolate pie for dessert. It had to be dairy-free, but I wanted it to be rich and decadent—without being too sinful. I knew from experience that almost any pudding recipe can be easily made dairy-free simply by using a non-dairy milk, so I started with almond milk (my favorite brand is Almond Breeze). However, I wanted a lighter consistency than straight-up pudding, but couldn’t use the traditional method of folding in whipped cream. I immediately thought of tofu as an alternative, but I’ve never been a fan of raw-tofu pudding concoctions. They always taste great and have a smooth and airy texture, but they also give me a stomachache. After about eight different trial batches, I reached the perfect combination. The trick lies in cooking the pudding, then pureeing it with just enough tofu to make it airy and light. You can leave the last step (and, thus, the tofu) out, and this will result in a very dense, dark chocolate pie, which is also delicious. If you’ve never had a tofu mousse before, though, give it a try. Here, the sweet, dark chocolate takes on a fudgey consistency that melts in the mouth. It’s also less dense, so slices can be a bit larger without being overwhelming.
I made this in my favorite, dairy-free pie crust, but it could be served in any type of crust, or crustless in small dishes.
There are a number of ways to play with this recipe. First, if dairy isn’t an issue, the filling can be made with any type of milk. I would likely use one or two percent. Also, varying the toppings could change the entire character of the pie. Whipped cream, of course, would be lovely, but so would toasted coconut or a layer of strawberries. In some of my early trial-runs, I also played around with leaving out the vanilla and adding mint extract (a few drops) or almond extract (substitute directly for the same amount of vanilla). Both were lovely, but I would have served the mint-version in bowls, not in a pie. It seemed odd with the pie crust for some reason (although, it probably would be great with a chocolate crust, like thin mints). If you find a successful variation, let me know!
Speed it Up: Make it in bowls instead of a crust
Special Diets and Allergies: Vegetarian; vegan and dairy-free if you use almond milk, my dairy-free pie crust recipe, and dairy-free chocolate chips (like Trader Joe’s); nut-free if you don’t use almonds on the top.
Dark Chocolate Mousse Pie
Makes one 8″ pie
Here, dark chocolate presents itself in a fudge-like mousse. Each forkful is the perfect combination of tender, flaky crust, creamy chocolate, crunchy toasted almonds, and tangy raspberries. Despite its indulgent taste, the mousse filling is fairly guilt-free. For a lighter dessert, serve the mousse in ramekins. You can also reduce the sugar by at least half. For a more decadent and rich dessert, leave out the tofu in the last step. This will reduce the amount of pudding, so plan on using an 8″ pan. Also, without the tofu, the pudding will congeal on top unless covered. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the pie and press against the top of the pudding so no air can reach it. After the filling is set, take a large metal spoon, warm under hot water, and smooth out any wrinkles left from the plastic wrap. If using the tofu, you don’t need to cover it or worry about smoothing out wrinkles. This is on the low side for the amount of filling, so if you’re making a 9″ pie, you should be able to use 150% of this recipe and get most, if not all, of the filling in.
One 8″ pie crust
1 1/2 C unsweetened, plain almond milk
3 T sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 C cornstarch
3 T dark, unsweetened, alkalized cocoa powder
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 t vanilla extract
6 oz firm tofu
1/2 to 3/4 C raspberries, rinsed and dried
1/4 to 1/2 C toasted, chopped almonds
- Bake pie crust according to directions. Set aside and cool completely.
- Whisk 1/2 C of the milk, the cornstarch, and the cocoa powder in a bowl until completely smooth.
- Heat the remaining 1 cup of milk, with the sugar and salt, in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until it reaches a slight simmer. Reduce heat to medium.
- Pour about 1/4 C of the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the cornstarch and quickly whisk until smooth. Then pour the cornstarch milk into the pot and whisk continuously until the pudding begins to thicken, but not so long that it congeals, about 2 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and immediately stir in the chocolate and vanilla. Continue stirring vigorously until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Pour half of the pudding into a food processor with the tofu and puree until completely smooth. (You may have to stir the remaining pudding while you do this to keep it from hardening). Quickly fold back into the rest of the pudding, then pour into the pie pan. Let sit in fridge until set, a few hours.
- Just before serving, arrange raspberries in two concentric circles on the pie, one around the edge and one closer to the center, with one raspberry in the very middle. Sprinkle the toasted, chopped almonds between the circles.