It's a sad day when temperatures in the 90s feel like a breath of fresh air. I don't know what the summer has been like in your part of the world, but we've been cooking here in the Midwest, and it certainly isn't doing anything to help me shed the "hermit" status I've acquired since I started working from home...in fact, it's just made me grumpy.
So when I started thumbing through books for this week's Thrifted Kitchen, I wanted something you could eat or drink cold, that had a soothing sensation as it slid down your throat. And for me, that means one particular flavor: mint. And what's a more classically minty dish than grasshopper pie? Heck, let's take it one step further and add a grasshopper cocktail in there, too. :)
These two fairly iconic recipes hail — at least from what I could dig up — from the 1950s and 1960s, which makes sense for the pie, because that's when the chiffon type really rose in popularity. As for the cocktail, many people agree that it originated at Tujague's, a bar in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Both are still somewhat popular in the South, but, overall, not served much anymore in our fair country.
The key ingredient in both is creme de menthe, which gives the dishes a boozy, minty taste that, when combined with the cream, becomes that beautiful shade of green. Traditionally, the pie also has creme de cacao and sits in a chocolate wafter crust, which modern-day recipes often make with Oreos instead of plain chocolate wafers (I went somewhere in the middle and used chocolate animal crackers!). The filling is also traditionally made with gelatin, but people today often use melted marshmallows and cream to avoid the hassle of this somewhat temperamental ingredient.
The cocktail is pretty straightforward: creme de menthe, creme de cacao and cream shaken with crushed ice (although the recipe I made uses only white and regular creme de menthe). Some people even take it a step further and add a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream into the glass for extra dessert effect. And I have to say, if it weren't for the possibility of becoming a minty alcoholic, I could sip this sweetness every stinking night.
Now, I wouldn't be an honest blogger if I pretended this pie recipe came together effortlessly...cause it didn't. In fact, I think I downed my cocktail during the last quarter of the pie making in an effort to deal with the hot mess that was the aforementioned temperamental gelatin.
The trouble came when, after making the fill in the double boiler, you add the alcohol and then let it "congeal" to the consistency of egg whites. My brain needs more detail than that, and after it sat on the counter for 5 minutes without looking any thicker, I started Googling how to "congeal" things, and finally decided it maybe needed some time in the fridge...
which it did...
but not too much time, or it becomes too congealed...
and then you have to let it come to room temperature...
and then it's a passable consistency, but now there are bits of green that didn't dissolve properly...
and then when you decide to add the whipped cream, you remember you stuck it in the freezer because, while you were waiting for the filling to un-congeal, it got too runny...
and then you pull it out and it's a solid block...
and then you have to sit it in the windowsill so it will come to room temperature faster...
and then you make yourself another grasshopper cocktail and realize it isn't even noon...
At least, that's how it could go, I suppose. Not that I know or anything. :)
In the end, though, I did get my pie...and I ate it, too.
by Mrs. E.B. Chancey of Union Spring, Ala.
via the Favorite Recipes of America Desserts book, 1968
Yields 6-8 servings
2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tablespoon gelatin
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup creme de menthe
1/4 cup creme de cacao
1 cup cream, whipped
Blend 1 1/2 cups crumbs with butter. Press into bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Dissolve gelatin, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in water in top of double boiler. Add well-beaten egg yolks; cook over hot water until thick. Cool; add creme de menthe and creme de cacao. Congeal until mixture is consistency of egg whites. Beat egg whites until stiff, adding remaining sugar. Fold into gelatin mixture. Fold in whipped cream; pour into crust. Top with remaining crumbs. Chill.
via Cocktails and Snacks, 1953
Yields one cocktail
1 ounce white creme de menthe
1 ounce green creme de menthe
1 ounce heavy sweet cream
Shake with finely cracked ice. Strain into large cocktail glass.
* I dipped the rims of martini glasses in creme de menthe and then into chocolate wafer crumbs to add some chocolate flavor to this drink *