This is one of my granny’s specialties.
My granny is a great baker and while the rest of my family thinks her pecan pie and her butterscotch pie are unrivaled, I would take her chocolate pie over those two any day.
She makes a chocolate pie every time I come to visit and I always look forward to it. There’s just nothing else quite like it.
When I make her chocolate pie, I ignore the meringue because that just dilutes the wonderful, rich chocolate. But for those who are serious about pretty pies, I have included the meringue in the recipe.
While the pie is not that hard to make, there are a few tricks that are critical. It just so happens that these tricks are not listed in my granny’s recipe as submitted to a local cookbook. Though some people leave out ingredients and steps so no one can steal their thunder, I don’t think this was intentional on my granny’s part. She has just made this pie so many times in her life that I bet she didn’t even realize some of the things that she does that make it just so.
Consequently, I had to make the pie with her several times before I had all of the right steps and ingredients. I have notes scribbled all over the recipe in the cookbook. One thing that she does is make 1 ½ times the recipe ingredients for a fuller pie. So, for the sake of simplicity, I have listed the ingredients as she and I always make them instead of trying to remember to multiply all of the measurements by 1 ½. Brilliant, right?
She taught me to make this pie several years ago and then she later taught my cousin. Wouldn’t you know that she has changed the recipe in the last year?
She added cornstarch, which I think makes it too thick and robs it of its velvety goodness. Apparently, there is also cream of tartar and marshmallow fluff in the meringue. This was news to me, but I don’t make the meringue anyway, so I’m not going to get all worked up about it.
Here is what you will need:
9” pie crust
1 ½ cups sugar
3 ½ tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups milk (best made with whole milk)
4 ½ tbsp. cocoa powder
Smidgen of salt
5 eggs, separated
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of cream of tartar
3 tbsp. marshmallow creme
I forgot to pull out the marshmallow creme for the picture. Sorry about that. Also, the sugar and flour seem to be a little shy as they hide behind the cornstarch that I would recommend you not use. I should also note at this point that my granny does not put any salt in the pie, but I feel like just the tiniest amount really boosts the chocolate-y-ness.
So, here we go:
Bake off the pie shell according to the package instructions. Or, if you would like to blind bake a homemade crust, knock yourself out.
Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in the pot that will be the top half of your double boiler.
Separate eggs. Set egg whites aside for meringue.
Combine half of milk and yolks…
…and whisk until completely incorporated (i.e. no yolk bits that could cause lumps in the pie. Your granny will be very upset if you are not careful about this. Trust me, I speak from experience.)
Now here is some tricky business that my granny does not have written down anywhere, but it is the secret to having a smooth pie filling: pour egg and milk mixture through a strainer into dry mixture.
Because we told Granny to sit down as we prepared the pie so we could try to make it ourselves, there was a lot of back seat driving. Apparently, we weren’t straining the eggs correctly…..but the pie turned out fine.
Assure your grandma that you’ve got things under control and then add the other half of the milk through the strainer.
And then give it a big ol’ stir to let the ingredients get to know each other.
Then put the mixture on the stove and stir. I should mention that my granny has a bizarre pot (pictured) that I believe was once part of a pressure cooker that somehow functions similarly to a double boiler so we always use this to make pie fillings. One less thing to clean.
Now, you may want to start out with a whisk to make sure all of the ingredients incorporate, but then switch to a spoon and stir the mixture over medium-low heat constantly until the mixture has thickened. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot gently so thickened parts don’t stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.
If you are impatient when it comes to eating chocolate like I am, you may think the filling is done when the mixture has a little bit of body to it, but you would be incorrect. The mixture is not adequately thickened until you can see the bottom of the pot for a few seconds in the wake of your spoon when you scrape it against the pot.
As the mixture begins to thicken, you may add the butter and vanilla for a nice touch of richness because the chocolate is not rich enough already. Ha.
Continue cooking until the mixture achieves the viscosity described above.
Let cool a bit and then pour into baked pie shell.
Let pie cool completely before preparing meringue. Or just let it cool until it’s just warm and eat a slice without any of that silly meringue. Suit yourself.
Please lick the pot as you wait. It would be a sin to let any chocolate go to waste.
My cousins, sister and I have licked many a chocolate pie pot in our days. We were caught chocolate-handedwhen this photo was taken a few years ago.
If you elect to make a sky-high meringue as my cousin Lauren did, beat the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar on high until they form peaks when you pull the whisk out. Then, add marshmallow creme 1 tablespoon at a time.
I forgot to take a picture of this step because I was still licking the pot.
Next, using a spatula, make your meringue real purty on the pie. Then bake it in a 400 degree oven until the meringue peaks start to brown.
Let pie cool and then devour.
Even though I promptly slid the meringue off my pie when I ate a piece, I have to admit that my cousin did a lovely job with the meringue.
Y’all come back now, ya hear?