Rich, sweet, smooth milk chocolate pudding in a crunchy crust with a touch of salt, topped with slightly tangy whipped cream and salted peanuts.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Make the crust
Mix the peanuts, sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and butter in a medium bowl until the mixture is evenly moistened. Spread the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and use the bottom of a glass or a custard cup to press it evenly and firmly over the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the crust begins to set and colors slightly. If the crust puffs up while baking, press it gently back into place with the back of a fork or the custard cup.
Remove the crust from the oven, sprinkle the chopped chocolate over the bottom, and let the chocolate soften for 1 to 2 minutes. Using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, spread the chocolate evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the crust. Let cool, then chill the crust until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes.
Make the filling:
Whisk the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt together in a heavy medium saucepan. Add about 3 Tbs. of the milk and whisk to form a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining milk. Using a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping the bottom, sides, and corners of the pan, until the pudding thickens and begins to bubble at the edges, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook and stir for 1 minute, then add the chocolate and stir briskly until the chocolate is melted and the pudding is smooth, about 30 seconds longer. Scrape the hot pudding into the crust and level it with one or two strokes of the spatula. Let cool for 1 hour, then refrigerate the pie. When the filling is cool, cover and chill for at least several hours, or overnight.
Top the pie with dollops or a swirl of the whipped cream, and sprinkle with the peanuts.
Photo: Sang An