JENNIFER MERRITT — One Workplace, Santa Clara
Military Veterans Resource Group

When I was little, in the heart of North Beach, the Italian district of San Francisco, I would stand on a rickety step stool in my Nonni’s tiny kitchen hovering beside her while she rolled out the dough for this recipe. Black Bottom Pie was a family tradition, served at every family gathering from holidays to funerals. And only Nonni could make it perfectly. She never used a recipe, and for years her daughters nagged her for it. I can still remember her smirking in the kitchen as she baked, knowing she was holding a treasured secret from all of us kids. It took decades for one of my aunts to try to recreate this delicious treat and note the recipe. Now, when I make it, I can’t help but think of her standing in her kitchen, with her housecoat on whipping up chocolate custard and swatting my Nonno’s hand away from taking a little lick. I hope this recipe brings the same simple joy that it did at our family gatherings.


On top of a double boiler, combine 4 egg yolks, ½ cup of sugar mixed with 1 ¼ tbsp cornstarch, and 2 cups of scalded milk.

Cook the mixture over boiling water, stirring, until thick enough to coat a spoon.

Stir into the custard 1 envelope of gelatin, softened in ¼ cup of water.

Divide the custard in half.

To one part, add 2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled, and 1 tsp vanilla.

Pour into cooked, naked 9 inch pastry shell.

Chill the chocolate custard until firm.

Beat 4 egg whites with ¼ tsp cream of tartar, add gradually ½ cup sugar, and continue to beat meringue until it holds
its shape.

Cool the vanilla custard, add 3 tbsp of rum and fold into the meringue.

Spread the rum custard over the chocolate custard.

Top with sweetened whipped cream and sprinkle with grated semisweet chocolate.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

PREP TIME: 35 minutes
COOK TIME: 15 minutes + 2 hours refrigeration
TOTAL TIME: 3 hours

4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided
1 ¼ tbsp cornstarch
2 cups scalded milk
1 envelope gelatin
2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
1 9 inch pastry shell
4 egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
3 tbsp rum
Sweetened whipped cream, enough to cover 9 inch pie
Grated semisweet chocolate for topping