Black Bottom Pie

Rich with chocolate and rum and topped with whipped cream, Black Bottom Pie is a popular American dessert.

6 oz. flour

½ teaspoon salt

4 oz. vegetable fat

2 tablespoons iced water

4 oz. dark chocolate, in small pieces, plus

1 tablespoon thinly shaved dark chocolate

5 tablespoons cold water

4 egg yolks

2 teaspoons cornflour

4 oz. plus

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons gelatine

10 fl. oz. milk

15 fl. oz. double cream

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

2 tablespoons rum

2 egg whites

1 tablespoon icing sugar

Sift the flour and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the vegetable fat and, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, chop in the fat until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the water on the flour mixture and mix it in with a fork. Gather the pastry lightly in your hands and shape it into a ball. Cover the dough and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

On a floured board, roll the pastry out to an 11-inch round. Lift the pastry on the rolling pin and line a 9-inch pie dish. Press the pastry all round and trim the edges with a knife. Put the lined pie dish in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to fairly hot 400°F (Gas Mark 6, 200°C).

When you remove the pie dish from the refrigerator, prick the bottom and sides of the pastry with a fork, line it with greaseproof or waxed paper and weigh it down with dried beans. Bake the pastry shell for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and bake for a further 5 minutes, or until the shell is golden. Leave to cool.

In a small, heavy saucepan, melt the 4 ounces of chocolate with 2 tablespoons water over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When the chocolate has melted, set it aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks, cornflour and 4 ounces of sugar together with a wire whisk. Continue beating until the mixture is pale yellow and will make a ribbon trail on itself when the whisk is lifted.

In a small cup, soften the gelatine in 3 tablespoons of warm water for about 5 minutes. Stand the cup in a pan of simmering water and stir the gelatine until it dissolves and clears. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk and 5 fluid ounces of cream over moderate heat, until it is hot, but not boiling.

Slowly add the milk to the egg yolk mixture, stirring it constantly.

Add the vanilla essence to the mixture and return it to a saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until the mixture is thick.

Divide the custard in half. Add one part of the custard to the melted choco-late. Pour the chocolate mixture into the baked pastry shell, cool and refrigerate until it is firm to the touch.

Add the rum and dissolved gelatine to the remaining custard.

Using a rotary beater or wire whisk, beat the egg whites and 1 tablespoon of sugar together in a small mixing bowl until the mixture will hold a firm peak. Using a spatula or metal spoon, gently fold the egg whites into the rum-flavoured custard. Spread evenly over the chilled chocolate custard in the pastry shell and return it to the refrigerator. Leave for at least 2 hours, or until it is firm.

Just before serving the pie, beat the remaining cream until it is almost stiff. Add the icing sugar and continue beating until the cream is very thick. Pipe or spread the cream on top of the pie.

Scatter the chocolate shavings on the top of the cream and serve.

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