Grasshopper Pie [aka Peppermint Aero Pie]

Grasshopper Pie, Vegetarian, Gelatine Free
Grasshopper Pie, if you’ve not heard of it before, is a retro-classic American sweet pie. Particularly popular in the South, it’s a chocolate biscuit-crusted beauty full of peppermint flavoured, marshmallowy cream. Topped with more cream. I’ve lusted after it for a few years now, as it has experienced a surge of popularity again – but I never attempted it because of the marshmallow content. Marshmallows contain gelatine, which makes it a definite no-go product for me. Recently – this week, in fact – I had a sudden flash of inspiration when I spotted a jar of Marshmallow Fluff in the supermarket. This sticky white spread is vegetarian; being a spreadable marshmallow, it contains no gelatine to hold its shape. I introduced some melted white chocolate to help it firm up in the cooling process – and it works beautifully! The recipe that follows was knocked up in just a few minutes; but it is jaw-droppingly good. There is also no faffing about melting marshmallows – Marshmallow Fluff already comes in a similar consistency. So it is quick to make, and being a no-bake recipe, is perfect for these summer days when you don’t want the oven on; a few hours chilling in the fridge is all that’s required.

Grasshopper Pie is, of course, tooth-achingly sweet, but light to the point of being reminiscent of childhood peppermint choc-chip ice-cream. It also tastes – staggeringly so – like a peppermint Aero bar. So if you like either of those then you are on to a serious winner here. The green colour can be as lurid or pastel as you please; some recipes contain crème de menthe, which lends a gentle colour as well as flavour; other recipes (this one included) use a few drops of green food colouring and natural peppermint extract for flavour. This makes it suitable for all ages; and frankly, who keeps a bottle of crème de menthe handy?! I am ludicrously proud of this super-easy, kiddie and vegetarian-friendly Grasshopper Pie – I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Serves 8-10 people. A small slice is plenty!

You will need a 23cm / 9″ fluted flan tin.

For the crust (You can make and chill this in advance):
1 x 230g pack of double chocolate cookies (reserve 30g for sprinkling on top). I use Maryland cookies, the ones in a purple wrapper
100g melted butter, slightly cooled

For the filling:
1 x 213g jar of Marshmallow Fluff (readily available in supermarkets – find it with the jam and peanut butter)
100g white chocolate chips, melted
30ml (2 x tbsp) milk
A few drops of green food colouring
1 tsp natural peppermint extract (I use Dr Oetker’s American Peppermint)
450ml double cream (reserve 150ml for decorating the pie)

Make the crust: 
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Put the cubed butter into a dish and heat in the microwave for about 30-40 seconds until just melted (not scalding hot!)

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Roughly break the cookies (remember to set aside 30g – that’s about 3 cookies, for decorating later) into a food processor and blitz until they resemble breadcrumbs. (Or place into a clean plastic bag and bash them to smithereens with a rolling pin!) With the motor running, pour in the melted butter and blitz for a few seconds more until the mixture binds.

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Tip the cookie mixture into the 23cm flan ring. Using the back of a spoon – and your hands – press it all over the base and up the sides until you have formed a neat crust. Take your time doing this, try to make sure it is even and gap-free. Pop it in the fridge to harden.

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Place the white chocolate chips into a clean and dry bowl and heat in the microwave for 20 second bursts, stirring in between. White chocolate melts fast. Remove when there are still a few chips showing – keep stirring, and they will continue to melt. Set aside.

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Scoop the Marshmallow Fluff into a bowl, and pour in the white chocolate. It’s a bit of an effort to combine the two but try to persevere!

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Then add the milk, a tablespoon at a time, until you have a smooth, thick mixture. Now add the green colouring and peppermint extract. Stir until thoroughly combined and an even colour.

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In a separate bowl, whip up 300ml of the double cream until nice and thick, so that it stands in soft peaks (don’t overdo it – you don’t want it really stiff).

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Pour in the marshmallowy peppermint mix, and gently whisk again, just until everything combines. You should have a really thick, pourable minty mixture.

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Scrape it into the chocolate base and smooth it down with a palette knife, or the back of a spoon. Return to the fridge and let it chill for at least a few hours – overnight is even better. It needs to chill so it can firm up to a sliceable texture.

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When you’re ready to serve, decorate as you please with the remaining 150ml cream (whip it first!) and crumbled chocolate cookies. I piped dots around the edge of the pie, and filled the centre with the cookies. You can leave off the cream and just scatter cookies; or you can double the cream to cover the whole pie with it if you prefer.

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Store in an airtight container in the fridge – it will keep just fine for a couple of days.

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