A mom's journal of the sweet things in her life...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Black Bottom Pie from Bon Appetit

Today was an extraordinarily lazy day. The laundry that is normally washed, folded and put away on Sunday remains in heaps on my laundry room floor. The Sunday night dinner that I had planned and even shopped for earlier in the week was never made. The family I had intended on asking over for said Sunday night dinner never got the call. Instead, I read and finished a book in my pajamas.
The one thing I did do, however, was make a pie. Which is kind of ironic, because we are not pie people. But I had seen the recipe in the latest Bon Appetit magazine, and it was the dessert I planned to make for our Sunday night family dinner that never was.
This pie, however, was a simple one. Had it required pastry, I'm certain it too would have fallen to the wayside. But because it required very little time at all - I decided to go ahead and make it. I had (almost) all the ingredients anyway, why let them sit in my fridge for another week? I realized quickly that I had forgotten to buy the gingersnap cookies for the crust but a quick search in my pantry and the discovery of the chocolate cookie crumbs saved this pie from slipping to my 'to try another time' list, which is dangerously close to "looks great but will probably never find the time" list.
Black Bottom Pie. A simple crumb crust topped first with a chocolate custard, then a vanilla custard, and smothered in whipped cream. Not hard at all. And, with a few tweaks, pedestrian enough to please my children's picky palates. If you're a fan of cream pies, you should definitely try this one. The custard is rich and silky and the chocolate and vanilla flavors are perfectly balanced. The chocolate custard has a distinguished coffee flavor from the addition of espresso, but that didn't seem to bother my kids one bit. If you're not a fan of coffee, however, I would omit it entirely. The recipe below is exactly as written in Bon Appetit with my changes noted in parenthesis.
Despite being non-pie-people, I must say that this dessert was the perfect ending to our very lazy Sunday. If only every Sunday was like that.

Black Bottom Pie
(Source: Bon Appetit)
Gingersnap Crust
6 ounces gingersnap cookies, about 24 (I used 1 1/4 cups of chocolate cookie crumbs+ 2 T. sugar)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I used 1/4 cup melted butter)
1 tablespoon heavy cream (I omitted)

1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum (I only used 1 T.)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup mascarpone
5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup hot espresso or strong coffee

1 cup chilled heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum (I omitted - for the kids)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Natural unsweetened cocoa powder
Grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
Toasted sliced almonds (I omitted but wished I hadn't)

special equipment
A 9"-diameter glass or ceramic pie dish

Preheat oven to 350°. Pulse cookies in a food processor until finely ground. Drizzle in butter and cream; pulse until well blended. (If you're using crumbs instead of cookies, simply pour the melted butter over the crumbs and sugar and mix until it resembles wet sand.) Pour into prepared dish. Use the bottom and sides of a measuring cup to pack crumbs onto bottom and up sides of dish. Bake until crust is set, 12–15 minutes (I only baked for 10 minutes). Let cool completely on a wire rack; set aside.

Pour 2 Tbsp. water into a small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes. Heat milk and cream in a large saucepan over medium heat until mixture just comes to a simmer.

Whisk egg yolks and next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk egg mixture into milk mixture; whisk in gelatin. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat until thick, about 5 minutes.

Remove vanilla custard from heat and stir in mascarpone. Place 1 cup custard in a medium bowl; add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in espresso. Pour chocolate custard into crust; smooth top. Chill pie until set, about 30 minutes. Let vanilla custard stand at room temperature.

Gently pour remaining vanilla custard over chilled chocolate layer (pour slowly so as not to disturb chocolate layer). Smooth top; chill until set, about 1 hour, or keep covered up to 1 day.


Using an electric mixer at medium-low speed, beat cream and sugar in a medium bowl until cream begins to thicken. Add rum and vanilla; increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread whipped cream over custard. Dust with cocoa powder and garnish with grated chocolate and almonds. DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Chill uncovered.


  1. I've never heard of this, so am real curious - best way to know is by making it of course. I will need to find me some volunteers first to eat it, as there is no way - I and my husband could eat a whole one, as delicious as it looks.


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