Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Aunt Grace's Chocolate Pie

My Aunt Grace passed away on July 26 at the age of 90.  Whew.  90.  That's a lot of years.

As a historian who focuses her research on women, I view Aunt Grace's life through concepts of domesticity and the 1950s Cold War focus on women's place as belonging in the home: the caretaker of the family, the husband's helpmate, the religious center.  These were the things stressed in Aunt Grace's obituary and in the minister's address at the funeral.  In fact, the obituary references my uncle's loss of "his amazing Grace" in the first sentence, before acknowledging anything else about my aunt.

I found that a bit disconcerting. 

My memories of Aunt Grace are of her sweet smile.  Always present always welcoming.  Even in her later years when dementia clouded her mind.

And I remember her chocolate pie.
This is the pie that everyone fought to get a piece of at Thanksgiving and Christmas family gatherings.  We were a large family (40+ most of the time), so you counted yourself lucky to get even a tiny slice.  Creamy.  So chocolatety.  Rich.  Covered in real whipped cream, not the squirt or plastic tub kind. 

I loved Aunt Grace's chocolate pie.

One Christmas, she pulled me aside, saying, "I have something in the car for you."  We walked outside and there it was - heaven in a pie pan.  A whole pie, just for me.  I couldn't believe it.  I felt so lucky and so loved and so special.

Aunt Grace just smiled.  And handed me a recipe card with the recipe for the pie written on it in her neat print.  So I could make my own pie whenever I wanted to.

I don't remember if I shared the pie with my brothers.  Probably.  Maybe not,  since at that point in my life I didn't feel like much belonged to me alone.  But I've made Aunt Grace's pie many times since that Christmas, sharing its deliciousness with friends and family.  Always, I think of Aunt Grace's gift.  And, when my nephew Lucas fell in love with a cream cheese pie, I made him his very own pie.  Now, every birthday, he gets his own cream pie.  And Aunt Grace's love will live on.

And, in case you need your own bit of chocolate love, here's her recipe.  I don't think she'll mind.

Aunt Grace's Chocolate Pie

  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate - chips or bar
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) sweet unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) sugar

Melt chocolate chips and butter.  Set aside to cool.  Separate eggs.  Whip egg whites until fluffy.  Add egg yolks, salt and sugar to cooled chocolate.  Fold in egg whites.  Don't over mix.  Place in pre-baked pie crust. Top with whipped cream and chocolate garnish.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Recipe is easily doubled to fit into deep dish pie crust or to share with a beloved.


  1. How wonderful a story~ I would have liked your Aunt Grace, and I am going to try that pie. :)

  2. What a wonderful memory, can't wait to make Grace's pie.