Chocolate pie with a meringue shell

Everyone has a special dessert that guests remember and hope they will be served again and again, as often as they visit. If the dessert can be made ahead , so much the better for the cook who can then concentrate on the remaining dishes for the meal.

This chocolate pie must chill for 4 hours before serving, so it can be made in the morning, or the night before it is to be served. Then, just before you sit down for dinner, whip the cream with a little confectioner's sugar and spread over the top of the pie. Return to the refrigerator until dessert time.

This recipe comes from Bert Greene's ''Kitchen Bouquets'' (Chicago, Contemporary Books.) Super Chocolate Pie 3 egg whites Salt 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 2/3 cup sifted sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans Chocolate Cream Filling 5 ounces semisweet chocolate 1 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup hot milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Salt Cream Topping 3/4 cup heavy cream 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar Chocolate curls

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For pie shell, beat together egg whites, salt and cram of tartar until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar, a little at a time, until a very stiff meringue is formed. Then beat in vanilla.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch glass pie plate. Spread meringue over bottom and sides as high as possible. Sprinkle nuts over bottom. Bake in preheated 275 degrees F. oven for 1 hour. If after 10 minutes the sides start to sag, gently push them back into place. Turn off oven and allow shell to cool in oven for 30 minutes. Remove shell from oven and let cool completely.

For filling, melt chocolate in top of double boiler over hot water. Add milk, vanilla, and salt. Stir until smooth. Cool.

Whip cream until stiff and fold into cooled chocolate. Spread filling in cooled meringue shell. Refrigerate pie for 4 hours.

No more than 11/2 hours before serving, whip cream for topping with confectioners' sugar; spread over top of pie. Decorate whipped cream with chocolate curls. Refrigerate pie until serving time. Makes 1 9-inch pie.

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