Aunt Hen’s “Favorite Recipes”
Aunt Hen was a lifelong reader. As early as I can remember she belonged to several mail order book clubs. She often sat at her dining room table looking over catalogs as she decided which books to order. She looked forward to opening the box when her selections arrived by mail. Her favorite genres were Christian Fiction and Cookbooks. She read them much the same. Aunt Hen would read a cookbook like a novel, page by page.
Aunt Hen was also a writer of sorts. Around the time I got married, Aunt Hen had begun to collect recipes in bound journals with the words “Favorite Recipes” in gold on the front cover. There she wrote out recipes that she liked in her own tidy handwriting. Some of the recipes may have been original. Others were credited to the source of the recipe, often a friend whose name I would recognize. After they were written she numbered the pages and indexed the recipes in the back of the book.
Decades later I am still enjoying Aunt Hen's cookbooks. Among those passed down to me are slick Southern Living cookbooks, spiral bound community cookbooks and special interest cookbooks. The collection also includes three of Aunt Hen’s “Favorite Recipes” books that I keep on a shelf near my kitchen. They contain recipes for everything from down-home favorites to unlikely salads and casseroles to a wide variety of interesting cakes and pies.
Aunt Hen liked her homemade cookbooks and, as a wedding gift, she wanted me to have one too. She promised to start it for me, writing out some of the recipes we had made together and others she knew I liked. Then she gave it to me so that I could add favorites of my own.
One Hundred Years
Today I have been thinking of Aunt Hen and looking through her legacy of cookbooks. It is her birthday. If Aunt Hen were still with us she would be one hundred years old today. I thought of making a cake for her birthday but while I remember birthday cakes she made for me I cannot remember any that were her personal favorites.
More often I remember the way she enjoyed special pies. I remember her Cherry Cheese Pie, Aunt Hen’s “Brownie” Pie and Lemon Meringue Pie topped with her favorite recipe for “No Weep” Meringue. All of those recipes are already posted at My Own Sweet Thyme. But there is another pie I first learned to make with Aunt Hen. Near the front of my “Favorite Recipes” book is a childhood favorite from Aunt Hen’s kitchen, Chocolate Bar Pie.
Chocolate Bar Pie is a simple recipe. All you need to make it is two basic ingredients along with water, a pinch of salt and the pie shell of your choice. Still it is a crowd pleaser. Nearly everyone of every age likes chocolate and that’s nearly all there is to it. Aunt Hen recognized the value of such a recipe. Classically light and sweet, it was easy to make, easy to enjoy and still made her guests feel special. I think she would enjoy a bite as much as I would. Happy Birthday, Aunt Hen!
One ready-to-fill 8-in. pie shell (either a pre-baked pastry shell or a graham cracker crumb crust)
1 8-oz. chocolate bar (with almonds or plain)
1/3 cup water
dash of salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Break up chocolate bar into small pieces. If your chocolate bar isn't 8-ounces (these days the large chocolate bars I find are 6.8 ounces) make up the difference with some chocolate chips or part of another chocolate bar. (I used one Hershey's Chocolate Almond bar plus nearly 1/4 cup of chocolate chips.)
In a small saucepan combine the chocolate, water and dash of salt. Stir over moderate heat just until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Cool at room temperature.
In a medium bowl, beat heavy cream with an electric mixer until stiff. Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture. Spoon mixture into prepared pie shell. Chill until ready to serve.
Garnish with chocolate shavings and/or additional whipped cream.
Note: This pie can just as easily be made from other chocolate candies. We have often made it with leftover holiday themed chocolates. There are lots of possibilities.