Grandma’s chocolate pie
There are pies and then there is my grandma’s chocolate pie.
It’s a luscious chocolate custard resting on a flaky, almost salty crust, topped with a springy meringue. For me, it’s la pièce de résistance and whether times are good or times are bad, it’s always welcome and appropriate.
I can’t remember a period in my life when it wasn’t my favorite dessert. My family has always been pie eaters, but we fall into several camps: there are the peach enthusiasts, the pecan lovers and then there are those of us who prefer the chocolate. My mom loves the chocolate best so that’s probably why it’s my (and my brother’s) favorite as well. But that doesn’t explain why Mom doesn’t make it. Nope, only one person can make my grandma’s chocolate pie and that’s my grandma.
When I went to visit her in August, I told her I wanted a chocolate pie. That was no surprise—I always insist that she bake me a chocolate pie when I visit. But this time I was determined to document her making it so I could try and recreate it back here in NY.
She had all the ingredients spread out on the counter and then I saw it: her recipe card. I hadn’t noticed before that she uses a recipe—I always assumed she baked chocolate pie from memory. The old card was yellowing and splattered with spots. And it called for Oleo as one of the ingredients. What a treasure! Before we started baking, I decided to take a photo of the card and as the light was waning in the kitchen, I took the card out to the front porch to shoot it before she started cooking.
I ended up spending more time than I meant to photographing the card. And as I saw the sun setting, I realized I should probably go back inside to watch her make the pie. Unfortunately, as I walked into the kitchen Grandma was sliding the chocolate pie into the oven. Curses! My original assumption was correct: she did not need a recipe card to make chocolate pie. And I had spent so much time shooting the dang card, I had missed my opportunity observe her crafting a chocolate pie.
Of course, being a brat, I whined: “Why didn’t you wait?” She replied that she didn’t know how long I’d be taking photos of the card and she had other important things to do, such as baking another pie—this one apple. “You’re welcome to photograph me making that,” she said. She had, however, left me a consolation prize: I could lick the bowl.
I’m disappointed that I missed the chance to photograph her making a chocolate pie but at least I have a photo of her recipe card. I know that it’s not quite the same, but it’ll just have to do, until next time.
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Grandma’s chocolate pie
Ingredients for the pie:
- 4 tablespoons cocoa or 1 1/2 squares baking chocolate
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 unbaked 9-inch piecrust
Ingredients for the meringue:
- 2 egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- In a saucepot, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, salt, egg yolks, and milk.
- On medium heat, cook while stirring until it bubbles and thickens, about 5 to 10 minutes. If it becomes lumpy, just beat out the lumps. (It will not get any thicker in the oven so cook until it’s as thick as you want it.)
- Remove the chocolate filling from the heat and stir in the vanilla and butter.
- Meanwhile, as you make the custard, poke holes in the piecrust with a fork and bake it until it’s brown, about 20 minutes.
- To make the meringue, beat the egg whites with salt and when they start to get fluffy add the sugar.
- Pour the chocolate custard into the baked pie shell and top with the beaten egg whites. Bake it until it the peaks on the meringue are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Serve warm.
- Grandma says: “It’s real good hot, wonderful cold and you can even eat it frozen—then it’s like a popsicle!”
This looks like my grandma Eva’s chocolate pie AND her handwriting.
We lost her several years ago (I miss her every single day). The closest I’ve found to hers was at Babe’s Chicken in Garland. That first bite was so identical, I burst into tears and made a big fool of myself.
I can’t wait to try this recipe, thanks so much for the bittersweet memories.
Caroline–You’re welcome. Food has the power to connect us to those whom we’ve loved and lost, and I hope my grandma’s chocolate pie recipe tastes much like your beloved grandma Eva’s.
My grandma made chocolate pies and her recipe calls for 2 chocolate squares, it does not say semi sweet or unsweetened. Do you think she used unsweetened?
Michelle–If it’s the same amount of sugar as this one, it’s unsweetened.
My mom would make this pie for me. She lived her entire life in Denison. I would complain about the merengue as I thought it looked like (and being a child) and tasted like calf slobber, so that’s what I called, haha! But your grandmother didn’t make the merengue a mile high! I bet that was much better, with more of a toasted marshmallow flavor. I tried making my mom’s pie after she passed, but it wasn’t her recipe (no idea where it went, I never found it when going through her estate). I’m going to try this version as it sounds about right. Thank you for documenting this!
Dena–The meringue is definitely my least favorite part of the pie so I’m glad she didn’t make it a mile high. Thank you for sharing your memories and hopefully this one is closer to your mom’s version! My grandma’s only one county over from Grayson, so I reckon it’s pretty close!
My grandmother also used the word Oleo. This brought back fond memories. ❤ I wish I had spent more time learning from her.
Amy–I’m glad the post brought back treasured memories of your grandmother.
Can it just leave meringue off an d use cool whip
Linda–Yes, you can do that if you prefer.
This was perfect. I chose this recipe after rejecting too many with just a few tablespoons of cocoa to a cup and a half of sugar. This one looked more chocolatey and less sweet, and it was perfectly balanced. I used half regular cocoa and half black cocoa, and it was dark and delicious. Admittedly I did not make the meringue- we enjoyed it with whipped cream instead.
Prudence–I’m so glad you enjoyed it and found it balanced! And it’s just as good with whipped cream in place of the meringue.