Carson Gulley's Fudge Bottom Pie

When trolling a Facebook group this week about growing up in Madison, a discussion was started about Carson Gulley's Black Bottom Pie.   I had long forgotten about this decadent dessert and was quickly transported back to days sitting in the union, having wandered down with friends just for an excuse to have some of this pie.   I was surprised to see that a large number of people were involved in this "discussion".   I had no idea it had become so iconic.  So I set out to do a little research myself.

I discovered that there is quite a legend as to the origins of the pie and its attribution to Carson Gulley (head chef of UW Madison's residence halls for over 20 years).   A great article was written by Michael Penn on The Life of a Pie and the life of Mr. Gulley.  Follow the link and you can read all about it.  

Something more than just the story of the pie hit me as I was devouring this article.   Julie Vincent, Memorial Union's assistant director of food and retail services makes an astute observation about why this pie, unlike so many other remarkable desserts, continues to receive such notoriety.   She attributes it to "nostalgia".

"The foods we love often represent the traditions we grew up with or the things we grew accustomed to at a particular point in our lives."

I get all tingly when I hear that someone else gets what the food really is all about.   Memories, traditions and love.

So, in honor of dear Carson Gulley and all the others at the UW-Madison Union, Residence Halls, past and present, I present to you what might be a close approximation of that fine dessert.

For more Carson Gulley recipes, the UW Madison Library  has the Carson Gulley Cookbook Collection online.  Browse through and enjoy!

Carson Gulley Fudge Bottom Pie

1 c graham cracker crumbs
¼ c powdered sugar
1/3 c melted butter

Mix crust ingredients.  Press into pie tin and back 5 min at 350 degrees.

2 c milk
1 c sugar
2 T cornstarch
4 eggs, separated
1 T gelatin, softened in ¼ c cold water
1-1/4 oz baking chocolate
¼ t cream of tartar

Heat milk in a double boiler.  Blend cornstarch and half of the sugar together.  Add enough of the hot milk to moisten well, then add to the balance of the hot milk and continue cooking in double boiler.  Beat egg yolks.  Pour some of the hot milk mixture over them, beating well and then add them to the hot milk mixture in the double boiler.  Cook, stirring constantly until thick and smooth.  Add softened gelatin.  Blend well and set mixture aside to cool.

Melt chocolate over hot water.  Take 1 c of the hot custard mix and still it into the melted chocolate and set aside to cool.  When it becomes cool, but not stiff, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar.  When they are stiff enough to bold peaks, add the remaining half-cup of sugar gradually and continue beating until will blended.  Fold beaten egg whites into the cooled vanilla custard mixture.  Now pour the cooled chocolate custard mixture into a graham cracker pie shell.  Pour the custard-egg white mixture over it and refrigerate several hours or over night.  Top with whipped cream and grated sweet chocolate before serving.