Chocolate and vanilla is a terrific combination, and cooks use it whenever they can. Black and white cookies, also called halfmoons, are big caky discs covered with chocolate and vanilla icing sold at Dean and Deluca in New York City. A black cow is a chocolate soda with a vanilla ice cream float, and a hot fudge sundae is a scoop of vanilla ice cream with thick chocolate sauce running down the sides.
Black Bottom Pie is another twist on the chocolate and vanilla theme that’s hard to resist. Technically it’s a layer of chocolate covered with rum-flavored vanilla Bavarian cream and decorated with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. According to the late culinary guru, James Beard, recipes for Black Bottom Pie began showing up in cookbooks about 100 years ago.
Because we always hesitate to use uncooked egg whites, which are what give Bavarian creams their famous lift, we decided to use some culinary license when we made the pie. We started with a graham cracker crust and then moved on to the bi-colored filling. Because the pie is essentially layers of chocolate and vanilla custard, we did what most pastry cooks do when they need to vary a basic recipe. We made a simple cornstarch filling, poured part of it into a bowl and stirred chocolate into the rest. The chocolate went right into the crust, and when the remaining custard was cool, we lightened it with rum-flavored whipped cream, piled it on top of the chocolate and decorated it with chocolate shavings. It’s a knockout!
By Jean Kressy, a food writer in Ashburnham, Mass.