Posted by: Erica Retrochef | September 17, 2012

Mrs. Knox’s Creamy Chocolate Chiffon Pie

Well, it’s finally September, which means it’s less unbearably hot but still not really what I’d classify as “fall.” To me, fall means it’s time for sweaters and hot tea and reading books under blankets while leaves fall. Since I’ve moved to South Carolina, I think I’ve used my favorite sweater all of twice, and I was uncomfortably hot the whole time.

So, since the weather hasn’t bothered to figure out what month it is, it’s time for A GRAND SUMMER PIE! (M-m-m-m.)


1 envelope Knox Gelatine
6 level tablespoonfuls cocoa or 2 squares chocolate
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoonful salt
1 teaspoonful vanilla

Soften gelatine in 1/4 cup cold water. Put 1/2 cup cold water in top of double boiler to which add 6 level tablespoonfuls cocoa or 2 squares chocolate. When thoroughly dissolve add 1/2 cup sugar, the egg yolks slightly beaten and salt. Cook until custard consistency, stirring constantly. Add softened gelatine to hot custard and stir until dissolved. Cool, and add vanilla. When mixture begins to thicken, fold in stiffly beaten egg whites to which the other 1/2 cup sugar has been added. Fill baked pie shell or graham cracker crust and chill. Just before serving, a thin layer of whipped cream may be spread over the pie.

If you’re thinking this looks an awful lot like Marshmallow Chocolate Pie, you’re right — but we’re using straight gelatin, rather than melting down marshmallows. Will this improve the texture?

No marshmallows here, just eggs, sugar, chocolate, vanilla…

Interestingly, in our house, I’m always the one who ends up separating eggs. Not only because I enjoy doing it, but because I’ve tended to do it so often that Buzz isn’t terribly adept at it — and ends up with shell or yolk (or both) in the egg whites.

The whites are whipped as part of the prep work.

Also, the gelatin is dumped into some water to “bloom” as prep work, and sits around while we get working on the interesting/hard part:

Melting chocolate!

It’s fairly clear that this is a good “summer pie” only for serving, not for cooking. Double boilers are steamy and hot to work with.

The yolks are added in once the chocolate has melted, making this sort of like a chocolate zabaglione. (Hilariously, my spell-check thinks “zabaglione” should be “globalization.” Ah, spell-check. It’s actually a tasty egg custard, so there!)

You can tell when it’s thickened by swiping a (clean) finger across a spoon, and checking whether the liquid flows over it again or not. If not, it’s thickened.

And while all that was going on, the gelatin turned into a squishy glob!

Adding thickened plain gelatin to delicious chocolate custard… I can’t think of very many circumstances where I’m excited about an ingredient that looks like snot.

Anyway, fold all that into the egg whites. This is a tricky step, since you want to thoroughly coat all those egg whites with delicious chocolate, but you also can’t mix too hard or the egg whites collapse and it’s not really chiffon pie so much as flat mousse.

Aaaaand I forgot the whipped cream. Whoops! (But it didn’t need it!)

I think that this was everything the Chocolate Marshmallow Pie wanted to be, but couldn’t quite achieve. The chocolate flavor was nice and strong, and the texture was smooth and soft like a chiffon pie ought to be. It could be a nice ending to a summertime meal, since it’s cold — presumably after all that work over the stove, you’ve had a chance to relax with some sweet iced tea and a cool green salad or something. Or maybe you can use the tasty chocolate pie to bribe your children to fan you with giant palm fronds, that could also work…

This Grand Summer Pie was advertised in June of 1941, and available online at The Gallery of Graphic Design.



  1. Yay for a doable recipe from 1941! Once the gelatine was stirred in, it didn’t look half bad… I’ve always liked fridge pies, but definitely, the double-boiler makes it non-summery!!

    Hope some autumnal weather finds you soon… at least the nights are getting cooler, if not the days, right??

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