Filed under: Chocolate Pies / No-Bake
November 15, 2022

Brown Butter Chocolate Cream Pie

Creamy, smooth nearly ganache like in consistency, brown butter chocolate cream pie. This filling is made like a chocolate custard but has the added depth of flavor from dark chocolate and butter that has been browned.

4.89 from 17 votes
Yield: 1 9" pie
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Creamy, smooth nearly ganache like in consistency, brown butter chocolate cream pie. This filling is made like a chocolate custard but has the added depth of flavor from dark chocolate and butter that has been browned. 


Recipe Overview 

Inspired by this tiny no-bake chocolate custard recipe, but really absolutely wholly different. We share a similarity in parts of the method and parts of the equation but this deeply chocolatey monster of a chocolate cream pie is really my own mania. 

Sometimes when I stumble upon a recipe I carefully look at the ingredients and method and ask, what could I do differently to make it even better? Often the first answer is, brown the butter – add that nutty taste that complicates any flavor profile by tenfold. But also, I dislike half-hearted attempts at chocolate so out goes the semi-sweet. To further deepen and complicate a flavor palate I’ll add something tart or tangy where I can. 

So this pie is a little less creamy than your average chocolate cream pie, it’s got a thicker constitution, almost ganache-like. It’s also not at all plain chocolate, it’s got some nuttiness to it, a little tang and yet still dark and dreamy. 


Key Recipe Ingredients: Info & Substitutes 


Pie Crust: you can use store bought or use my homemade pie crust recipe (you’ll only need half of that recipe). 


Butter: Unsalted is best to control the salt level. 


Milk: Whole milk or 2% at least. Anything less will render the custard thinner. 


Sour Cream: Full fat. You could also use labneh here or a full fat greek yogurt (although the latter will give you a more tangy taste). 


Chocolate: Dark or semi-sweet chocolate. If your cocoa solids are less than 55% you will have a slightly softer consistency and a more milk chocolate like taste. 


Heavy Whipping Cream: Or heavy cream. No substitutes. 


Egg yolks: From large eggs. No substitutes. It’s ok if they are cold (eggs separate more easily when cold). 


The chocolate custard looks bitty and/or separated. Did I do something wrong? 


It’s possible you’ve overheated the eggs but if you’ve kept watch and it looked fine until you incorporated the chocolate, it’s likely that it looks this way because the chocolate melted quickly. Adding the sour cream and milk after will help it come back together. That said, it won’t be perfectly smooth due to the bits of brown butter (milk solids). 


Crust options for a chocolate cream pie 

I’ve made this at least three times, two with a basic all butter pie crust and once with my cocoa pie crust. As much as I loved the triple chocolate situation, my favorite was when the filling was given more room to really stand out against the toppings and crust. 


However, if you aren’t in the mood for a pie crust and a blind bake (it needs to be fully baked before the custard goes in) then you can opt for a cookie crust, with ground up oreos or graham crackers (2 cups cookie crumbs and ½ cup melted butter should be enough)  – I’d bake it for 10 minutes to firm it up before adding the filling. 


Topping options for a chocolate cream pie 

Given that it is a cream pie it stands to reason this should be topped with whipped cream! You can do the basic vanilla bean I have below or a chocolate version, just add 2 tablespoons cocoa. 

The little chocolate bits on top are shaved chocolate; I used a vegetable peeler on the side of a chocolate bar. Makes it pretty! 


with cocoa pie crust and chocolate whipped cream

Ok sam, but why are we making the whipped cream in a food processor? 


I’m SO glad you asked! When you “whip” the heavy cream with a whisk or hand mixer you incorporate a lot of air as it thickens. This is great, sometimes, but not ideal for pies or desserts that need to be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. 


Traditionally whipped cream has a tendency to separate and get watery as it deflates; for anything that’s make ahead you want it to be stabilized. 


To make stabilized whipped cream, some people add gelatin or cornstarch. Truthfully you need neither if you use the food processor. It thickens without adding too much air and lasts days in the fridge without losing shape or getting goopy, seeping/weeping. 


P.S. I started doing this after seeing Paula make hers with an immersion blender – you could try that if you don’t have a food processor. 


But also, if you have neither, just use a whisk and make it right before serving. 


How do I fix over-whipped cream? 


Whether you’re using the food processor method or a beater/electric whisk, you may over-whip the cream. You’ll see it turn rough rather than smooth and well, you’re on the way to make butter. 


The easiest way to fix it (assuming you haven’t actually made butter yet!) is to add more heavy cream and simply stir until it’s the right consistency. It should be at soft peaks; smooth but droopy. 


