I think by now we are all desperate to get past this pandemic. Our nerves are raw and though I am a homebody at heart and haven’t felt the desperation of staying at home, I know many of us are ready to pull their hair out. I mean, as much as we love baking, exploring new recipes, and expanding our bread making skills, a soul can only take so much.
Trying to work ourselves into a new normal has been difficult. I don’t embrace change well. I like my routines. Traditions and constancy make life safe and comfortable, but that is not much of a life. Once in a while, we all need shaking up a bit. Maybe you are having as much trouble as I am getting into a groove that fits this frightening, and very unstable time in our world. I decided to help myself to a treat of Brandy Alexander Pie, a recipe I have not made in years.
I am a teetotaler, but I don’t think desserts count.
There is much debate about the origins of the dessert cocktail known as Brandy Alexander. Though it did kick off in the early 20th century, differences exist as to the events that inspired the drink. Some say it was created to celebrate the wedding of Princess Mary to Viscount Laselles in 1922. Alexander Woolcott of the Algonquin Roundtable states the drink was named for him. Still others say it was inspired by the Russian tsar Alexander II.
The most popular theory, and most widely accepted is that the drink was created by a New York bartender, Troy Alexander. It is said that he wanted to concoct a white cocktail for a dinner celebrating the fictional advertising character, Phoebe Snow, who “travelled,” the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad during the 1920’s. Phoebe was created by advertising man Earnest Elmo Calkins and the campaign was very successful.
Phoebe appeared in many posters as a socialite flapper riding the rails dressed in pure white and displaying the fact that this modern woman could arrive at her destination with not a mark of coal dust from the train upon her. I think the New York bartender may have had a crush on Phoebe. What better way to honor such a lady than to name a drink after her.
So, if you would like a little kick in your get-together when all the world is safe to visit again, maybe a slice of Brandy Alexander Pie will suit. And if you are like me and you can’t wait that long, bake it anyway…without the kiddies of course!
Recipe for Brandy Alexander Pie
1 envelope plain gelatin
3 eggs. separated
2/3 cups sugar. divided
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup brandy or cognac
1/4 cup crème de cacao
1 cup heavy cream
- Dissolve gelatin in 1/2 cup of water.
- Separate 3 eggs.
- Mix together 1/3 cup sugar, egg yolks, and gelatin mix in the top of a double boiler.
- Stir mixture constantly over medium heat until the liquid begins to thicken. DO NOT LET MIXTURE BOIL.
- Stir in salt, brandy, and crème de cacao.
- Remove mixture from heat and pour into a separate bowl. Chill mixture until when you stir with a spoon, the mixture “mounds” slightly. It will produce lumps in other words. Mine took about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
- While the mixture is cooling, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold in 1/3 cup sugar and 1 cup heavy cream. Make sure cream and bowl are cold for best results. (I was impatient and didn’t get the bowl cold enough for volume in the egg whites and cream, resulting in a flatter pie.) Note: It was still delicious.
- Add the brandy mixture from the refrigerator to the cream mixture. If your brandy mixture is too lumpy, you can whip out the lumps with a hand held mixer.
- Pour the contents into a baked 9-inch pie shell or us a graham cracker crust. (A chocolate graham cracker crust would be ideal if you love chocolate.)
- Allow the pie to chill for at least 2 hours before serving…if you can wait that long.
Just a little hint, a graham cracker crust provides another element of texture in this pie, and the chocolate graham crust is the one I prefer. The chocolate graham crust is not in the original recipe, but I just think it is better with this pie.
If you would like to garnish the pie with a topping of chocolate curls as instructed in the original recipe, it would look grand. But I used a dusting of cocoa powder and it looks just as nice.
Serves 6-8 people.