Friday, May 19, 2017

Mocha Cream Pie

Thinking of my mother, in honor of Mother’s Day just past, I turned to the recipes of hers that I remember best: pies. It must have been a labor of love, making these for her family, because she never liked desserts. But she did like chocolate.

I realized I had written about her chocolate cream pie for MLK several years ago, and we don’t usually repeat recipes here. So I decided to look for a new twist. In addition to chocolate, my mother loved coffee—regular, espresso, whatever. And thus the idea was born: mocha cream pie! My mother’s go-to cookbook was The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, aka Fannie Farmer, but (gasp) they had only the chocolate version and an all-coffee version. So I improvised and married the two.

Crumb pie shell:

Note: the recipes called for chocolate wafer crumbs. I wandered up and down the fifty feet of the cookie/cracker aisle in my local market: no chocolate wafers. The best I could do was a box of chocolate animal crackers. They tasted good, but I felt a bit ghoulish crushing all those cute little animals!

1-1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

Roll the crumbs fine (or grind in a food processor). Add the sugar and the butter. 

Press smoothly into a 9" pie plate. Chill. (BTW, the Pyrex pie plate was my mother’s.) Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Mocha Cream Filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 Tblsp Dutch cocoa (not Nestle’s)
pinch of salt
1 cup scalded whole milk
1 cup strong coffee (hot)
2 eggs

Mix the dry ingredients.

Scalded milk
All in (keep stirring!)
Add the milk-coffee mixture gradually to the dry ingredients, stirring. Cook for 15 minutes in a double boiler (yes, that was my mother’s too), stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Beat the eggs lightly, then add to the mixture and cook for another 3 minutes.

Seriously dark!

Pour into the crust and chill until serving. Garnish with whipped cream if you like.

Another note: this filling really didn’t want to firm up. I confess, I cheated—I stuck it in the freezer. Take it out shortly before you want to serve it, then slice it with a sharp knife. That worked fine.

The result has a rich dark color and a luscious chocolate-coffee flavor.

The next book to appear will be A Late Frost, the 11th book in the Orchard Mysteries--but it won't come out until November. Recently I've been going over the proof copy, trying to eliminate all those pesky typos, and was struck by how often my characters drink coffee. According to Word, it comes up 77 times in the text. Problem is, Meg and Seth so busy solving crimes that they seldom get around to grocery shopping. Meg has decided she's going to make some cakes and cookies to keep in the freezer--if she ever has any spare time--so she'll have something to offer guests, along with the coffee, when they show up at the back door to swap details of ongoing investigations.


  1. Sheila, have you made this before when it did get firm? I wonder if it needs another egg? I'm dying to try but don't want mocha soup LOL

  2. I had no problem with the straight chocolate cream pie (very similar recipe), but maybe the coffee confused it. It seemed nice and thick in the double boiler, but . . .

    Fannie Farmer's other alternative is a gelatin-based pie, but all those included whipped but uncooked egg whites, which I didn't trust. Adding another egg could work with this one. (Or serve it as soup, with some whipped cream and a flower floating on top).

  3. I usually just use generic Oreos. It's better in my opinion.

    1. With the white stuff included, or do you just scoop that off? And they have a chocolate version too, don't they?

  4. I wonder if only a mystery writer would feel ghoulish grinding those little animal crackers?! :) The pie looks good and what a nice memory.

  5. Your mocha cream pie sounds and looks delicious!

  6. I haven't made a cream pies in ages. My first attempt was right after I got married. Followed the instructions exactly and wound up with lemon soup. What a let down!

  7. Wow! Does this sound and look luscious!!!
    I have a challenge with cooked pie fillings like this. It forgets to "pud" and I get a puddle of "ding"!
    This also happens when I try to make proper Welsh Rarebit.
    I usually resort to a cornstarch slurry to thicken it.

  8. Perfect for the weekend! Thanks, Sheila. Hugs. MJ (off to share)

  9. I know the feeling. Cornstarch is our friend!

  10. Sheila, that's funny about Meg drinking coffee all the time. My new character is eating lots of French food, but I rarely have her sitting down to a meal. It's always "on the go." LOL Amateur sleuths need to relax! LOL ~ Daryl