Why Are the Best Desserts Dirty?

I’m really referring to Mississippi mud pie, but that lovely childhood dessert—worms in dirt pudding—will suffice as well. Why must we call a chocolate thing of beauty something icky? Does it make us feel less indulgent about wolfing down our weight in chocolate if we call it dirt? Mississippi mud pie is called thus because it is gooey and dark like the banks of the mighty Mississippi river. But, it’s so good, I’d rather just call it: Really Rich Chocolatey Fantastical Dessert in Pie Form. Yes, that’s better. And, so much easier to say.

This recipe comes via Ethnic Cuisine by Lorraine Turner. That’s right! Mississippi is like a whole different country. So exotic and different than the rest of our obese, dessert-loving nation.

Mississippi Mud Pie

Serves 12-14 (yeah right… serves my belly and my husband can lick up the crumbs)

Crust

  • 5 oz graham crackers
  • Generous ½ C pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 T light brown sugar
  • ½ t ground cinnamon
  • ¾ stick butter, melted

Filling

  • 2 sticks butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 6 squares semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ C corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • Generous ½ C pecans, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 9” springform or loose-bottom flan pan. (Flan pan? I need a flan pan.)

For the crumb crust, put the graham crackers, pecans, sugar, and cinnamon into a food processor and process until fine crumbs form—do not overprocess to a powder. (Hold up a second. I realized at this step, “Wouldn’t it be easier to just get cinnamon sugar graham crackers?” Yes, yes it would. Then, it’s just crackers and pecans. Lovely.) Add the butter and process again until moistened. (I pulsed it.)

Tip the crumb mixture into the pan and press over the bottom and about 1½” up the side. (That worked only a little bit.) Cover and chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

For the filling, put the butter, chocolate, and corn syrup in a pan over low heat and heat, stirring, until melted and blended. (Cutting the butter into bits first helps. But, if you’re afraid of burning the chocolate, I suggest a double boiler over water. Less chance of scorching.) Let cool, then beat in the eggs and pecans. (It’s important to let the chocolate cool enough so that it doesn’t cook the eggs—eew scrambled egg cake, but not so much that it becomes too hard to work. Corn syrup has a tendency to get stiff pretty quickly. I moved the pan off of the burner, but kept it on the preheating stove top while I beat the eggs and chopped the pecans.)

Pour the filling into the chilled crumb crust and smooth the surface. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until just set but still soft in the center. Let cool on a cooling rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled with whipped cream. (Um, I went with ice cream for the side service.)

Results

Not as gooey as I wanted. (Silly oven never works well when I’m baking.) But, it’s a mile of butter and two yards of chocolate. Can you really go wrong? Also, please note that there is no actual sugar in this recipe. So, I call it healthy. That’s right. I don’t count corn syrup as a sugar. It’s corn, people. And, corn is a vegetable. Obviously, this dessert counts as at least one serving of vegetables for the day. Let’s face it, that is so much better than eating dirt.

Mississippi mud pie on a plate with ice cream

Seriously, will someone teach me how to take better pictures?

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