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From the Culinary SOS archive: The Brown Derby's black bottom pie

October 8, 2011 |  6:30 am

BrownderbymarkbosterRoberta recently sent in an email requesting the black bottom pie recipe from the historic Brown Derby restaurants:

Is it possible to get the Brown Derby (restaurant) pie that appeared in the L.A. Times "back in the day"?  It was a rich, chocolate-y pie (really yummy).

Light in texture but rich with flavor, the black bottom pie from the iconic Los Angeles chain contains a smooth custard flavored with semi-sweet chocolate and whipped cream folded in to give it an airy lift before chilling. Top the chilled pie with more whipped cream and chocolate shavings, and this dessert is as good as gone!

Enjoy, Roberta! You can find the recipe after the jump below.

Click here for more Culinary SOS recipes. If you have a favorite restaurant recipe you'd like to request, feel free to email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com. I'll do my best to track it down.

-- Noelle Carter

Photo: Menu cover from the Brown Derby. Menu courtesy of the Hollywood Heritage Museum. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times


1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2 tablespoons cold water

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar

Dash salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg yolk

3 ounces sweet or semisweet chocolate

2 cups whipping cream

1 (9-inch) baked pie shell

Soften gelatin in cold water. Bring milk to boil in top of double boiler. Beat together sugar, salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and egg yolk until light and creamy. Add small amount of milk to egg mixture, blending well.

Return to remaining milk in pan. Cook, stirring, over hot water until mixture barely comes to boil. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved.

Grate 2 ounces chocolate. Add to custard and stir over hot water until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and beat with rotary beater until custard is smooth.

Chill until custard reaches cream-like consistency. Whip 1 cup cream until stiff and fold into custard with remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Turn into baked pie shell and chill until firm.

At serving time, whip remaining 1 cup cream until stiff and spread over filling. Shave remaining 1 ounce chocolate and sprinkle over top of pie. Makes 1 pie.