Pie of the Tiger

“Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers have been used for decades to create the simplest ‘cake’ ever: stacks of cookies layered and smothered with whipped cream that soften in the refrigerator, transforming into a chocolate cream layer ‘cake,’" the authors write. "This pie is the next step in the evolution of the famous wafer. We arrange the cookies in a cocoa-infused mascarpone cream, creating a cute tiger-striped slice of pie with a cocoa-stenciled tiger stripe on top.”

Makes one 9½-inch deep-dish pie. Reprinted from “The New Pie: Modern Techniques for the Classic American Dessert” by Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin.

What you need:

1. Cocoa Graham Cracker Crust, baked and cooled in a 9½-inch deep-dish pie plate (the deepest you have) up to 1 day ahead

2. Tiger stripe stencil (We use a zebra stripe stencil, and unless you’re a zoologist, you probably won’t notice.)

3. Piping bag fitted with a Wilton #66 or other small leaf or star piping tip


1½ cups heavy cream

6 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1⅓ sugar

2 cups mascarpone cheese

Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, about 35 cookies

Vanilla Whipped Cream, stabilized (1 recipe)

2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder

1. Make the filling: Place the cream in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until just starting to boil. Sift the cocoa and espresso powder into the heated cream and stir with a whisk until dissolved. Add the sugar and continue whisking until the sugar is dissolved. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until completely cold, at least 2 hours or up to 1 day before completing the filling.

2. Add the mascarpone cheese to the cold cream and beat with a hand mixer until the mixture has thickened and holds stiff peaks, 3 to 5 minutes. Spread the filling in the cooled crust.

3. Break the first few wafers into shards approximately ¾-by-2 inches in size. Feel free to make use of any already broken cookies in the box for this purpose. Insert a small wafer shard upright into the center of the pie. Continue inserting shards of wafers into the pie so that their edges are almost touching, forming a continuous line that spirals to the outer edge of the pie. There should be approximately ½ inch of filling between each row of wafers. The shards can get larger in size in the outer rows of the spiral.

4. After inserting all of the wafer shards, you’ll notice that the filling may have risen unevenly. Use an offset spatula to smooth the filling back down as much as possible. It is OK if the tips of the wafers are still poking through a bit. They are about to be covered by the topping.

5. Make the Topping: Spread all the stabilized Vanilla Whipped Cream (see note) across the surface of the pie, mounding any extra topping toward the middle. Place a metal pie crust shield on top of the pie. The opening should be touching the cream. Using a long straight metal spatula, scrape along the surface of the pie crust shield, removing the excess cream and creating a beautifully smooth surface. Transfer this scraped off cream into the prepared piping bag.

6. Place a tiger stripe stencil on top of the cream and sift the cocoa powder onto the surface of the pie. Carefully remove the stencil to avoid spilling cocoa on the pie or making a mess in your kitchen. Remove the pie crust shield. Pipe a small border along the edge of the crust to cover any stray marks left by the pie crust shield.

7. Place the pie in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight. This will allow the wafers to soften into vertical cakey stripes. (Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)

Note: For Vanilla Whipped Cream, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 1 cup cold heavy cream and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in a medium bowl on medium-high speed until the cream forms soft peaks when the beaters are lifted from the bowl. (You can also whip the cream with just a whisk and some elbow grease.) Add 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons piping gel (optional). Continue beating the mixture at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Do not overbeat or the mixture will appear stiff and somewhat curdled. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.

For Cocoa Graham Cracker Crust: In the bowl of a food processor, process 13 graham cracker sheets broken into several pieces until finely ground. Melt 6 tablespoons unsalted butter. Add ¼ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted, plus ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and pinch of salt to the melted butter. Pulse butter mixture into the crumbs until crumbs are moistened throughout, resembling wet sand. (Or, if you don’t have a food processor, place the graham crackers in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin until they are reduced to fine crumbs. Pour crumbs into a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients by hand using a rubber spatula.)

Transfer mixture to a 9½-inch deep-dish pie plate and using your fingers, spread the moistened crumbs evenly around the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Press the crumbs firmly so that they start to adhere all along the inner surface of the pie plate. Compact into a firm even layer. Chill crust in freezer for at least 10 minutes. Bake crust in preheated 350 F oven for 10 minutes on the middle rack. Cool.