Chocolate Caramel Cream Pie with a Chocolate Spider Web Drizzle
· 2 ½ cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs (2 “sleeves” of graham crackers)
· 1 teaspoon salt
· ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Chocolate caramel Layer
· 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
· 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (70% cacao)
· 1 bag (8 ounces) Heath toffee bits
Whipped Cream Cheese Layer
· 1 cup whipping cream
· 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
· ¼ cup powdered sugar
· 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Chocolate Spider Web Drizzle
· ½ ounce semi-sweet chocolate (62% cacao)
· 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Step 1: Crust
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 10-inch spring form pan with non-stick spray.
In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and salt. Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and toss with a fork to moisten. Press the crumbs firmly against the bottom and up the sides of the pan; the crumbs should come two inches up the sides.
Bake for 10 minutes, just until golden brown. Set crust aside to cool and raise the temperature of the oven to 425.
Step 2: Chocolate Caramel
Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 9x13 baking dish. Cover with foil. Set the dish inside a larger pan, such as a roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with water so that the water comes halfway up the sides. Place in the oven and cook for two hours, stirring 2 or 3 times, until the milk has caramelized, appearing thickened and tan-colored. Refill the water as needed.
While the milk is cooking, chop the 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, place in a large bowl and set aside.
When caramel is ready, remove the pans from the oven. Stir the caramel to remove any lumps and pour the hot caramel over the chopped chocolate. With a silicone spatula, stir until completely smooth. Mixture will be very thick.
Sprinkle half of the heath bits on the bottom of the cooled crust. Immediately pour the chocolate caramel mixture over the heath bits and smooth out the surface. Sprinkle with the remaining heath bits. Place the pan in the refrigerator to cool while you prepare the cream cheese layer.
Step 3: Whipped Cream Cheese
With an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream for about 5 minutes on medium speed, until soft peaks form. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste on high speed for two minutes until smooth and creamy. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, one half cup at a time, until fully incorporated. Spread the cream on top of the chocolate caramel layer and use a spatula to spread out the top as smooth as possible. Set back in the refrigerator while you prepare the chocolate drizzle.
Step 4: Chocolate Spider Web
Place the ½ ounce of semi-sweet chocolate and 1 teaspoon butter in a small, microwaveable bowl. Melt the chocolate and butter at high speed in 15 second bursts, stirring every 15 seconds, until smooth. Pour into a zip-lock bag and set aside to cool for five minutes.
Remove the pie from the refrigerator. Snip a small piece off the corner of the zip lock bag. Starting at the center of the pie, pipe the chocolate in a spiral pattern, with about 1 ½ inches between each line, until you’ve reached the edge of the pie. Gently drag the tip of a knife through the chocolate from the center to the edge, all around the pie, to create a spider web pattern. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight.
Before serving, let the pie sit at room temperature for five minutes, then run a sharp knife around the side, between the pan and the crust. Carefully remove the sides of the pan and set the pie, still on its base, on a serving plate to slice and serve.
For a fun Halloween touch, place a few fake spiders on top of the pie or on each slice.
Yields 8-10 servings.