Chocolate Icebox Pie – Learn to make Chocolate Icebox Pie topped with whipped cream and nuts from a vintage cookbook.
I love old cookbooks and cooking magazines; on weekends, I scour antique stores and flea markets looking for books that pique my interest. I’ve gathered quite a collection… some of my volumes date back to the early 1900’s. I can’t tell you why I choose certain books over others. Sometimes I pick based on the title, or the subject matter. Other times it’s the feeling I get holding the book in my hand—the smell of the old pages, the smudge of frosting the previous owner left as they cooked.
I have a particular fondness for old community cookbooks published by church groups, junior leagues, and civic groups. I actually read through them for fun, like novels. They make me feel connected to the people who wrote them– the families and housewives and volunteers who compiled them. But the best part is recreating the recipes. Sometimes they are a disaster, but more often than not I end up with a delightful dish that is also a slice of the past… like today’s recipe, Chocolate Icebox Pie.
This Chocolate Icebox Pie comes from a cookbook called Recipes from Old Virginia. Published in 1958, the book was compiled by “The Virginia Federation of Home Demonstration Clubs.” According to the cookbook, this particular recipe was contributed by Mrs. Elwood Harris of Sussex County, Virginia.
The directions of this recipe were a bit sparse, and there was no crust or whipped cream recipe included, so I had to clarify things a bit. I chose the cream topping option because I had some heavy whipping cream in the fridge.
For the graham cracker crust, I chose a recipe from another cookbook published the same year, Good Housekeeping’s Party Pie Book (1958). It’s a baked crust, as opposed to the unbaked crust the Chocolate Icebox Pudding calls for. In my experience with custard pies, baked crumb crusts tend to hold up better and be less soggy than unbaked.
I followed the crust recipe closely, but found it a bit dry, so I added another tablespoon of butter and this made it the right consistency. I used the entire amount for the crust (rather than sprinkling some on top), but my pie dish is likely deeper than a 1950’s pie plate. The crust baked up beautifully, and really complimented the Chocolate Icebox Pie. Delicious!
For the whipped cream, I used a simple mixture of heavy whipping cream and sugar. Simple and scrumptious. As Julia Child said, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.” It proved to be the perfect topping to this luscious pie.
Food Photography and Styling by Kelly Jaggers
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Chocolate Icebox Pie
- 1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp flour
- 1 3/4 squares unsweetened chocolate
- 12 oz evaporated milk or ½ cup heavy whipping cream (1 can)
- 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 2 cups small marshmallows
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- Semisweet chocolate for grating
- 2 tbsp chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar. Stir to blend ingredients until all crumbs are evenly moistened by the butter.
- Pat the graham cracker mixture evenly into a pie plate or dish using the back of a spoon, covering the bottom and sides of the dish completely to form a crust.
- Bake the crust for 8 minutes in the oven till crust hardens. Cool before filling.
- Combine 2/3 cup of sugar, salt, and flour in a small saucepan. Melt chocolate squares (the easiest way is to melt it in a small dish in the microwave), then add the melted chocolate to the dry mixture along with the evaporated milk or cream. Whisk together to blend ingredients.
- Add 1 cup of water and beaten egg yolks, whisk again. Turn heat to medium low and continue to whisk for 10-15 minutes. The mixture will heat slowly and take on a thicker consistency and become a custard. Don’t leave the pan alone for very long or the custard will burn/congeal to the bottom of the pan. Continue whisking until the custard thickens and begins to stick to the whisk in small lumps. Remove from heat.
- Melt in the butter, then whisk in the marshmallows, which will melt into the custard. Let mixture return to room temperature.
- Fill cooled graham cracker crust with the custard.
- Place pie uncovered in the refrigerator and chill for at least 6 hours till set (preferably overnight).
- At least 1 ½ hours before serving, combine 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and 2 tbsp sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Whip on medium high for a few minutes until the cream is light and fluffy.
- Spread the freshly whipped cream on top of the pie with a spatula. If you have more time and want a more elegant presentation, you can pipe the cream across the top of the pie with a star tip.
- Grate semisweet chocolate into 2-3 tbsp of chocolate shavings.
- Sprinkle the chocolate shavings onto the top of the pie, along with 2 tbsp chopped pecans.
- Chill for at least 1 hour longer before serving.
- Note: This recipe was tested with both regular marshmallows and kosher marshmallows. The regular marshmallows melted into the chocolate filling, whereas the kosher marshmallows only partially melted, giving the filling a "rocky road" effect. Both results were delicious, so feel free to use kosher marshmallows if you prefer.