Chocolate and vanilla is a terrific combination, and cooks use it whenever they can. Black and white cookies, also called halfmoons, are big cakey discs covered with chocolate and vanilla icing sold at Dean and Deluca in New York City. A black cow is a chocolate soda with a vanilla ice cream float, and a hot fudge sundae is a scoop of vanilla ice cream with thick chocolate sauce running down the sides.
Black Bottom Pie is another twist on the chocolate and vanilla theme that’s hard to resist. Technically it’s a layer of chocolate covered with rum-flavored vanilla Bavarian cream and decorated with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. According to the late culinary guru, James Beard, recipes for Black Bottom Pie began showing up in cookbooks about 100 years ago.
Because we always hesitate to use uncooked egg whites, which are what give Bavarian creams their famous lift, we decided to use some culinary license when we made the pie. We started with a graham cracker crust and then moved on to the bi-colored filling. Because the pie is essentially layers of chocolate and vanilla custard, we did what most pastry cooks do when they need to vary a basic recipe. We made a simple cornstarch filling, poured part of it into a bowl and stirred chocolate into the rest. The chocolate went right into the crust, and when the remaining custard was cool, we lightened it with rum-flavored whipped cream, piled it on top of the chocolate and decorated it with chocolate shavings. It’s a knockout!
Black Bottom Pie
Layers of chocolate and vanilla fill this classic pie—a no-fail dessert idea.
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, shaved
1. To prepare crust, heat oven to 375F. In a large bowl combine cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Press on bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake 8 minutes or until edge is golden brown. Cool on wire rack.
2. To prepare filling, in a large bowl combine sugar and cornstarch; stir with a whisk. Add eggs, egg yolk and about 3/4 cup milk; whisk to combine.
3. In a medium saucepan, heat remaining 1 3/4 cups milk until hot; gradually whisk into egg mixture. Pour mixture back into pan; cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until thick and bubbly. Turn to very low heat; cook and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
4. For vanilla custard, pour about half of the custard into a bowl and press plastic wrap on surface.
5. For chocolate custard, add chocolate to remaining custard in pan and whisk until smooth. Pour into pie shell and press plastic wrap onto surface. Chill both custards 3 hours or until cold.
6. Beat cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and rum and beat until stiff (almost instantly). Whisk vanilla custard and fold in whipped cream. Spread on top of the chocolate layer. Sprinkle shaved semisweet chocolate ribbons over top of pie. Chill 2 hours or until firm enough to cut. Serves 8.
Per serving: 470 calories, 16g fat, 7g prot., 57g carbs., 2g fiber, 150mg sodium
Recipe by Jean Kressy
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Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography; styling by Teresa Blackburn