The New Pie: Purple Marbled Majesty

This recipe is adapted from our cookbook, The New Pie: Modern Techniques for the Classic American Dessert.

Photograph copyright © 2019 Andrew Thomas Lee

When Paul and I met nearly 10 years ago, we lived hundreds of miles apart. As a result, our first date was on the telephone. We both had a passion for baking, and we decided to bake something together. We had rather meager cookbook collections at the time, but we did have one book in common—The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

I had already made several things from The Cake Bible, and I was eager to try Rose’s Scarlet Empress—a bombe made with slices of a raspberry jelly roll and filled with Bavarian cream. Paul agreed, and we spend several hours mixing and stirring—Paul in his home in Atlanta, and me in my apartment in Pittsburgh.

It was an ambitious recipe–homemade raspberry preserves, a sponge cake, Bavarian cream, whipping, rolling, slicing, molding, and unmolding. But, in a sweet way, it was a great choice because we got to spend hours on the phone.

We each made a beautiful Scarlett Empress—at least by our 2009 standards:

In retrospect, our techniques could use some work, but I remember being so proud of our creations. Fast-forward 10 years, and we’re married and still baking together. We haven’t baked another Scarlet Empress, but we still live with the special memory of our first date.

Because the Scarlet Empress (and Rose Levy Beranbaum) both hold a special place in our hearts, when we wrote our cookbook, The New Pie, we wanted to create a pie that honored the Scarlet Empress in pie form.

The Purple Marbled Majesty is a cream pie with a dramatic marbled center and a shiny swirled glaze on top. We kept it creamy, but swapped the flavor of raspberry for concord grape.

The unique pattern of the filling is achieved by adding alternating portions of concord grape and vanilla creams to a blind-baked pie crust. If you’ve ever made a zebra layer cake, this is the same method. One of the fun things about this pie is that small variations in how the alternating grape and vanilla creams are added will cause different patterns in the finished pie slice. While the patterns will be similar, every pie will be a little different. Similarly with the glaze, depending on how fast you pour or in what direction, each top will have its own unique pattern.

The white food color was added to the mixture on the left. The uncolored mirror glaze, with no color added, is on the left.

Once the filling is set, a thin layer of a purple and white dual-color mirror glaze is poured over the top.

The final pie slice is a mesmerizing, but above all, delicious! The concord grape flavor really comes through and pairs beautifully with the vanilla cream.

Because today is Valentine’s Day, I’ll get a bit sentimental and say that this pie could be a sappy metaphor for any successful relationship: two different, but complementary, fillings, together in a way that is special and not exactly the same as any other.

