I haven’t had grasshopper pie since I was a kid, and I’m not even sure what prompted me to remember it. It may have stemmed from my minor obsession with mint. Mint tea, mint drinks, minted lemonade, dark chocolate and mint, mint ice cream, mojitos, you name it. Fresh mint has a very strong, earthy flavor, a fresh from the garden insistence. Specifically, it’s a spearmint addiction, but I’ll go for a peppermint every now and again.
Grasshopper pie’s hey day was in the deep south during the 50’s and 60’s – apparently there’s a cocktail called the grasshopper which served as the inspiration for this dessert. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call it a cocktail, to me it sounds more like a spiked milkshake. The basics of the pie include, a cookie crumb crust, creme de menthe, and whipped cream in a chiffon style. I like chocolate with my mint, so I use the chocolate wafer crumb crust and add creme de cacao – or chocolate liqueur. I thickened mine using gelatin, but lots of people thicken with marshmallows. I just couldn’t decide or remember what the marshmallow tasted like, and I wanted the mint to come through as the predominant flavor. Oh and buy the green creme de menthe if you want your pie to turn green – or save the color with a few drops of green food coloring like I did.
This recipe is a teeny bit labor intense, so I wouldn’t recommend attempting it while simultaneously making other recipes, unless you are an extreme multi-tasker or you have hired a person to stand behind you and make sure you aren’t forgetting imperative steps in any of the preparations at hand. NOTE to self, if you’ve forgotten all about this day and come back to make Grasshopper pie 9 months from now, by all means – follow your personal cardinal rules. One, for the love of God, don’t attempt to toast bread at any time during this process, you *will* forget it, and it will burn. And two, do not imbibe any cocktails until you are at least 75% of the way through the recipe. Lest you get carried away, mess up some steps, and decide no one really wants dessert anyway.
I love cooking for people, but my inner-adventurer takes me down more often than not. It’s not enough for me to serve one new recipe for a party setting. For some reason I seem compelled by some culling force to make 80+ percent new recipes for each gathering. This generally results in me screwing up my timeline, not disastrously, just enough to be stressful in the hour before the guests arrive. I wonder if I’d have trouble in a restaurant where I had to cook from the same menu night after night. Again note to self – remember this and scale it back for the next party. On the upside, I have at least 4 days of blog posts from this one event. And I got to spend my whole Saturday in the kitchen, which to me is a little slice of heaven.
2 c. chocolate wafer  crumbs
2 tbsps plus 1 teaspoon sugar
6 tbsps melted butter
2 1/2 c. heavy cream
2/3 oz. (1 package from grocery) fresh mint
3 tbsps creme de menthe
1 tbsp creme de cacao
1 envelope gelatin
5 egg yolks
1/4 c. sugar
semi-sweet chocolate bar for shavings
1 c. heavy whipped cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Crush chocolate wafers in a Cuisinart. To crumbs, add sugar and melted butter, stir to combine. Press mixture into a greased 9 inch glass pie pan. Bake 10 minutes, then let cool completely. Prepare and ice bath. Whip 1 c. cream to stiff peaks.
In a small pan, bring 1 and 1/2 c. heavy cream and mint leaves to a boil, remove from heat and let steep 15 minutes. In the top portion of a double boiler, combine creme de menthe and creme de cacao, then top with gelatin. Stir to combine, then let stand 6 minutes. Pour minted cream through a strainer into liqueur and gelatin, discarding mint leaves. Whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks and sugar. Heat cream mixture over barely simmering water for 90 seconds. Pour hot cream into eggs, slowly and continuously, whisking as you go. Return mixture to double boiler, whisk continuously for 12 minutes or until mixture reaches 150. Move to ice bath, then whisk two more minutes. Add whipped cream to mixture, stirring gently with your whisk to combine.
Pour filling into prepared pie crust and refrigerate. Chill at least 2 hours – or be smart and prepare it one day in advance ; ) Serve topped with a dollop of whipped cream and shaved chocolate bits.