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…
Cool completely before cutting, and store in the fridge.
If it lasts that long.