Ask Abe: Fudge Bottom Pie

Mike Camp PhD’72

During the early to mid sixties, a favorite treat at the student union was fudge-bottom pie — absolutely delicious, especially for the non–calorie counters! Do you have a recipe for it?


(Originally published July 5, 2008. Updated November 2016)

Fudge-bottom pie, a Madison culinary favorite, has been a staple in the community for many decades, but it was first brought to Madison in the 1940s by the Memorial Union’s chef, Lewis Marston. This rich, chocolate dessert has satisfied many a Madison student’s and citizen’s sweet tooth.

Unfortunately, with Memorial Union under renovation, slices of fudge-bottom pie are currently unavailable. However, you can enjoy a whole pie for $10 by contacting Campus Event Services at 608-262-2511.

A close approximation of the recipe for fudge-bottom pie (but not the Union’s secret recipe) was published in the Wisconsin State Journal as follows:

For the crust:
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 T. powdered sugar
1/4 t. salt
6 T. butter

For the fudge bottom:
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 oz. bitter (unsweetened) chocolate

For the cream filling:

1/4 c. cornstarch
6 T. granulated sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. cold milk
2-1/4 c. hot milk
3 whole eggs
1 t. vanilla

For the topping:
1 to 1-1/2 c. sweetened whipped cream or Cool Whip
2 t. grated chocolate

To prepare crust, combine dry ingredients, mixing well. Melt butter, add to dry ingredients, and mix. Press into a 10-inch pie dish and bake at 375° for 5 minutes.

To prepare fudge bottom, heat water and sugar in a small pan (or double boiler) until sugar dissolves. On low heat, add broken pieces of chocolate, melt, and blend with a rubber spatula until mixture thickens. (Mixture is thick enough when the consistency is slightly thicker than hot fudge returned to room temperature.) Remove from heat, spread in bottom of crust, spreading some up the sides. Chill and allow to set for a minimum of 12 hours.

To prepare cream filling, combine dry ingredients, mixing well. Add cold milk (1/4 cup) and mix to smooth paste. Heat second portion of milk (2-1/4 cups) in microwave until hot, place in heavy saucepan (or double boiler), and add cold-milk mixture slowly while beating. Stir with a whip over low heat until thick and no starch taste is present. Beat eggs in a bowl, add vanilla, and add a third of the hot filling mixture slowly while beating until well blended. Add this mixture back to the hot filling mixture while beating, and cook 2 to 3 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cold. Spoon into pie shell and chill.

Before serving, top the cream filling with sweetened whipped cream or Cool Whip, and sprinkle with grated chocolate.