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Sundae Pie

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1 9-inch pie crust, pastry or graham cracker
1/4 cup cold water
1 (1/4 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
3 pasteurized egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup light cream
1 vanilla bean
3 pasteurized egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sundae Pie

Sundae Pie is a delicious old fashioned vanilla mousse pie you can top with anything from chocolate sauce to fresh fruit.

  • Serves 6
  • Medium

About This Recipe

This wonderful old fashioned Sundae Pie was my grandmother Matha’s recipe. I was confused by the name of this pie when I was little. But then I realized – it’s kind of like a scoop of ice cream that never melts, and you can put anything on it, so it’s like a sundae in a pie crust.

The pie is mild and full of vanilla. I added some vanilla beans to intensify the flavor. I like to top it with fresh raspberries, but it’s also great with chocolate sauce or caramel sauce or with nothing at all on top.

I remember one memorable Thanksgiving when the day before we had a terrible snowstorm. I needed to make the pie but I didn’t have any unflavored gelatin. So my husband and I floundered from house to house in our neighborhood, asking if anyone had it. No one did, but we met a lot of nice people that day!

The original recipe, of course, used raw eggs. I am uncomfortable using those uncooked, because of food safety issues. Pasteurized eggs work just fine. It will take a bit more time for the egg whites to foam up, but adding a pinch of cream of tartar (not tartar sauce that you serve with fish; cream of tartar is a dry white powder sold in the spices aisle of the supermarket) helps speed things along because its acidity stabilizes the egg white foam.

The finished pie is fluffy and light and melts in your mouth. It’s fabulous for holiday meals; in fact, it is traditional at my family’s Thanksgiving Dinner.

How to make the best Sundae Pie

  • You can only use unflavored gelatin in this recipe. Don’t try to substitute flavored Jell-O, because it won’t work.
  • Use pasteurized eggs and follow the expiration dates to the letter.
  • It’s important to temper the egg yolks. That means you add some of the hot milk/cream mixture to the yolks and beat well so they heat up slightly. Then when you add the yolks to all of the milk/cream mixture, they are less likely to curdle. But you have to beat, with a wire whisk, the whole time you are adding the yolks.
  • Beat the egg whites until foamy, then add the cream of tartar and keep beating until you get stiff peaks that are not dry.
  • Fold in the egg whites carefully, but don’t be too afraid of it. Fold until the two mixtures are combined.
  • Top it with chocolate sauce, fruit, shaved chocolate, whipped cream, or chopped nuts.

Why this recipe works

  • The light and fluffy pie is the perfect vehicle for any topping you’d like. And the crisp pie crust is the perfect textural contrast.

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Put the cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle with the unflavored gelatin. Set aside so the gelatin can bloom. That means the gelatin absorbs the water and softens. The mixture's texture will change to a thick grainy consistency.


In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until light yellow. Gradually add the sugar and salt and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.


In a large saucepan, heat the milk and light cream until steam rises from it. Add 1/3 cup of this hot mixture to the egg yolk mixture and beat. This tempers the egg yolks so they will blend more easily with the hot milk mixture.


Beat the tempered egg yolk mixture into the hot milk in the saucepan, and cook and whisk for 3 to 4 minutes longer or until the mixture thickens slightly.


Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the softened gelatin. Beat until the gelatin is completely dissolved.


Stir in the vanilla bean, then set the saucepan into a large bowl full of ice water and let cool, stirring occasionally, for about 50 minutes.


Then beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff. Do not wash the beaters.


Remove the vanilla bean from the egg yolk mixture. Cut the bean in half lengthwise and with the tip of your knife, scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the egg yolk mixture.


Using the same beaters, whip the cold egg yolk mixture until creamy. Add the vanilla extract and beat.


Fold the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until combined. Spoon into the pie crust and chill over night.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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