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Bittersweet Chocolate “Pie in a Bowl”

For those of you with a sweet tooth, we’re busting out a tried and true recipe for a Skillet classic that’s been on our menu since Day 1 of opening our Capitol Hill diner in 2011: Bittersweet Chocolate “Pie in a Bowl”. This dessert offers up the perfect combination of salty and sweet, smooth and crispy textures and makes for an easy scoop-and-serve sweet treat that can be batch-made and served straight from the fridge whenever you need it to get you through your week. Shards of pie crust make a tasty, crunchy spoon and if your local market is still out of flour (ugh!) you can always make things a little easier on yourself and pick up a package of premade pie dough, found in the frozen section of your favorite grocery store.


1 1/3 cups whole milk

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

3 large eggs, slightly beaten

¼ cup cornstarch

¾ cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 ½ ounces dark chocolate (70% cocoa preferred, 61% cocoa minimum), finely chopped


4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra to roll out dough

¾ cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons butter, chilled and diced (or, freeze and grate), plus extra for greasing baking sheet

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Splash of whole milk

Pinch of sea salt

Handful of toasted walnuts, toasted hazelnuts, or cocoa nibs (optional)

  1. To prepare the pudding, heat the milk and cream over medium heat in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of water (the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t touch the water) to just below boiling, about 5-10 minutes depending on your stove, then reduce heat to low.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and chopped chocolate. Carefully drizzle a few tablespoons of the hot milk mixture into the chocolate mixture, whisking constantly. Continue to slowly add the rest of the milk mixture, a bit at a time, whisking as you go. This tempers the eggs so they’re not cooked by the hot liquid.
  3. Pour the pudding into a large saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring slowly but continually until it reaches 208 degrees F when measured with an instant-read thermometer. Buzz it with an immersion blender or mix with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes, or until ribbons of chocolate fall from the spoon when you lift it. You want to see smooth ribbons of pudding, not lumps. Cover the surface of the pudding in a bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-3 hours, and up to 1 week.
  4. Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture, either using a pastry cutter or rubbing it gently between your fingers until it has the texture of course meal. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and milk. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir gently until just incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
  5. 30 minutes before removing dough from the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with butter and set aside.
  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm at room temperature for a few minutes to facilitate rolling. On a floured surface, roll it out with a rolling pin until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet – it’s ok if it doesn’t make the transfer in once piece. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. Let it cool slightly, then break it into shards.
  7. To serve, spoon a bit of the pudding into each serving bowl, about ½ cup, and tuck a few pieces of pastry around it. Sprinkle with a few grains of sea salt on top and scatter with toasted nuts or cocoa nibs.