hearts, kissing bottoms, and the perfect pie for valentine’s day

“A hundred hearts would be too few to carry all my love for you.” ~ Anonymous

The bottom nearly fell out of my world when Sir Paul, my eternal Valentine, married that Nancy woman recently.

I know. She’s rich, slender and probably has her perky moments, but the important question is, Can she bake a good pie?

I am crushed Macca didn’t even think to call and tell me. Here I’ve been his love slave loyal true-blue fan for over 40 years (I first heard “She Loves You” in utero :)), and nary a word. Now that he’s got a new Honey Pie, what am I to do?

Bake! Bake deep, rich, decadent, devil-may-care this will make me forget all about him Bake. Take no prisoners Bake. And to get me through Valentine’s Day, only chocolate will do.

I considered my options — Pioneer Woman’s French Silk Pie? Saveur’s Thin Edge of the Wedge Chocolate Pudding or Molten Chocolate Cake? I could have gone all retro and dug out my old Midnight Chocolate Cake recipe (so good, diehard football fans actually stopped watching the 1992 Superbowl game to eat it). And I hadn’t made my famous Chocolate Cheesecake in a long, long time.

Decisions, decisions. I nixed the French Silk Pie because it contains raw eggs, and while the other recipes were very tempting, a little voice in my head kept saying, “Chocolate Cream Pie.” Why yes. That would take a from-scratch chocolate pudding and kick it up a notch, like childhood comfort food stepping out on the town. I’d made Banana Cream pies before, but never a Chocolate Cream, and it had been ages since I’d made any ice box pies.

The folks at Gourmet had just what I was looking for: a recipe whose success depends more on using high quality ingredients than complicated techniques. I’m all about simple. Since this was my first time, I followed the instructions to the letter, even using their suggested cookie for the crust: Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers.

No probs at all processing them into fine crumbs, mixing in sugar and melted butter, and then pressing into a pie plate. This gets baked at 350° for about 15 minutes until crisp and fragrant.

While the crust was cooling, I made the filling by cooking the sugar, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks and milk over medium heat, constantly stirring with my trusty whisk. When it reached a full boil, I cooked it a little more on low heat for another minute.

I then poured the thickened mixture through a sieve and whisked in chocolates, butter and vanilla. I specifically chose this recipe because it called for solid baking chocolate rather than cocoa — an almost surefire guarantee of intense flavor.

I covered the pudding with a buttered parchment round to prevent a skin forming while it cooled for about 2 hours. Then it was time to pour the pudding into the crust to chill in the fridge.

One lick of the spatula will of course make you want to eat this pie right way, but delayed gratification is the name of this game. The recipe says you can chill the pie for 6 hours, but I chose to let it set overnight, amid fears that when I finally tried to slice it, the filling would be too soft or even runny, like love gone wrong. Yes, I’m talking to you, Nancy.

While my pie was turning itself into a masterpiece, I listened to Macca’s new CD, “Kisses on the Bottom.” I giggled at the title, swooned at my favorite Beatle all suave and debonair, and quite enjoyed the dreamy, elegantly rendered songs (Diana Krall’s band turned what could have been trite and ho-hum into magic). Wait. Wasn’t I supposed to be forgetting him?

Next day, I whipped the heavy cream with a tablespoon of sugar. I remembered when I first met Len in London and didn’t have an electric mixer. He volunteered to whip the cream by hand. (After seeing that power arm at work, I knew I had to marry him :))

I spooned the cream over the pie, ever-so-gently forming swirly clouds over that luscious bed of chocolate, then finally sprinkled on a handful of dark chocolate shavings.

Ta da!


When I sliced it, the first piece came out nice and neat, beautiful and beckoning. Smile for the camera, you tuxedoed wonder!


My first forkful:  ecstasy, rapture, velvety demon chocolaty dreamy world of sirens on a fantasy dessert island taking me far, far away.


The filling: soft, cool, airy cream perfectly blending with and balancing the pure essence of every chocolate pudding your sweet mama ever made in her safe, cozy kitchen of days gone by, only richer, darker, smoother.


Cookie crust: crunchy, crisp, another textured layer of sweet seduction. A delicious bottom, kiss this bottom, you want to marry it. Dang, what a perfect stage for the pudding.

Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart.

This pie sang to me, a three-part harmony so good it almost made me completely forget about Nancy’s husband. Who?


If what’s-his-name ever tasted this heavenly creation (if I hadn’t made it myself, I’d have sworn the angels did), he might forget Ms. Shevell and come running back to me. Never underestimate the power of pie!

(serves 8 to 10)


1-1/3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (from about 26 cookies such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
5 T unsalted butter, melted 
1/4 cup sugar


2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 T unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla


3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1 T sugar


  • Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Stir together crumbs, butter, and sugar and press on bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack.


  • Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will be thick).
  • Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours.
  • Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.


  • Just before serving, beat cream with sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then spoon on top of pie.


  • Pie (without topping) can be chilled up to 1 day.
  • A graham cracker or gingersnap cookie crust, as well as a traditional shortcrust pastry may be substituted for the chocolate wafers.
  • Listening to Paul McCartney’s “Kisses on the Bottom” while preparing or eating this pie will enhance its flavor tenfold.
  • Best to practice your puckering ahead of time.

(Adapted from an original recipe by Kemp M. Minifie, Gourmet)


P.S. I love you.


