#FRIDAYFOOD Celebrating Great American Pie Month – Part 1

Chocolate Meringue PieEveryone asks her to make one. One year, I tried to duplicate it for a holiday gathering and the moaning and gnashing of teeth was more than I could stand.

My mom makes a GREAT chocolate pie. It is one of those dishes she is “known” for in our community. That Thanksgiving I made a chocolate pie, it was too dark, too compact, the meringue was not right and overall, it was not mom’s! “Why didn’t Betty just make the chocolate pie?”

After years of standing on a chair at the stove –then a step and finally on my own—stirring the chocolate filling so there would be no lumps, I still can not make my mom’s chocolate pie. And I would venture to say no one could.

The thing is, my mom, Betty Woods, has been making her chocolate pie recipe for years. And like any work of art, the more you do it, the better it becomes. The more practice, the better the outcome. It is a life lesson learned on the tongue and in the taste buds.

Just like you can not play like Jerry Lee Lewis on the piano or a concerto on the flute after the first lesson, you will not make mom’s chocolate pie like she does on the first try.

Betty Woods’ Chocolate Pie

5 tablespoons of cornstarch

3 Tablespoons of cocoa powder

½ cup sugar

3 eggs

4 cups of milk

Start with these ingredients in a double boiler, then add:

1 Teaspoon of vanilla

2 Tablespoons of butter

Temper in three eggs when the mixture is thick.

Mom usually browns a prepared crust and adds the filling.

For the meringue:

3 Egg whites

3 tablespoon of sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream of tarter ¼ teaspoon

Mix until the meringue forms soft peaks. Cook at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

I can’t remember a holiday meal or family event that my mom didn’t make chocolate pie (with the exception of that year I attempted it and let’s just say, everyone is trying to forget – in my defense, it was a very good pie, just not mom’s!)

Now, you may “hit it out of the park” on the first try, but I still believe it takes years of making pies to get this “just right.”

February is Great American Pie Month and in honor of such a special occasion, I asked Facebook and Twitter friends to share their favorite pies. There were a variety of answers from apple to rhubarb to tomato.

Stephen Spraberry, Brandi Bridges Velcek and Angie Berryhill Campbell all said they loved chocolate pie. Margie Hillhouse said also said she loves her moma’s chocolate pie. Angie Campbell said she loved chocolate and coconut pies. “Do I have to choose?!!”

Leanne McGarr loves Mississippi Mud Pie and I had to see how this was different from regular chocolate or fudge pie.

Mississippi Mud Pie

1 store-boughtpie crust

1 stick unsalted butter

1¾ c. sugar

4 tbsp. cocoa

¼ c. all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 c. vanilla or mocha ice cream

3 tbsp. fudge sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line crust with parchment paper and weight with dried beans or pie weights; bake until dough is lightly golden and set, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pie and cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

For filling: In a bowl, stir together butter, sugar, and cocoa until well combined. Add flour, eggs, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared crust and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove pie from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Gently mound ice cream over pie and freeze until ice cream sets. Drizzle with fudge sauce before serving.

This is the South, Mississippi after all, and I expected to have an overwhelmingly large number of people who love pecan pie. I was right! It seems everyone loves pecan pie. And whether you say “pe-caan” or “pee-can,” the results are the same: Bryan Carrubba, Joyce Davis, Matthew Long, Joey Daniel, Sue Stidham, Bonnie Locke, Ashlee Bennett, Vickie Baskin, Christina Lucas and Reba Bailey would all like “a slice about as big as your foot!” (as Pepper’s grandfather used to say!)

Pecan Pie

1 cup sugar

1 12cups corn syrup (you may want to use 1/2 dark and 1/2 light)

4 eggs

14 cup butter

1 12 teaspoons vanilla

1 12 cups pecans, coarsely broken

1 unbaked deep dish pie shell


In saucepan boil sugar and corn syrup together for 2 to 3 minutes; set aside to cool slightly. In large bowl beat eggs lightly and very slowly pour the syrup mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly. At this point, strain the mixture to make sure it’s smooth and lump free. Stir in butter, vanilla, and pecans and pour into crust. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 45 to 60 minutes or until set.

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