Brown Butter Chocolate Cream Pie

Creamy, smooth nearly ganache like in consistency, brown butter chocolate cream pie.
Yields: 1 9" pie
4.89 from 17 votes


Brown Butter Chocolate Custard

  • 113 g or ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 240 g or 1 cup milk
  • 105 g or ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 300 g semi-sweet chocolate
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 60 g or ¼ cup full fat sour cream
  • 60 g or ¼ cup whole milk

Whipped Cream

  • 1-2 cups heavy whipping cream depending on how much whipped cream you want
  • 2-4 tablespoons brown or granulated sugar
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or paste
  • 2 tablespoons dutch process cocoa, per cup whipped cream optional, if you want to make it a chocolate whipped cream


  • Fully blind bake a pie crust.
  • Chop the chocolate very finely and set aside.
  • Set the egg yolks in a small bowl.
  • In a skillet, brown the butter. Pour into a pot, scraping off the brown bits as much as you can. Add the milk and sugar and set it over low heat. Stir until the sugar fully dissolves.
  • With a whisk in hand, pour a small splash of the hot liquid over the egg yolks and whisk, then pour a little more and whisk. Pour the egg yolk mix into the pot and whisk well. Return to the stove and cook on medium low heat until the custard thickens slightly.
  • Remove from the heat and scrape the chocolate into the pot, stir with a rubber spatula just a bit, then leave it for about 20 seconds. Add the salt and vanilla then stir until all the chocolate has melted. It will look like it has started to separate, add the sour cream and then the milk, stirring as you pour it in. The custard will come together but have little bits (those are from the brown butter!). Pour it into the pie shell and chill for at least 4 hours.

For the whipped cream

  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process on high for 1-3 minutes, until thick. Spread over the custard.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. 3 stars
    Made this for mother’s day today and while it tasted great, I had issues with the texture for sure. It was pretty grainy, and more of a ganache tart than the silky light cream pie I imagined. The custard pre-chocolate was so smooth, I had high hopes. I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet bars finely chopped and made sure it was off the heat before adding (per another commenter’s issues) and it wasn’t separated per se but had an odd texture. It got worse while chilling (the top was just a layer of butter & grainy sugar that I had to scrape off) and we found the texture heavy. The flavor was good, although no one could detect the brown butter. I’d say the best part of the recipe though was the whipped cream – the food processor was a game changer! Overall I’d say it’s still worth trying bc everyone likes their pies differently and results vary!

    • Hi Dallas! Sorry this didn’t turn out as expected, it sounds like something went wrong if the top layer was a bit separated and the texture was grainy. There is *some* graininess to it from the brown butter bits but it shouldn’t have been that bad. I wonder if it wasn’t whisked long enough, there is an ’emulsion’ that needs to happen between the chocolate and the custard and that happens when the chocolate is agitated by whisking. Next time I make this I will see what tips I can add to the instructions to ensure that this turns out better! Appreciate you trying the recipe and your notes.

  2. 5 stars
    We just made this pie again, and it was amazing… all over again! We always use half milk chocolate and half TJ’s dark chocolate bar. This time we make mini pies and they were both darling and delicious.

  3. 5 stars
    This was an absolute show stopper at our Thanksgiving dinner. Best pie of the year! And one we will make every year to come. Thank you, Sam!

    I used half semi sweet choco chips and half milk chocolate Cadbury bar for the chocolate. A perfect pie!!

  4. 5 stars
    Wow!! I made this for Thanksgiving, and it was a hit! So rich and fudgey. My family loves a classic, pudding based chocolate pie. I was worried about changing it up, but everyone loved it!! I topped it with your Swiss meringue, which also got rave reviews (it always does, I use it for my key lime pies as well!) my only regret is I didn’t make two because I have none leftover to have today!

  5. I tried this using 100% ghirardelli dark chocolate, and think I should have used a lower percentage. I got a thick ganache consistency where the salt/bitterness of the cocoa came through a little too strongly, overpowering the butter/sour cream. While the dark chocolate fans LOVED it, it was a little too aggressive for many of our guests who just wanted a plain pudding pie. The blessing: there will be more leftovers for us dark chocolate lovers. I think it needed an adjustment for cocoa content that high… perhaps a bit less salt, or a bit more sugar? I’m not sure. But we will make this again, and with a lower percentage cocoa. As with the others: the whipped cream in the food processor was an amazing life hack! No mess and so, so, so fast!

  6. 5 stars
    I used to not be a fan of chocolate pies because I always thought they were kind of a disappointment with not enough flavor and basically just a pudding cup. Then I had a really good one at this little pie shop and have been on the hunt for a good recipe since. This one is it! For one, it has a pie crust and not a graham crust, which I find essential. The brown butter, brown sugar, and sour cream add so much extra flavor; and the texture is just right. I did use dark chocolate (TJ’s pound plus) because I like it rich, and I will do that again. Also, I am so glad that I learned from you to make my whipped topping in the food processor, it really does make a big difference!

    • Hi Katie, I’m so sorry that happened! It sounds like it seized or burned; it has happened to me when the custard wasn’t taken off the heat before adding the chocolate. It can also happen if the chocolate used had very little actual chocolate in it (like a really low percentage of cocoa solids). If it was the heat, I usually find that adding more milk/heavy cream to the base brings it together though it will make it a creamier filling (a bit messier to slice).

