Gillie Peak's Chocolate Pie

Joel Keebler

This recipe was told to me by a work associate, Professor Karen Copenhaver. On the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon, Professor Copenhaver is widely regarded as the “final authority” on matters of style and taste. Karen is an accomplished educator, homemaker, and all-around style guru. Many at VHCC refer to her as “our very own Martha Stewart—but much younger and without the imprisonment.” She told me that this recipe “has been passed down six generations from my maternal great, great, great-grandmother, Gillie Peak of Grayson County (Virginia) to me.  Gillie resided in the Delhart community—that is where all my greats lived. The rest of us hail from Baywood—only a few miles from Delhart.” Both communities are near Galax, Virginia, home to the annual and world famous Old-Time Fiddler’s Convention.

Karen told me that the original recipe had “lard” as an ingredient—“but when my great- grandmother passed it on to my grandmother, she marked out lard and wrote ‘shortening,’ then my grandmother wrote in ‘Crisco.’ I thought that was a bit interesting.”

Copenhaver also notes that, “My grandmother no longer salts the crust—so the importance of that got lost somewhere along the way.”

Pie Crust: Chocolate Pie

• 1 cup plain flour

• ¼ cup lard or shortening

• ¼ cup cold water

Mix flour, lard, and water into a stiff ball of dough.  Roll the dough on a floured sheet until it is paper-thin.  Place pie crust in pan and pinch edges. Punch holes in crust using a fork. Sprinkle salt on the crust. Bake for 10 minutes in a 400-degree oven.   

Pie Filling:

• 2 eggs (separate and save whites)

• 1 cup sugar

• 2 cups cream

• 2 tablespoons butter

• 3 tablespoons cocoa

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, combine egg yolks, sugar, flour, and cream together. Then add butter. Cook over low heat until thick. Pour into baked crust. Let pie cool for a few minutes.


• 2 egg whites ( saved from above)

• ¼ cup sugar

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg whites until stiff.  Slowly add sugar and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form. Pour on top of pie and place back into oven until meringue is brown.