The traditional grasshopper pie is a green pie in an Oreo cookie crust, a “white trash” cooking sort of dish made with marshmallow fluff and topped with Reddi-Wip. We’ve made the pie much better with homemade vanilla ice cream made green and minty with crème de menthe. The secret to gussying up any recipe is to use good ingredients, freshly and properly made. Changing the quality does not necessarily change the character of a dish, though; it’s still a little “white trash.”
Of course for this grasshopper pie you can buy perfectly good vanilla ice cream, but I like our homemade ice cream better because it’s not as sweet as commercial brands. Master it and you’ll not only have a great vanilla ice cream but also an ice cream base for most of the ice creams we make at Campanile.–Mark Peel
LC Classy Not Trashy Note
Warning: You may feel so inspired by this retro dessert that you find yourself compelled to conjure an entire menu of classy—not trashy—surprises. First up, some cocktails—Mai Tais and Blue Hawaiians ought to do the trick—preferably served in novelty glassware (cocktail umbrellas not optional). While you pass a tray of these beauties, put out some pimento cheese and crackers or, if you want to go all out, pass some mini corn dogs. For your entree, the unlikely but oh-so-enticing Dr Pepper glazed ham. Finally, this grasshopper pie. Trust us, your guests will be drunk on nostalgia. Not to mention creme de menthe.
Makes one 9-inch pie
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Put the chocolate cookie crumbs and chocolate in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the chocolate is finely grated. With the machine running, add the melted butter and vanilla, and process until evenly incorporated.
Transfer the mixture to a buttered 9-inch pie or tart pan and press evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan. It helps to place a piece of plastic wrap over the mixture and press on that so your hands don’t get sticky and covered with the mixture. Place in the freezer.
Combine the milk, cream, and vanilla bean seeds and pod in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Immediately remove from the heat and cover the pan with plastic wrap. Allow the mixture to steep for 15 minutes.
Fill a large bowl with water and ice, and set a medium bowl in it. In a medium bowl, beat together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until the egg yolks are very frothy and thick.
Bring the milk mixture back to a simmer over medium heat and remove from the heat. Making sure the liquid is not boiling, whisking constantly, slowly pour 1/2 cup of it into the egg yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, scrape the now-tempered egg yolks into the saucepan with the milk and cream, whisking constantly. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and insert a thermometer. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula, moving the spatula in a figure 8 and scraping the sides and bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, and reaches 170ºF (77ºC). Run your finger down the middle of the spatula. The sauce should not run back into the canal created by your finger.
Immediately remove from the heat and continue to stir for 1 minute, then strain through a medium strainer into the bowl set in the ice bath. Allow to cool, stirring often, to 40ºF (4ºC). At this point you can refrigerate the base (which is a custard sauce) for up to 2 days.
Whisk together the vanilla ice cream base and crème de menthe, and freeze in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Spread the ice cream in the grasshopper pie crust, and place in the freezer until solid.
Thirty minutes before serving the grasshopper pie, transfer to the refrigerator. Use a serrated knife dipped into hot water to slice the pie and serve. Top each serving with whipped cream, if desired.
Grasshopper Pie Recipe © 2009 Mark Peel with Martha Rose Shulman. Photo © 2009 Lucy Schaeffer. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.