Pretzel Chocolate Pudding Pie

Chocolate Pudding Filling:
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Pretzel Crust:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups crushed pretzels, divided
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg

Topping:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar

Filling Directions:

1. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk in milk and cream. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, 2 minutes. (Mixture will be thick.) Remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate and vanilla until smooth.

2. To ensure the utmost smoothness, run the chocolate pudding through a sieve. Transfer to a bowl to chill pudding. Cover its surface with wax paper, or plastic (to prevent a skin from forming), and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.

Crust Directions:
1. In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle (***Note: If you don't have a stand-up mixer, you can use a spatula, too. It just takes a little arm work) beat the butter with 3/4 cup of the pretzels and the confectioners' sugar at low speed until creamy. Beat in the flour and egg. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of pretzels, being sure to leave some pretzel pieces intact.

2. Flatten the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Roll out the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap to a 12-inch round. Peel off the top sheet and invert the dough over a 9-inch pie pan. Press the dough into the corners and patch any tears. Trim the overhanging dough and freeze the shell for 15 minutes.

3. Line the shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (or you can use uncooked beans or uncooked rice). Bake for about 25 minutes, until nearly set. Now, the edges of the pie shell should be golden brown. Tent the edges with foil and return to the oven to bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the tart shell is completely firm the center is lightly golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Topping Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, using a hand-mixer (or stand-up mixer), beat together the heavy cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Be sure not to over-beat your whipped cream. It should be soft and fluffy.

Assembly:

1. To assemble the pie, pour the chilled pudding into the center of the pretzel pie shell, spreading it out evenly. If you want to serve it immediately, it's doable--it'll just be messy. I found that it was easier (and prettier) to eat after being refrigerated for at least 2 hours. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle a few crushed pretzels on top. Slice it up and enjoy. Pretty awesome stuff.
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