jump to navigation

Readers write: chocolate shoofly pie. March 9, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
Tags: , , , ,

Silence Dogood here. In our part of scenic PA, shoofly pie is a traditional treat among the Amish, Mennonites, and Pennsylvania Dutch. You can’t go to a farm stand or farmers’ market without encountering slices of these pies for sale. But despite its popularity, I’ve never tried it. That’s because I hate one of its essential ingredients, molasses, and because of its peculiar composition: a crumb-topped cake on a bed of gooey molasses in a pie crust.

Why would anyone put a cake in a pie crust, adding an extra calorie hit for no reason? I pondered this last night after one of the readers of our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, requested a recipe for chocolate shoofly pie. And eventually the answer occurred to me: Putting the cake in a pie crust meant that the gooey molasses layer at the bottom was easily contained, so hungry farmers could carry slices back to the fields and eat them with their hands, rather than needing a plate and fork. And needless to say, every extra calorie was a boon, not a problem, for hardworking farmers.

Though I never have and never will try a slice of shoofly pie (presumably named because the sweet molasses layer attracted flies), God forfend that I, Silence Dogood, should shrink from any culinary challenge. A reader needed a recipe for chocolate shoofly pie; surely my extensive collection of regional cookbooks could supply one. To my dismay, the local cookbooks I turned to first proved disappointing, only featuring recipes for basic shoofly pie. But finally, Wanda E. Brunstetter’s Amish Friends Cookbook came to my rescue.

Wanda, whose novels about Amish life are among my favorites, gathered 200 traditional recipes from Amish country for her cookbook, including this one from Linda Esh of Paradise, PA:

           Chocolate Shoofly Pie

1 quart milk or water

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

5 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 (8-inch) unbaked pie shells

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a saucepan, combine milk, sugar, cocoa, and cornstarch; cook until thickened. Add butter and vanilla; cool. Divide mixture evenly into unbaked pie shells. Pour topping over filling and bake for 1 hour.


2 cups flour 

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup milk

1 cup hot coffee

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

dash of salt

Combine topping ingredients and beat well.

So, there you have it. Thanks, Linda and Wanda! Let’s hope our reader hits the jackpot with her chocolate shoofly pie. And did you notice that there’s not a trace of molasses? Hallelujah!

        ‘Til next time,