Monday, March 29, 2021

Caramel Chai Custard Pie

For March and April, the baking cookbook for the Rainy Day Bites Cookbook Club is The Book On Pie by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I skipped the first challenge, which was the Easy Fancy Apple Pie, although I did make the Breakfast Pie in an earlier post. The second challenge was the Earl Grey Custard Pie in Gingersnap Crust with Salted Caramel. Since my birthday cake made of Earl Grey was not to my tastes, I was not about to make another full dessert with it! The alternate version was this Chai Caramel Custard Pie, where you steep chai tea in milk and cream before making the custard. The options for the crust were many - I went with pecan sandies cookie crumb crust, because I thought it might be a little lighter (and less like fall) than the gingersnap crust. 

Overhead shot of a caramel custard pie, toppied with whipped cream and cookie crumbles

I'm not sure I cooked the caramel long enough, but since it was just for a sauce, I didn't worry too much about it. I didn't have light karo, just dark, so it was harder to see that caramel moment.

Side view of one slice of pie, oozing with caramel

I think this would be a great Thanksgiving pie alternative for people who don't eat pumpkin, but maybe it could be balanced with nuts or more salt in the caramel - it is sweet sweet sweet! Actually I saw some were just drizzling the caramel on the whipped cream instead of coating the custard in the pie; that would be another option.

Caramel-Earl Grey Custard Pie (chai version below)

Source: Epicurious (identical to recipe in cookbook, plus links below to caramel and crust)
one 9-inch / 23-cm pie


  • 226 g / 1 cup whole milk
  • 78 g / ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 8 g / ¼ cup loose Earl Grey tea (or 5 Earl Grey tea bags)
  • 212 g / 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 7 g / 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 170 g / 3 large eggs
  • 5 g / 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 g / ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • One 9-inch / 23-cm Basic Crumb Crust made with gingersnap crumbs, parbaked and cooled completely
  • 1 recipe Salted Caramel Sauce (optional), well chilled
  • Full Batch of Classic Whipped Cream (optional)


  1. In medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat, add the tea, and cover the pan. Let steep for 15 to 20 minutes, then strain the liquid into a medium bowl (or just remove the tea bags, if using, and pour into the bowl).
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C with a rack in the center (preferably with a Baking Steel or stone on it).
  3. In a medium bowl, stir the brown sugar and cornstarch together well to combine. Add this mixture to the milk mixture, along with the eggs, and whisk well to combine. Add the vanilla and salt and whisk until well incorporated.
  4. Place the parbaked crust on a parchment-lined baking sheet and pour the custard into it. Transfer to the oven and bake until the crust is deeply golden brown and the custard is set around the outside but still slightly jiggly in the center, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 24 hours).
  5. Pour some or all of the caramel glaze over the top of the pie and spread into an even layer over the surface. A thin layer will set firmer and a thicker layer will be gooier—or you can drizzle it over slices when serving. Refrigerate the pie for at least 1 hour, or until ready to slice and serve.
  6. Do Ahead: The pie can be made up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve. 
Caramel-Chai Custard Pie in Shortbread Crumb Crust:
Replace the Earl Grey tea with an equal amount of chai. Make the crumb crust with shortbread or vanilla cookie crumbs.

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