The One and Only Chocolate Pie (recipe: Chocolate Fudge Pie)
In the early 60s, my mother worked as the secretary to the Medical Director of the Tuberculosis Hospital in Mobile, AL. Fortunately, the disease is much better controlled now and there’s no longer a need for a specialty hospital in Mobile. One of her job responsibilities was patient admissions. There was one patient admission that swallowed her up emotionally. The patient being admitted was named Payton Phillips. She knew the answers to a lot of the questions that needed to be asked of him to complete the admission process. She didn’t call him Mr. Phillips. She called him Daddy. Granddaddy’s doctors in Geneva, AL had found a suspicious looking spot on his lungs. After consultation with several doctors, they recommended that he be admitted to this hospital in Mobile. He never had a confirmed diagnosis of tuberculosis but yet he stayed in this hospital for a full year. Granddaddy’s story had a happy ending. He lived a long full life and until the age of 90 and died surrounded by his loved ones. During that year of his hospitalization, Granny lived with us so she could be as close to Granddaddy as possible. She and I shared a room. I loved having Granny around. I was sad Granddaddy wasn’t with us. Children weren’t allowed in the hospital. He would come to a balcony sometimes and Mama would have us stand down below so he could see us and wave to us. For a solid year, all I could do was wave to my Granddaddy. That’s as close as we were allowed to get to him.
During that year, Granny cooked most of our meals. I remember her making buckwheat pancakes for breakfast before she sent us off to school. She would busy herself in the kitchen, whistling and singing her hymns. ”This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior, all the day long.” That was a particular favorite of hers. She would bellow to rooftop! What a glorious sound filled our kitchen.
These days were the glory days of S & H Green Stamps. They were given out by retailers, primarily grocery stores. You were given a number of stamps according to the amount of your purchase. The stamps were collected and glued into books which could then be traded for merchandise either at the S & H Green Stamp store or through their mail order catalogue. The stamps were redeemed for popular items such as clocks and luggage. One peculiar item that my mother swapped her green stamps for was a yellow multi-shelved rolling serving cart. She thought it would be handy to load all the food in the kitchen on the serving cart, transport the food to the dining table and then return the used dishes to the kitchen. It may have used three times for that purpose before it was permanently parked and used for storage.
During the short lifespan of the serving cart being used as a serving cart, I remember being at the dining table as the cart was wheeled in with the night’s food offerings. My eyes immediately locked on the chocolate pie that was the solitary dish on the bottom shelf. As we ate our supper, Granny and Mama talked about the pie. So it seems, the chocolate pie that Granny made was a big deal for no other reason than Granny didn’t like chocolate. This recipe in the newspaper caught her attention. She wanted to make this pie she wouldn’t eat. I couldn’t understand anyone not wanting to eat pie of any description. I wanted supper to be over because that chocolate pie on the bottom shelf was calling my name. It was the color of fudge and looked to be rather dense. Some cracks in the filling showed off the inside enough to see how firm it was. The fluted pie crust surrounded the dark chocolate filling with nice contrast. I needed some of that pie.
As pieces of the pie were being passed around the table, I could smell the warm fudgy pie before my piece ever got to me. The first bite didn’t let me down. It was moist and chocolatey and just perfect. This was Granny’s grand opening and grand closing of the chocolate pie business. She never made another one. She went out in a blaze of glory as far as I was concerned. Maybe my mind remembers the splendor of this pie because of the special transport to the table or perhaps it was the revelation that Granny made a pie she wouldn’t want to eat. What ever the reason, I savor the memory. The S & H Green Stamp Company has no idea of the value of the yellow serving cart they traded my mother for her books of green stamps. They definitely came out on the short end of that deal.
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Chocolate Fudge Pie
I’ve had this recipe in my files for many, many years and I don’t know the source. The pie is fairly basic and I’ve seen similar recipes. Most Southern cooks will have a chocolate pie recipe in their collection. I’v e added the use of Dutch processed chocolate which makes the filling very dark. I also add some flavored instant coffee powder which I think magnifies the chocolate flavor.
1 unbaked pie crust
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup Dutch processed unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Maxwell House International Cafe` Francais (optional)
pinch of salt
Set the pie crust aside.
Whisk the eggs and sugar well in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Pour into the unbaked pie crust.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the filling is done. Remove from the oven when done and cool completely before cutting. It’s normal for the filling to rise and then fall once it’s cooled.