Pudding pie is a rich, custardlike confection that you can whip up in minutes with just a few ingredients. The base for the pie is simply store-bought pudding, which you use to fill a pre-made pie crust. Once the pudding sets, after a few hours in the refrigerator, you'll have a tasty, homemade dessert that you can serve to all your guests without spending hours in the kitchen.
Purchase a pre-made pie shell of your choice to use as the base of your pie. Cookie crumb crusts work better than pastry crusts because they usually don't get as soggy when they come into contact with liquid fillings like pudding. Making your own crust is fairly easy too. Pulverize cookies with a crisp texture, like graham crackers, vanilla or chocolate wafers or gingersnaps, in a food processor. Mix the resulting cookie crumbs with enough melted butter to give them a firm, doughlike texture. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of a pie pan with a spatula until it's firmly in place. Bake the crust for around 10 minutes at 350 F and allow it to cool.
Pies made with cooked pudding have a firmer consistency than those made with instant pudding. You'll need about one large pudding mix, usually around 5 to 6 ounces, or two smaller ones, perhaps 3 to 4 ounces, to fill a 9-inch crust. Prepare the pudding with milk as directed, bringing it to a boil over medium-high heat while stirring, and pour it into your pie shell. To create a firmer filling, use one-half to three-quarters of the milk called for in the pudding directions. Allow the pie to cool in the refrigerator for around 6 hours before serving it. The cooling process allows the pudding to become firm. Top the chilled pie with whipped cream or whipped topping.
You can use instant pudding to make your pudding pie, which whips up quickly without any heating required. Prepare the pudding as directed but use about three-quarters of the milk called for to make the pudding. This will ensure that the pudding when set is thicker than usual, to make a firm pie. Whisk the pudding mix and milk for 2 minutes. Add the pudding to your pie shell and allow it to set for at least 2 hours until it's a bit firm to the touch. Top with whipped cream, fruit, crumbled cookies or chocolate shavings.
If using chocolate cooked pudding mix to make your pie, stir in some bittersweet chocolate chips during the cooking process to thicken it and give it a darker chocolate flavor. Add some white chocolate chips to vanilla pudding for added sweetness. The chips will melt when cooked with the pudding. When using instant pudding mix, you can gently stir marshmallows, chocolate chips, coconut, cookie crumbles or nuts right into the pudding mix after it's been whisked. The mix-ins won't melt as they might in a cooked pudding pie and will give the resulting pie a chunky texture once it's chilled in the refrigerator. Add bananas to vanilla or banana pudding mix, cooked or instant, to make a quick banana cream pie.