Today I was in the mood to take a walk down memory lane and make a pie that I remember from my early youth. Though my paternal grandmother was known to be the better and more enthusiastic cook and baker of my two, my maternal grandmother did make a handful of recipes that were extremely special. I am fortunate that soon before my mother passed away she and a cousin of hers created a family cookbook. In that cookbook, I found a few of those special recipes my maternal grandmother “B” used to make quite often. I’d like to share a couple of these on my blog, starting with her Graham Cracker Pie. This will be part of an Old-Fashioned American recipes series, some of which might have come from my great great grandmother in the 1800s.
Graham Cracker Pie
Most people around the world know that Americans love their pies. This one includes a special custard in a cinnamon flavored graham crust. On top is a white meringue sprinkled with even more graham cracker crumbs. I’ve only found a handful of recipes for this pie online. In all cases, the posters said it came from a grandmother or great grandmother. My grandmother’s custard filling is just a little different from the rest. It has a slightly caramel flavor. Yum! I ate a piece last night for the first time in maybe 30 plus years.
Crust (Step 1):
- 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 8 graham crackers, rolled fine)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Mix dry crust ingredients, then thoroughly mix in butter. Press crust mix firmly and evenly on the bottom and up the entire sides of a large pie plate (9 inch). Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool a bit on a cooling rack.
Filling (Step 2):
- 3 egg yolks (reserve egg whites separately)
- 2 Tablespoons corn starch
- 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
- ½ cup brown sugar (light or dark, as preferred), packed lightly
- 2 cups milk (whole or low-fat)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, melted butter, and brown sugar. Then whisk in milk. Cook over top of stove, whisking constantly, until mixture starts to simmer. Continue whisking constantly until thickened into a light custard (about 5 minutes after simmering starts). Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla extract. Pour custard into graham cracker crust. Cool for at least 30-45 minutes on rack.
Meringue (Step 3):
- 3 egg whites (that you reserved)
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon graham cracker crumbs (for the top)
Preheat the oven to 325 F (163 C). Beat egg whites with mixer on high speed, adding sugar gradually, until meringue is stiff and shiny. Add vanilla extract with the last few turns of the beater until fully incorporated. Spread the meringue on top of the fully or mostly cooled pie, decorating meringue either into numerous peaks or swirls. Bake slowly until golden brown (about 10-14 minutes or so). Sprinkle top with graham cracker crumbs. After cooled a bit, refrigerate until completely chilled (at least a couple of hours).