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Mmm, pie. November 10, 2006

Posted by clumsyraine in Food, NaBloPoMo.

(Hmm, I better watch out, or I’ll end up being known as the pie blog.)

So, alot of people I know have already started decorating for Christmas. (Christmas?! It’s November 10th, people.) We don’t really decorate around here, but all this holiday spiritedness has been making me want to bake. So, I did!

I made a chocolate pie, using my grandma’s recipe. I cheated on the crust, I haven’t been brave enough to try to make crust from scratch yet, so Betty Crocker’s crust mix to the rescue for me.

I make the 1/2 crust and pre-bake it according to the box directions. Set aside to cool. (Forgot to grab the camera for this step.)

It’s tough to juggle the filling and the meringue. On the one hand, the Baking 911 meringue guide says to use it within 5 minutes once you’re finished beating it. On the other hand, it says the meringue will do best if placed onto practically still-boiling filling. Well, this filling takes longer than 5 minutes to boil, and I’ve only got 2 hands. I think the last time I made this pie, I completed the filling before making the meringue, so this time I tried it the other way around, and I’m not positive, but I think my meringue was kind of flat this time. So maybe the better sacrifice to make is a less-than-boiling filling over a more-than-5-minutes-old meringue.

I measured out all my ingredients for everything ahead of time. I should add that I believe the original recipe probably makes filling for 1 pie, but I’ve never made, or seen it made, in single format. My mom, and now I, have always tripled the recipe because the leftover filling doubles as awesome chocolate pudding (and I promise, the pie isn’t going to last long, so it’s nice to have a bowl of pudding stashed away in the back of the refrigerator for after it’s gone. 😉 ) I’ll include the original and the tripled measurements out to the side:

Pour into a large pot:
1 12 oz. can Pet (evaporated) milk (3 cans)
1 cup water (3 cups)

Sift together:
2/3 cup sugar (2 cups)
1/8 tsp salt (3/8 tsp)
2 heaping tbsp cocoa powder (6 heaping tbsp)
2 1/2 heaping tbsp flour (7 1/2 heaping tbsp)

Ready in one bowl:
2 egg yolks (6 egg yolks) (save 3 whites for your meringue)

Ready in another bowl:
1 hunk* of butter (3 hunks*)

* In true southern cooking form, I’ve never seen butter or vanilla actually measured, heh. I would estimate I used about 4 tablespoons butter for the tripled recipe though.

For the meringue:
3 egg whites in your mixing bowl

Set aside:
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla
sugar (1/4 cup to 6 tbsp, depending on the recipe, see below)

I made my meringue according to the directions on the Cream of Tartar jar (what IS that stuff, anyway? It stinks.) because I was too lazy to come back to the computer to see how much sugar per egg I was supposed to use. (Baking 911 says “at least 1 1/2 tbsp per egg white.” About.com says 2 tbsp per egg white. The CoT jar called for 1/4 cup for 3 egg whites. How many tbsp is in 1/4 cup? I think 2 tbsp = 1 oz, so 4 tbsp = 2 oz = 1/4 cup. That’s less than 1 1/2 tbsp per egg white. I guess we’ll see how it tastes tomorrow…)

Begin by beating the eggwhites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla and continue beating until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

I already had the pet milk and water in a large pot before I started the meringue, so just before I began adding the sugar I reached over and turned the burner on Med-Hi. I finished up the meringue and set it aside.

Patience is key here, because the milk/water will take a bit to start simmering, but you need to continually stir and scrape the bottom while you wait on it, otherwise it will stick something awful. After FOREVER it begins to simmer; at this point I switch from a plastic slotted spoon to a whisk and begin pouring the dry mix in little at a time (I probably do it in 1/4ths), whisking well as you go. Make sure to get out any lumps, but don’t take too long.

Now whisk in your egg yolks, mixing well. Shortly after this point, the whole thing will probably begin to bubble, big popping bloop’ing bubbles. Keep whisking hard and fast, but here I usually turn the heat down to Medium just for a minute. Add the butter/vanilla, and even though your arm is about to fall off you’ve got to keep stirring until it’s well mixed in.

This should be close to done; I wish I had a good description of the consistency you’re looking for, but I really don’t. I can only eyeball when it’s the right thickness because I’ve made it wrong so many times. You really don’t want it to overcook, it will thicken as it sits. I’m just going to hope that you’ve moved quickly through the steps and your timing is where mine was. Turn off the fire and keep whisking for another minute.

I’ve got my pie plate on a cookie sheet to make life easy, and I bring it over next to the pot (still on the burner, remember Baking 911’s “still-boiling filling” suggestion). I grab a plastic solid spoon and spoon the filling into the pie shell (the filling thickly coats the spoon, hopefully yours is doing similarly).


Now I spoon my meringue onto the top of the pie, being sure to seal in the pie by starting at the outer edge and working your way inward. I’ve never been good at the making decorative “peaks” in the meringue with the back of a spoon, but I give it my best shot.


Now, according to About.com‘s directions, bake it at 325 degrees for 15-18 minutes (I pulled mine out at 15 and it was a little browner than I would have liked, so make sure to adjust this to your own oven).

And, voila!


(Note that the use of the decorative penguin to hide your messy stovetop is completely optional.)

Let it cool before covering and refrigerating.

Maybe I’m weird – I perfer the pie completely chilled, but the pudding to me is at it’s absolute peak straight off the stove. I’m talking nearly burning your tongue warm. My husband, however, is hard pressed to take his share of the pudding until it’s been refrigerated overnight, so, to each his own.

Well, that’s all folks… That was kind of fun! Hope you enjoyed!



1. Rachael - November 11, 2006

I love how you talk about making the pie, stirring till your arm falls off an all that.

2. Jenna - November 13, 2006

Great Recipe, Thanks for sharing your grandma’s recipe. I can’t wait to try it. Yeah!

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