I like to “borrow” things from my parent’s house when they are out of town. Toys for Lucy, the daily paper, $200, television sets—that sort of thing (just kidding, mom and dad!). So last week, when I went to take in their mail, I decided to borrow a few cookbooks. And I didn’t choose a James Peterson or Simply Classic, but this little well-worn, well-loved beauty.
Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, first printing, 1969. How could I resist a cookbook with fondue, a pimento cheese ball and an unidentifiable meat-looking round on the cover?
The recipe possibilities were endless. I could make Bavarian cream in a Jello mold. I would first, of course, have to locate a Jello mold.
An assortment of geometrically-shaped nibbles, perhaps?
Or how about corn bread with asparagus and cheese sauce on top? Served with canadian bacon and melon balls on the side, of course.
Maybe a creepy cat cake? Or my all-time favorite: a “Marshmallow Menagerie Cake,” replete with a variety of nightmare-induing marshmallow animals.
I kid, I kid. And although looking at a 40 year old cookbook was loads of sarcastic fun, there are actually some very timeless recipes within those pages that have allowed me to think back to basics. If you’re looking for a classic pot roast, pie crust or coffee cake, Betty is your gal.
Dave, upon flipping through the orange book, set his heart on her “Chocolate Pie Deluxe.” So off I went to try my first Betty Crocker recipe, circa 1969.
It’s a simple refrigerator pie with a filling of chocolate, marshmallow and whipped cream. Of course I had to tweak it a bit: more chocolate (and bittersweet, not milk, as the recipe suggests), dashes of salt here and there to enhance flavors, and some vanilla extract. Not huge changes, but changes nonetheless.
The result? Think of it as chocolate mousse in a graham cracker crust.
Betty had it goin’ on with this one: it’s insanely decadent. I’m glad I used bittersweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate, otherwise I’m afraid it would have been way too sweet.
And can we talk seriously about this crust? It is the most perfect graham cracker crust I have ever made. Her proportions were spot on, the butter-to-graham ratio close to godliness. It baked evenly and held together perfectly.
The mousse-like filling was dense but fluffy, although it left a little to be desired in terms of creaminess. It got me thinking that maybe using marshmallow creme instead of melting marshmallows might make a less gritty filling, but don’t quote me on that.
Overall, this flashback is a keeper. It may not have the nostalgia of a Jello mold or the intrigue of the Marshmallow Menagerie Cake, but it’s rich chocolate dreaminess is sure to stand the test of time.
And Mom, I’ve put your cookbook back. I know that the second you got home you were just itching to make an Olive Surprise Roast. I didn’t want to deprive you of that.
Chocolate Pie Deluxe, adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook
Makes one 9″ pie.
- Graham cracker crust (see below)
- 16 large marshmallows or 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
- 1/2 c milk
- 12 oz good quality chocolate (I like Ghiradelli 60% Cacao for a richer, less sweet flavor)
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 c chilled whipping cream
Melt marshmallows, milk, chocolate and salt over a double boiler, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and chill until thickened.
Whip cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared crust. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or until set.
Graham Cracker Crust, adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook
Makes one 9″ pie crust.
- 1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 c butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together crumbs, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in butter and mix with a fork until crumb mixture is evenly moistened. Press into pie plate and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.