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A Pie for Winter Woes

Ellen Gray takes the winter blues and turns them into something absolutely delicious! Read more from Ellen on her blog, No More Mr. Nice Pie.


Disappoint me once, Phil, shame on you. Break my heart, Phil, shame on me. The week commenced with shadowy news from Punxsutawney Phil and his Inner Circle on Gobbler’s Knob forecasting six more weeks of winter. I was counting on you Phil, to turn things around and you’ve dashed my hopes once again. The combination of ice pelting from the sky and baker’s racks filled with heart shaped cookies may be just enough to send me over the edge. The sugar cookies cool their heels waiting to be inscribed with clever conversational sentiments. ‘Stupid Cupid’ sums it up for me.

A Pie for Winter Woes

It would be easy to drown my sorrows in Peanut M&Ms or mint lentils, but I’m way beyond that. The perfect antidote for my February-melancholy awaits on the dining room table. After many weeks of scouring the tri-state area plus a touch of international smuggling, the search is over. I am the proud owner of not one, but three rather large boxes of After Eight Mints. One of the boxes had been earmarked as a belated birthday treat for my favorite sister-in-law, but as I craft this post, they are dangerously within my reach.

If you could tuck the best part of winter inside dark chocolate, it would be an After Eight mint. The taste is bracing, clean with just the right amount of peppermint and a bit of a chill. I love that the mints are packaged in their own little sleeves that barely crinkle. Ideal when you decide you must have one just as intermission is ending and Act II beginning. The ushers may instruct you to turn off your cellphones but seldom your After Eights.

On Monday, after trudging through snow and ice up the big hill, I retreat to my kitchen still wearing my parka. Freezing rain beats angrily against the windows. The second chocolate peppermint has begun to take effect and I am feeling markedly better. Go ahead, blow winds blow. I am eyeing some fresh mint purchased last weekend. Master/Master would have muddled it into a fabulous cocktail of sorts, but he is snowed in in Boston. Blondilocks was here only briefly, breezing through town with her Shakespeare cronies. So now it’s me and the mint and a big block of dark chocolate plus a container of heavy cream. The triple threat guaranteed to catapult me out of my six-more-weeks-of-winter slump. It may be only six weeks, but I might as well be stuck in an elevator listening to the theme song from ‘Frozen’ on an endless loop. I’m taking matters into my own oven mitts.  I am baking this pie and I’m baking it now.

This is not an ordinary chocolate pie. The filling blurs the line from decadent to dangerous. Heavy cream is infused with fresh mint leaves then combined with dark chocolate. My mood is melancholy, but not homicidal, so I will temper the richness with some berries. After I pile the blackberries on top of the pie, I realize they might have been for someone else’s breakfast. Oh well. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned by a groundhog.


For the recipe, click here to go to Ellen’s blog, No More Mr. Nice Pie

Ellen Gray

Dividing her passion between baking and theatre, Ellen has enjoyed professional careers in both fields. Criss crossing the country as a personal assistant and stage manager fueled her appetite for regional cuisine and the stories behind the recipes. Ellen's travels led her to Philadelphia where she owned and operated a strictly-from-scratch restaurant for 10 years. Currently, Ellen spends her days baking pies and sweets at a small bakery in Maplewood, NJ. Check out her professional pietism and seasonal sarcasm at

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