Tourte de Chocolate

This rich, delicious chocolate creation is a real winner. During colonial times, a single-crusted pie was referred to as a pudding, because pies were to have a top crust. For an even more authentic taste, use our American Heritage Chocolate™ to make the recipe.

18th Century

Mix a little flour with a pint of cream, and chocolate in proportion, a little sugar, and four eggs; boil it about a quarter of an hour, stirring it continually for fear it should catch at bottom; then put it in the paste [pastry], and the whites of four eggs beat to a snow upon it, glaze it with sugar and bake it.
N.B. Coffee-Pie is made after the same manner, boiling two or three dishes of clear coffee with cream instead of Chocolate, as the proceeding, they are both to be done with top crusts.

Dalrymple, The Practise of Modern Cookery; Adapted to Families of Distinction, as well as Those of the Middling Ranks of Life. To Which is Added a Glossary. p. 357.

21st Century

  • Pie crust for 9” pie plate (homemade or bought)
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, grated
  • 2 cups cream (or substitute skim or lowfat cream)
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 4 oz. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 pinch of cream of tartar
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar

For the filling

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line your pie plate with the pie crust.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, flour, and grated chocolate. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the chocolate and sugar are melted. Taste the mixture and add more sugar if necessary. When hot and blended, remove from the burner.
  4. Whip the eggs well in a separate bowl. Slowly stir ¼ cup of the hot chocolate and cream mixture into the beaten eggs. This will temper the eggs to prevent them from scrambling. Then stir this mixture slowly into the rest of the chocolate mixture. Return the chocolate to the burner and stir mixture until it begins to thicken. Then take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  5. Pour cooled custard into the pie shell and bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes until the custard is set. Let cool to room temperature and then top with meringue (recipe follows below).

For the meringue

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Before you serve it, prepare a meringue topping. Combine the 4 egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar and whip them to soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar until stiff peaks are formed.
  3. Spread the meringue over the top and bake in the oven about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

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29 Responses to “Tourte de Chocolate”

  1. May 6th, 2011

    Chris Hansley says:

    In just rereading the recipe, it appears to be incomplete. After the chocolate mixture comes to room temperature, do we bake it for any amount of time to bake the crust before putting the meringue on to bake? Or is 10 minutes all the whole process needs??

    I love this new web feature. How about giving us the recipe for Pickled Watermelon Rind? I can never get enough of it when we’re there.

    Tinley Park, IL

  2. May 6th, 2011

    Historic Foodways says:

    Chris, thanks for catching that! The missing step has been added in the recipe above.

  3. May 11th, 2011

    Chris Hansley says:

    You’re welcome. I’m now ready to bake. I’ve been asked to bring a dessert to a party. Hmmm! I wonder what I’m going to bake.

    Now, how about that Pickled Watermelon Rind recipe?? Grand Illumination is a long 7 months away.

    Have a great summer,
    Tinley Park, IL

  4. May 13th, 2011

    Erin says:

    This looks sinfully wonderful! I will have to make this!

  5. June 25th, 2011

    Nancy Vitalis says:

    I am new to 18th Century cooking and like to recreate the recipe as close as possible to the time period. A couple of differences in the recipe versus the video recipe. No mention of sugar or cream of tartar is used in the video. Were these ingredients used in the 18th century version or has the written recipe been adapted to modern tastes? Thanks.

    • July 1st, 2011

      Historic Foodways says:

      The period recipe does mention “a little sugar.” This is quite typical for recipes of the period. They often will not give a specific amount of sugar, because cooks understood that you were to sweeten to the taste of the guests. You may also have purchased chocolate that already had sugar in it, so you would want to add less sugar when baking with it.

      We picked the modern quantity of sugar to match the taste of modern people. We serve American Heritage Chocolate in our coffeehouse. This product is made for us by Mars/Masterfoods company based on an 18th-century recipe. We have found that many people like this chocolate, but they find it is not as sweet as they expect, because they are used to eating modern chocolate.

      I recommend American Heritage Chocolate as the most authentic 18th-century style chocolate that is made today. I personally know the people who created and produce this product and they work very hard to be authentic in terms of the type of beans used and how they are processed and spiced.

