Thursday, March 15, 2012

Black Bottom Pie

Black Bottom Pie
Source: Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 1999 ed.), pg. 359.

This recipe is a variation of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (author of "The Yearling", "Cross Creek" and "Cross Creek Cookery"). Both recipes call for ginger (or gingersnaps) in the crust. I have to confess that I did not like the crust. The ginger was too strong and if I make it again, I will omit that. If you like ginger, you'll probably love it but if not, you are warned! Otherwise, this a light, creamy custard-like pie that has a lot of fans.

1 1/4 cups graham-cracker crumbs
1 TBS. sugar
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 oz. (1/2 stick) sweet butter

Adjust oven rack to the center and preheat to 375 degrees.

Mix the crumbs with the sugar, ginger and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and stir.

Press the mixture against the sides of the pie plate (Maida recommends a glass plate). Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven until lightly browned around the edges.

2 oz. (2 squares) unsweetened chocolate
1 TBS (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
1 TBS cornstarch
Pinch of salt
4 large eggs, separated
1 3/4 cup milk
2 TBS dark rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Melt the chocolate in the top of a small double boiler over hot water on moderate heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sprinkle the envelope of gelatin over the cold water and set aside.
Mix 1/2 cup of the sugar with the cornstarch and pinch of salt. Set aside. (Reserve the remaining sugar for later).

Place the egg yolks in the top of a double boiler and mix lightly with a wire whisk or fork.

In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, scald the milk. You will see small bubbles or a wrinkled skin on the surface of the milk when it is ready.
Stir in the sugar-cornstarch mixture.
Slowly pour the milk mixture into the yolks, stirring constantly. Cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring gently and scraping the pot with a rubber spatula. The custard should reach the consistency of a medium cream sauce. Remove the top of the double boiler and set aside. Remove 1 cup of the custard and set aside to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until tepid. For the remaining custard (in the double boiler) - add the softened gelatin and stir until dissolved. Stir in the rum and set aside.
Gradually add the 1 cup of reserved custard to the chocolate, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Mix until smooth. Add the vanilla, stir and turn the mixture into the prepared crust. Spread level and refrigerate.
Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt and the cream of tartar until the mixture increases in volume and starts to thicken. While beating, gradually add the reserved 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to beat until the mixture holds a shape - not stiff; it should be the consistency of thick marshmallow sauce. Gradually fold the rum custard into the beaten whites.

Pour this mixture over the chocolate layer, mounding it high in the center. (If there is too much filling, reserve some at room temperature. Chill the pie in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes or in the refrigerator for a bit longer to partially set the filling. Then pour on the reserved portion and it will not run over.)

Refrigerate the pie for 2-3 hours. Then prepare the following whipped cream.

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 scant teaspoon vanilla extract

In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, whip the ingredients until the cream holds a shape. Spread the cream evenly and smoothly over the filling. Or use a pastry bag fitted with a large star-shaped tube and form a heavy ruffled border. (Or spread the cream smoothly and sprinkle with grated or shaved chocolate)

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