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Hometown Recipes: Betty Jean's Chocolate Pie

First of all, I'm very honored to be trading my morning DJ hat for "Guest Dessert Chef" this week.George Cummings

Betty Jean was my mother. She was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas and had a flair for southern cooking. For the most part, southern cooking involves "fixing" meals using ingredients that you typically won't find in the health food section. For good measure, though, as no matter what Betty Jean put on the plate, it was delicious. This includes her desserts. My favorite part of the holidays while growing up were her chocolate pies. They were simply amazing in their chocolaty goodness, and my sisters and I would fight for the last piece.

I have carried on the tradition, and usually make at least a few chocolate pies around the holidays; or as Mrs. Cummings calls it "The time of year when I do my best to get chocolate all over the kitchen." Mom used to top her pies with meringue. I tried it once and realized that I did not have her panache for such a fancy topping. I use home made whipped cream, but I'll also include a recipe for meringue should you wish to channel your "inner Betty."  If you're crazy about chocolate, you're going to want to try this. Trust me!


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Betty Jean's Chocolate Pie

Ingredients

1/3 cup Corn Starch
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
3 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of butter or margarine
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate (I use the Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder) 

Separate egg yolks and mix them in a bowl-set them aside. Set the egg whites aside in a separate bowl if you wish to make meringue topping.
 
Mix sugar, corn starch, chocolate and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to gentle boil, mixing often until mixture becomes thick and bubbly. Filling should be thick enough to stick to the mixing spoon or beaters. Remove from heat and mix for two more minutes.
 
Take a cup of the hot chocolate filling and mix it into the egg yolks you have set aside. Then return the mixture to the saucepan, returning saucepan to heat. Bring again to gentle boil, mix often.
 
Remove from heat again. Mix butter and vanilla extract into filling. Mix for 2 more minutes.
 
Pour filling into graham cracker pie crust (or whichever type of crust you prefer).
 
If topping with meringue, see meringue recipe and instructions below. 
 
Let cool in refrigerator for 4-6 hours. Top with whipped cream only when pie has cooled the proper amount of time. 
 
Whipped cream
 
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream
 
Mix ingredients together in a chilled bowl using beaters or electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. 
 
Meringue for pie
 
4 egg whites 
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
 
In a mixing bowl combine egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar. Beath with an electric mixer on medium speed for 1 minute or until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed about 4 minutes more or till mixture forms stiff peaks and sugar dissolves. 
Immediately spread meringue over pie, carefully sealing to edge to prevent shrinkage. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golen. Cool on a wire rack, then cool in refrigerator for 4-6 hours before serving.