Pardon my absence, again. I heard the call of the cool Carolina mountain air and had to run. Glorious, it was. Low temps, lack of humidity and mosquitoes, a gorgeous mountain man to pitch a tent and light my fire. Twas all good.
Hello, pie lovers. I’m here to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of cream pies, or How I Lost My Shit While Trying to Reach Pie-vana.
Remember when I told you how pie should not make you cry? Yeah, well, I am speaking from experience. Pie made me cry, ruined my evening, and made my love look at me funny. It’s pie. Don’t cry. Please learn from my pie mistakes.
The first pie on my One Pie a Week journey (yes, the basis of My Piary), was Chocolate Meringue. Easy, I thought. I even cheated and used a frozen pie crust because I wanted to perfect a filling and meringue before moving on to perfecting the pastry. Oh, I am so glad I did. The first pie was such a huge FAIL. In the trash it went, as tears dripped off my cheeks and curses blew from my lungs. Stupid pie. Stupid, stupid pie.
It was and it wasn’t my fault. I accept responsibility for not reading more about cream pies before attempting this, but I also blame a crappy recipe for not explaining more about the cream pie process. If only I’d read my mother’s cookbook first.
How to cook cream pie fillings
Both cooking time and temperature are important when preparing cream pie fillings. Under- and overcooking can cause runny fillings. Set a timer for exact minutes specifies in recipe. Cook fillings over moderately high heat. Too high a heat cooks mixture too quickly; too low a heat results in excessively long cooking.
– Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
If only I had read that first. If only. Le sigh.
Here is the Rich Chocolate Meringue Pie recipe I used with my own twists, like using dark cocoa powder instead of the regular and cutting back on the sugar. Thanks to Paula Deen for the excellent Mile-High Meringue recipe, but not for the vague cooking instructions of the pie filling. I will fill you in on the details of what to look for in your cream filling for doneness, so don’t you worry. I guess Ms. Deen was too busy licking the butter off her fingers to make sure her minions wrote a proper recipe.
During my first attempt, the mixture was too runny. I needed to bump up the heat and look for bubbles and a certain thickness that Paula failed to tell me about. It was my first pie. I messed it up. I was very upset. I cried. Pie should not make you cry.
Rich Chocolate Meringue Pie
1⁄2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1⁄2 cups whole milk
5 egg yolks, slightly beaten; reserve whites for Mile-High Meringue
2 tbs butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie crust; homemade or store-bought
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine cocoa, flour, and sugar. Gradually stir in milk and egg yolks. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until mixture is bubbling. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes, until big bubbles rise to the surface and the whisk leaves trails along the bottom of the pan. The cream filling should look like pudding. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Pour mixture into baked pie crust. Prepare Mile-High Meringue. Using a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon, spread meringue over hot filling, sealing to edge of pie crust. Bake for 20-23 minutes, until meringue has golden peaks. Cool completely on a wire rack. The filling will run if you cut into the pie while it is still warm, although it will taste delicious. Store in refrigerator for up to three days. It is even better the next day.