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Black Bottom Pie

Makes 8 servings

40 crisp gingersnaps, crushed into fine crumbs (about 2 cups)

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup sugar

1¼ tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups whole milk

4 eggs, separated

1½ ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 envelope (1 tablespoon) unflavored gelatin

¼ cup cold water

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

2 tablespoons rum, optional

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine crushed gingersnaps and butter. Mix well and press into 10-inch pie pan. Bake 8-10 minutes. Do not allow the crust to color or overbake. When it is first removed from the oven, the crust will feel slightly crumbly, but it will firm upon standing. Cool crust.

• Combine ½ cup of the sugar and cornstarch in a medium heatproof bowl; slowly whisk in milk. Place bowl over small saucepan of simmering water, creating a double boiler. Stir constantly until thickened. Remove bowl from double boiler and set aside.

• In another bowl, beat egg yolks well; slowly temper with ½ cup of the hot milk mixture, then gradually stir the rest in. Pour into bowl used as double-boiler top and place over simmering water, stirring constantly until mixture coats spoon.

• Cut chocolate into small pieces into a small bowl; add 1 cup of the hot custard; stir until chocolate is melted. Add vanilla to chocolate mixture; cool slightly and pour into pie shell.

• Soften gelatin in water. Pour into remaining hot custard; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Cool until slightly thickened.

• Beat egg whites until stiff; gradually add remaining sugar and the cream of tartar, beating constantly; fold into gelatin mixture. Add rum if using; mix well. Pour over chocolate layer in pie shell.

• Chill until set, at least 6 hours or overnight. If desired, garnish edge of pie with whipped cream and quartered maraschino cherries. Sprinkle top with chocolate curls, if desired.

• Source:
"Hometown Appetites” by Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris.