There are few pairings quite as complementary as chocolate and mint, making it the basis for famous drinks, shakes, and, perhaps most gloriously, this delectable and delightfully retro grasshopper pie.
What makes a grasshopper a grasshopper? Mint and chocolate liqueurs are folded into an airy, creamy mousse filling and set in a chocolate cookie crust. The whole thing is topped with more whipped cream and chocolate sauce and then chilled before it's served as a playful dessert that tastes — and smells! — just as good as it looks.
What Is Grasshopper Pie, and What Does It Taste Like?
Grasshopper pie is a type of chiffon pie. Chiffon pies are made with whipped eggs and whipped cream folded together into an airy mousse, and often set with gelatin. Each bite is feather-light, delivering a puff of mint and chocolate flavor that melts in your mouth bite after bite.
Reportedly invented in the 1920s by a famous Los Angeles pie maker, chiffon pies have been influenced greatly by convenience foods, so much so that modern versions typically take advantage of pudding mix and whipped cream products, like Cool Whip. For our version, we're going back the original technique, starting with a simple mousse-like filling made from scratch.
Wait, What About the Grasshopper Cocktail?
Grasshopper pie is based on the flavors of a beloved classic cocktail, the Grasshopper. The Grasshopper cocktail — a mixture of equal parts crème de menthe, white crème de cacao, and heavy cream — was created by bartender Philibert Guichet in New York City in 1910. The story behind the cocktail's —and later the pie's — name is probably what you guessed. The color says it all.
The lore and legend: The Weird History of the Grasshopper
The Step-by-Step Guide to Making Grasshopper Pie at Home
Baking a buttery chocolate cookie crust: Crushed chocolate cookies are mixed with a little butter and sugar, pressed into a pie pan, and baked until just set, about 10 minutes. This is the only baking you'll need to do for the recipe. Pressed for time or oven space? A pre-made chocolate cookie crust can be purchased and used instead.
Working with gelatin: Powdered gelatin is used to set this gloriously creamy mousse. The gelatin must be hydrated or bloomed before it can be melted and folded into the mousse. Use the two liqueurs called for here to bloom the gelatin and flavor the mousse.
Tempering the egg yolk mixture: While the gelatin blooms, you'll whip up some whipped cream and sugar and an egg yolk and sugar mixture. Once the gelatin is bloomed, melt it over a double boiler (a bowl set over a small pot of boiling water). While the gelatin is still warm and not yet set, you want to slowly add some of the egg yolk mixture to the gelatin in a move called "tempering." Tempering allows you to slowly warm the egg yolk mixture with the gelatin without cooking the yolks. Then you return the egg yolk mixture back to the double boiler until it reaches 160°F and coats the back of a spoon.
Folding in whipped cream: Cool the egg-gelatin mixture slightly before folding in whipped cream. You want the egg-gelatin mixture to cool off so it doesn't "melt" the whipped cream and lose the aeration. Now, if the mixture gets too cool, it will start to seem sticky and will leave a ropey texture in the filling rather than being smooth. So cool the egg-gelatin mixture for just five minutes before folding into the whipped cream.
Pouring the filling into the crust and chilling: Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Refrigerate for two hours or until the pie is set. You can also make the pie and refrigerate for up to a day in advance.
How To Make Grasshopper Pie
What You Need
For the crust:
30 chocolate wafer cookies, such as Famous Wafers (about 1 1/2 cups crushed; 7 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
1/4 cup green crème de menthe liqueur
2 tablespoons white crème de cacao
1 1/2 cups very cold heavy cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Chocolate syrup, for drizzling (optional)
Measuring cups and spoons
Heatproof mixing bowls
Stand mixer with whisk attachment, electric hand mixer, or whisk
9-inch pie plate
Wire cooling rack
- Heat the oven: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F.
- Make the crust: Place the cookies and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and process into crumbs, about 30 seconds. Remove 2 tablespoons of the crumbs and set aside for topping the pie. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs still in the food processor and pulse until incorporated, about 10 (1-second) pulses. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Press into an even layer on the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate using your fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup.
- Bake the crust: Place the pie plate on a baking sheet to make it easier to handle. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Place the pie pan on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
- Bloom the gelatin: Place the crème de menthe and crème de cacao in a large heatproof bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the liqueurs and set aside until the gelatin swells, about 5 minutes.
- Whip the cream: Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or an electric hand mixer or hand whisk and large bowl, whisk the cream and 2 tablespoons of the sugar to stiff peaks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- Melt the gelatin mixture: Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Set the bowl of bloomed gelatin over the simmering water and stir until the gelatin dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Temper the egg yolks: Place the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until lightened in color and thickened. Whisk 1/2 of the egg yolk mixture into the warm gelatin mixture to temper the eggs. Whisk in the rest of the egg yolk mixture, and then set the bowl back over the simmering water. Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160°F and coats the back of a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Cool and fold in the whipped cream: Remove the bowl from the heat and set on a kitchen towel. Whisk to cool the mixture slightly (about 110°F), about 5 minutes. Stir 1/2 cup of the whipped cream into the egg mixture to lighten it. Fold in 2 1/2 additional cups of the whipped cream until no white streaks remain.
- Fill the crust and chill: Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Refrigerate until the pie is set, about 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate the remaining whipped cream until you are ready to garnish the pie.
Garnish and serve: Spread the reserved whipped cream on the center of the pie so that the green filling can be seen around the edges. Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs, drizzle with chocolate syrup if desired, and serve.
- Make ahead: The pie can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered, and refrigerated.
- Storage: Leftovers can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.