1975 Dick Taeuber’s Brandy Alexander Pie

November  9, 2010
5 Ratings
Photo by Linda Xiao
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

In January 1970, The Times published a recipe for brandy Alexander pie. It was an unassuming confection: a graham-cracker crust filled with a wobbly, creamy mousse and enough alcohol to raise the hair on your neck and then make your neck wobbly too. Later that year, Craig Claiborne, then the food editor, declared it one of the paper's three most-requested dessert recipes (the other two were cheesecake and pots-de-creme) and ran it again. Cooking Notes: The chiffon filling will be fluffier if you let the egg whites come to room temperature before whipping. The filling is made by folding whipped egg whites into a base thickened with egg yolks and gelatin. Be careful not to chill the base too much or the filling will be lumpy. Chocolate shaved into curls with a vegetable peeler was once a classy garnish. Why not? —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups gingersnap crumbs
  • 1/4 cups melted butter
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup Cognac
  • 1/4 cup Crème de Cacao
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the crumbs with the butter. Form in a 9-inch pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup cold water in a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Add 1/3 cup sugar, salt and egg yolks. Stir to blend.
  4. Place over low heat and stir until the gelatin dissolves and mixture thickens slightly (it won’t be as thick as a custard). Do not boil! Remove from heat.
  5. Stir the liqueurs or liquor into the mixture. Then chill until the mixture starts to mound slightly (this means that if you push a spoon (or your finger) through the mixture, it will clump up into a mound rather than stay flat as a liquid would).
  6. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then add the remaining sugar and beat until the peaks are firm. Fold the meringue into the thickened mixture.
  7. Whip the cream, then fold into the mixture.
  8. Turn the mixture into the crust. Chill for several hours or overnight.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kay Redrup
    Kay Redrup
  • Sonja Magnuson
    Sonja Magnuson
  • Regine
  • mrslarkin
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

21 Reviews

Nancy B. February 10, 2024
I have made this winnermany times over the past 50 yrs.

How can I see a list of variations? Can’t find my copy
Amanda H. February 10, 2024
Hi Nancy, sorry for an annoying, self-serving answer (!) but the only place I know that lists all the variations is in my book, The Essential New York Times Cookbook.
beccaehren December 23, 2020
My mother-in-law always made this for Christmas Eve and its a favorite in my husband's family. I've started making it now and the recipe she passed down is hard to read. So glad to find the recipe here and to have "chill until mixture starts to mound" explained!
Amanda H. December 23, 2020
Glad we could help! :)
Kay R. January 20, 2020
I have hunted for this particular recipe for years. My father made this back in 1977 and the memory of it remained. I knew none of the other recipes I've come across was what my father had done so periodically I searched. Last night I found it. I knew by the ingredient that this was the one. I used chocolate biscuits as the base instead but noted that there was enough filling and base to have used a larger dish (will next time). Fab dessert. It's on my favorite list. thank you.
Amanda H. January 20, 2020
This makes me so happy to hear!
Sonja M. March 16, 2018
Could you please be more specific re: step 2, "when the mixture thickens slightly"? What exactly should the texture be? My pie came out a soppy gloppy mess, and this is after 7 hours in the fridge.
Amanda H. March 22, 2018
Hi Sonja, sorry you had a hard time with the recipe. Sounds like your gelatin didn't gel. In step 5, where it says, "chill until the mixture starts to mound slightly," this means that if you pushed a spoon (or your finger) through the mixture, it would clump up into a mound rather than stay flat as a liquid would. Maybe next time let the gelatin mixture set up longer before you add the whipped egg whites and cream. This should help.
Sonja M. March 22, 2018
Thanks for the advice. I think it'd be really helpful to add that to the instructions, especially since gelatin isn't used much in recipes these days, and I'm sure many others don't know how to work with it.
Amanda H. March 25, 2018
Just added it -- thanks so much!
Regine November 12, 2016
Hmm...No concerns using uncooked eggs?
Cindy November 6, 2015
Here I go again, making this pie for the umpteenth time. Like 10 minutes start to finish except for the chill time. So easy and delish. It's always a hit.
nancy S. April 13, 2014
I still have the original recipe which I cut out from the NY Times. Have made a number of versions over the years that were suggested in Dick's original recipe. Boy do I feel old!
Amanda H. April 13, 2014
That's funny -- someone recently tweeted about using one of my recipes for more than a dozen years, and I thought the same thing!
Nancy January 21, 2020
Another one who has and has made the original recipe many times.
Abby June 18, 2013
I made this party for a BBQ and it was a hit. I cheated and used store-bought crust, and the filling was enough for 1.5 pies (or 2 not quite full pies). The texture is very light and reminds me of panna cotta. The flavor is great: a little chocolatey and a little boozy. I put chocolate shavings on top and found that I preferred chocolate cookie crust to graham cracker (didn't want to spend the money on ginger snaps just to crush them up). I will definitely make this again.

I found step 5 to be a bit confusing as I had no idea what "chill until the mixture starts to mound slightly" meant. I covered it and put it in the fridge for about 25 minutes. It was still a tiny bit warm but coated the back of a spoon when I poked it. That seemed to be sufficient and not too long, because it both set and stayed smooth.
Amanda H. June 18, 2013
Thanks for your feedback, and it sounds like you chilled the base just the right amount of time. It should start thickening without getting chilled or firm.
Loves P. January 5, 2011
Out of curiosity, when this was published in 1975 was it in an article called "Pie Spiked"?
There was this great Times magazine article about alcohol flavored pies - one was "Grasshopper Pie": I made it for my first dinner party in college and I thought I was so chic. Holy cow does this take me back!!!
Amanda H. January 9, 2011
That's the one!
mrslarkin December 30, 2010
So delicious! I made this for Thanksgiving. Used rum. Heed Amanda's advice and don't chill the base too long at step 5. Check it after 15 minutes.
Amanda H. January 9, 2011
Glad you liked it -- and yes, I've made many a lumpy booze pie after letting the base chill for too long!