LUCY BURDETTE: We all loved Lori Roy's post earlier this week--so many good stories about keepsakes. When I read Lisa Alber's response about memorabilia from her father's restaurants, and about his coffee toffee pie, I asked if she would join us to talk more and share that fabulous-sounding recipe. And then I discovered her first book comes out next year! What fun! Welcome Lisa!
LISA ALBER: Thanks for inviting me here today, Lucy! Lori’s post struck a nostalgic cord with me, that’s for sure.
Sadly, a crucial turning point in my relationship with my dad occurred after his death. My sisters and I had discovered a stash of menus, articles, and fliers from Dad’s restaurateur days. He’d saved three copies of everything, one set for each daughter. Frankly, I was astonished. Dad saved this for us?
Dad was a distant man, and I barely saw him growing up. We weren’t close. Fingering a menu that listed Dad’s famous coffee toffee pie for 60¢, I realized that not only had Dad been sentimental, he’d been thinking about us all along. Talk about a revelation. I caught a glimmer of him, perhaps for the first time, and I was heartbroken. What do you do with a turning point when it’s too late to go back?
Eventually, I wrote my upcoming novel, Kilmoon, which centers around a woman who doesn’t know her father. I also kept the one keepsake—excluding papers—that my dad had saved from the restaurants: a battered springform baking pan. My mom never understood why he’d kept it, but I’d experienced the glimmer. I understood. Menu items came and went, but Dad always served coffee toffee pie. That dented pan symbolized an era and also Dad’s love in the only way he could easily express it. I still miss coffee toffee pie.
Have you experienced an epiphany about someone when it was too late to go back?
And, for you, dear Jungle Reddians, a recipe. Yum!
Joe Alber’s Coffee Toffee Pie
Makes two pies
1 lb. box of pie crust mix
1/2 cup Ghiradelli powdered unsweetened chocolate (or cocoa)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups crushed walnuts (not graham crackers as I’d mentioned in Lori’s post)
4 Tbsp. crushed Heath toffee bar bits
1 Tbsp. water as needed
Combine pie crust mix, powdered chocolate, brown sugar, walnuts, and toffee in a mixing bowl. Beat until crumbly, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Press dough firmly into two well-greased springform pans, keeping thickness of bottom to ¼ inch and heights of sides to about one inch. Add water to mixture and blend as needed if mixture is too crumbly. Also, moisten fingers with cold water as pressing dough into place to ease handling.
Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes, and then place in the freezer.
3/4 lb. butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. instant coffee
3 one-ounce squares of semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
6 eggs, room temperature
Cream butter. Add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in chocolate and instant coffee. Add eggs one at a time beating thoroughly after adding each egg. Pour into cooled shells.
Whipped cream topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. instant coffee
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
Whip cream with coffee and sugar. Spread over whole pie. Chill at least two hours before serving.
Lisa Alber’s debut novel, KILMOON, a mystery set in Ireland, arrives March 2014. Based on Kilmoon, Lisa received an Elizabeth George Foundation writing grant. You can find Lisa online at www.lisaalber.com and lisaalber.wordpress.com.