I flew to Dallas for Mother's Day, to celebrate with the original mother alongside my siblings and father. Sister cooked, as usual–my cousin overnighted salmon from Seattle,
Helen roasted it with mint and lemon, and roasted everything else, too: roasted baby artichokes and onions and corn and potato wedges. It was cooler in Texas than in Utah that weekend, so she squeezed in a lot of end-of-season oven time.
She did not, however, make the desserts. Those came from the Koffee Kup Family Restaurant in Hico, Texas,
picked up by a nephew on his way from San Antonio. Mile-high meringues, all of them. I've lost my taste for chocolate, generally, but the textural combination smooth curd and foamy egg white is irresistible.
I haven't made one myself in a million years, and I have no idea who makes a good chocolate meringue pie in Utah. A few years ago, I drove all over the state for an exhaustive and exhausting article on Utah's diners and dives, but I never found a pie that satisfied. (Artificial vanilla is one big problem.)
Here's a recipe I used to use when I was in the catering business.
1 baked pie shell
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 Tbsp. butter
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups whole milk
5 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave carefully–heat it a minute, take it out and stir it, then repeat until it's smooth. Remove from heat.Beat the egg yolks with 1 cup sugar sugar until thick and pale.
Mix the cornstarch with a few tablespoons of the milk until smooth. Heat the rest of the milk in a heavy saucepan. Whisk 1 cup of the hot milk into the yolks until smooth. Then pour the eggs back into the rest of the milk in the saucepan. Bring to just a simmer, then whisk in the cornstarch milk and salt and cook until thick. Keep whisking a few minutes, then stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla. Cover and let cool completely. When it's absolutely cool, pour it into the pie shell and put it into the fridge. I always did this the day before and let it chill overnight.
For the meringue, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form, then add sugar in a thin stream while beating until stiff shiny peaks form. egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks start to form.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Spread the meringue over the chocolate, taking it all the way to the pastry crust so it won't shrink. Then put it in the oven until the peaks are light brown, maybe 15 minutes. Let the pie cool in the refrigerator before cutting it.
But wait!!! Maybe this is what made the pie so memorable: a glass of cognac from A. de Fussigny provided by my wine seller brother...