Precisely Perfect Pie Dough, blind-
baked and cooled in a 9-inch pie plate
1 recipe
Unflavored powdered gelatin1½ teaspoons
Whole milk½ cup4.25 ounces121 grams
Sugar¼ cup1.75 ounce50 grams
Salt¼ teaspoon
White chocolate baking chips½ cup3 ounces85 grams
Welch’s Concord Grape Sparkling
Drink Mix
by SodaStream
¼ cup2.75 ounces78 grams
Vanilla extract1 teaspoon
Heavy cream1¼ cups10.25 ounces290 grams
Unflavored powdered gelatin¾ teaspoon
Sugar¼ cup1.75 ounces50 grams
White chocolate, finely chopped2 ounces57 grams
Sweetened condensed milk5½ teaspoons1.15 ounces33 grams
Mauve or purple food coloras needed
White food coloras needed
  1. MAKE THE FILLING: Sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons/1.05 ounces/30 grams of the milk in a small bowl and set aside to soften for 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, salt, white chocolate chips, and the remaining 6 tablespoons/3.2 ounces/91 grams milk. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the chips are melted, about 5 minutes, pressing on the chocolate chips to encourage them to melt. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the gelatin mixture, and stir until the gelatin is dissolved, about 1 minute.
  2. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heat-safe bowl. This ensures no unmelted chunks of chocolate or gelatin make it into the pie. At this point you should have a little more than ¾ cup/8.3 ounces/236 grams of filling. Pour half into each of 2 small bowls. Stir the soda concentrate into the first bowl and the vanilla and ¼ cup/2 ounces/57 grams of cream into the second bowl.
  3. Whip the remaining 1 cup/8.2 ounces/232 grams of cream on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Gently fold half of the whipped cream into each of the two fillings.
  4. FILL THE CRUST: Using two 3-tablespoon (1½-ounce) scoops (or two ¼-cup dry measuring cups if that’s what you have), begin to fill the pie. Start by placing 1 scoop of the vanilla filling in the center of the pie crust. Gently shake the pie, causing that scoop to flatten and pool outward slightly. Now, place a scoop of the grape filling in the center of the vanilla pool. Again, gently shake the pie in a slightly circular motion, allowing that scoop to flatten and pool outward slightly. Keep repeating these steps until all the filling has been added. You will have created an amazing marbled effect, but you won’t get to see how amazing it is until you cut into the pie. Smile and feel really proud of yourself right now! Place the pie in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  5. MAKE THE MIRROR GLAZE: In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 4 teaspoons of water. Set aside to soften for about 5 minutes.
  6. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and 5 teaspoons water to a boil while stirring with a rubber spatula. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and add the white chocolate and the condensed milk. Stir until the chocolate is nearly all melted and turn off the heat. Stir the softened gelatin into the chocolate mixture until the gelatin and chocolate are both fully melted.
  7. Pour approximately half the Colored Mirror Glaze from the saucepan into a liquid measuring cup with a spout. Add the mauve food coloring and stir, creating an attractive grape color. Add a few drops of the white food coloring to the remaining glaze in the saucepan and stir until it is uniform and appears white (uncolored, the glaze appears slightly yellow). Let the glaze cool until it reaches 95°F on an instant-read thermometer before pouring, anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. This is cool enough not to melt the pie topping but warm enough to still flow smoothly.
  8. Pour the white glaze into the grape-colored glaze, but do not stir. Quickly pour the glaze in a circular manner to create a swirl over the surface of the pie. (Note: This recipe may make slightly more than you need, depending on the size of the pie to be glazed. Pour on about two-thirds of the glaze and check to see if that is enough coverage. Avoid pouring on a too-thick layer—too much glaze might be difficult to cut through.) You may need to tilt the pie to encourage the glaze to flow across the whole surface or use an offset spatula to spread the glaze to the crust edge. Place the pie back in the refrigerator for the glaze to set, about 2 hours, then slice and serve. (Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.)

When we started to develop this recipe, we tried several different ways of getting strong grape flavor into a cream pie. We tried fresh Concord grapes. We tried Concord grape juice concentrate. We tried off-brand grape drink mix. They either did not produce sufficient grape flavor or resulted in odd artificial flavors and cream fillings with improper textures. In short, the Welch’s SodaStream product works great.

9 thoughts on “The New Pie: Purple Marbled Majesty”

  1. Hi, any particular white choc brands you prefer? And how is this published recipe different than the version in the book? Thanks.

    1. Hi Helen!

      For white chocolate, we prefer Green & Black’s, Ghirardelli, and Callebaut. We’ve have used them all with great results. We are currently using Callebaut because we bought a large block a few months ago.

      In The New Pie, the recipes for the Purple Marbled Majesty filling and the Colored Mirror Glaze are separate recipes. For this post, we combined the filling and glazes into one recipe.

  2. Hi Chris! Do you recommend a vegetarian substitute for gelatin? I’ve seen agar agar or Carrageenan mentioned.
    PS- my boyfriend and I adore your site and want to do a long-distance bake-along too!

    1. Hi, Eli! Many vegetarians that I have talked to prefer agar agar as a gelatin substitute. Unfortunately, we have not done any recipe testing using a gelatin substitute so we can’t really say if we recommend it. From our understanding, it is not a 1:1 substitution between the two and, obviously, how the agar agar is treated in the recipe might differ from how the gelatin is treated in order to get it to soften and then firm properly.

  3. Hello! I’m trying to find the Welch’s Concord grape sparkling drink mix but it is sold out or unavailable at multiple stores and online sites. What is a good replacement? I’ve been eyeing this pie for months and regret I didn’t stock up on the grape flavoring then! Thank you! – Lisa

    1. Hi, Lisa! It looks like SodaStream has done another shake-up in their product lines, and they might have discontinued the Welch’s grape soda syrup. 🙁 We haven’t seen it in stores, either. An acceptable substitute would be grape juice concentrate from the freezer section of the grocery. That was the best option other than the SodaStream syrup. Another idea would be to boil down 1 cup of bottled concord grape juice until it’s reduced to 1/4 cup of concentrated syrup. Hope this helps!

      1. Not only are you wonderful at pie recipe development and making pies, you are also extremely prompt! Thanks for the info–very helpful and will tackle once the Thanksgiving leftovers dwindle a bit. -Lisa

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