Sneak Preview: This Zebra Pie is a fun layered chocolate and vanilla pudding pie recipe inside a dark chocolate crumb crust. A video is included to show you how to make the stripes.
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This zebra pie will fill the bill if you want a fun dessert with a familiar taste but a unique look. Like zebras which each have a one-of-a-kind stripe pattern, this pie looks different every time you make it.
You never know exactly what to expect. It’s part of the fun of slicing into the uncut pie.
What does Zebra Pie taste like?
In the same way chocolate and vanilla-swirled ice cream tastes mostly chocolate, this pie tastes mostly like a chocolate pie.
How many layers should I make?
After reading about a zebra cake at The Whimsical Cupcake, I imagined a pie with 12-15 layers, but that was unrealistic.
The number of layers makes a difference in the final appearance. Take your pick. I think more layers make the pie look more zebra-like.
Nine or ten layers seem to be the limit. If you try to do more, at least some of the layers will be so thin they are indistinguishable.
The best crust for this pie
A store-bought chocolate crumb crust makes this pie so much easier. A store-bought crust also makes getting a slice of pie out of the pan cleanly much easier.
If you can’t find a pre-made chocolate crumb crust or would rather make it yourself, try this Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust Recipe from Serious Eats. The Dutch chocolate and salt contribute to an unforgettable taste treat. You’ll want to eat the cookie crumbs straight up.
A graham cracker crust, either homemade or storebought, will also work.
How to make the cream, pudding, or pie filling in a microwave
Tips for making the cream filling:
Note: If desired, substitute a chocolate pudding mix and a vanilla pudding mix for this scratch recipe.
- Assemble the cream filling in a blender. When cooked in the microwave, the result is a lump-free, silky-smooth texture in 6-7 minutes.
- Keep cooking if the custard is not thick after 6-7 minutes. Microwave ovens vary wildly.
- The cream filling will get much thicker as it cools. The pudding is thick enough when the hot cream mixture coats the spoon.
- Cook the filling on the stove if you prefer. A double-boiler setup helps to avoid scorching the custard. Watch it carefully and stir constantly.
- The layers will blur along the cut edges if you try to cut the pie before it is well-chilled (3-4 hours). It won’t affect the taste, but the “zebra” stripes won’t be well-defined.
How to assemble the layers of a chocolate and vanilla pudding pie:
Please watch to video inside the recipe to get the overall idea for putting this pie together.
#1 Pour half of the vanilla pudding into a chocolate or graham cracker crust, carefully spreading it across the bottom and up the sides of the crust.
#2 Add half of the chocolate pudding on top by pouring it into the middle, carefully spreading it over the top of the first vanilla layer. Leave a margin of vanilla filling around the outside. Work fast before the cream can cool too much and thicken.
#3 Continue alternating flavors, adding half of the remaining filling to the center of the pie. It will begin to make a mound.
#4 Cover the pie with plastic wrap when all the pudding is used. Use your hand to gently push the cream filling from the center toward the edges until it’s flat. Be careful not to disturb the rings. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.
Note about the filling:
The chocolate filling tends to get thicker than the vanilla as it cools. If it becomes difficult to spread, whisk in an extra teaspoon or two of milk.
If you think you have hopelessly messed up the layers, gently swirl the cream filling with a knife perpendicular to the pie.
Cover with whipped topping and call it “Chocolate and Vanilla Pudding Swirl Pie.” It will look like you planned it that way from the beginning.
FAQs about Zebra Pie:
Yes. Place it in your refrigerator for quicker cooling. Cover it first, pressing the plastic wrap down on top so it won’t form a skin on top.
Flour or cornstarch are popular thickeners.
Try almond, oatmeal, soy, coconut, or cashew milk.
Parting Thoughts: This is the definition of a “fun” pie. I hope you’ll give it a try. If you enjoy making cream pies, check out this Speedy Microwave Chocolate Cream Pie or this Microwave Pastry Cream you can transform into a Banana Cream Pie or Coconut Cream Pie.
Recipe Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.
Zebra Cream Pie
- 1 prepared chocolate crumb crust – I use store-bought
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 2 cups of milk
- ¾ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 egg yolks – from large-size eggs
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped Cream Topping
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Finely-chopped chocolate for garnish – optional
- Melt bittersweet chocolate in a 4-cup glass bowl by microwaving at 50% power for 2 minutes. Stir once after one minute. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Add milk, sugar, flour, salt, and egg yolks, (in that order) to a blender. Blend 5 seconds and pour into a 2-quart glass microwave-safe bowl.
- Microwave 5-9 minutes on HIGH. After cooking 4 minutes, whisk until it is smooth, then every minute thereafter until cream mixture heavily coats a spoon. Remember that it will get thicker as it chills. (If not thick, keep adding time until it thickens. Microwave ovens vary wildly.)
- Pour the pastry cream through a strainer only if you see lumps.
- Add butter and vanilla, whisking until smooth.
- Pour half of the hot filling into the bowl of melted chocolate. Stir until smooth.
- Assembling the pie: (See the video to watch this in action.)
- Pour half of the vanilla batter into the pie crust, carefully spreading it across the bottom and up the sides of the crust.
- Add half of the chocolate filling on top by pouring into the middle, carefully spreading it over the top of the first vanilla layer. Leave a margin of vanilla filling around the outside. Work fast before the cream can cool too much and thicken.
- Continue alternating flavors, adding half of the remaining filling to the center of the pie. It will begin to make a mound.
- When all filling is used, cover with plastic wrap. Use your hand to gently push the cream filling from the center toward the edges until it’s flat. Be careful not to disturb the rings. Chill at least 4 hours before serving.
Sweetened Whipped Cream:
- Beat heavy cream and vanilla extract until the cream starts to form soft peaks.
- Add confectioners sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Use immediately or store in the fridge for 2-3 hours
- Cover with sweetened whipped cream and chopped chocolate. Slice and serve.
Updated December 2019