My Southern grandmother loved to cook and experiment in the kitchen. This decadent pie is one of her best creations. Growing up, my brothers and I would beg her to make this pie for every holiday feast and birthday celebration. —Kristin
1 8-inch pie
1 1/8 cups
ice water (more if needed)
Pie Filling and Meringue
cocoa powder (best quality you can find)
Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor;
pulse once or twice. (If you don’t have a food processor,
mix by hand.) Add the butter and turn on machine;
process until the mix is the consistency of cornmeal.
(By hand use two knives to cut the butter into the flour.)
Place the mixture into a bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of water. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to gradually gather the mix into a ball. If the mix seems dry, add ice water by ½ tablespoons. Make mixture into a ball. Wrap in plastic, flatten into a small disk, and freeze dough for 10 minutes (or refrigerate for 30 minutes).
Roll the dough on a floured surface or between two sheets of wax or parchment paper covered lightly in flour. Add flour if too sticky. Roll with light pressure from the center out. When the dough is about 10 inches in diameter (less than ¼ inch thick), place your pie tin upside down to make sure your dough is at least 1 inch larger than the tin.
Transfer dough into pie tin and flatten. Decorate the edges with a fork. Freeze the dough for 10 minutes. Then, prick with a fork all over the dough. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes until lightly brown. (You will bake again once filled.)
Pie Filling and Meringue
Put milk in a pan over medium heat. Sift flour, sugar, salt, and cocoa together and then add to milk.
Continuously whisk. When mixture is warm, add egg yokes and keep whisking. Once thickened such that the filling holds its shape, remove from heat, add butter and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Allow to cool until lukewarm.
Place egg whites in a bowl and continuously beat. Add cream of tartar when foamy. Gradually and slowly add sugar and then 1 teaspoon vanilla. Whip egg whites until they form stiff peaks. You’ll know it’s done when you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue stays put.
To assemble pie:
Preheat oven to 325 F. Place cooked filling in the pre-baked pie shell. Top pie with meringue. Don’t spread the meringue. Instead, use a spoon or spatula to plop the meringue onto the filling, working from the outside edges where the filling meets the crust, around, to the inside. Make sure the meringue is sealed firmly to the pastry.
Bake until the meringue tips have a beautiful glowing tan (approximately 10 to 12 minutes). Let cool completely and put in refrigerator. Serve chilled.