American

“Gala” Grasshopper Pie

June 15, 2020
Photo by Jessie Sheehan
Author Notes

The combo of mint and chocolate is one of my all-time faves and has been since childhood, when a single, generous scoop of Baskin Robbins’ mint chocolate chip ice cream atop a sugar cone was my everything. Thus, not surprisingly, every spring it is the green-tinted, mint-chocolate sweets—often with the word “grasshopper” in their description—that I am drawn to developing and eating. And this year is no different: Despite the tumultuous, difficult state of our world, a minty-fresh and deeply chocolatey grasshopper pie has emerged from my kitchen—and I’m hoping it will do so from yours, too, sometime soon . . .

My grasshopper pie is actually a riff on a traditional one, which has a chiffon filling, flavored with green crème de menthe and white crème de cacao—the two liqueurs called for in a grasshopper cocktail, the pie’s original inspo—and set with gelatin. It was my pal, Kathy, a grandmother who lives outside of Milwaukee, who first introduced me to the original recipe. Kathy and I began an online correspondence about two years ago, after she read an article about me in her local paper (I was on a Midwest book tour at the time, for my second cookbook, The Vintage Baker).

In the article, I talked about my love of nostalgic sweets and treats; a love that Kathy not only shares with me, but one that is evidenced by her impressive recipe collection. The recipes are written out—either on proper recipe cards, complete with a drawing of a pot-bellied stove and a cat, or on slips of scrap paper—and Kathy would always lay them out on her brown, tightly knit wall-to-wall carpet before painstakingly photographing them and emailing them to me. In these emails, she often shares stories connected to the recipes, too. For instance, it was Kathy’s friend, Jan Beidel, who deserves the credit for the “gala” pie that inspired my own. Kathy and Jan were next-door neighbors in the 1970s. Jan was an exceptionally good time and a fabulous hostess: She was always throwing “galas” and entertaining up a storm. So much so in fact, that when Jan shared her grasshopper pie recipe with Kathy, she called it a “gala” pie in reference to all the special occasions in which it had been enjoyed.

Though both Kathy’s (okay, Jan’s) recipe and mine call for a chocolate cookie crust, I chose to go in a different filling direction, as I wasn’t confident that many folks have even a dusty half-bottle of either crème de menthe or cacao hidden in the back of their kitchen cabinet. Moreover, a chiffon filling seemed ill advised, as I know some have found it difficult to find eggs. Not to mention the fact that making such a filling and working with gelatin is just a tad trickier than how I’m rolling in the kitchen these days.

My filling is no-bake, and the mixture (just heavy cream, cream cheese, sugar, flavoring, and a bit of food coloring) comes together in minutes in a stand mixer. After folding in coarsely chopped, bittersweet chocolate, the whole delicious, pale-green mess is transferred to an Oreo cookie crust flavored with mint extract. I like to top the pie with some minty chocolate whipped cream—but feel free to skip the topping if you want your pie a tad simpler.

To date, Kathy has inspired my recipe for cream cheese-stuffed French toast and peanut butter chocolate Rice Krispies balls, and I’m still planning on making her sugared pecans, peanut butter and chocolate “striped” pie, black-bottomed cupcakes, silhouette parfait pie, and Texas delight pecan pudding refrigerator cake. But for early summer—especially this summer—an easy-peasy, minty-green chocolate “gala” of a pie hits the spot beautifully. —Jessie Sheehan

  • Prep time 6 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Makes 1 pie
Ingredients
  • Mint Chocolate Cookie Crust
  • 23 chocolate sandwich cookies (about 9 ozs.) such as Oreos (use the mint-flavored ones, if you can find them)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, or to taste
  • Mint Filling
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 drops green food coloring
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate, plus more for decorating
  • Chocolate Mint Whipped Cream
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, Dutch process or natural
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract, or to taste
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Have ready a 9-inch pie plate (I like glass).
  2. To make the crust, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, process the cookies until finely ground. Add the melted butter and extract and process until combined.
  3. Transfer the crumbs to the pie plate and press them evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes, until firm. Chilling the crust prevents it from shrinking while baking.
  4. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes until it looks fully dry and smells fragrant and chocolatey. Let cool to room temperature while you make the filling.
  5. To make the filling, place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and on medium speed, beat until soft, smooth and incorporated. Add the heavy cream and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes, increasing the speed to medium high once you can do so without splattering your kitchen with cream. Add the extracts and food coloring and mix just until combined.
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and fold in the chopped chocolate with a flexible spatula. Transfer the filling to the cooled crust and make the whipped cream.
  7. To make the whipped cream, combine all of the ingredients together in the bowl of your cleaned stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk until soft to medium peaks form. Spread the cream over the pie and decorate with additional chopped chocolate, if you so desire. Place the pie in the refrigerator, lightly covered in plastic wrap, for 6 hours, or, preferably, overnight.
  8. Use a large serrated knife to slice the pie and a pie spatula (if you’re feeling fancy) to help you serve each deliciously minty slice. The pie will keep about 3 days in the refrigerator, lightly covered in plastic or bees wrap.

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Bio: Jessie Sheehan is a cookbook author, food writer, recipe developer, and baker. She is the author of The Vintage Baker (one of the Washington Post’s best cookbooks of 2018 and beloved by Oprah and Nigella) and the co-author of Icebox Cakes (both published by Chronicle Books). She has developed recipes for many cookbooks, besides her own, and has contributed recipes, written and/or created video content for Better Homes & Garden, Rachael Ray Everyday, the Washington Post, Fine Cooking, Yankee Magazine (October 2020) Epicurious, Food52, The Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family Show, The Feed Feed, The Kitchn, TASTE, Chowhound, Yummly, Spruce Eats and Little Sous, among others.