Filed under: Food I Make, Food Made by Other Food Folks, Random Foodie Thoughts | Tags: chocolate, chocolate pie, food, life, recipes
The Story (the way I remember it) goes like this:
My aunt was new to the family. She was a cool city girl being introduced to our small country family long before my time. They had just finished lunch, and it was time for dessert. For some reason, my aunt was the one who went to the kitchen to get this pie that my grandmother, whom we called Mom, had made.
My aunt was almost to the table when she dropped Mom’s pie on the floor, meringue side down.
So what did they do? They scooped it off the floor and ate it. Of course.
If I could count the number of times I have heard this story. It was one of Mom’s favorites. She would tell it to you herself today if she were still here.
But, she is not, and so someone else has to make the pie and tell The Story.
This week was Miss Helper’s birthday. With a little help from her daddy, the answer to the question, “What do you want to eat for your birthday?” was “Chocolate pie.”
I have never, ever made a chocolate pie. I have never, ever made a meringue. I have never, ever attempted this recipe.
Until Miss Helper’s birthday. It was a moderate success that took me four hours to complete.
I was intimidated to say the least. I was making The Pie from The Story.
Mom’s recipe is
4 eggs, separated
1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. cocoa
5 T flour
Combine the egg yolk, sugar, and butter. Combine the flour and the cocoa. Then mix the two mixtures with the milk and vanilla and cook in a double boiler until thick. Beat with an electric mixer to make it glossy. Pour into a prebaked pie shell. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add 4 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of vanilla. Spread over the pie and bake at 350 until the meringue is brown.
Sounds easy enough, right? And Mom did it countless times in her old-fashioned kitchen that was nowhere near as modern as mine so I should have no trouble, right? And furthermore, I cook a lot so one little pie should be nothing, right?
I started out fine and dandy. Everything was going smoothly as far as I could tell.
Everything was happy in my made-do double boiler-a glass mixing bowl nestled in a pot of water. I was stirring my heart out when it was time to use the electric mixer to get the glossy effect. Realizing that I was about to use an electric mixer to vigorously beat the stew out of a piping hot mixture of sugar and chocolate stuff that was precariously placed in a boiling hot pot of boiling hot water, I second guessed the decision to need a glossy pie. I did it anyway, though.
I have a thing for glossy, I guess.
Anyway, I managed to beat the mixture with only a few minor flecks of the hot chocolate mixture getting anywhere, and all the hot water stayed put. It was pretty.
What it wasn’t was thick. I kept stirring and stirring and stirring, but it wasn’t any thicker than water. It had been in the double boiler for almost an hour. I was getting tired and ill, so I decided to make a cornstarch swirly to help things along.
I made a swirly and mixed it in. Nothing. I made another one. Nothing. And another. And nothing.
Finally, I was tired, ill, and ready to move on with my life so I just said to heck with it, and I poured the chocolate in a different pot and heated it by direct heat. By this time, I had lost track of exactly how much cornstarch was in the chocolate. There is no telling.
It thickened up, all right. In no time flat. It was edible even if it was the consistency of a tire, so I pressed on.
The birthday girl had to have a chocolate pie and so did her daddy.
I beat the eggs, vanilla, and the sugar until I thought it was thick enough. I probably should have beat them a little more, but I was about at my wit’s end, and it was good enough. I plopped it on the pie, and then I fluffed the meringue into peaks like I had seen people do on tv.
Then, realizing that Mom’s recipe didn’t mention an exact time to bake the pie, I just guessed. I figured ten minutes would do.
Turns out ten minutes wasn’t nearly enough, but by that time, I didn’t care. I took it out of the oven, and we left to eat dinner out. While we were out eating her birthday supper, Miss Helper kept saying, “I can’t wait to eat my birthday pie!” Oh, Lord. All I thought about was how I was about to ruin her big birthday with my terrible chocolate pie.
Luckily-and I do mean thank the good Lord above-the pie was good. Although, of course, it wasn’t as good as Mom’s. Mine tasted fine and miraculously wasn’t too tough. It was a weird syrupy pool in the bottom of the pie for some reason, but we still ate it.
Mom’s pie took me forever to make. Miss Helper was happy. Her daddy was happy. I was exhausted. Nobody dropped it. And somewhere up in Heaven, Mom looked down and probably laughed her head off at her youngest grandchild’s pitiful pie. Then, she probably turned around and told the first person she found The Story about her chocolate pie.
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