Yum Yum Pie

Every now and again, I get a special recipe request. It's a cherished gift, because when people with varied experiences, tastes, and histories give me input, they often make suggestions I would never have thought of and provide me with the incentive to take action and make it (favors often hold more weight than my own wishes).  Even better are all the locations people have lived and traveled, because if I've learned anything from visiting new places, it's that every city can contribute to the palette. Diversity at it's best.

When my colleague first mentioned the mysterious "Yum Yum Pie", I figured given his southern upbringing that this was the kind of thing you'd find at a Ryan's Steakhouse. The recipe he referenced had lots of  instant items, including two varieties of instant pudding and frozen whipped topping (The shock! The horror!). Don't get me wrong, I was a Cool Whip and Jell-O pudding kid, but since that baking passion got sparked, I feel the need to up the ante and make things from scratch

Yum Yum Pie is a 4 layer pudding pie. From the base up:
1. Graham crust
2. Cream cheese layer
3. Chocolate pudding
4. Vanilla pudding
5. Whipped cream

Pudding is actually one of the easiest recipes to make, with basic steps to complete and containing sugar, salt, starch, milk, cream, butter, and egg. I used my trusty Banana Pudding recipe as the basis for the two pudding portions, however in this version I used whole milk, tapioca starch, and one entire egg instead of egg yolks. I'll crack the egg swap further down.

I started with the dry ingredients in a saucepan - brown and white sugar, salt, and tapioca starch. I slowly whisked in the milk and cream while heating the pan to medium. My goal was to get the mixture to a light boil while avoiding letting the starch gum up on the bottom of the pan or burning the milk. It took about 7 minutes with me stirring fairly frequently before I saw the simmer begin.

In a separate bowl, I whisked the egg. Once I had the slow boil going, I spooned some of the hot mixture into the eggs and whisked away at the mixture. I wanted to get the egg as warm as the mixture on the stove without scrambling them. I spooned more of the hot milk into the egg and kept stirring until the eggs were hot. It wound up being about 25% of the milk mixture spooned in to accomplish this. And that's how you temper an egg.


After the egg was mixed in to the pain, I kept the heat on medium and simmered the pudding for a minute longer to completely cook the eggs. No salmonella here.

At this point, I mixed in the butter and vanilla extract, then stirred in nutmeg and cinnamon (some of the quintessential dessert spices) and set the pan aside to cool. It takes a long time, so I put the saucepan over some ice.

I repeated this again to make a chocolate version, stirring in 4-6 ounces of dark chocolate before mixing in the butter.


With both the vanilla and chocolate puddings cooling down, I got to work on the other layers, one of which was a cream cheese and powdered sugar piece of paradise. After letting the cream cheese soften for about 15 minutes, I put it in my stand mixer and whipped it for 2-3 minutes. I then gradually added in powdered sugar and some vanilla bean paste to get the base layer of the pie.


I popped out my other mixer to make the whipped cream at the same time as mixing the cream cheese, because, why not? Dueling mixers.

Half of the whipped cream was gently folded into the cream cheese, and the other half remained for a topping on the pie.


Though I was making a standard pie (this time around I used a pre-made graham crust, which tends to be smaller than a regular pie dish), I quickly realized I had an abundance of filling that would overflow the pan. I decided to make some mini versions, using vanilla wafers as the base. Note: Foil wrappers would work best for this due to sturdiness. The paper ones couldn't hang.


One everything was cooled enough, I built the pie. Cream cheese, chocolate, vanilla, whipped cream, and lastly, some grated chocolate.


We all know this is exactly how the Sugar Bombs from Fallout taste. But oh was it good. I've had plenty of pudding, but that cream cheese layer blended in gave this pie a really unique flavor. My colleague said he'd grown up on this pie, and that this was exactly how he remembered it.

The use of a whole egg instead of egg yolks really didn't have a negative impact on the flavor or the consistency of the end product, which is good news for a conservative baker like myself. If I don't get the chance to cook the whites, I feel poorly throwing them away. I think this worked out great in this recipe because it wasn't a large scale one. But after a bit more reading on the topic, I wouldn't replace a larger scale recipe with all whole eggs so as not to mess up the end result. It will be matter of trial and error, but I felt it important to note here.

Another interesting thing this recipe brought up was pudding vs. custard. Apparently most puddings don't have eggs, but that's not necessarily the determining factor in making it a custard. Chowhound had a good bit on it. What we have here is a cream pudding.

I did learn that using different kinds of milks will make a difference (almond vs whole vs 2%), which seems obvious but wasn't something I had thought to compensate for. I made a pudding the week prior with almond milk, heavy cream, and egg yolks, but should have added more tapioca due to the thinner milk (this one was skim-like, so more watered down than the milk in my original recipe). The pudding wound up not thickening as expected (which possibly had to do with my attempt to cool it down quickly to bring it to a get-together), however I found it important to point out.

There you have it: baking experimentation and pie delights. Make this for the next potluck and you might just beat out the cookies.

Yum Yum Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

2 pre-made graham pie crusts

For the cream cheese filling:
1 package of cream cheese (8 ounces)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the vanilla pudding:
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate pudding:
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4-6 ounces dark chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

To make the cream cheese filling, let cream cheese soften at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Beat in a stand mixer until creamy, the gradually mix in powdered sugar and vanilla. Make the whipped cream topping gently fold half into the cream cheese.

For the puddings, whisk egg in a small bowl. In a saucepan, add the sugar, brown sugar, tapioca, and salt. Gradually whisk in milk and heavy cream. Heat to medium, until the mixture starts to gently bubble, and simmer for 8 minutes, until mixture thickens. Gradually stir about half the milk mixture into the eggs to temper them, stirring until well combined. Pour egg and milk into saucepan and heat to gentle boil again, stirring constantly. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, vanilla and almond extracts, and cinnamon. Set aside to cool. Repeat again and add chocolate for chocolate pudding.

For the whipped cream topping, beat heavy cream for about 2 minutes, until. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla extract.

Make pie by layering cream cheese filling, chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, then whipped cream. Top with grated chocolate if desired.

adapted from texas yum yum

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