Recipe Finder: Brandy Alexander pie

Karen Licarowitz from Baltimore was looking for a recipe for a no-bake brandy Alexander pie. Barbara Aswad from Gambrills sent in a recipe for the pie that she said appeared in an article in The New York Times by Craig Claiborne in 1975.

As it turns out, that was not the first time the recipe had appeared in the Times. According an article by Amanda Hesser in the Times magazine written in 2006, the recipe had originally run in paper in January 1970 and at the time was one of the three most-requested dessert recipes. Due to the recipe's popularity, Claiborne, then the food editor, decided it was worth running it again and he did so that year. As Hesser reported, by all rights that should have been its swan song. However, it turns out that a fellow named Dick Taeuber, a Maryland statistician, after tinkering with the original recipe, discovered that you could use a simple formula to make the pie in the flavor of almost any cocktail you wanted with the formula of 3 eggs to 1 cup cream to ½ cup liquor. Taeuber sent Claiborne a letter including 10 variations on the pie. Claiborne was wowed and by the time he contacted Taeuber saying that he wanted to run his recipes, Taeuber had come up with more than 20 variations. In 1975, Claiborne published the recipe again renaming it the Dick Taeuber's Cordial Pie and included all 20 variations in a chart. (A complete list, including the original cordial-pie recipe, can be found at

This pie really packs a punch and is probably not something you want to serve at a child's birthday party. But clearly there will be many adults who will enjoy this boozy mousse-like pie and as Dick Taeuber discovered years ago, the flavor variations are only limited by your imagination or what happens to be in your liqueur cabinet.


M. Veronica Mack from Baltimore is looking for a recipe for making Polish duck soup (Czarnina). She said her mother used to make this when she was young using the duck and the blood and homemade noodles (Kluski). She has her mother's original recipe but she has not been able to find the duck blood anywhere. She is hoping someone might have a similar recipe for the soup that has a substitute for the duck blood.

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request, write to Julie Rothman, Recipe Finder, and The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278 or email If you send in more than one recipe, please put each on a separate piece of paper and be sure to include your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Name and hometown must accompany recipes in order to be published. Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letter and recipes may be edited for clarity.

Dick Taeuber's Brandy Alexander Pie

Makes: 6 servings

1 1/2 cups graham-cracker crumbs

1/3 cup melted butter

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, separated

1/4 cup Cognac

1/4 cup creme de cacao

1 cup heavy cream

food coloring (optional)

chocolate curls, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the crumbs with butter. Form in a 9-inch pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool.

Pour 1/2 cup cold water in a saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over it. Add 1/3 cup sugar, salt and egg yolks. Stir to blend. Place over low heat and stir until the gelatin dissolves and the mixture thickens. Do not boil. Remove from heat.

Stir the Cognac and creme de cacao into the mixture. Then chill until the mixture starts to mound slightly when nudged with a spoon.

Beat the egg whites until stiff, then add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and beat until peaks are firm. Fold the meringue into the thickened mixture.

Whip the cream, then fold into the mixture. Add food coloring if desired. Turn the mixture into the crust. Add garnish, if desired. Chill several hours or overnight.

This recipe originally appeared in The New York Times in an article by Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey in January 1970.

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