This post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share food-related fiction, nonfiction, cookbook or movie reviews, recipes, musings, photos and/or quotes.


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved. 


56 thoughts on “hearts, kissing bottoms, and the perfect pie for valentine’s day

  1. Aww. He’d swoon a bit if he ate this pie, I just know it.

    I heard the song he did at the Grammy’s and smiled and thought of you.

    Nancy who?


  2. Oh, he’s still very cute, even after all the wives and face-lifts. He would ditch that Nancy-person in a heartbeat for your chocolate pie! Would she lavish that much attention on his dessert? I think not. And I admire you even more for actually waiting before cutting into it–I wouldn’t have made it past ten minutes. You should have your own cooking show!


    1. Waiting is absolutely necessary for this pie. Didn’t mind building up the anticipation :). Paul is remarkably well preserved, still retains his boyish good looks after all these years and everything he’s been through.

      You should make this pie sometime. It’s worth the effort!


  3. Wow, a marvelous vicarious experience. My mouth is watering at these incredible pictures, Jama. What a masterpiece, for king and country maybe? I have only made brownies as our chocolate for Valentines-a quickie compared to your pie. You bring back memories of my mother, a chocolate lover too who made those wonderful creme pies. Have a wonderful day!


    1. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Linda! Have another piece of pie :). Wait a minute . . . Linda was Paul’s first wife, the love of his life . . . . sigh.


  4. Jama, you sure know how to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

    And like Tanita, watching him on the Grammies (or at least the next day on youtube) I knew he was singing straight to you!


  5. *swoon*
    I think I’ll restart my diet tomorrow. Looking at you-know-who for some reason makes me crave chocolate pots de creme.

    Did you read that some young twerp on Twitter actually asked, “Who’s Paul McCartney?” during the Grammies? What is education coming to these days? Harrumph.

    Rant over. Let the swooning resume! 🙂


    1. I did hear about that — and thought it must have been a joke. There are many youngish Beatle fans out there. This Twitterer probably wanted extra attention?!

      Pots de creme = swoon. Paul can go visit you after he’s had some of my pie :).


  6. I hardly noticed Colin as I could not take my eyes off that scrumptious slice of chocolate heaven!


    1. Yes, this particular pie has magic powers. It’s designed to make you “forget” everything but its dreamy smoothness. At first I didn’t see the point of the sieve, but now I know. Wow. So smooth you could slide on a ribbon of that pudding from here to London. 🙂


  7. Thank you for the recipe! My son’s grandmother (on his dad’s side) makes a really good chocolate cream pie, he says, and he asked me to make one for him sometime. I’ve made a chocolate cheesecake (chocolate bliss, with Oreo crust), but I’ve never made a chocolate cream pie. Grateful for your delicious recipe.

    Happy Valentine’s Day! Jeni


    1. Oh, I do hope you try this recipe. We love it! Next time I’ll try another cookie for the crust just to keep things interesting. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too, Jeni :)!


  8. Can’t go there with you with the McCartney thing. There’s just something about all aging rockers that puts me off. Especially the very, very rich ones (I mean, really, just RETIRE! Enjoy your life! I know you have plenty of royalties coming in!) But the pie looks wonderful. Happy Valentines’ Day, Jama!


  9. I think a lot depends on how these aging rockers conduct themselves. Also, a creative life shouldn’t have an expiration date. Once a musician, always a musician. Would we tell a 65+ novelist he/she’s too old to write more books?

    Lots of folks think Dylan should retire, since his voice has gotten so ragged in recent years. But he still has a large following across all age groups. Blues musician Buddy Guy is no spring chicken, but boy can he still play and perform!

    I get what you’re saying about aging rockers, though. Still, times have changed and the average life expectancy has increased. Baby boomers especially are looking to remain active and be productive longer than their parents’ generation. (Spoken as someone in her dotage.) 🙂

    Hope your Valentine’s Day has been a nice one with delicious treats!


    1. Yeah, I know, it’s probably a prejudice I shouldn’t have. I mean, when Yo-Yo Ma is 80, I’ll still love him (not to mention all the writers you reference). There’s just something about rockers… somehow I just feel it should be reserved for the young or almost so. Forgive me!


      1. Nothing to forgive. I once felt the same as you do — but everything is getting redefined these days. Sometimes when I look at Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (both have the market cornered on thin and wrinkly) it makes me shudder. Shouldn’t they be in rocking chairs instead of rocking on stage? In another decade or so, you’ll probably feel differently — cheering on aging rockers who’ve managed to last so long in a very competitive business. 🙂


    1. So sorry to hear about the blog problems! Very mysterious. Hope the Happiness Engineers can help you out. Have you also scanned the Forums to see if anyone else is having similar issues?


  10. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I was John fan, but I wouldn’t kick Paul out of the house. Paul would have never married N if he had had that pie. Ha!!!


    1. I’d have loved a song — kind of a consolation prize after losing him to Nancy. Oh well, maybe if I practice at making even better pies I still have a chance :).


    1. It was divine, Susan. If you use good quality chocolates the flavor will be out of this world, and the pudding filling is so smooth. One thing I’ll probably change next time I make it: leave out the 1/4 cup sugar in the crust (at least if using this particular brand of chocolate wafers). I prefer a less sweet crust, which won’t be a problem if I choose to make a graham cracker crust next time, or even use a regular pastry crust.

      It’s not difficult to make, but takes a little patience since you have to wait for it to set.


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