Sunday, December 12, 2010

Blacktop Pie with Tail Lights

On a recent visit to my hometown of Yakima in eastern Washington State, I happened upon my grandmother’s (Helen Rand) recipe for an old family favorite: Black Bottom Pie.

While I love this pie, the two problems are that (1) I never really cared for its name, and (2) eating raw egg whites is now frowned upon for health reasons. Besides justifying the name change, another purpose in reversing the top and bottom layers is due to the custard layer not working quite as well as the traditional recipe (since it’s been cooked this time).

PS. Yes, I know my photograph may not show the most attractive culinary creation. Give it a chance, though. It may surprise you!

You may wish to complete the pie crust first. This is my preferred crust recipe: 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup (minus 2 tablespoons) of Crisco, 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook for half an hour, or so, between 350 and 375.

Now, we begin the pie fillings. Soften about 3/4 tablespoon of gelatin in 1/4 cup of cold water. Set aside.

In a saucepan, gradually combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 4 tablespoons of corn starch with 2 cups of milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Remove from heat and slowly stir in 4 beaten eggs yolks. Return to heat, stirring constantly, and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend 1 3/4 cups of the above custard with 3/4 of a package of high quality chocolate chips (or, alternatively, use baking chocolate). Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Set the chocolate filling aside to cool.

Add the gelatin to remaining custard mixture and heat gently. (This is where my new version of the recipe begins to diverge from the original.) On the side, add 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar to the 3 or 4 egg whites. Begin beating with mixer. Once starting to be firm, add 4 or 5 tablespoons of sugar. Continue to beat the egg whites and stir the custard on the gentle heat.

Slowly spoon out the whipped egg white and gently mix into the hot custard--a little bit at a time. Once all of the egg whites have been transferred, continue to heat for another couple minutes. Once the consistency begins to remind you of a soufflĂ©, you’ll want to quickly remove the custard from the heat. Add 1 1/2-2 teaspoons of rum flavoring (or the real thing). To further thicken, you may wish to beat the custard a second time for a minute, or so, off the heat.

Pour the hot custard into the cooked pie shell. Sprinkle some maraschino cherries on the top of the first layer, then cover with the chocolate filling. Garnish with shaved chocolate and more cherries, if desired. Top with whipping cream, if you wish. Chill before serving.

At a Glance Ingredient List

Pie Crust:





Pie Filling:



Unflavored Gelatin



4 eggs (separated)

1 bag of high quality of chocolate chips


Rum flavoring

Maraschino cherries

This most likely concludes my blog for the 2010 year. I hope all (or “both”) of my readers will have a sparkling Christmas and a wonderful new year. For those in the Portland area, be sure to check out the Christmas lights at the Grotto!

(Isaiah 9:6)