Is there anyone who doesn’t have a childhood memory regarding food? I would say virtually everyone in the world has a special memory of certain favorite food while growing up. More often than not, that favorite is a dessert. The recipe that follows was a favorite of two high school girls from Bennettsville, SC, named Margaret Ann Atkinson (now Mrs. Charles R. May, III) and Mary Kay Easterling (wife of Harry Easterling). This was a pie that the two girls enjoyed so much, that Margaret Ann’s mother, Mrs. S.M. Atkinson, made it for the girls many times while they were neighbors and were in high school together. Mrs. Atkinson named it after the girls since it was a favorite of theirs. It was even published in the cookbook published by the Bennettsville Junior Charity League, “Southern Samples” (Kohn Printing Company, out of print). Mary Kay stated that without question, it’s the best chocolate pie that she, or even anyone else who has tasted it, has even eaten. And she’s right! It’s also larger and different from from any other chocolate pie that I’ve tried. Note in the recipe that it calls for cake flour, which acts as the thickening agent, instead of regular flour or even cornstarch. Either squares of unsweetened chocolate or unsweetened cocoa can be used in the recipe. It also calls for whole milk, and I strongly recommend whole milk as it does seem to make a difference in the recipe than if skim or low-fat milk is used. If you really would like to be extravagant and make it extra good, I would use Half-and-Half. It makes a denser, creamier pie. Make sure to use a 10-inch pie shell, as this makes a large pie. Give the following recipe a try and see if it won’t create a new childhood memory for the young people in your life!
MARY KAY AND MARGARET ANN’S CHOCOLATE PIE
1 10-inch Pastry Shell
2 Squares Unsweetened Chocolate or 5 Tbls. Unsweetened Cocoa
1/2 C. Cake Flour, such as Swan’s Down or Softasilk
2-2/3 C. Whole Milk (or Half-and Half, for a richer pie)
4 Large Eggs, Separated
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1-1/3 C. Sugar
1 Tbls. Butter
1 Tbls. Vanilla Extract
1/2 C. Sugar
Prepare the pie shell and bake at 450 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned; set aside to cool and lower oven heat to 350 degrees; if using squares of unsweetened chocolate, melt over very low heat in a heavy saucepan; mix the 1-1/3 C. sugar with the cake flour and add to the melted chocolate; if using unsweetened cocoa, mix with the sugar and flour in a heavy saucepan; add milk slowly and stir to mix well; cook mixture over moderately low heat , stirring constantly, until mixture thickens; cook this mixture for ten minutes while continuing to stir; pour some of this hot mixture into the egg yolks, mixing while pouring; add this mixture to the chocolate mixture and cook for 2 minutes more; remove from heat and add the butter, vanilla extract and salt; stir well and let cool slightly before pouring into pie shell; Top with merengue made by beating the four egg whites with 1/2 C. sugar until stiff peaks form; spread over the pie, sealing the edges well (this prevents shrinkage); bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes until a light golden brown; let cool to room temperature and refrigerate. Serves 8-10.