Depression Era Recipes: Chocolate Pie

Straight out of a reprint copy of My Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, the first edition published in the Great Depression is this recipe for Chocolate Pie. Just because times were very tough, you still needed a little comfort food to make the years better.

My Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

See here why I picked up this cookbook that was put out as a historical reprint in 2018.

Back in November, I made a similar pie, where the filling was cooked in a saucepan as one does pudding. Today’s version had more flavor and was thicker. Similar recipes, adding baking chocolate instead of cocoa powder made a huge difference in flavor.

I’ve updated the directions below to a more modern take. The recipe had one cook the filling for 20 minutes, then add the eggs. It doesn’t need that much time. I also doubled the vanilla, which, while I understand why they only used a tiny bit back then, I can afford to use a teaspoon worth for that deep flavor. When the next Great Depression starts, I’ll start pinching my vanilla.

Great Depression Chocolate Pie

Chocolate Pie


  • 1 9″ pie shell, baked and cooled (be homemade, frozen, or fresh; follow the directions on how to bake)
  • 2 cups full-fat milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 squares baking chocolate (unsweetened) (half a package, or 2 ounces)
  • 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


(Bake your pie shell beforehand, thoroughly pricking the sides and bottom with a fork before baking, and let it cool fully on a rack.)

Put a couple of inches of water in a double boiler pan. Place the double boiler on top. Turn to medium heat.

Add in the milk and chocolate, whisking gently as the chocolate melts.

Turn down to medium-low.

Whisk the sugar, flour, and salt together. Add to the double boiler pot and whisk till smooth. Whisk until the mixture is thickened.

Separate the eggs, place the yolks in a bowl, and blend with a fork. Add a spoonful of the hot filling to the egg yolks while whisking with a fork. Add 2 or 3 more spoonfuls and whisk in. This tempers the eggs.

Add the egg mixture back to the filling, whisking in well. Let cook for 5 minutes, whisking often.

Take off the heat and whisk in the vanilla.

Scrape into the cooled pie shell, smoothing out with a spatula.

Chill until thoroughly cooled.

Top with whipped cream, if desired.