When I needed to make an instructional video for a 6th grade assignment, I demonstrated how to cook a Chocolate Angel Pie. It was an obvious choice for me. My mom made chocolate angel pie for so many celebrations, I had learned to make it by osmosis. Angel pies are defined by a light and heavenly meringue shell with an airy whipped filling of some sort. I wish now I could somehow watch a mod 12 year old me demonstrating how to make angel pie in a 70s home economics classroom. I’m pretty sure I wore my favorite purple hip huggers and matching wide suede belt.
I forgot about angel pie for more than a few decades until my friend Margo made her Grandma Lucy’s Chocolate Angel Pie for our monthly Article Club (like a book club only more realistic). The pie was so memorable that Margo now has a standing order to make her ethereal pie every time our group has a potluck.
With a taste reminder to pass down the generational love for Chocolate Angel Pie, the version I created for my family has a classic ganache filling lightened with whipped cream. More whipped cream is piped on top with chocolate snow shavings and a dusting of cocoa sprinkled on for effect. This is an all in celebratory pie!
Many heirloom angel pie recipes call for a filling of egg yolks mixed with melted chocolate and lightened with egg whites. The safest temperature to cook eggs is 160 degrees and chocolate melts at under 113 degrees. I spent a week in the hospital and almost died from salmonella poisoning in the late 80s so the egg math really doesn’t add up in the older recipes. There is a safer and more involved way to whip egg yolks, add a super hot sugar syrup then add the melted chocolate for the filling – but my simplified version is just as sinful without the fuss or egg worry. I admit I will walk on the wild side if someone makes angel pie and offers me a piece…for this irresistible situation I have a don’t ask, don’t tell egg policy.
My current recipe for Chocolate Angel Pie would not be possible without the vintage 1959 Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook I used for my Middle School cooking video. The Farm Journal recipe is basically melted semisweet chocolate mixed with water and lightened with whipped cream. My recipe is similar, but replaces semisweet chocolate and water with a rich ganache of bittersweet chocolate and cream.
Celebrating Pi Day, or really any day, is a delicious excuse to make and eat my easy breezy Chocolate Angel Pie. It’s so simple, even an 11 year old can make it 😉
2 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup chopped raw walnuts
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
- Grease 9” pie pan with vegetable shortening or butter
- In large bowl combine egg whites, salt and cream of tartar and beat until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and continue beating whites until soft peaks form. Continue beating and gradually add sugar one teaspoon at a time and beat until egg white are stiff and glossy. Add vanilla and beat just until incorporated.
- Spread meringue over the bottom of the pie pan and build up sides as high as possible with an even border along the rim of the pie pan. Otherwise meringue can collapse and break off.
- Sprinkle bottom of meringue shell with nuts.
- Bake for 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave shell in oven for an additional hour to dry out completely. It may crack slightly which is ok because filling with cover it up.
- Cool completely before adding whipped chocolate filling
Whipped Chocolate Filling and Whipped Cream Topping
8 oz finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (Lindt 85% Excellence and Trader Joe’s Belgian 72% Dark are two of my favorites)
2 cups heavy cream total (1 cup for ganache, ½ cup whipped to lighten ganache, ½ cup whipped for topping)
2 Tbs granulated sugar
- In a chilled medium bowl, beat 1 cup heavy cream and 2 Tbs sugar until soft peaks form. Divide evenly into two small bowls and set aside in refrigerate until ready to use.
- Place chocolate in large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Bring cream to boil over medium heat. Watch carefully as it tends to rise and boil over! Once cream comes to a boil, immediately pour over chocolate and move bowl around to cover chocolate completely with cream. Let mixture sit for 3 minutes.
- Gently whisk chocolate and cream until smooth. Cool to room temperature; about 1-3 hours.
- Once cool, use paddle attachment and mix ganache until it just lightens in color. Make sure not to overmix, or ganache may separate.
- Add one of the bowls of already whipped cream from refrigerator and beat just until evenly combined.
- Spoon into cooled meringue shell and spread evenly.
- Fill second bowl of whipped cream with pastry bag fitted with star tip and decorate filled pie OR use an offset spatula to spread whipped cream thinly on pie.
- Sprinkle 1 Tbs grated or shaved chocolate evenly over top of pie and/or with sieve evenly sprinkle top of pie and crust with 2 tsp cocoa powder.