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Black Bottom Pie

Black Bottom Pie

Serves: 2 (9-inch) pies, 6 to 8 slices each

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1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 large eggs, separated (see note)
2 cups whole milk
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 prebaked pie crusts or chocolate cookie crusts
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/2 envelopes (about 3 3/4 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1/2 teaspoon dark rum or rum-flavored extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream, well-chilled
Sifted cocoa, grated chocolate or cacao nibs, for garnish


Combine 1/2 cup sugar, salt and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Add yolks and whisk well to combine. Slowly whisk in milk and stir to combine. Place over medium-high heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and thickens, about 5 minutes.

Place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler and cook, stirring occasionally with a dry wooden spoon, until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes.

Once the cornstarch mixture thickens, pour half into the melted chocolate. Stir to combine and add vanilla. Divide mixture between the 2 prepared pie crusts; set aside. This forms the black bottom layer.

Place the water in a liquid measuring cup. Add the gelatin and stir to combine. Add this mixture to the remaining cornstarch mixture and stir to combine. Add rum or rum extract and stir to combine. Set aside for 8 to 10 minutes until the mixture just starts to set, or congeal.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With the machine on medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until foamy. Increase the speed to high, and continue beating until soft peaks form. Slowly, steadily add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Take about 1/3 of the beaten whites and add to the rum-flavored mixture and stir well to combine. Pour that lightened mixture over the whites and fold to combine. Once the mixture is smooth, pour the rum-flavored mixture over the chocolate bottoms in the pie crusts. Refrigerate to set, at least 1 hour.

While the pies are chilling, place a clean mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, making sure the cream and equipment are well-chilled, place the bowl on a mixer fitted with the chilled whisk attachment. Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Top the set pies with the whipped cream and serve. Garnish with cocoa, chocolate or cacao nibs, as desired.


Per serving (based on 6): 332 calories (percent of calories from fat, 51), 5 grams protein, 38 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 20 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 71 milligrams cholesterol, 234 milligrams sodium.

About the recipe

Chef Virginia Willis tested this recipe and noted: "The chocolate layer, or black bottom, is very similar to a firm ganache, normally made from heavy cream and chocolate It's rich, thick and slightly dense. The rum-flavored layer is spongy and light, and not very sweet. The combination, especially with the pillow-soft layer of whipped cream, is not only visually stunning, but a textural explosion in the mouth."

To avoid the very small risk of bacteria contamination posed by raw egg whites, use 2/3 cup pure liquid pasteurized egg whites instead.

Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Wilson.

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