Pi Day is March 14 – the day dedicated to celebrating pi (π), the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. The number of digits in pi are infinite, but it starts with 3.14, hence the March 14 celebration. (And yes, I did have to do a Google search to remember all that. All I could recall was that it had something to do with geometry and circles. Math was not my favorite subject).
The obvious way to celebrate pi day is with pie. The words are pronounced the same, and pies are (generally) circles. It’s a perfect match between math and food.
To celebrate, I decided to create a pie based on s’mores. This is partially because there aren’t many pies that seem seasonal for March. Many of the fruit and nut pies I love to make are more suited to summer and fall. I considered a citrus pie (and in fact I do have a lemon pie recipe I’ll share eventually), but a s’mores pie seemed best both for its seasonless nature and my current cravings.
Many people seem to incorrectly think that s’mores are primarily about the chocolate or the marshmallows. In my opinion, s’mores are actually a delicate balance of the three components, including the graham cracker. The crunch and flavor of the graham cracker are just as important as the other elements, but it often gets forgotten.
For example, did anyone else get the new S’mores Girl Scout Cookies? The bakers definitely did not understand this ratio. The sandwich-style cookies didn’t have nearly enough graham cracker flavor. They were good cookies, but just didn’t taste like s’mores. I wanted to avoid that problem with my pie.
(Interesting side note: did you know that the Girl Scout Cookies vary based on which bakery serves your area of the country? This cool LA Times graphic shows the differences. Some of you got a totally different kind of S’more cookie! Was it better?)
I think this pie celebrates all three components of a good s’more: a layer of graham cracker crust, a chocolate cream filling, and a generous amount of chewy marshmallow on top. You could certainly use a store bought marshmallow fluff or a layer of marshmallows instead, but I recommend making it yourself. It’s much easier than it seems and tastes so much better than anything from the store!
I used milk chocolate because I wanted to stick with the traditional s’mores flavors. If you want something with more chocolate flavor, you could use semisweet or bittersweet, or even a combination of two kinds. And although Hershey bars are traditional with actual s’mores, I’d stick with a chocolate intended for baking (such as Callebaut).
Makes one 9 inch pie, approximately 8 servings
Graham cracker crust
- 12-14 graham crackers, finely ground in food processor (1 3/4 cups)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 9 inch pie pan.
Combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse to form evenly damp crumbs.
Spread the crumbs into the prepared pan and press into the bottom and up the sides. The flat bottom of a measuring cup works well for this. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes.
Bake for 7-8 minutes, until crust is fragrant and edges are just golden. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
- 7 oz chocolate (milk, semi-sweet, or bittersweet), finely chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 eggs, lightly whisked
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
Add milk and cream to a medium sauce pan and warm over medium heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add the eggs slowly and whisk until smooth. Off heat, whisk in the vanilla.
Pour chocolate filling into prebaked pie crust. Cover the edge of the crust with a pie shield or ring of tin foil. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the chocolate filling is softly set and wiggles just slightly when gently shaken. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before proceeding, about 1 hour.
- 1 package (1/4 oz) unflavored gelatin
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- cold water
Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Let stand so the gelatin can bloom/soften.
In a sauce pan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup cold water. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to high. Boil until the syrup reaches 240 degrees (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer.
Remove the thermometer from the syrup and set aside (careful, it will be a bit sticky from the syrup). Turn the mixer on to low speed and slowly pour the hot syrup into the softened gelatin. Turn the mixer up to high and whip until the mixture becomes very thick and increases in volume, about 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
Immediately spoon topping onto center of the cooled pie. Using a lightly greased spatula, spread the marshmallow to cover the entire top of the pie. Work quickly as the marshmallow will set very quickly. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 1-2 hours (or up to 1 day).
To brown the topping, place the pie under a preheated broiler for about 2-3 minutes. Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning. Or, you can brown it using crème brûlée torch. Again, move the torch frequently to prevent burning in any given spot.
To store, place in a covered container, or invert an empty pie plate on top of the pie. (You don’t want anything to touch the marshmallows or it will stick). I’d store in in the fridge, but it may be served cold or at room temperature.