January 11th is National Arkansas Day. Last year, we had a big skillet of Pan-Fried Potatoes that were in keeping with the South. If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that most of the time when celebrating a state, I’ve tried to give you more than just a single dish.
We’ve had Breakfast in Alabama, Savored the Flavors of Tennessee and enjoyed the Elegance of Massachusetts. With that in mind, I had every intention of creating a complete menu to honor Arkansas. My quest took me to restaurant menus and sites that list popular dishes in any given state. That is when I came across an Arkansas favorite – Possum Pie. Oh my, this over the top pie deserved center state.
First off, there are no possums in Possum Pie. It’s not a way to cook up road kill. Truth be told, it’s not a meat filled pie in any sense of meat fillings. So where does the name come from? There are two schools of thought on the subject. The first is that the pie is playing possum. In other words, it’s pretending to be one thing, while it’s actually another. In this case the pie is pretending to be a whipped cream pie, hiding the layers of chocolate and cream cheese. While that might make sense to some folks, I don’t get it. I mean, are there pies out there that are just crust and whipped cream?
The other theory is that it’s called possum pie because the various layers are similar in coloring to the only marsupial in North America. I gotta say, I just don’t see it. Looks like a Chocolate Layer Pie to me. One of its more appetizing names is Four Layer Delight. Yet in restaurants and diners all across the state of Arkansas proudly serve Possum Pie as part of their desert menu.
And so to honor the great state of Arkansas, I give to you their awesome pie.
Oh, and one more thing. Today is also National Milk Day. Not only do you make Possum Pie with milk and milk products such as heavy cream, but a nice tall glass of well-chilled milk is perfect to enjoy with your slice of pie.
Arkansas Possum Pie
Shortbread Pecan Bottom
3/4 cup ground Pecans
1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Flour
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roughly grid pecans in a small food processor, set aside. Melt the butter, then combine the butter, flour, brown sugar and pecans by stirring with a fork. Press the mix into an 8 or 9 inch pie pan.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes, just until the crust begins to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Cream Cheese Layer
8 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
3/4 cup Powdered Sugar
Whip the cream cheese then add the cream and powdered sugar. The more firm the texture, the better the layer will set. Set bowl aside.
1 box Instant Chocolate Pudding
1 box Instant Chocolate Fudge Pudding
1-3/4 cup Milk
In a bowl, combine the pudding mixes. Whisk in the milk. Let rest in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to set.
Once the pie crust has cooled, spoon the cream cheese mix onto the bottom. Then layer the pudding over it. Refrigerate for 4 hours to set completely.
Whipped Cream Layer
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
While the Possum Pie sets, place a mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer to get very cold.
Whip the heavy cream with vanilla and powdered sugar until firm peaks form when the whisk is pulled from the cream. Place into a piping bag fitted with a star. Pipe whipped cream to cover the top of the pie completely.
1/2 cup chopped Pecans
1/2 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
Roughly chop pecans. Sprinkle the chopped pecans along with the chocolate chips over the whipped cream topping.
To serve, slice pie and place on dessert plates. Garnish the top of each slice of pie with chocolate syrup, fanning over the plate as well for a nice presentation.