      The cream of tartar is made from the lees of wine and is added to the modern meringue recipe because it helps to keep the egg whites fluffy. This is not in the original, because it is not in common use quite yet. By 1824, when “The Virginia Housewife” was published, there are a few mentions of cream of tartar, so it seems to come into use in the early 19th century around the same time that artificial leaveners like baking powder and baking soda are starting to be used.

      Frank Clark

  6. July 6th, 2011

    Helen Rosier says:

    Loved the video to go with the recipe, especially the part showing the use of a roll of extra dough to push the dough into the tart grooves. It’s a good idea. I’ll try it.

  7. July 12th, 2011

    Nicole says:

    I pre-made this for one of our re-enactment events and decided to make whipped cream to top it instead of meringue, as I did not have anything to brown the meringue in camp. It turned out fabulous and everyone loved it! (Though, it’s really hard not to love chocolate cream pie) I’m so happy to know that it’s an authentic 18th Century recipe.
    Thank you so much for the recipe and the wonderful how-to video! The video has inspired me to be brave enough to try making it in camp when there is more time.

  8. July 15th, 2011

    Hugh Callenish says:

    In my modern kitchen I keep a Bernz-O-Matic(propane) torch for browning meringues (and fixing the sink)

  9. December 2nd, 2011

    Carly Flack says:

    I am trying to pull this up to share with my colonial history class but it won’t load. Thanks!

  10. December 2nd, 2011

    Historic Foodways says:

    Unfortunately our videos only work with Flash and iOS devices. What web browser are you viewing the site with?

  11. December 13th, 2011

    Emily Bennett says:

    When I attended your Foodways Conference in November 2009, this recipe was in the booklet given to us. In that booklet, the original recipe suggested that cinnamon and other spices could be added. Following that example, I added a dash of cinnamon to the modern recipe. It was delicious and really added a richer flavor to the chocolate. My family now requests this pie every year!

  12. January 27th, 2012

    bobby joe says:

    delicious, and the best i’ve had from your selection

  13. May 3rd, 2012

    Jane Park says:

    This taste AWESOME!

  14. May 3rd, 2012

    Sarah Eaton says:

    I know right?

  15. September 4th, 2012

    Linda Shoun says:

    I’m watching a program recorded from PBS channel 107 (on Cox), their “Create” channel. The program is Burt Wolf: What We Eat, and the episode: When Money Grew on Trees: The Story of Chocolate. He has a pdf of most of the content:

    I’m sending this in case the Foodways folks would like to look for this on the ‘net.

  16. November 26th, 2012

    Allison Heinbaugh says:

    I made this for Thanksgiving this year. I made it without the meringue and instead used storebought Cool-Whip for those who wanted. Most declined–it is delicious even without and got rave reviews. Used the American Heritage Chocolate available through Colonial Williamsburg.
    I did want to point out that preheating the oven prior to making the chocolate filling is a waste of energy–you have to wait for the filling to cool all the way to room temperature before you can pour it into the pie shell. Begin preheating not too long before you plan to actually put the pie into the oven, depending on how long your oven takes to heat. This may seem obvious, but following the directions step by step in the order given will lead to the oven being on a long time. (This may be addressed in the video–I did not watch it prior to baking).

  17. September 6th, 2013

    shaquesha says:

    This was really helpful because my daughter has a project that has to do with colonial recipes.

  18. September 7th, 2013

    Sam Wai says:

    A former commentator is correct that this pie is the pecan pie model and not the cream pie model. The point is that despite a creamy filling, this tart is baked with the filing in the crust rather than baking the crust on its own and then just poring in the cream filling. Actually this tart requires baking twice, the second time to brown the meringue. As compared to the Frenh Silk Pie available at many family restaurants, the French silk is very sweet, heavier and often has the taste of salt in the filling. The filling of this tart contains no salt. I like it better this way.

  19. October 21st, 2014

    Kelly Nixon says:

    I have a question.
    How many servings is this?


    • October 21st, 2014

      Historic Foodways says:

      It makes a 9-inch pie. It depends on how big you cut the slices, but usually you get about 6 slices from a pie that size.

  20. February 10th, 2016

    David Vasa says:

    Can i use ramekins instead of a 9″ pie pan

  21. March 22nd, 2018

    Phil says:

    This is almost exactly the recipe my grandmother (and subsequently my mother and now me)used to make chocolate pies. Instead of cream we use milk and cocoa powder instead of chocolate. One of my favorite recipes!

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