Chocolate Pudding Meringue Pi Pi Pie (well, not quite)

Well, here's my son and my entry for the Scienceblogs + Serious Eats Pi Day Contest:

(Warning: this entry may be frightening to children or people who know how to make pies.)

Tony and Vince's "Chocolate Pudding Meringue Pi Pi Pie (not quite)". It was designed to have the following dimensions:

Circumference = height = 2 x pi x r = 3.14 x diameter

The pie is a classic chocolate pudding pie base with a giant meringue and whipped cream pile atop it (pile is about the best word for it).


But, as you can see, we had to make up most of the height with a highly extended candle -- when put in the oven, each third of the meringue tower was 9 inches tall, but as we started to assemble them, using whipped cream for glue, they compressed - I mean super compressed, so that the stacked height was less than half the baked height, alas, so that the only way to reach up to over 25 inches was with one of the world's longest cake candles.

It does, however, fit the following description:

Height = diameter = circumference / 3.14

And we did wind up with a nice, edible version after removing the tower of compressive power:

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Details and "in process" pictures below the fold.

The pie is a classic chocolate pudding base (with white chocolate chips mixed in):

Base: standard frozen pie crust, baked solo as directed.

Pudding: Chocolate pudding, made for pie (less milk added), with approx. ½ cup of white chocolate chips stirred in.


Tower of Meringue: 36 egg whites, 4.5 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 4.5 cups of sugar. Add cream of tartar to egg whites and begin whipping with electric egg beater, then add sugar relatively gradually while whipping (2-3 minutes to add sugar), whip until meringue stands up in little 3/4inch peaks on inverted beaters (about 15 minutes). We made it in two batches - first one was 12 eggs, second was 24 eggs.

Meringue was scooped into foil cones and baked at 325F for about 40-45 minutes. Here is one of the cones being filled:

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The foil cones were constructed with normal aluminum foil and heat tape (the type used for repairing air conditioning and heating systems). The foil must be well taped as the meringue expands significantly upon baking and will burst through loosely taped foil. Here are the subsections in the oven just before taking them out, each is about 9 inches tall at this point:

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And here is one subsection fresh out of the oven:


After peeling off the foil (which was easier than expected) and then stacking them on the pie, they started to compress to less than half their baked height -- as we watched -- it took about a minute and they would not stand without a supporting hand during that time, so when they finally settled, we decided to use the candle trick to at least technically reach the desired height of 3.14 x diameter. Oh well.

We then lifted off the conical mess and revealed a rather nice looking pie beneath (the second picture in this post). And here, for appetizers, is the rest of the disassembled tower:


We are currently recruiting a polymer chemist for our next version.

Happy Pi Day!

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You may have had more luck letting the meringue cool in the oven overnight to keep it's height. good idea's though.