Peppermint Chiffon Pie

In the fall of 1951, Sanford House opened as a tearoom, and among its first guests were Regina and Flannery O’Connor. The operation was run by Mary Jo Thompson and Fannie White, who provided the town with classic and uniquely southern comfort foods.[1] The two women met while attending Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, with the same dream of opening an establishment that was to them, perfect. As proprietors, they maintained high standards for quality food served on crisp linens, and the people of Milledgeville knew it.[2] One of their more interesting dishes, Peppermint Chiffon Pie, was known to be among Flannery’s favorites.

As I prepared to make the pie, I assembled the ingredients, utensils, pans, and read over the recipe. Much to my dismay, it was clear the recipe had been written by someone who made the pie daily from memory. The lack of detail in the directions could stump anyone not comfortable in the kitchen. Additionally, some ingredients make the list but fail to make it into the actual instructions and vice versa. Thankfully, I spent much of my life in the kitchen with my dad and grandparents cooking for our family. These minor missteps did not discourage me from finishing my endeavor .

Peppermint Chiffon Pie[3] is at its core a bite of lighter than ice cream foam, with the zest of peppermint, and a lazy chocolate crumb crust. This writer ventures so far as to say, unless you are a true lover of peppermint, this pie is NOT for you. The intense sweetness with the spicy kick, is a must love, before you dig in.

A few notes as the chef, and not that of the recipe’s author:

-I am not a fan of cutting steps. I would use peppermint extract over the peppermint candies; the purpose of them, I imagine, is to provide the pink hue. However, my pie barely turned a peachy-pink. If you desire the color, you’ll need to add red food gel.

-Never in my life would I have used a pre-made crust, especially for one as simple as this would have been to prepare.

-The original recipe calls for whipped cream but fails to provide ingredients or directions. So, along with the candy and crust cut-backs, I “cheated” and used canned whipped cream. Homemade whipped cream, is easy enough to make and would elevate this to a whole new level. I would also prefer the use of chocolate shavings over the sugary syrup.

Words of wisdom from this amateur baker: use peppermint extract, and take the time to make your own crust & topping!

[1] Brad Gooch, Flannery A Life of Flannery O’Connor, (Little, Brown, and Company, New York: 2009). 202-203.

[2] Josephine Keese King, “The Sanford House: A Fairy Tale,” in The Sanford House Cookbook, (Milledgeville: Flannery O’Connor Andalusia Foundation, 2008), intro pages vii-viii.

[3] Mary Jo Thompson, “Peppermint Chiffon Pie,” in The Sanford House Cookbook, (Milledgeville: Flannery O’Connor Andalusia Foundation, 2008), 58.

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