  7. Sam,
    I was scanning recipes and I came across this one. I’m very excited to try it hopefully this week!
    I do the same as you when I look at Recipes I always think how can I make this better????Love that!
    so question…. When do you add the brown butter back into the filling? Unless I misunderstood when you were explaining to scrape all the bits.
    Out of the pan, I took that as you are setting it aside to warm the milk and sugar then temper the eggs etc… normally with a custard pie you smooth it out and lastly whisk in some amount of butter. I Am just a bit unclear on this!
    Thankyou for sharing the recipe and the whipped cream tip in food processor, never heard that before but it makes sense! Who doesn’t hate it when a beautiful pie is ruined when the cream flattens????????
    If I hear back from you I have some great recipes I’d love to share with you!
    my family’s favorite is a stuffed pork roast that I make with a Spanakopita-esque filling…to die for!
    hopefully I hear from you soon!
    Have a Blessed Holiday and Merry Cooking from Sherri Bono in Boston ????????????????????

    • Hi Sherri! For this recipe the butter goes in first! So you can brown the butter in a skillet or frying pan and then transfer it to a pot and proceed with making the custard. I’ve also done it where I brown the butter straight into the pot but it takes a bit longer. Once the butter is browned and in the pot you’ll add the sugar and milk to the pot and stir until the sugar dissolves. Then temper in the eggs (thats why you add a little of the hot liquid to the eggs before you add them to the pot). Hope that makes sense! =)

  8. 5 stars
    Omg- this is SO GOOD! Sam’s pie crust is my absolute favorite, and it was deliciously flaky as always. The filling was oh so good, with light brown butter notes coming through here and there, and super decadent and fudgy- almost like a thick, indulgent ganache. I didn’t have heavy whipping cream on hand, so I went without and it was still fantastic. Bottom line- make this now!

  9. 5 stars
    This was very delicious, my family loved it, I’ve made it twice already. I want to make a caramelized white chocolate version. Can I use the same recipe, and just use caramelized white chocolate instead of dark?

    • I LOVE the idea of a CWC pie! Doing a caramelized white chocolate tart has been on my agenda for awhile. So about subbing it in for the chocolate here, remember white chocolate has more sugar and fat (cream) than semi- or dark chocolate and so the consistency of the filling will change quite a bit. It’ll be less solid firm and a lot sweeter. Plus, with the addition of the cocoa, you might not get that straight cwc flavor you’re looking for. I’m going to see what I can do about getting you a tart recipe in the meantime =)

  10. 5 stars
    I made this recipe for a Valentine’s Day treat this year. It was my first time making brown butter AND making a custard. I would call myself an intermediate baker, and have run into trouble in the past with my caramel or ganache splitting, so I am happy that this pie turned out exactly as expected. Hands-down, it’s the best chocolate cream pie that I’ve ever had.

    Things I especially liked:
    –The great recipe ingredient notes that made sure I got a 60% semi-sweet dark chocolate. It came out tasting like a ganache.
    –The precautionary note about the chocolate mixture splitting if the chocolate melts too quickly. My partner got carried away chopping the chocolate, but I was prepared with my sour cream and milk to bring it back together.
    –The video showing the technique for getting the egg yolks to the right temp before mixing it into the brown butter mixture. No scrambled eggs here!
    –WHIPPED CREAM IN A FOOD PROCESSOR. I’ve never in my life made a whipped cream that came out so dense, creamy and flavorful. I’m lucky I had enough to cover the pie with the amount both of us kept sneaking from the processor.

    • Joy – thank you so much for this detailed review. The fact that you read the notes and watched the video to pick up the exact tips to make it just right means you got the pie I aim for everyone to make! I really appreciate the details you noted here and it’s made me want to be sure to include the right notes for all of my recipes.

  11. Hey Sam, thank you for the recipe, it was the best smelling chocolate mix ever made in my kitchen. I had problems only with the texture – I never got it to a ganache state, so my pie had kinda two cream layers. It still tasted great, just didn’t turn out like I imagened.

    • Hi Daryna, it should have solidified somewhat. Do you know if you cooked it long enough for it to thicken? I also wonder if the chocolate used had less cocoa solids than recommended? If it’s a softer bar, semi sweet or milk it might cause some issues.

  12. 5 stars
    This pie was one of the best things I have ever made! I followed the directions exactly. The custard turned out silky smooth! I was worried that my chocolate wasn’t going to be good enough for this recipe because I just had a bag of semisweet chocolate chips. It was heavenly. Best pie ever!!!!

  13. 5 stars
    I made a half-recipe in a 7-inch tin. The depth of flavor in the custard is incredible!! I love the subtle notes the brown butter and brown sugar; it’s super creamy but it doesn’t feel overly rich, especially with the brightness from the sour cream. Also was my first time using an immersion blender to whip cream — definitely a method I’ll be using again in the future.

  14. Never had the best luck making chocolate cream pies but can’t resist trying this one. Quick question-in step 4 are the browned butter solids scraped into the mix or are they meant to be left out as much as possible? Thanks and enjoy your feast!