Pie of the Tiger
9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie
Cocoa Graham Cracker Crust, baked and cooled in a 9 1⁄2-inch deep-dish pie
graham crackers, broken into several pieces
unsalted butter, melted
Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
instant espresso powder
light brown sugar, lightly packed
Pinch of salt
1 ½ c
Dutch-process cocoa powder
instant espresso powder
1 ½ c
Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
Vanilla Whipped Cream, stabilized
Dutch-process cocoa powder
Vanilla Whipped Cream
heavy cream, cold
piping gel, preferably Wilton (optional)
Tiger stripe stencil (we use a zebra stripe stencil, and unless you’re a zoologist, you probably won’t notice)
Piping bag fitted with a Wilton #66 or other small leaf or star piping tip
Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers have been used for decades to create the simplest “cake” ever: stacks of cookies layered and smothered with whipped cream that soften in the refrigerator, transforming into a chocolate cream layer “cake.” This pie is the next step in the evolution of the famous wafer. We arrange the cookies in a cocoa-infused mascarpone cream, creating a cute tiger-striped slice of pie with a cocoa-stenciled tiger stripe on top.
Cocoa Graham Cracker Crust
- In the bowl of a food processor, process the graham crackers until finely ground. If you do not have a food processor or just prefer to do it by hand, place the graham crackers in a plastic bag and crush them with your rolling pin until they have been reduced to ne crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a bowl and proceed with the recipe, stirring in the other ingredients by hand using a rubber spatula.
- Mix together Dutch-process cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla to the melted butter. Pulse in the melted butter mixture, light brown sugar, and salt until the crumbs are moistened throughout, resembling wet sand. Transfer the crumb mixture to a 91⁄2-inch deep-dish pie crust. We prefer the glass Pyrex pans with no lip.
- Using your fingers, spread the moistened crumbs evenly around the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Press the crumbs firmly so that they start to adhere all along the inner surface of the pie plate.
- Find a sturdy cup or small bowl with smooth sides and bottom—a 1⁄3 cup dry measuring cup works well. Use the bottom and side of the cup to compact the crumbs into a smooth even layer. Pay special attention to the area where the sides and bottom of the pie plate meet.
- When you think you have finished, carefully hold the pie plate up to the light and visually inspect it from several angles. Do this carefully (like, don’t turn it upside down or anything!). If you’re using a glass pie plate, lift up the pan and look through the bottom toward a light source. If you find thick or thin areas or even actual holes, this is your opportunity to correct your mistakes. Scrape o some crumbs from the thick area and move them to the thin. Compact and smooth crumbs with the cup.
- When you are satisfied, start preheating the oven to 350°F, and place the crust in the freezer to chill for at least 10 minutes.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes on the middle rack. Depending on the pie recipe, the crust may need to be filled warm or cold.
- MAKE THE FILLING: Place the cream in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until just starting to boil. Sift the cocoa and espresso powder into the heated cream and stir with a whisk until dissolved. Add the sugar and continue whisking until the sugar is dissolved. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until completely cold, at least 2 hours or up to 1 day before completing the filling.
- Add the mascarpone cheese to the cold cream and beat with a hand mixer until the mixture has thickened and holds stiff peaks, 3 to 5 minutes. Spread the filling in the cooled crust.
- Break the first few wafers into shards approximately 3⁄4 by 2 inches in size. Feel free to make use of any already broken cookies in the box for this purpose. Insert a small wafer shard upright into the center of the pie. Continue inserting shards of wafers into the pie so that their edges are almost touching, forming a continuous line that spirals to the outer edge of the pie. There should be approximately 1⁄2 inch of filling between each row of wafers. The shards of can get larger in size in the outer rows of the spiral.
- After inserting all of the wafer shards, you’ll notice that the filling may have risen unevenly. Use an off set spatula to smooth the filling back down as much as possible. It is okay if the tips of the wafers are still poking through a bit. They are about to be covered by the topping.
- If using a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream and vanilla in a medium bowl on medium-high speed until the cream forms soft peaks when the beaters are lifted from the bowl. (You can also whip the cream with just a whisk and some elbow grease if you’re into that.)
- Add the confectioners’ sugar and piping gel, if using. Continue beating the mixture at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Do not overbeat or the mixture will appear stiff and somewhat curdled. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours. If not stabilized with the piping gel, the cream might need to be re-whipped if stored for more than 2 hours.
- Spread all the stabilized Vanilla Whipped Cream across the surface of the pie, mounding any extra topping toward the middle. Place a metal pie crust shield on top of the pie. The opening should be touching the cream. Using a long straight metal spatula, scrape along the surface of the pie crust shield, removing the excess cream and creating a beautifully smooth surface. Transfer this scraped off cream into the prepared piping bag.
- Place a tiger stripe stencil on top of the cream and sift the cocoa powder onto the surface of the pie. Carefully remove the stencil to avoid spilling cocoa on the pie or making a mess in your kitchen. Remove the pie crust shield. Pipe a small border along the edge of the crust to cover any stray marks left by the pie crust shield.
- Place the pie in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight. This will allow the wafers to soften into vertical cakey stripes. (Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)