The following is the colorful story of the arrival of Blum’s coffee toffee pie in my family’s history; more over, it marks the beginning of the hand of Providence saving me for my work as a food historian.
Without any doubt, our lives have purpose, for we are created to fulfill specific works that only we are equipped to do. My calling, as a writer of food history, has taken shape over my entire life. Many times death has tried to steal this precious gift from me; my mother’s prayers, however, have covered me with the required protection, for without prayer God’s hands are tied.
My first monumental memory of our Father’s intervention was in 1967, when I incurred a near fatal concussion from a car accident. Mom’s simple faith brought me back from what spelled destruction: I was neither dead nor a vegetable, as doctors were declaring. Though I didn’t yet know Jesus personally in 1967, Mom’s steadfast heart acted as my shield and miracles occurred.
The preservation of my life was the first wonder, but another ensued. Due to the concussion, the part of my brain that controlled my oblique eye muscle was severely damaged, resulting in intense double vision. At that time, there were only three doctors in the U.S. that could perform the needed operation, then with only a 50% chance of any correction. Thus in the spring of 1968, we were off to San Francisco, where Dr. Paul at University Hospital completely perfected my sight! As always, Mom’s prayer life brought rich dividends.
This surgeon took my eye out of my head to shorten the errant muscle, so I saw this lively city with only half my vision, as a patch covered the deep blood-red of the eye, where his skillful hands had been.
As we walked these lively streets, we witnessed our nation’s struggle to discover love through the hippie movement. Every day we nurtured our hungry souls at the beloved confectionary Blum’s; this bakery and restaurant began charming San Francisco in the 1950’s; it closed in the 70’s. There we devotedly indulged in its famous coffee toffee pie; my strong mother bravely asked for the recipe, which they gave her. (They must have given it to many others as well, for numerous variations are now available on-line.)
Through the perfecting by my family over the decades, this recipe has emerged in ways that are outstanding, making its preparation simply foolproof. Among many improvements, we freeze this pie for long-term use, preferring it only partially thawed, which gives it an ice cream-like texture. Numerous other tips make my summer dessert a pure joy, to be made with ease.
Celebrate with me God’s good, perfect provision in our lives; receive this outstanding historical receipt!
Blum’s Coffee Toffee Pie Yields: 1 pie. Total prep time: 3 1/2 hr/ active prep time: 1 hr/ baking time: 15 min/ inactive prep time for cooling: 2 1/4 hr.
Note: this is best kept in the freezer for long-term use, cutting off pieces as needed; serve partially thawed for a perfect ice cream-like texture.
1 cup flour (May choose to grind 1/3 cup organic, hard red spring wheat berries and 1/3 cup organic, soft winter white wheat berries to make a total of 1 cup of fresh ground flour.)
1/2 tsp salt (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available in health section at local supermarket.)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed down (Organic is best; available sometimes at Costco and always at Trader Joe’s.)
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 ounces Baker’s unsweetened chocolate, plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup cane sugar (Organic is ideal, best buy is at Costco, also available in a smaller quantity at Trader’s.)
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
8 tsp instant coffee
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar (High quality organic is available at Trader’s.)
- If grinding fresh flour, do so now.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine flour and salt; blend in a scant 1/4 cup butter well with a fork, until mealy in texture.
- Mix in brown sugar, walnuts, and 1 ounce chocolate, grated with a sharp knife; add water and vanilla; blend well. See above photo.
- Butter a pie plate generously; press pie dough in well-greased pan firmly with fingers. Bake for 15 minutes, or until light brown; begin cooling on a rack, for about 10 minutes, finish cooling in freezer.
- While crust is cooling, melt 1 ounce of chocolate over medium/low heat, watching carefully as not to burn. Set aside and cool.
When chocolate is room temperature, beat 1/2 cup butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add 3/4 cup cane sugar, beating well with each addition.
- Add 1 egg; mix on medium speed for 5 minutes. (The following makes this preparation foolproof. It is so important to have ingredients at room temperature; if your kitchen is either really hot or cold, this mixture may curdle. You can easily correct this: if it curdles or breaks because it is too hot, make the addition of the second egg a cold one, directly out of the refrigerator, to bring the filling back to its full volume. If the butter/sugar/egg combination is too cold and curdles, warm the chocolate a little and mix this in before adding the second egg; then, follow the directions for beating. Ideally this should be like fluffy whipped butter or soft whipped cream, providing ingredients are room temperature, in a moderate kitchen. In this way, you will never fail with this recipe!)
- Blend in cooled chocolate and 2 tsp of coffee.
- Add second egg and beat for 5 minutes more.
- Place filling in cold pie crust; freeze for 2 hours. Meantime place a large bowl and beaters in freezer as well (the whipping of cream is greatly facilitated when these are ice-cold).
- When pie is frozen, beat cream until it starts to thicken; add powdered sugar and 2 tbsp coffee; continue beating until stiff. Cover pie with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate curls.
- Return to freezer. When frozen, cover well with plastic wrap. Cut pieces as needed; serve partially thawed for optimum pleasure.