25 November 2010

Thanksgiving recipe: Texas cream pie

We were braced for a major storm the past two days, but it missed us. Thanksgiving is snow-covered under a blazing blue sky. From a low of -8*F, we have come up to 22*F. It is a glorious day to be indoors looking out. Hot tea and a warm and busy kitchen make it even better.

Thanksgiving dinner starts as soon as Gene finishes the glazed carrots, made with some truly incredible carrots from a friend's garden. Everything else is ready to go--turkey, whole-berry cranberry relish, sage-cornbread dressing, other assorted sides, and a trio of pies. We went with sweet potato, buttermilk and mincemeat pies, and everything smells wonderful up here.

In a hectic year and a tough economy, we are thankful for our supportive network of friends and family, and are grateful for everyone who is healthy, happy and safe. We cherish both the long-term friends who have put up with us for years, and the people we have met in the past three years or so up here who have become good friends as well. I am personally thankful for having the opportunity to live in this wild, beautiful and deep-rooted part of the world, and to be in a position to learn and document, and maybe even to help protect, its history.

Today's recipe is the one that my grandmother cherished most deeply and protected most fiercely. She was reluctant to give it out at all, even in her last years. As you know, I'm not sure that recipes can or should be as secret as all that; nevertheless, I had some pangs about publishing this one. Consider it a gift, our thanks for your being here.

There are two very slightly different versions of this. Texas Cream Pie is nothing like Boston Cream Pie, which is a cake, anyway. It is a gelatin-enhanced vanilla-perfumed custard with a slightly extravagant whipped topping and chocolate shavings as the final garnish.

Texas cream pie

The all-time winner for a perfect dessert. This was taken from a commercial recipe and it was years before Vada felt that she could share it. Her note reads “This is a prize winning $1,000 recipe. Guard it carefully.”

For 2 pies have ready 2 baked pie shells.

Sift together

½ cup sugar
1 heaping T flour

Add 2 cups milk. Cook slightly in double boiler. Add ¼ of this mixture to 5 egg yolks, slightly beaten. Then add yolk mixture to rest of custard. Return to double boiler and cook 3 minutes. Soften 1½ envelopes gelatin in ¼ cup cold water. When custard has cooked 3 minutes, remove from heat and stir in gelatin and 2 tsp vanilla. Cool thoroughly. Beat 4 egg whites with ¼ tsp cream of tartar and add ½ cup sugar. Fold in custard mix gently and put in baked pie shells. Set in refrigerator. Whip ½ cup cream and add 2 T powdered sugar. Spread on top of pie and decorate with grated semi-sweet chocolate over top.

There are two versions of this recipe: the older one adds 1 extra egg, ½ stick of real butter, and an extra ½ envelope of gelatin. This is the version Vada and Gladys came up with and preferred.
--Vada Brooks Johnson, Gladys Brooks Strickland

It's worth the trouble, is all I can say. Happy Thanksgiving. Squeeze your loved ones and don't be afraid to have seconds of anything.


Unknown said...

That is so awesome that you posted this! My Mom had been looking for this recipe for a long time. She said a baker in Brownfield had a restaurant that was famous for the Texas Cream Pie and would never give out the recipe!
Thanks so much!

Unknown said...

I am so, so tickled that someone else knows about this! My grandmother feared someone stealing her recipes to the end....I love sharing them and connecting them with growing up in Texas. Thank you!!

Unknown said...

P.S. When I say "her" recipe, I'll bet anything that she got it from that Brownfield baker!