Butterfly’s Pie

Don’t suppose anyone else has a copy of this…. HA!

That’s right – the much-heralded Family Classic Chocolate Pie is from the good old Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book…. That’s my 1987 copy, a wedding present from long ago. I will not rat-out my mother by telling you what edition she has…

Well, that’s where the recipe started. I think I’ve made enough changes over the years that it’s safe to call it mine

(That ink’s not faded – that was one of my beloved purple pens. What’d you expect? I was barely 20…)

Ready to get started?

First order of business: pre-bake your pie shell. Use your favorite recipe for single-crust pastry. Or, buy one of those refrigerated ones – I don’t judge. Plop it in your 9″ pie plate (yes, Butterfly, that’s the Pyrex one) and bake at 450F for 10-12 minutes, or until golden.

Set aside, and proceed to pudding…

The original recipe calls for baking chocolate, which I never have on-hand. When the kids – and I – were young, it had a way of disappearing without ever making it into the intended recipe. Now days, it would sit around and get all bloom-y before it ever got used. Unsweetened cocoa powder has always been my chocolate of choice.

Ever see the face of an 8-year-old who tried to sneak a bite of that?


Since I won’t be melting chunks of chocolate into an already-steaming pot of sweet milk, the cocoa powder (1/2 cup) is mixed with the sugar (1cup) flour (1/2 cup) and salt (1/2 teaspoon) directly in the saucepan I make the pudding in. Using the wisk to mix the dry ingredients together combines them thoroughly, and breaks up any clumps.

Add the milk (3 cups) s-l-o-w-l-y. Get it all combined – no dry lumps remaining – before turning on the heat.

Turn on the burner – medium heat. Cook and stir (and stir and stir andstirandstir…) until thickened and bubbly. How long is that? Well…until…um… Ok, it’s vague. But there’s a good reason. The time will vary based on the butterfat content of the milk, the temperature it is when you start cooking, and your stove’s definition of ‘medium’ – and probably a dozen other variables I haven’t thought of. It took about 12 minutes when I made this one. When you start seeing elongated bubbles while you stir, you’re there. Don’t stop stirring.

Turn the heat down to low, and cook and stir two more minutes. Take it off the heat.

At your elbow, you will find a small bowl containing four egg yolks, lightly beaten. (Don’t worry about how it got there, there will be a more-cookin’ less-talkin’ version on the Recipe Tab) Scoop about a cup of the hot mixture out of the pan, mix it into the egg yolks – slowly, don’t want to curdle them! – then pour the whole thing back in the pan.

 Bring it back up to a gentle boil, and cook for two more minutes. Keep stirring.

Take it off the heat, and stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and six tablespoons of butter. Mix the butter in after it melts. Set the pudding aside.

Moving on to Meringue:

Before you say anything, yes, I am aware that most people don’t put meringue on chocolate-cream pie. It seems to be a Southerners-only deal, and a select subset of them. It makes perfect sense to me…four egg YOLKS in the pudding, leaves four egg WHITES for meringue. Why not use them?

Ok, that’s out of the way. So, you got your four egg whites – at room temperature, please. They will whip so much better that way. Add a half-teaspoon of vanilla, and a quarter-teaspoon Cream of Tartar. Beat at medium speed for about a minute, until you get soft peaks.

Ramp it up to ‘high’ and add six tablespoons of sugar, one at a time. After about five minutes, you should have a shiny, stiff meringue, ready to go…

Time to put it all together!

Give the pudding one last good stir, and pour into the prepared pie shell. Spoon the meringue over the top, and ‘seal’ it to the edge of the crust. Hand the (nearly) empty pot to the Boy who’s been taking pictures for you all afternoon, and let him “clean” it for you…

Pop that beauty into a pre-heated 350F oven, and bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly-browned on top. Like this:

Cool completely before cutting, and store in the fridge.

If it lasts that long.

(For the much-easier-to-follow recipe, click here.)


32 thoughts on “Butterfly’s Pie

    • I’m fairly sure that recipe has been in the book since my grandmother’s copy – and I won’t even hazard a guess as to what edition she has!
      That’s the pie my mother will carry to a cousin’s house next week for the holiday – if I messed anything up, we should know soon!

  1. OK, we’ve lived here too long, I was thinking doesn’t everyone put a meringue on their chocolate pie? This looks fantastic. Katherine always wants to make a chocolate pie but hasn’t found the right recipe. I think I just did. We have a very well used hardbound version of this. Katherine wore out the notebook or a different version and we got a second one.

    • You should have seen the odd looks I got the first time I made this for a bunch of New Englanders…they were thinking Jello Pudding and Cool Whip!
      They all know better now… 🙂
      Hope this one works for you. The pudding is awsome all by itself…

    • If you don’t want to go whole-pie, just have her make the pudding. It’s a great one to learn.
      Thanks for the compliment – I’ve been writing this for hours, only to have half of it disappear into the ether, and re-write…

  2. My Better Homes and Gardens is a 1962 copy. My mother was married in 1939 but I think she got her copy much later than that. My pie recipe is on a card so I don’t have to get the book out. Mother does hers from memory!! Good luck, Lady Sarah!!

    • See, I wasn’t gonna tell on you, but you went and did it yourself… 😀
      I looked up the history of the BH and G cookbook – the first one was published 1930. I’d be interested to know what edition Nana has – even though she can do the pie from memeory, and no longer ‘needs’ it!

    • You’re saying my ’87 vintage cookbook is an antique? I’m older than I thought… 😉
      I love old cookbooks, too. Some of my favorites are the ones that churches and civic groups put together for fundraisers – they’re a glimpse into what was popular at a particular time. I’m going to do some posts this winter about some of my favorites. When I’m not shovelling snow, that is…

  3. Yummy, that looks so good! Reminds me of my mother’s chocolate pie–whether she used Betty Crocker or not, I do not know…think the receipe was handed down…bet the pie did not
    last long with a “hungry boy” around! 🙂

  4. A wonderful recipe for which you’ve supplied detailed instructions. That would be enough but you included those incredible pictures! Those last 2 photos have be wanting chocolate pie in the worst way. What a great post!

    • There’s more, come on over! It’s only – what? – a 10-hour drive?
      Glad you liked the photos – my daughter made one last week, all on her own, and while the pudding was great, she really didn’t get the ‘stiff and glossy’ thing down for the meringue. I hope the pics are a useful guide for her.

  5. Don’t you just loooove those classic old cookbooks! All cookbooks have their delights, yes, but nothin’ beats the golden oldies. But then, I think that about myself, so maybe I’m a little skewed in my viewpoint. 😉 The pie looks rich and racy. Ohhhh, my, pie! 🙂

    • I do love old cookbooks – especially the church-fundraiser type. Even the ones that aren’t terribly old are great for a laugh – like the “International Food” section in one that’s from ’86: 25 quasi-Italian recipes and a couple of very inauthentic Chinese…
      But, desserts? Those ladies had that part down-pat!

  6. Yaaay! Chocolate Pie ! I love using old and favourite cookbooks, I have my mothers and the ones she bought me, and I still turn to them.
    And as we are having a party in a couple of weeks time, I know what will be on the desert menu, so thanks for sorting that one out for me 🙂

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