Chocolate Meringue Pie

The final recipe in our count down to Thanksgiving series is Chocolate Meringue Pie. This was always a top contender for my favorite pie growing up. And lets face it, pie is important. If I had to choose one thing that embodies the traditional Thanksgiving meal (besides the turkey, of course) it would be a wide and wonderful variety of pie.

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The recipe I’m about to share with you is a slightly altered version of the recipe found in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, a staple cookbook in American kitchens for many years. The recipe can also be found online at the BHG website, but it is significantly altered from the one in the cookbook and the one you see here. You can check that one out as well if you just like reading about pie, but I haven’t tested it so no comments from me on that one. The pie recipe you will find below, however, I can vouch for enthusiastically.

Merengue making is fine art, of which I am no master. But I took these side-by-sides to attempt to show you what the peaks should like when your meringue is done.

And these show you what the pie looks like in various stages of assembly – after filling but before meringue and after meringue but before baking. And in case you can’t tell, I did not make that pie crust with my own two hands. It was proudly purchased from the frozen food section.

After baking but before eating. Such a lovely golden brown, it’s almost a shame to eat it…almost.

Chocolate Meringue Pie
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cool/Chill Time: 3-6 hours

For the Pie:
1 Pie Shell, frozen or homemade
4 egg yolks, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
6 Tbsp cocoa
2 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

For the Meringue:
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar

Separate yolks from whites of four eggs and keep both, allowing them to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes while you prepare your pie shell and get started on the filling. I used a frozen pie crust because I didn’t feel like fooling with all the butter-cutting and rolling and trimming that goes with a homemade one, but either one will work equally well. Whichever you decide on, prepare it according to the directions on the package or recipe.

In the meantime, whisk together the cocoa, cornstarch, and sugar in a sauce pan. Once that mixture is pretty smooth, whisk in about 1/2 cup of the milk and beat it thoroughly. No lumps allowed into the next phase. Once you are satisfactorily lumpless whisk in the remaining milk.

Bring your mixture to a low boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the filling is thick and bubbly, then turn off the eye and continue to cook and stir for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and pour about a cup of the filling into your beaten egg yolks and give it a good stir. Return the egg/filling back to the sauce pan and bring to a low boil for another two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla, then cover to keep it hot while you make the meringue.

To make the meringue, beat the room temperature egg whites with the cream of tartar and vanilla for a minute or two on medium speed until soft peaks form. Now begin adding the sugar 1 Tbsp at a time as you continue to beat, waiting about 20 or 30 seconds between additions. Keep this up until all the sugar is dissolved and the meringue forms stiff peaks.

Pour the hot chocolate filling into the prepared pie crust and smooth it out. Top with the meringue and spread it out evenly over the entire thing, taking care to seal up the edges to prevent leaking and shrinking. I left mine in a nice smooth dome because I got distracted and over-beat my meringue so it wasn’t very pliable, but an optional last step is to take a spoon and touch the back of it to the meringue, lifting it away to create little decorative swirly peaks all over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 325 oven, until the top is just slightly browned. If you did swirly things those will be a little more brown than the rest of the meringue. Don’t be alarmed, thats fine.

Cool on the counter for an hour, then chill in the refrigerator for 3-6 hours, uncovered. The uncovered part is important to prevent sweating (little brown liquid sugar beads on top). Sweating won’t affect the taste or quality, it just won’t be as pretty. After your pie is thoroughly chilled you may serve it or cover it to store until you are ready to serve.

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