Black Bottom Pie

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

Jeremiah Tower Cooks

By Jeremiah Tower

Published 2002

  • About

Needs no comment. Or rather, I can’t think of any that would do justice to this perfect pie. Except to say that I would change the phrase “as American as apple pie” to “as American as black bottom pie.”


The Crust

  • 35 crisp ginger cookies, ginger snap type ( cups when ground)
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter

Basic Filling

  • cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon gelatin soaked in cup warm water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 8 egg yolks, beaten (save the whites)

Chocolate Layer

  • 3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Rum-Flavored Layer

  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch salt
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum


  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ounce coarsely grated semisweet chocolate


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Soak the gelatin in the water and keep warm.

Make the Crust

Roll out the cookies or break them up in a food processor until they are coarse crumbs. Put them in a bowl and mix in the melted butter. Line a 9-inch pie pan, sides and bottom, with the buttered crumbs, pressing them flat and firm. Bake the pie shell 10 minutes in the oven to set the crust. Take it out of the oven and let cool.

Make the Filling

Put the milk in a large saucepan, heat it to boiling and immediately turn off the heat. Mix the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a bowl, then add the egg yolks and beat until smooth. Slowly add the milk whisking all the time. Put the mixture back into the saucepan and cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Add one third of the gelatin water mixture. Divide the custard into one third and two thirds, putting each in a separate bowl.

Make the Chocolate Layer

Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a bowl over hot water, and then add two thirds of the custard. Stir in the vanilla and half of the remaining gelatin. Put this chocolate custard in the pie shell.

Make the Rum Layer

Beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt while slowly adding the sugar until the whites just make a firm peak. Mix the rum into the remaining third of the custard, add the remaining third of the gelatin, and then fold the whites into the custard.

Spread this rum-custard mix over the chocolate layer in the pie, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

When ready to serve, whip the sugar with the cream and pile over the top of the pie. Sprinkle with the grated semisweet chocolate.