Day 4: Black-Bottom Pie

Thursday, November 19, 2009

[for those of you just joining me, I am making a pie every day for 7 days. I have never before made any of these recipes, and have limited experience making pie at all. Also, there are no shortcuts allowed; everything that can be homemade must be. and yes, I'm working in my "real" job this week.]

Day 1: Butterscotch pie here
Day 2: Buttermilk Lemon Pie here
Day 3: Pumpkin Pie here

Day 4: Black-Bottom Pie

Okay, so my interest in black-bottom pie started with an anecdote told to me by a dear family friend, Peggy S, from when she was a new bride over 25 years ago. I was a newly married gal myself, so I just loved hearing this story. She told about how she worked and worked and worked so hard one day to make her husband's all-time favorite pie completely from scratch: black-bottom.

The kicker: this is her husband's favorite pie that his mother makes. Her husband's response to the pie? "It's good, but my mother makes it this way..."

Right then, Mrs Peggy vowed that she was done with black-bottom pie.

I, however, was intrigued by this notion of black-bottom pie, having never eaten or even seen one.

When this pie project popped up, I just knew this would have to make the list. During my consultations with Lori [pie mentor pictured on Day 3], she told me she has a fantastic recipe for chocolate wafers.

The recipe variations I found during my research included some with a gingersnap crust, some with a graham cracker crust, and some with a chocolate wafer crust. The thrill of homemaking my own chocolate wafers [having never made them before] led me to settle on (of course) a chocolate wafer crust.

Well, if the crust varies from chocolate wafers, then what makes the "black bottom," you ask? The layer of chocolate ganache/pudding on the bottom of the pie, topped with a meringue-y topper.

Great! now we all know.

Okay, onto the crust:
[I don't feel at liberty to share this recipe, but email me if you really really want it and we'll figure something out]

You make the chocolate wafer dough in the food processor:

...then you roll it out into a log and wrap it in wax paper

[does this remind anyone of Caddyshack?]

Then you put it in the fridge and let it chill.

[confession: I made this dough on Sunday while the pate brisee for the Butterscotch/Pumpkin pies was chilling. hey, a girl's only got so much time in a work-week.]
[confession 2: the following 4 photos are phone pics, I had technical difficulties during this part.]

When you're ready to bake them, cut thin thin slices

and bake at 350 until they're done.

Crush them up,

then mix with some butter and sugar

press in a pie pan (i used glass last night because only the crust was being baked)

and bake the crust at 350 for about 12 minutes.

For some reason, the sides fell a little bit after I baked it. It was too sticky for pie weights, and a little too heavy to stay up to the edge, I guess. But that's ok, it just made the ends of the pieces have thicker crust [yum!]

Here's the filling:

You start the chocolate "black bottom" by melting an unsweetened chocolate square in a double boiler:

and meanwhile, soften some gelatin in a bowl of a little cold water:

Then you start on the custard:

whole milk + sugar in a saucepan, then egg yolks [you know it'll be alright if you have these two ingredients to start with]

Let it thicken:

Once it's boiled and cooled a little, you take one cup of the custard mix and add it to the melted chocolate (which has been taken off the double boiler at this point, since it's cooled):

You spread the chocolate mixture on the bottom of the cooled pie shell. [unfortunately, I forgot to get a photo of this, but I bet you fine people can imagine what a chocolate crust with chocolate pudding on top looks like!]

To the remaining custard, add your gelatin, and some rum! and take it off the burner

While this is cooling, work on your meringue [YES! meringue again!] I let Jonny help me out.

Once it's "stiff and glossy" and you get a spoonful, turn it upside down, and nothing moves--you're good to go.

Mix the meringue with the custard:

Topping the pie!

filled and pre-chilled [i'm good at rhyming, no?]

It's supposed to chill in the fridge for 3 hours, but I put it in the freezer for an hour and a half and it seemed fine.

We didn't have too much time to spare, because we went out to visit Brett and his dog-children, Barkley and Maizy!

I think they wanted pie more than Brett did (which is tough to say)!

YUM YUM YUM! this is in the running for my favorite pie of the week thus far. I love the crunchy crust (as does my husband--he needs crunch in his food).

Brett and his dinnerware are so patriotic:

an inside view:

Success! This pie took the least amount of time so far; excluding homemaking chocolate wafer cookies and chilling time, it probably took around an hour to make.

I highly recommend this one, with gold stars.


Black-Bottom Pie
[adapted from this one, via]


1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk (i used whole milk)
2 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
2 1/2 tablespoons rum
1 (1 ounce) square unsweetened chocolate
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup white sugar


Soften gelatin in cold water. Melt chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler or in a bowl in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Combine 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan. Blend together milk and egg yolks, stir into sugar mix. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until mixture boils. Remove 1 cup of custard, and combine with chocolate: spread into baked pie shell. Stir softened gelatin into remaining hot custard mix. Stir in rum. Place pan in a bowl of ice water, or refrigerate. Stir occasionally, until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from spoon.

Stir softened gelatin into remaining hot custard mix. Stir in rum. Place pan in a bowl of ice water, or refrigerate [I didn't do this step. I only just set it off the burner on a trivet to let it cool]. Stir occasionally, until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from spoon.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Beat in 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Do not underbeat. Fold in chilled custard. Spread over chocolate mixture. Chill at least 3 hours or until set (I did 1.5 hrs in the freezer and it was fine).

Chocolate Wafer Pie Crust
[adapted from this one]

2ish c. chocolate wafer crumbs
3 tbsp. sugar
1 stick butter, melted

Combine all ingredients; mix well. Firmly press mixture into bottom and sides of a lightly greased 9 inch pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool. Yield: one 9 inch pie crust.

vinyl accompaniment: Huey Lewis & the News, Sports


xoxo Pie Sleuth


  1. yum yum yum.

    You got any chocolate wafers left? There is one thing missing in this post.


  2. that.looks.delicious

  3. I'm definitely going to have to make this! Props on the Huey Lewis by the way. That's the power of love.


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