This Chocolate Pie Is the Best Way to Make Panna Cotta Kid-Friendly

Plus, you’ll get from zero to pie in no time.

June 04, 2020

Malted Chocolate Panna Cotta Pie, as seen on Food Network Kitchen Live.

Photo by: Jason DeCrow

Jason DeCrow

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Panna cotta can come across as one of those fancy desserts you order on a date night or with other adults. However, in reality, it's rich texture can be incredibly approachable and even kid-friendly. It's even more enticing when it's presented as a pie. Had someone put Erin McDowell’s luscious Malted Chocolate Panna Cotta Pie in front of me as a kid, I can guarantee it would have been a hit.

I mean just look at it — from its crumbly cookie crust to its crunchy malted ball topping, it’s a kid’s — and chocolate lover’s — dream come true. “I don’t know many kids who wouldn’t be happy to have candy all over the top of their pie, which is what we are going to be doing here today,” Erin says as she begins the Food Network Kitchen app class.

She then walks viewers through how to transform melted butter, cookie crumbs, salt and sugar into a beautiful and tender crumb crust. If you’ve shied away from baking pie in the past because you’ve had anxiety regarding the crust, this crumb version is an easy and fun one to start with. “Crumb crusts are really great if you’re kind of scared of pie," Erin says. "If you’re not sure you can make a pie, the crumb crust route is going to be the way you want to go. It’s a lot easier — no worrying about chilling time, resting time or anything like that."

This decadent pie is also a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen. Though Erin uses store bought cookie crumbs during the class, she also says that crushing wafer cookies or chocolate graham crackers by hand works wonders, too. Kids can do this with a rolling pin and help you press the crushed crumbs into your pie dish. Follow Erin's lead and use the bottom of a glass or measuring cup during this step — doing so not only helps you firmly press your crumbs into the edges of your dish, it’ll also give your crust optimal thickness on all sides. “There’s nothing worse than a really thin side crust and then you cut into it and the bottom is like half an inch thick. We do not want that,” Erin advises.

While baking your crust in the oven, you’ll then put together your pie’s creamy panna cotta filling. After blooming your gelatin powder with super cold water, you’ll combine it with finely chopped chocolate, heated whole milk, granulated sugar, malted milk powder, cocoa powder, heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt. You’ll then pour your decadent filling into your crust and refrigerate it until completely set. “It’ll have no jiggle, no real movement,” Erin shares, noting that you can also make it ahead of time or refrigerate it overnight and eat it the next day.

Last but not least comes the most important part, and the one kids no doubt will love the most: the decorating. Armed with a bowl of crunchy chocolate-covered malt balls, Erin lightly presses them into the top of her pie in a circular pattern to give it a little extra pizzazz. “I do like to really pack them in there, so don’t be afraid to really go to town on the malted milk balls here,” Erin says as she adds the finishing touches to her dreamy creation. She then cuts herself a big slice and digs right in.

Something tells me kids of all ages will be doing just that when they get a slice of this delicious pie in front of them, too.

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