Today is “Pi Day” – 3/14, otherwise known as “Pie Day.” As a pie fanatic, I can totally get behind a national celebration of this treasured historical dessert. I’ve discussed the history of pie in America before, but I wasn’t about to let this day pass without sharing a pie recipe. I browsed through my vintage cookbooks till I found an oldie but a goodie- Good Housekeeping’s Party Pie Book (published 1959 by Consolidated Book Publishers, Chicago, Illinois). I wanted something creamy and decadent. One recipe stood out – Coffee Pie. In true 1950s fashion, this pie recipe requires only a few prepackaged ingredients. Today we gravitate towards all natural, from-scratch recipes with local and organic ingredients, but during the 50s convenience items like instant pudding were all the rage in home kitchens. This recipe is reflective of that trend.
The history of pie in America stretches back to the very first settlers, who had practical reasons for making them. Since they required far less flour than bread they could be cheaply baked, thus providing a sustainable food source for hungry immigrants. When pioneers began to travel west, finding land to claim as their own, pies began to reflect the regional differences of the areas where they settled. Pumpkin pies and pies sweetened with maple syrup were enjoyed in northern states, where Native Americas taught new settlers how to extract sap from maple trees. Of course pie evolved with the times; by the 1950s prepackaged products like instant coffee, Jello and even processed cheese slices were popular additions, as seen in the “Sweetheart” Pretty Pie Top in this diagram from Good Housekeeping’s Party Pie Book:
I last referenced this vintage cookbook in my post on all-butter pie crust. Over the years it has proven to be a fun vintage resource for pie-making tips. Recipes for just about every kind of pie fill the pages of the informative pamphlet-style book. To celebrate Pi Day, I chose the Coffee Pie for a number of reasons. Firstly, it reminds me of a pie my father used to make for us growing up. He’d buy the premade chocolate cookie crust in an aluminum tin from the market and add a chocolate pudding pie filling. It was beyond simple, but I loved it and looked forward to it every week. Another favorite treat of mine is coffee ice cream. When I saw that this pie recipe combined my dad’s pie and coffee ice cream, I was sold.
I made this pie a few times (every time I made it family and friends wanted a slice, which meant I didn’t actually get to photograph it till 3 pies in!). Each time, I made it with slight variations. I liked all of the options, but I settled on a more chocolatey pie than the original with more coffee added for a stronger flavor, which got a thumbs up from the cast of our sci fi TV series. The result was creamy, dreamy and delish. It’s one of the easiest pies I’ve made. Just make sure you use instant pudding, as referenced in the ingredients, or your pie filling may turn into a soupy mess! I froze the pie once and my family loved the more chilled texture (details below). If you’d rather have a softer pudding-like texture for the filling, you can refrigerate the pie instead of freezing. Enjoy!
Affiliate links help to support my website and the free recipe content I provide. A percentage of any purchase you make via these links will go towards buying ingredients, photography supplies and server space, as well as all the other expenses involved in running a large cooking website. Thank you very much for browsing!
- 1 1/3 cups chocolate wafer cookies, crushed
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 packages instant chocolate pudding (3 - 4 oz each - make sure it's instant!)
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee
- 1 pint coffee ice cream, softened
- Lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream (optional topping)
- Chocolate shavings (optional topping)
You will also need
- Resealable plastic bag and rolling pin or food processor, mixing bowls, standing or hand mixer, 9-inch pie plate, plastic zipper bag
- Place the chocolate wafer cookies in a resealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until finely ground. You can also do this in a food processor if you prefer.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the crushed wafers with the butter until well combined.
- Using your hands or the back of a spoon, evenly press the chocolate wafer mixture into the bottom and sides of a greased 9 inch pie plate.
- In a stand mixer fit with the whip attachment, beat together the chocolate pudding mix and milk until just combined. It will resemble thick chocolate frosting. Dissolve the instant coffee in 1/4 cup of hot water and mix that in as well.
- Add coffee ice cream and continue beating until blended. The final result will be quite thick.
- Pour filling into pie shell.
- Smooth the top with a spatula.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving (refrigerate overnight to let it firm up completely). You can also freeze it if you want a firmer pie, my stepdaughter loved hers frozen. Just don't freeze it for many days in a row, or the crust will start to crumble.
- Garnish with fresh lightly sweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings, if desired. Serve cold.