For the first twenty-something years of my life, the best pie I had was the McDonald’s apple pie. Sad, perhaps, but they do make a good pie (and it’s portable!). This all changed once I visited the Pie Hole in Los Angeles. One bite of their earl grey pie and I was hooked. So there was amazing pie out there other than apple pie! It’s been several years now and I have now visited many pie shops and tried some innovative flavors. In fact, I crave pie so often now that one day I just woke up and said, “I’m going to bake a pie.” After reading the description of Pie Hole’s earl grey pie, I decided to recreate this delicious treat and found that with a little effort, this amazing pie can indeed be made in my own kitchen.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
If you looked over the recipe, you’re probably thinking at this point that it’s just easier to go to Pie Hole and buy a slice of their earl grey. You are probably right, but I will go ahead and say that several people have said this was slightly better than the original. Convinced yet?
This earl grey pie has several components including the buttery crust, the layer of chocolate ganache, an earl grey white chocolate mousse, and the whipped cream. Let’s break it down and start with the first step, the crust.
Pie crust has been described as one of the most difficult basics to tackle. I think that with a little practice, it can actually be very easy to prepare. Start with cold ingredients. If it’s an especially warm day, chill the flour before using. Use a pastry blender or your hands to combine the flour with salt and butter. Once the butter resembles small peas, slowly add the ice cold water 1 tablespoon at a time just until the dough starts to come together. Shape into a disc, wrap it up and chill for 30 minutes or until firm.
Some people use the food processor to quicken the process. I myself, have used the food processor on more than one occasion. The risk is that you can overmix the dough which will lead to a tough crust. Using your hands or a pastry cutter or even a fork is the safest route.
As for the ingredients, I personally prefer a butter pie crust vs shortening pie crust because of the added flavor that butter gives. Shortening makes a dough that is easier to work with but can be bland. Once the dough feels firm, roll it out onto a work counter dusted with flour. If your kitchen is warm, place some ice packs on the counter before rolling the dough. Wipe the counter dry, dust some flour and roll out the dough on the cold counter.
Carefully lay the rolled out dough onto your pie shell, making sure not to stretch it out. Crimp the edges and prick the bottom of the shell to prevent it from rising while baking. We are going to do a blind bake since the pie itself will not be baked later on. This means that you are going to place a parchment paper on the pie shell and place a weight (usually dry beans or pie weights) on top to prevent the shell from losing its shape and puffing up.
Bake the pie with the weights for 10 minutes or until it loses its raw dough look. Remove the weights, brush on the egg wash and continue to bake until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
While the pie shell is cooling, make the earl grey-infused cream. Use good quality earl grey since this is the main flavor component of the pie. I used loose leaves but you can also use tea packets. Simmer the heavy cream with the heavy cream for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for 1 hour. If you simmer the leaves for too long it will leave a bitter taste. Taste the heavy cream; it should be bursting with earl grey flavor. Strain and discard the tea. Measure 1 cup of the heavy cream for the white chocolate mousse and set aside the remaining cream.
Now time to make the mousse. Whisk together the 1 cup heavy cream with the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. If the heavy cream is still very warm, slowly add the cream to the eggs to avoid cooking them. Place the mixture over a pot of simmering water or what we call a double boiler. The steam from the water will cook the mixture. Whisk constantly to avoid lumps and cook until the mixture becomes thickened. It should easily coat the back of a spoon when it’s ready.
Microwave the white chocolate chips until it begins to melt and add it to the egg-heavy cream mixture. If you add the white chocolate whole, it won’t melt completely. Now let this cool in the fridge for at least an hour or until it very thick. It’ll be like a paste once it’s ready. By now the pie shell should be cooled. Use this time to make the chocolate ganache layer. Simply melt heavy cream with bittersweet chocolate and mix until combined. You can use a double boiler but I used a microwave because well, it’s so much quicker! Spread an even layer of the ganache on the pie shell and let it cool. We are almost at the finish line! Now with the remaining earl grey-infused cream, add as much additional heavy cream as you need to measure 1 cup. Whip until stiff peaks form. Mix half of the whipped cream into the white chocolate mousse, mixing until the mousse loosens up. Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Spread this beautiful filling into the pie shell and let it sit overnight, giving the mousse time to set up. I actually found it was even better on the second day. When the pie is ready, top with more whipped cream (hey, no one said this pie was healthy!) and finish with chopped pistachios.
Now get ready. All your hard work has finally paid off and you get to show off to yourself, your friends and your family. Pat yourself on the back because this pie will earn you some gold stars. No lie, I have had rave reviews from several groups of people about the amazingness of this earl grey pie. What pie to bake next?
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.