by Steven Doyle
While pondering pie yesterday afternoon, and that is something I do on occasion, I flipped through the Rolodex of my mind and stumbled upon the elusive Millionaire Pie. My first entry of this pie in my mind was when I was a wee lad and attending Dallas public schools. This was before I was yanked out when my parents were horrified by the busing situation and sent to a school which had a lackluster cafeteria. This was also back in the day when Dallas public schools had honest-to-goodness cooks whipping up freshly baked yeast rolls, and homemade beef enchiladas every Wednesday.
Fire back to a day when if you were not relegated to a sack full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, smashed for your dining pleasure, you would enjoy real food created by the hands of the lunch ladies who I considered at the age of seven my second and third mothers. This was before the time of bastardized Sysco boxes filled with frozen food-like trinkets dumped onto a sheet pan and turned out at 400 degrees.
My imagined lunch ladies (Steven age 7)
These ladies made me pie every day. Pies I never had at home, like Chess Pie and the lovely Millionaire Pie. My real mom only made cherry pie at my behest. I was in pre-teen heaven. I looked forward to school each day pondering what pie I might order. Pie.
I was heartened to find the same pie, exactly the same in every respect, at Wyatt’s Cafeteria in Dallas when I was just a bit older. I always imagined Wyatt’s was owned by the mother on Father Know Best. She was always cooking after all and her real name was Jane Wyatt. Made sense to the nine-year-old me. I was smart that way, and still loved me a good pie.
Not Millionaire Pie, More Like 32 Cent Pie
Skip ahead a lot of years and see where I plied my soon-to-be bride and her family with a beautiful repast. I recall smoking some super delicious quail served with whipped wasabi enriched potatoes for a Sunday supper, and then regaled these folks with an ingenious dessert of Millionaire Pie that I tore from a page of my childhood and strictly from memory. I was sharing a sweet secret with my future in-laws and everyone smiled. You know it is good when the table is silent as they took their first bite and then clean their plates. If Yelp existed back then I would have had all of the stars and a promise to return.
By now you should be salivating with the thought of my pie experiences. If you do not understand the word Millionaire Pie allow me to introduce you two. The pie is a no-baker with a a tender, flaky pie crust. Cheaters might use a graham crust. It is made of whipped cream, an egg, confectioner’s sugar, chopped pecans, pineapple and little more. The same cheaters use Cool Whip and sweetened condensed milk instead of cream, but that is understandable I suppose. If they add other fruit such as cherries you begin into a dangerous zone called heavenly hash, and that simply will not work. I would allow coconut, but seriously why?
State Fair Fried Millionaire Pie
There was an entry in the famous Texas State Fair Fried Food contest a few years back that included a Fried Millionaire Pie. Delicious in concept and execution, and many props for digging into my childhood for profit.
Yes, you can make this pie in about thirty minutes with minimal ingredients but who actually produces this beauty and has it on the ready? Where can I find my pie?
Highland Park Cafeteria Millionaire Pie
I phoned the various cafeterias in town, and believe me it is easier just to nab the recipe and make it yourself then speak with some of these folks on the phone, and I found only one example in the Dallas area. Look to the Highland Park Cafeteria in East Dallas for our featured pie today. Yes, you may enjoy your slice of Millionaire Pie while listening to the tunes of an aspiring Van Cliburn on the grand piano at HPC. Or buy the whole pie for $15.99 and eat it in the parking lot listening to Van Halen instead.
Why is Highland Park Cafeteria in East Dallas instead of its namesake city? Why, that’s a story for another day. Enjoy your pie, dammit.