When my mom passed away in January of 2011, it was my great honor to deliver one of her eulogies. And it surprised no one attending mom’s funeral – other than, perhaps, the officiating priest who appeared unaccustomed to such laughter in a house of worship – that I would take a detour to remember mom’s prodigious love of sweets.
My mom grew up an only child. It was a happy, if somewhat lonely childhood, and she made no bones about the fact that her dream in life had always been to raise a large family of her own. Whether it was her DNA, her upbringing, or something she’d read in an early book on child rearing I can’t be sure. But by the time I arrived in 1954 – the sixth of seven offspring – it was well established that my mom’s definition of a dysfunctional family was one that didn’t have at least three freshly baked desserts on hand at any given time.
I don’t know about my six siblings, but it bothered me little that she rarely made these desserts herself, given the variety of first rate bakeries at our disposal in Plainfield, New Jersey, our hometown. Her thrice weekly ritual was to load the station wagon with willing bodies and swing by Margie’s Cake Box for a layer cake or two. Stire’s – mom’s go to source for for crumb cake, outsize black and white iced cookies, and fruit pies – was next. The final leg of her dessert trifecta was a stop at Gruning’s to pick out several matching flavors of homemade ice cream to pair with mom’s selections.
She was a one-woman economic stimulus package and the local bakers smiled broadly when they saw our station wagon pulling up.
In retrospect, it’s amazing that her kids didn’t all flop around the house like a pod of beached elephant seals, but that didn’t happen. Mom also believed that if you weren’t doing homework, a kid’s job was to play hard, pitch in with chores like mowing the lawn, and to stay out of the house until you were called in for supper.
Even in her 90’s, during mom’s waning days at the retirement village she called home, dinner was something she tolerated, a required prelude to the main attraction. She would think nothing of sending one of us back to the cafe line, three or more times, to conduct reconnaissance and file detailed reports on the daily dessert offerings before making her final decision.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my mom and I dedicate this post, and this pie, to her.
Now, about the pie…imagine a soft, almost cookie dough-like topping blanketing an irresistible chocolate chip and chopped macadamia nut landscape, and you’re getting very, very warm. Any soft cookie lover will go crazy over this concoction, and normal folk will swoon, too.
Unfortunately, I don’t recall ever making this pie for my mom. I don’t believe I did, but I have no doubt that she would have loved it. Aside from the apple pies she made with my dad every fall, mom didn’t bake her own pies. But she sure enjoyed a good one when a slice came her way.
One thing she would have appreciated is how simple this pie is to put together. You don’t need to prebake the crust, and the filling is no more difficult to prepare than your average chocolate chip cookie, this pie’s aforementioned kissing cousin. (Special note to Pie Academy moms, who should circle this with highlighter and pass along to non-pie baking husbands: If making pie crust isn’t your thing, it’s okay to bake this in a frozen, store bought pie shell. Just fill and bake.)
So to all you moms out there, I hope you have a sensational Mother’s Day and get spoiled rotten by your beloveds. Go a little crazy and have a second piece of pie, too. I think this one will do nicely. And thanks again for being part of The Pie Academy.
MOTHER’S DAY is just the first of many special almost-summer and fall events when our selection of pie boxes would be the perfect way to dress up a slice, an individual pie, or whole pie for the occasion. You can find all the information right here.